2-day-old Syrian refugee baby airlifted to Israel for emergency heart surgery



2-day-old Syrian refugee baby airlifted to Israel for emergency heart surgery

Interior Minister Deri grants entry permits to father and child after Cyprus appeals to Israeli for assistance in treating the 2-day-old

Aviation Bridge officials pose for a photo with a Syrian infant being airlifted to Israel from Cyprus for emergency heart surgery on December 23, 2017. (Courtesy: Aviation Bridge)

Aviation Bridge officials pose for a photo with a Syrian infant being airlifted to Israel from Cyprus for emergency heart surgery on December 23, 2017. (Courtesy: Aviation Bridge)

A 2-day-old baby boy born in Cyprus to a pair of Syrian refugees was airlifted to Israel early Saturday for emergency surgery to repair a life-threatening heart defect.

The baby was born in a refugee camp in Cyprus where his parents had fled to escape the ongoing Syrian civil war. He was diagnosed with a heart defect that the Cypriots were unable to treat.

On Friday, the Cyprus Health Ministry sent an urgent request to Israel’s Ambassador to Nicosia Shmuel Rabel for assistance in saving the infant.

The Foreign Ministry appealed to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri for entry permits for the baby and his father, which were subsequently granted.

A day-old baby with a heart defect was flown overnight from the Cypriot Syrian refugee camp where he was born to Israel for emergency surgery.  (Pictures: Air Bridge)

The Syrian father and son arrived at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer early Saturday morning and doctors began prepping the infant for surgery.

“In Cyprus, there is no ability to provide any kind of complex treatment — including heart surgery — for children,” said Sheba children’s hospital deputy director Dr. Itai Pesach in a statement. “The baby is currently in pediatric intensive care and diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.”

The infant is expected to undergo heart surgery on either Sunday or Monday. He will remain in the hospital for “a period of time” to recover, Pesach said.

Pesach added that the Syrian father and son are accompanied by a medical team that speaks Arabic.

Officially, Israel has maintained a policy of non-intervention in the Syrian war and has not taken in any refugees. But the Jewish state has still managed to offer some help to its northern neighbors.

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משרד הבריאות של קפריסין פנה אתמול בדחיפות לשגריר ישראל ,סמי רבאל, וביקש סיועו להטיס בדחיפות ארצה, תינוק בן יומו אשר נולד  בקפריסין עם פגם חמור בליבו.
במשה”ח ציינו בסיפוק את שתה”פ המהיר של כל הגורמים שאיפשרו להציל את התינוק הסורי.
קרדיט- חברת גשר אווירי .

Since early 2013, the Israeli army has taken in some 3,000 wounded Syrians and ill children for treatment. Generally working at night, soldiers have provided initial medical care and then evacuated them to nearby hospitals.

While the numbers are a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded in the six-year Syrian war, both doctors and patients say the program has changed perceptions and helped ease tensions across the hostile border.


The embryo is just a year younger than the mother who birthed her



The embryo is just a year younger than the mother who birthed her

Story highlights

  • Emma Wren Gibson, conceived within a year of her mother, was delivered November 25
  • A “snowbaby” is an embryo frozen and left in storage for possible later birth

(CNN)The longest known frozen human embryo to result in a successful birth was born last month in Tennessee.

Emma Wren Gibson, delivered November 25 by Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, medical director of the National Embryo Donation Center, is the result of an embryo originally frozen on October 14, 1992.
Emma’s parents, Tina and Benjamin Gibson of eastern Tennessee, admit feeling surprised when they were told the exact age of the embryo thawed March 13 by Carol Sommerfelt, embryology lab director at the National Embryo Donation Center.
“Do you realize I’m only 25? This embryo and I could have been best friends,” Tina Gibson said.
Today, Tina, now 26, explained to CNN, “I just wanted a baby. I don’t care if it’s a world record or not.”

Emma Wren Gibson was born November 25.

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Sommerfelt said the birth is “pretty exciting considering how long the embryos had been frozen.” Previously, the oldest known frozen embryo that came to successful birth was 20 years old.
Weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces and measuring 20 inches long, Emma is a healthy baby girl, and that’s the only thought on her parents’ minds.
“We’re just so thankful and blessed. She’s a precious Christmas gift from the Lord,” Tina said. “We’re just so grateful.”
Despite not sharing genes, Benjamin, 33, said that Emma feels completely like his own child. “As soon as she came out, I fell in love with her,” he said.
Emma’s story begins long before the Gibsons “adopted” her (and four sibling embryos from the same egg donor). Created for in vitro fertilization by another, anonymous couple, the embryos had been left in storage so they could be used by someone unable or unwilling to conceive a child naturally.
These are “snowbabies,” lingering in icy suspension, potential human lives waiting to be born.

Infertility and fostering

Seven years ago, the Gibsons married, refusing to allow a dark cloud to shadow their love. “My husband has cystic fibrosis, so infertility is common,” Tina said, adding that they had found peace with it. “We had decided that we were more than likely going to adopt, and we were fine with that.”
Before trying to implant an embryo, they fostered several children and enjoyed doing so.
During a break between fosters, they decided to take a week-long vacation. As they were dropping off their dog at her parents’ house, Tina’s father stopped them.

Benjamin and Tina Gibson with daughter Emma.

