Invention and Innovation in Israeli Biomedicine – a panel discussion
[Chairman: Prof Daniel Hochhauser]
Both in UK and Israeli medicine an important problem is: how do we translate advances in biomedical sciences into practical clinical applications? Four Israeli biomedical experts, all of whom have achieved this translation step, visited the UK in early March as part of an annual series on “Science for A level students”, and took part in a panel discussion on 2nd March 2011. Prof Yechezkel Barenholz (Hebrew University–Hadassah Medical School) explained how he had developed liposome-based carriers for drugs that are used in the treatment of cancer. Prof Smadar Cohen (Ben-Gurion University) discussed her work using products of algae to form a matrix for use in tissue engineering project. Dr Shoshana Merhav described how Teva is involved in the development of new technologies for bone marrow reconstitution and vision repair. Finally, Prof Michel Revel (formerly of the Weizmann Institute) told the story of the development of recombinant interferon, which is one of the great successes of biomedicine. Today two out of the three companies which made the drug, widely used in multiple sclerosis, are Israel based. One of the problems is that early interferon treatment, which probably prevents progression of the disease, is costly and difficult to fund. He also explained ongoing work in his new venture, making nerve sheath synthesizing cells from embryonic stem cells.