Scientists and researchers in universities across Israel have uncovered new advances in medicine and technology that will likely advance Israel’s position as a worldwide leader in scientific innovations.
One innovation is the use of a suture that helps reduce scarring and inflammation.
Developed by scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, it involves the use of the bovine serum albumin, a protein found in cow’s blood that is already produced commercially for other biochemistry uses. The scientists, Eyal Zussman and his colleagues, found that the protein, which is similar to human protein, can be spun into a solid for use as a suture.
n A new solar cell that has 10 times the surface area of previous designs has been developed to capture more of the sun’s energy and at a lower the cost. The development makes solar energy production a “practical choice,” according professor Arie Zaban of Bar-Ilan University’s Nanotechnology Institute. The solar cell, which is formed by metallic wires mounted on conductive glass, can produce electricity with efficiency similar to that of conventional silicon-based cells.
n A new type of enzyme has been synthesized by scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science and the University of Washington in Seattle to help speed up metabolic reactions in humans. Enzymes are proteins that are responsible for initiating chemical reactions within the body. This new enzyme was created and then underwent “evolution in a test tube” to mimic the natural process of enzyme evolution in humans. It improved their efficiency 200-fold. This discovery opens new horizons in the creation of synthetic enzymes and could be used in many further potential applications, said professor Dan Tawfik of the Weizmann Institute’s biological chemistry department.
n A new study reinforces the idea that that social support from family, friends and school could cushion the effects of depression caused by prolonged exposure to rocket attacks. Professor Golan Shahar of Ben-Gurion University and professor Christopher Henrich of Georgia State University published the study that followed middle school students in the Israeli city of Sderot who experienced seven years of ongoing Kassam rocket attacks. Their findings will be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
n A new sleeping pill has been developed that will increase sleep quality and morning alertness in those over the age of 55. The drug, Circadin, was developed by professor Nava Zisapel, a chemist and neurobiologist at Tel Aviv University’s George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. The drug works by mimicking the profile of the hormone melatonin, which is found naturally in the body’s brain, causing the body to replenish the hormone and aid sleeping cycles in baby boomers. Added benefits include more normalized blood pressure and blood sugar levels at night, leading to overall more restorative sleep.
n Scientists have discovered a way to genetically enhance the scent of flowers and to implant a scent in flowers that are odorless. Scents in flowers and plants are used to attract pollinating insects. This development could increase the smell of fruit and vegetables by ten-fold, vastly increasing their commercial appeal. The discovery was made by a team of scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem led by professor Alexander Vainstein of the school’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment. The discovery has been patented by Yissum, Hebrew University’s technology transfer company.