“I saw something on the news today. It’s called embryo adoption, and they would implant an embryo in you, and you could carry a baby,” he told his daughter.
“I was like, ‘Well, that’s nice, Dad, but we’re not interested. We’re knee-deep in foster care right now,’ ” Tina recalled with a laugh. “I kind of blew it off. I had no interest in it.”
But during the eight-hour car trip, Tina could not stop thinking about her father’s words. “It was playing in my mind over and over and over,” she said. Hours into her journey, she turned to Benjamin and asked what he thought about “this embryo adoption.” He too had been thinking about it “the whole time.”
Tina started researching on her phone, sharing information with Benjamin as he drove. “I knew everything about it before I got off that vacation,” she said. She knew, for instance, that the National Embryo Donation Center was based in Knoxville, Tennessee, and could facilitate a frozen embryo transfer.
Still, she was not immediately ready. Weeks passed.
“During August of last year, I just came home one day; I looked at Benjamin, and I said, ‘I think we need to submit an application for embryo adoption,’ ” she explained. “On a whim, we filled out an application and submitted that night.”

”It’s a world record!’

By December, she was on medication to do a “mock transfer”: essentially a series of medical examinations to see whether her uterus would be physically capable of receiving an implanted embryo. In January, the tests were complete, and though Tina required a small procedure to remove a polyp from her uterus, she was eligible for implantation.
Next, a home study was performed, said Mark Mellinger, marketing and development director for the National Embryo Donation Center. This part of the process, conducted by a partner organization run by a social worker, is “just the standard home study that mimics any home study that anybody would go through in a traditional adoption process.”
Families who have been approved by the state generally pass the requirements set by the donation center. “Very rarely does a review find a red flag,” Mellinger said.
Finally, the Gibsons were ready for the implantation procedure in March. But they had to choose an embryo, which required viewing donor “profiles” listing the basic genetic information about the genetic parents. “We literally had two weeks to go through 300 profiles,” Benjamin said.
“It was overwhelming,” Tina said. “There was so many, and it’s like, how do you pick?”
The couple started with one small detail just to “narrow it down in an easy way,” she said. Since she and Benjamin are physically small, they began by looking at profiles based on height and weight. “Then we started looking at some of the bigger things, like medical history.
“Long story short, we picked our profile,” Tina said, but that embryo was not viable, so their second choice was used.
Only when they “were fixing to go for the transfer” did her doctor and Sommerfelt explain “It’s a world record!”
“I didn’t sign up for this,” Tina said, laughing.
In fact, no one knows that it’s definitely a record.
“Identifying the oldest known embryo is simply an impossibility,” said Dr. Zaher Merhi, director of IVF research and development at New Hope Fertility Center, which is not involved to the Gibson case. American companies are not required to report to the government the age of an embryo used, only the outcome of the pregnancy, so “nobody has these records.”
Other experts, though, cited the study on a 20-year-old frozen embryo that came to successful birth.
Sommerfelt said she had unthawed three “snowbabies,” all of them adopted from the same anonymous donor. Surprisingly, all three survived. Normally, there’s about a 75% survival rate when unthawing frozen embryos.
Though Keenan transferred all three to Tina, only one implanted. This is normal, since successful implantation rate “normally runs about 25% to 30%,” she said.
The transfer “worked out perfect,” Tina said. “It’s a miracle. First time.”
Problems encountered during pregnancy were due to Tina having a short cervix, which could have prevented her from successfully carrying her baby. That did not happen, and just after Thanksgiving, Tina began 20 hours of labor. All the while, Emma’s heart beat normally.
“So it all just fell into place,” said Tina. “It’s our new normal; it’s crazy to think about it.”

Odds of success

Dr. Jason Barritt, laboratory director and research scientist at the Southern California Reproductive Center, said that only about “15% to 20% of the time there are additional embryos” not used in IVF. Due to the high success rates of the IVF process, which has been scientifically explored in animals for more than half a century, fewer embryos are now created. Louise Brown, the first human resulting from an IVF procedure, was born in July 1978.
“Usually, couples have leftover embryos because they have completed their families and no longer need additional embryos,” Barritt said. His center was not involved in the Gibson case. “They remain frozen until the patient asks for some other disposition.”
Disposition options — what is done with the additional embryos — include simply leaving them cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen storage tanks, disposing of them in an appropriate way, donating them to research or training for the advancement of the field of reproductive medicine, or donating them to another couple.
The final option is rare, Barritt said, “due to a variety of additional steps and guidelines that must be met,” such as infectious disease screening and meeting US Food and Drug Administration donor eligibility regulations, “and significant legal documentation that must be met.”
Mellinger said the National Embryo Donation Center is a faith-based organization founded in 2003. “We say that our reason for existence is to protect the sanctity and dignity of the human embryo,” he said. “We are big advocates of embryo donation and embryo adoption.”
If you want to donate an embryo, it will handle the details for free.
“We will contact the fertility clinic where the embryos are stored, and they are happy to work with us,” Mellinger said. A special storage container is shipped, the fertility center places the embryos inside and sends it to the the donation center, and then the embryos are stored in the lab in Knoxville.
“We will adopt out an embryo whenever,” he said. “Sometimes, embryos have been in storage for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Sometimes, it’s literally been decades.”
The adopting couple pays all the fees, amounting to less than about $12,500 for a first try, according to Mellinger.

Weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces and measuring 20 inches long, Emma is a healthy baby girl.

Recalling the birth of her special daughter, Tina’s voice dissolves into tears.
“We wanted to adopt, and I don’t know that that isn’t going to be in our future. We may still adopt,” she said. “This just ended up being the route that we took. I think that we would have been equally elated if were able to adopt. “
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Asked whether they might try again with the remaining two embryos — Emma’s sisters or brothers — Tina said she absolutely would have said “yes” two months ago.
“But after having natural childbirth, I’m like, ‘I’m never doing that again!’ ” she said. “But I’m sure in like a year, I’ll be like, ‘I want to try for another baby.’ “

Experts Tell Congress How To Cut Drug Prices



Experts Tell Congress How To Cut Drug Prices

(Kaiser Health News)
 December 12 at 5:15 AM
This Kaiser Health News story can be republished for free (details).The nation’s most influential science advisory group will tell Congress today that the U.S. pharmaceutical market is not sustainable and needs to change.

“Drugs that are not affordable are of little value and drugs that do not exist are of no value,” said Norman Augustine, chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee on drug pricing and former CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.

The report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” identifies eight steps to cut drug prices. It also provides a list of specific “implementation actions” for various federal agencies, including Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

Today’s hearing, which is the third in a series by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, comes as Americans across the political spectrum say lowering the price of prescription drugs is a top priority. Yet, while individual states have passed laws for more transparency and price controls and President Donald Trump has publicly called for lower drug prices, Congress has stalled.

So, will the committee’s recommendations spur action? Kaiser Health News takes the political temperature, talks to experts and rates their chances:

Recommendation No. 1: Allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices

Current law prohibits the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary from directly negotiating drug prices and the committee says that’s ridiculous.

The committee recommends Medicare and other agencies negotiate which drugs are placed on a list of covered drugs and, when necessary, exclude some drugs. This is not a new idea.

Some states are already restricting high-priced drugs in Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for low-income Americans. But federal efforts to change Medicare are more complicated.

Just two months ago, top House Democrats introduced another Medicare negotiation bill. But don’t hold your breath, Trump hasn’t responded to multiple letters sent from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — including one after the most recent bill was introduced in late October. That bill hasn’t moved past the health subcommittee.

Subscribe to KHN’s free Morning Briefing.

Recommendation No. 2: Speed approvals of safe and effective generics and biosimilars

This recommendation has a strong ally at the Food and Drug Administration.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced a “drug competition action plan” in June and followed it up two months ago with a new set of policies aimed at speeding the drug approval process for complex generics. More changes are expected too, as Gottlieb wrote in his blog post “if consumers are priced out of the drugs they need, that’s a public health concern that FDA should address.”

But the pharmaceutical world knows which games to play to keep competition at bay. The committee specifically recommends the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission should watch for anti-competitive tactics, such as pay-for-delay and extending exclusivity protections. The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on pay-for-delay, saying settlements between brand-name drug makers and generic rivals warranted antitrust review, The total number of these deals has fallen in recent years.

To further encourage generic approvals, Congress could include several proposed bills, such as the so-called CREATES Act, in a final year-end package, said Chip Davis, president of the generics and biosimilars lobby Association for Accessible Medicines.

“People are starting to pay more attention” to anticompetitive patent tactics, Davis said.

Recommendation No. 3: Transparency

The committee takes direct aim at drug prices by saying that Congress should make manufacturers and insurers disclose drug prices, as well as the rebates and discounts they negotiate. It also asks that HHS curate and publicly report the information.

States have taken the lead on price transparency with Vermont the first to pass a law, which requires an annual report on up to 15 drugs that cost the state a lot of money and have seen price spikes. In Congress, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), introduced a bill in June that would impose price-reporting requirements on some drugs. It now sits in the Senate finance committee. The pharmaceutical industry has fended off most price disclosure efforts in the past.

Notably, the committee also recommends that nonprofits in the pharmaceutical sector — such as patient groups — disclose all sources of income in their tax filings. That’s a move that would reveal exactly how much the pharmaceutical companies are supporting advocacy groups.

Recommendation No. 4:  Discourage the pharmaceuticual industry’s direct-to-consumer advertising

The U.S. is only one of two developed countries in the world to allow direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising (the other is New Zealand and doctors there have called for a ban). And U.S. taxpayers support the tax breaks with a deduction that politicians have tried to eliminate in the past.

Now, the committee recommends Congress eliminate the tax deduction pharmaceutical companies are allowed to take on direct-to-consumer advertising.

This is an idea that should have wide support. Polls show that most Americans favor banning the ads and federal lawmakers have tried to change the rules on so-called DTC for years. The American Medical Association called for a ban on pharmaceutical advertising directly to patients in 2015, saying there were concerns that the ads were driving up demand for expensive drugs. The FDA provides guidance for the advertising and, in August, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb said he may reduce the number of risks manufacturers must reveal when advertising a medicine.

In a sign of just how entrenched the tax break is in D.C. politics, Sen. Dick Durbin (D- Ill.) introduced a bill last month that doesn’t eliminate the break but takes a step to rein in the advertising. Durbin’s bill would require manufacturers to provide the wholesale price of a drug in their advertisements.

Recommendation No. 5: Limit what Medicare enrollees pay for drugs

The committee ticks off a to-do list for Congress when it comes to what older Americans and those with disabilities are paying for drugs.

Their recommendations include asking Congress to establish limits on total annual out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D enrollees and telling Congress to make sure the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services efforts to guarantee enrollee cost-sharing is based on the real price of the drug as well as how well the drug works.

Turns out, there is already some limited movement on this one.

Medicare allows negotiations between the corporate insurers and pharmacy benefit managers who help administer the Part D program. CMS announced last month that it is exploring how to pass on the behind-the-scenes manufacturer rebates to patients, though it warns premiums may rise if they make this move.

Recommendation No. 6: Increasing oversight of a very specific federal drug discount program

The committee is stepping into a hot-button political issue by recommending increased transparency and oversight of a program that Congress created in 1992.

The program, known as 340B, requires pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs at steep discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve high volumes of low-income patients. Congress held two hearings this year, questioning who is benefiting from the discounts and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced it was slashing Medicare reimbursement to some hospitals enrolled in the program.

Hospitals are fighting back, filing a lawsuit over the reimbursement cut. The committee, echoing concerns from House Republicans, recommends making sure the program helps “aid vulnerable populations.”

Recommendation No. 7: Revise the Orphan Drug Act

The committee wants to make sure the 1983 Orphan Drug Act helps patients with rare diseases.

The law, intended to spur development of medicines for rare diseases, provides financial incentives for drugmakers such as seven years of market exclusivity for drugs that treat a specific condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people.

The program has been under fire this year after Kaiser Health News, whose investigation is cited by the committee, reported that approved drugs often gamed this system and won won blockbuster sales for more common diseases. The Government Accountability Office has begun an investigation into the program after receiving a request from top Republican senators and FDA’s announced a “modernization” plan for the agency this summer.

The committee’s requests include limiting the number of exclusivity periods a drug can receive and making sure drugs that win the financial incentives really do treat rare disease. Finally, the committee says HHS should “obtain favorable concessions on launch prices, annual price increases,” and more.

Recommendation No. 8: Make sure doctors prescribe drugs for the right reasons

Medical practices, hospitals and doctors should “substantially” tighten restrictions on office visits by pharma employees, and the acceptance of free samples, the committee recommends.

This isn’t the first time the national group has recommended controlling drug samples and visits. In 2009, the then Institute of Medicine said doctors and medical schools should stop taking free drug samples. It may have worked — to some extent. A study this year found that academic medical centers that limited visits saw changes in prescribing patterns.

Now, the National Academies committee says doctors in private practice should also stop taking free samples and welcoming pharmaceutical visits. The AMA, which is nation’s largest membership group doctors, supports physicians using samples on a voluntary basis, particularly for uninsured patients.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

India parents: ‘Our baby died after doctors put him in a (Plastic) bag’



India parents: ‘Our baby died after doctors put him in a bag’

The babies were given to the parents in these plastic bagsImage copyrightASHISH
Image captionThe babies were given to the parents in these plastic bags

A shocking case of doctors in the Indian capital, Delhi, mistakenly declaring a newborn dead sparked outrage and led to the cancellation of the hospital’s licence. BBC Hindi’s Bhumika Rai met the parents at the centre of the ordeal.

Ashish Kumar remembers the morning of 30 November when he was told that his twins were stillborn in vivid detail.

Doctors at the privately run Max Hospital handed him his son and daughter in plastic bags.

“It was heartbreaking but I couldn’t cry because I had to stay strong for my wife,” he told BBC Hindi.

Instead he poured himself into arranging for the funeral of the babies, who had been born prematurely at 23 weeks.

But then came a massive shock.

“We were on our way for the funeral, when my father-in-law realised that one of the babies was moving inside the plastic bag,” he said.

Shock turned to elation as they rushed the infant to another hospital and doctors confirmed he was indeed alive. But then the horror of what had happened to his family started sinking in.

“Max Hospital declared my little boy dead while he was struggling to survive,” he said fighting back tears.

“He was wrapped in five layers of plastic. Nobody can survive without oxygen for that long.” The baby died after a five-day battle to survive.

The babies' grandfather, Kailash (left), says he will never forgive the doctorsImage copyrightASHISH KUMAR
Image captionThe babies’ grandfather, Kailash (left), says he will never forgive the doctors

Mr Kumar’s father Kailash who saw the baby move, said he was struggling to cope with the experience.

“They had put the twins together in one basket. They were not even cleaned. I can’t stop thinking that my grandson who was alive, was kept for hours with my granddaughter, who was stillborn.

“He looked so beautiful – exactly like my daughter. I had a faint hope that he would survive. We were planning the traditional ceremonies to celebrate his birth. But he is gone and all I can now see is a void that will never be filled,” Mr Kumar’s mother Meena said.

‘They never came home’

Mr Kumar said his family had been very excited about the impending arrival of the babies.

“We had no clue that there were any medical complications until 30 November. We took good care of my wife, Varsha, during her pregnancy,” he said.

He added that doctors at Max Hospital did an ultrasound on 29 November and told him that everything was fine.

Mr Kumar says his wife, Varsha, had no medical complications until 30 NovemberImage copyrightASHISH
Image captionMr Kumar says his wife, Varsha, had no medical complications until 30 November

“The hospital said that the babies would need to be kept in a special unit for four days and it would cost 100,000 rupees per day,” he adds.

Mr Kumar did not have enough money to pay the hospital but decided to borrow money from friends.

“Any parent would do that to save their babies. But I am heartbroken and Varsha has been completely inconsolable. My entire family was so excited to welcome the children.

“But they never came home. We never heard their cries. I have come to hate the silence in my house.”

Fight for justice

Delhi’s health minister, Satyendra Jain, announced on Friday that the hospital’s licence had been cancelled.

The organisation had last week fired the two doctors involved in the case.

But Mr Kumar insists that “it’s not enough”.

“The doctors need to be tried in a court. I won’t stop protesting until that happens,” he said.

The BBC’s request for an interview with a representative of the hospital was turned down.

Ashish Kumar says he is struggling to cope with the lossImage copyrightASHISH KUMAR
Image captionAshish Kumar says he is struggling to cope with the loss

Mr Kumar said he is fighting a separate “battle of emotions” at home.

“We had bought toys for them and had decorated the house. I am not sure what to do. I tried to throw the toys away but couldn’t even muster the courage to do that,” he added.

“I will have to live with this pain all my life. I worry if my family will ever be complete.”

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Israeli ‘fat-melting’ injection claims to help battle obesity



Israeli ‘fat-melting’ injection claims to help battle obesity

Jerusalem-based startup Raziel Therapeutics says it has developed an injectable molecule that melts away fat cells

Israel's Raziel Therapeutics says it has developed fat melting chemical molecule (Delpixart, iStock by Getty Images)

Israel’s Raziel Therapeutics says it has developed fat melting chemical molecule (Delpixart, iStock by Getty Images)

The key to fighting obesity is through diet and lifestyle, experts agree. But a new “fat-melting” injection developed by an Israeli startup may help us lose the bulge as we scramble to get our exercise and food schedules in order.

Jerusalem-based startup Raziel Therapeutics says it has developed a medical treatment that melts away fat cells upon delivery of a new synthetic small chemical molecule via subcutaneous injection. Similar medical treatments already exist, but Raziel Therapeutics claims that recent studies show a marked advantage to its product.

The injection is heat-producing, burning fat cells and delaying their regeneration for up to nine months, when another injection is needed. The treatment is safer than surgery, the creators say, but will only be effective long-term if it is part of a broader lifestyle change.

“We feel that we should repeat [the injection] every 9 to 12 months… in order to sustain the effect of the fat reduction,” said Alon Bloomenfeld, the CEO of Raziel in a phone interview. “Of course, it depends on each person.”

The story behind Raziel Therapeutics is a combination of medical research, startup entrepreneurship — and pure accident.

Jerusalem-based Raziel Therapeutics says its fat-busting injection delays fat regeneration for up to 9 months (Pixfly, iStock by Getty Images)

Professor Shmuel Ben-Sasson of Hebrew University was conducting research unrelated to obesity when he realized that a particular treatment was causing test mice to lose weight, their fat cells disappearing. Together with Bloomenfeld, who has a 20-year track record in biomed and high-tech companies, in 2012 he launched a new venture that set up the corporate infrastructure to test and hopefully eventually market the treatment.

The seven-person team is funded by the Israel Innovation Authority, the Van Leer Technology Incubator and Pontifax, a VC firm focused on healthcare-related investments. They are based out of Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical Center, where Ben-Sasson was working when he made his discovery.

The product — a molecule referred to in their research as a New Chemical Entity — is currently undergoing Phase 2a clinical testing in the US, with 32 patients. Early tests on pigs found that the injection could remove around 40-60 percent of the fat tissue in the area that received the injections, Bloomenfeld said.

“The company is in a position to capture a significant share of a multi-billion-dollar market for clinical and aesthetic applications,” the firm said in a presentation. The first aesthetic application of the drug could be in cutting back on breast fat in men, and the first medical application of the injection could be for lipedema, a potentially painful condition that is often triggered at puberty, pregnancy or menopause in which legs become enlarged due to irregular deposits of fat, the fir said.

Clinical trials conducted on 24 patients in the US showed a 30 to 50 percent reduction in fat around the site of a single, subcutaneous injection.

Jerusalem-based Raziel Therapeutics hopes to capture slice of multi-billion-dollar fat-busting market (iStock by Getty Images)

A New England journal of medicine study released in June showed that in 2015 over ten percent of the world’s population was obese, causing millions of deaths every year. The overall figures represent a doubling of the problem over the past 37 years, with a surge in childhood obesity, with China and India most affected, and a massive increase in body mass index-related diseases.

In Israel, roughly 25 percent of women and 17 percent of men were found to be obese, a 5.4 and 6.2 percent increase from 1980, respectively. Obesity-related medical expenses are estimated to reach $190.2 billionyearly in the US, accounting for roughly 21% of annual medical spending for the whole country, including $14 billion in childhood obesity-related costs alone.

Raziel assumes it has the ability to capture 10% of the markets share in the US for gynecomastia, the benign proliferation of the breast tissue in males, and make a profit of $1,000 per treatment, with a projected annual income of $2 billion in the US and a similar income in the EU. It expects to capture a similar market share for lipedema treatments, with a projected annual income of $1.3 billion in the US and a similar income in the EU, the presentation said.

Bloomenfeld said it is too early to determine the final price of the injections for users. However, the cost of an injection treatment made by Allergan Inc. for double chins is around $1,000-$1,500 per treatment, and an average of 4-5 shots are needed. So to get rid of a double chin, patients today dish out as much as $7,500.

As promising as Raziel’s test results have been, the injection is not by itself a remedy for obesity.

Raziel Therapeutics’s CEO Alon Bloomenfeld (Courtesy)

“It will not work if you don’t change your lifestyle,” said Bloomenfeld. “Of course, you can come and get the treatment every year. But don’t think that this is the best solution for people.”

“They have to cooperate and to… change their life.”

Doctor and endocrinologist Daniela Jakubowicz — who teaches at Tel Aviv University and Virginia Commonwealth University — agrees with Bloomenfeld, and supports injections like these, so long as they work “with diet together.” She said that working in tandem with diet and lifestyle changes, injections like these can help people better fight obesity.

Jakubowicz’s research has focused on key areas connected to obesity, including addiction to carbohydrates and the timing of meals outside of our bodies’ natural rhythms. She said that people who suffer from obesity often have poor breakfast habits, but will consume large amounts of carbohydrates and sugar in the evening, the worst possible time for our bodies to then metabolize them. It’s habits like these, she said, which are “the center of the problem” and need to be changed.

“You can add any drug, but if you don’t do the appropriate diet, no drug, no injection will work.”

Where do the drugs go? No law for Ky coroners leaves concern



Where do the drugs go? No law for Ky coroners leaves concern

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) – What are coroners expected to do with legal drugs after investigating a death? Even county coroners don’t know.

There is a Kentucky law that says coroners are entitled to take in their possession any evidence or anything or anything they believe contributes to cause and manner of death, which would include medications and narcotics. However, after a coroner’s investigation is complete, there’s no law saying how a coroner is supposed to dispose of the drugs.

“There could be issues. Absolutely there could be issues. You have the availability without question,” explained Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison. Cornelison told WKYT’s Miranda Combs that a lot of people don’t realize that when it comes to a death investigation the coroner is the highest law enforcement authority at the scene. “So we can take anything and everything we want to take. We don’t have to have maybe a search warrant that police have to have because we’re doing a death investigation. It’s different,” he explained.

“It’s just come to our attention that the coroner now has possession of these narcotics,” explained Henry County Coroner and Kentucky Coroner’s Association Legislative Liaison James Pollard. “We’ve got 120 coroners, so we have to come up with a plan that’s not only going to dispose of these narcotics, but it’s also going to protect the coroner.” He said coroners also take narcotics at the request of the family, or in some cases, because the coroner knows the family or friends will take the drugs.

Pollard went on, “We feel like what we need to do now is get a piece of legislation put together.”

Combs asked, “Are we opening a can of worms with this?”

Pollard replied, “It may be a good can of worms to open up. And that way, let’s get everybody covered, protect everybody.”

Pollard and other coroners have started writing a draft of a law to require coroners to follow the same protocol to dispose of medications and narcotics.

Cornelison already has a protocol for his office. After the medications are counted and logged, the labels are torn off the bottles and they are taken straight to a DEA drop box. There are 178 boxes in Kentucky, in almost every county. “I’m not sitting here saying that people are doing things wrong, but if you don’t know if you’re doing them wrong, or if there’s a better way to do it, we don’t know what it is right now.”

Postal worker assaults boy who tried to stop theft



Postal worker assaults boy who tried to stop theft

By Associated Press |

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP/WKYT) – Authorities say a postal worker in Kentucky assaulted a boy who was trying to stop a package theft.

Lt. Paul Boyles with Lexington police told the Lexington Herald-Leader that a child picked up a package a postal worker had dropped off Sunday afternoon and a second child told him to stop.

Boyles said the postal worker saw the confrontation, and chased down and attempted to detain the child who was trying to stop the theft. Boyles said the worker said the boy was guilty by association.

It’s unclear how the child was assaulted, but he received minor injuries. A report for fourth-degree assault was taken, but no arrests were made. The boy’s mother can decide to press charges.

Susan Wright with the postal service released a statement to WKYT saying: “The postal service is currently investigating this incident, to obtain all the facts.”

The postal worker wasn’t named. It’s unclear how old the boy was.

Risk of stillbirth is double in pregnant women who sleep on their backs



Risk of stillbirth is double in pregnant women who sleep on their backs, study finds

 November 20 at 2:55 PM


Pregnant women might increase their risk of a stillbirth if they sleep on their backs during their third trimester, a new study has found.

The research, published Monday in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, is the largest of its kind and the clearest evidence yet that sleeping conditions during pregnancy could have significant effects on the fetus.

Researchers compared the sleeping practices of more than 1,000 women in Britain, 291 of who suffered a stillbirth in the third trimester and 733 of whom had a live birth during the same period. The study found that women sleeping on their backs had 2.3 times the risk of stillbirth. The results add to earlier findings in recent years from smaller studies in New Zealand and Australia.

Researchers behind the new study said they can’t explain with certainty why sleeping position might affect stillbirths chances, but they pointed to data suggesting that when a pregnant woman lies on her back, the weight of the womb can impose pressure on the vessels carrying blood and oxygen to the baby.

Another hypothesis raised by the researchers is that sleeping on your back can increase the possibility of impaired breathing.

The lead researcher, Alexander Heazell, clinical director at the Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Center at St. Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, said women should try to fall asleep on their side and not worry too much if they wake up on their back.

“What we don’t want is for moms to wake up and see their on their back and think, ‘I’ve done something terrible to my baby,'” Heazell said. “You can’t control the position you wake up in. And the position you fall asleep in is the position you hold longest in sleep. So that’s the most important thing.”

Heazell said there is a deep need for more research on stillbirths and miscarriages. When it comes to stillbirths in the Western countries, he said, “There is a huge amount of this attitude of ‘Well, it’s just one of those things’ or ‘it wasn’t meant to be.’ Just responding with platitudes.”

He argued, “That kind of fatalistic attitude is a problem. It’s been holding back research.”

If heeded, the new findings could have a significant effect on stillbirth rates, the researchers say. Combining their data with birth statistics, they estimate that if pregnant women stopped sleeping on their back during the last trimester, stillbirths in Britain could decrease by 3.7 percent.

Stillbirths are a common problem in the United States. Stillbirths occur roughly 3 in every 1,000 births (compared with Britain’s 3.5 in every 1,000 births). And each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States has lagged significantly behind other countries in reducing the rate of stillbirths in recent years, according to recent studies and CDC research.

Better medical technology and improvements to prenatal care have reduced the number of late-term stillbirths in the past few decades, but miscarriages earlier in pregnancy have remained roughly the same.

In Britain, the nonprofit Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Center launched a campaign Tuesday in response to the new findings to encourage pregnant women to sleep on their side. They included these tips to help women in their sleep:

  • Put pillows behind you to prevent falling on your back. It won’t prevent you being on your back for certain but is likely to make it more uncomfortable.
  • If you wake up for any reason during the night, check your position and go back to sleep on your side.
  • If you are likely to nap during the day, pay the same attention to sleep position during the day as you would during the night.

Kava: The NFL’s newest and safest painkiller



Kava: The NFL’s newest and safest painkiller

“With the opioid crisis, there is a big need for other options,” former NFL player Matthew Masifilo says of kava. “I think it has the potential to help address this painkiller problem we have in football and many other sports.” Courtesy of Matthew Masifilo

Matthew Masifilo was a sophomore defensive lineman at Stanford in 2009 when he tore the MCL in his knee. The swelling and pain were horrible, he says. To lower his discomfort, and get him back on the football field, team doctors did what they often do in those situations. They prescribed Vicodin.

“I wouldn’t take it,” Masifilo said. “I always reacted badly to it. So I stuck with the old ways.”

The “old ways” featured regular consumption of kava, a ceremonial drink at the center of Polynesian culture. Made from the root of a native plant, kava is viewed largely as a social lubricant that delivers a calming, mellowing effect. But Masifilo considers it a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent, as well, a substance that is far less dangerous than opioids and doesn’t carry the legal hurdles of marijuana.

After retiring from a five-year NFL career in 2015, Masifilo has employed his Stanford engineering degree to deliver kava to football players — and anyone else — who want natural options amid the national opioid crisis. He invented a shaker bottle, which he calls an AluBall, to simplify the preparation process and encourage individual use at a time when kava consumption is spiking around the country.

“With the opioid crisis, there is a big need for other options,” said Masifilo, who was born in Hawaii but is of Tongan descent. “The doctors used to think I was crazy when I said I wanted to treat my injuries with kava. But it helped me, and I think it has the potential to help address this painkiller problem we have in football and many other sports.”

Thomas Keiser, for one, can provide powerful testimony. Masifilo introduced him to kava at Stanford, and Keiser said he “truly embraced it for pain management” during his second year in the NFL. As a linebacker for the Carolina Panthers in 2012, Keiser suffered a series of injuries that sound like they were caused by a car accident rather than football.

First, he endured an impact injury on his leg that required a sizable piece of flesh to be removed. The area got infected, causing pitting edema and then swelling throughout the leg. As he played through it, with the help of painkillers, he then tore the UCL in his left elbow when a collision pushed his arm backward. Braced and taped, he continued playing in that game — until he tore the UCL in his right elbow while trying to protect the left.

With a swollen leg and two torn UCLs, Keiser said he was “on lots and lots” of painkillers.

“One day I was like, ‘This is probably not a good path to be going down,'” said Keiser, who retired after the 2015 season. “Kava was absolutely a better alternative for me. To this day, it’s still part of my routine. I’ve taken painkillers and I’ve used kava. To me, opioids weren’t as much about relieving pain as they were almost just getting you high to take your mind off of the pain. Whereas, to me, kava feels like the actual addressing of pain.”

There is little clinical research on kava as a painkiller or anti-inflammatory, according to Dr. D. Craig Hopp, the deputy director of the division of extramural research at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Research does suggest, however, that kava works as an anti-anxiety agent — what Hopp called “herbal Xanax.”

Can diminished anxiety contribute to less pain? Perhaps.

“If you’re more calm or relaxed,” Hopp said, “if you aren’t stressed about the pain you’re under, that might help indirectly with the perception of its benefit. There isn’t much direct evidence of it as a pain reliever, but that might be an indirect link.

There are no clinical indications of addictive properties, and Hopp said: “But I think kava is much safer alternative in most circumstances than opioids.”

And while opioids are addictive and can destroy organs, there is little clinical concern for the safety of kava. In 2002, the Federal Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory that warned of possible liver damage. But those concerns have subsided, Hopp said, amid uncertainty about whether kava caused liver damage during research or if another substance did.

In recent years, in fact, kava bars — public establishments where kava is served instead of alcohol — have popped up around the country. The company Kalm with Kava has tracked the opening of 82 such bars in the U.S. Keiser said that many of the people he meets at kava bars say they are recovering opioid addicts. Indeed, Kopp said, “The things I’m aware of suggest that kava usage is the highest that it’s ever been.”

That’s a trend Masifilo will continue to try to bring to NFL locker rooms. Between the two of them, Masifilo and Keiser played for four different franchises. At one point or another, all of them had a group of players who would sit in the locker room after practice, drinking kava and talking. Kava helped alleviate the pain from the physical grind of the season, but the team-bonding benefits were just as significant, Keiser said.

Kava is a legal substance, according to U.S. law and NFL policy. Masifilo said some players have tried to keep their use “hush-hush,” but by all accounts, it has been welcomed by team officials who have noticed it.

Among them is New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who in 2014 counted 18 players drinking kava in the locker room after a late-season practice. That team included two prominent players of Polynesian descent, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and defensive lineman Sealver Siliga. Kraft credited the kava gatherings with helping to build unity on a team that went on to win Super Bowl XLIX.

“It was late afternoon,” Kraft said, “and they were just joshing around and having fun. It was really special.”

It is no secret that NFL players are desperate for pain relief, both during their career and afterwards. Keiser, who played in a total of 40 NFL games, deals with the aftereffects of not only the elbow injuries but also ankle and knee ligament tears, along with herniated discs in the lumbar, thoracic and cervical parts of his spine.

“I have major pain issues from the various injuries of my career,” he said, “I absolutely drink kava now and love it for the pain. It’s also a social drink, and it’s nice to get together with your boys and drink it for the social aspect of it.

“The big thing is that painkillers are far too common in football. This is a far better alternative to all the opioids. I can definitely speak from experience on that.”

The Unneeded Poor WILL BE Exterminated

The Unneeded Poor WILL BE Exterminated


In this article today I am going to write it as a proverbial ‘Devils Advocate’. What I mean by this is that this is not something that I want to happen yet I am making the argument to you that it is very much a possible reality as the human race continues to degenerate.


When it comes to politics I am an ‘Independent’, neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I believe that both of those major parties are about as crooked at the top levels as they can find a way to be. When you are a person like Hillary or Bill Clinton or a Trump or a Bush I believe that they have proven themselves to be the type of people who will do anything to win or to enrich themselves. In the past day or so thousands of documents dubbed the ‘Paradise Papers’ have surfaced showing how the super wealthy cheat their country and their people out of tax revenues. Last year the same type thing happened with the ‘Panama Papers.’ These documents show that not only are many of the ‘super wealthy’ cheating on their taxes, they also show how intertwined they are with world leaders, government officials, and the super huge global companies as they all seek to scratch each other’s backs in their efforts to get even richer.


Back in the mid-1970’s you used to hear people talking on the radio and TV how with the ‘new technologies’ how people were only going to be only having to work 4 day weeks because the machines will allow us to get as much done in 4 days as was currently being done in the 5 day work week. How foolish these ‘talking heads’ were. If you are the employer why would you give up the chance to make an extra 20% each week by giving your employees an extra day off? Especially if your company is on the Stock Exchange, your stockholders would quickly replace you. The business world, especially those on the Stock Exchange are only concerned about one thing, higher profits. If you have ever paid any attention at all to the stock market, you should have noticed how little these people think of the people who are actually making the products. When two companies merge the value of the stock goes up. Why, because the next thing that will happen is the new Board of Directors will be getting rid of many ‘unneeded’ employees. Doing this means that the company will take those wages as pure profit, increasing the value of its stock. When a company decides to get rid of employees, the stock value goes up. When a company breaks a Union, the stock value goes up. During these events, you should also have seen that the Board of Directors salaries and bonuses go up. When a company moves their production factories to a ‘third world’ country where they can fire all of their American workers and get child slave labor to do all the production, stock values, and executive compensation goes up.


The world as you know has a population growth that is unsustainable yet at this same time machines and robots (AI) are taking more and more jobs away from workers. From a business standpoint, having machines replace human workers is a very wise thing to do, and it increases your stock value and the bosses salaries and compensation. If they invest in machines they can get rid of the overhead cost of having human employees. Think about it, no more salaries to pay, no benefit packages to pay like Workers Comp, vacation pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, paid sick days, you can’t be sued by a computer, no OSHA regulations to adhere to. Folks, the list goes on and on.


Our planet has about seven billion people on it right now, look at the slave labor around the world right now, from Africa to Asia to the Middle-East and yes, here in the U.S. also. Is slave labor legal in a lot of these countries? No, but it still goes on. You may say why, why does it still go on but the answer is simple, pay as little for the labor as possible to increase the profits at the top and to the stockholders. You may say now wait a moment, slaves don’t cost anything but this is not totally true. Slaves still have to get some food and some water or they will die or become too weak to do the work. The more slaves you have in the ‘waiting room’ the less you have to supply to each one each day. Why, because it is in your financial best interest if all of the ‘extras’ die. If the ‘extras’ aren’t dying fast enough on their own, you assist them.


If the Earth has seven billion people but can only sustain six billion people because there is no way to produce enough food, what happens to the extra billion people? Who do you think are going to be the ones that are starved to death? Hint, it is not going to be the super rich who basically own everything, it will be the poorest of the poor who will be eliminated. During the early Republican Primaries last year a former ‘Speaker of the House’ Newt Gingrich spelled out the perfect Republican ‘wish list.’ As you probably know the majority of the Republicans in the Congress and the Senate, and this President wants to cut the national deficit by cutting programs like food stamps to the poor and cutting way back on Medicare, Medicaid, meals on wheels, school lunch programs and Social Security. Folks, who need these programs the most? Mr. Gingrich in a TV program last year went even further. Mr. Gingrich consider all of these programs to be ‘welfare’, yet he went further, he called military retirement pay, VA disability compensation and the VA itself ‘welfare’ programs and he said that all of these ‘Welfare’ programs need to be eliminated. There was one thing that he did not include in his list of welfare programs, that was Congressional, Senate, and Presidential retirement pay and benefits, go figure. He has been receiving taxpayer-paid benefits for decades, but I guess that doesn’t count.


Back in the 1950’s the top end national tax rate was 90%, during that time the U.S. was able to build city infrastructures, a National Highway program unequaled in the whole world as well as thousands of new bridges and dams. Now, our roads, bridges, dams, and cities are falling apart, why is this? Now the top end tax rate has been 35% and the President is pushing a top end tax rate of 20%. This is at the same time that corporations are swimming in cash and as they say, with nowhere to spend it. About six months ago, I think it was on CNN, that they reported that U.S. companies have about 13 Trillion Dollars sitting in offshore accounts. So, what do these Republican lawmakers want to do, take even more money out of the economy and give it to these same folks who are destroying our country from the inside? It is also these same benefactors who are filling the pockets of these same evil politicians.


Back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s in China Chairman Mao put a starvation policy in place against the citizens of China. The reason was simple, 500 million people are easier to control than one billion people. Folks, these are just things that I have seen, heard, and read throughout my 60+ years. You don’t have to agree with anything that I have written in this article today, but I hope that I have been able to at least get you to think about these issues.







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