Malaria is one of those diseases that people in the West don’t hear about much anymore, but in certain parts of the developing world it remains a serious problem. It’s estimated that approximately half of the world’s population is at risk for malaria and approximately 1 million people die of malaria each year. Because of its complex life cycle it may be difficult to prevent and diagnose malaria. Approximately 500 million blood tests are performed annually to diagnose the disease.
An Israeli company, SightDX, has produced a device based on computer vision and proprietary algorithms that can perform blood tests quicker, cheaper and more accurately than humans. The device can be operated in the field and does not require a skilled operator.
The following video shows how the device works:
Imagine removing a tumor deep in someone’s brain without ever cutting open their skull. Imagination a treatment for fibroids that instead of requiring weeks of recuperation allows the patient to return to her normal activities the next day. You don’t have to imagine these things because thanks to the ExBlate system manufactured by an Israeli company called InSightec they are a reality.
The system uses a combination of MRI and ultrasound technology to locate the target tissue and ablate it. MR thermometry allows the physician to control and adjust the treatment in real time to ensure that the targeted tissue is treated and surrounding non targeted tissue is spared. The use of this painless procedure reduces hospitalization days, cuts down on side effects and allows for precise removal of target tissue.
So far it has already been approved for fibroids and for bone metasteses and work is now in progress to get clearance for use in removing brain tumors.
The following clip shows the system in action:
I think we can all agree that, although it is very important for early cancer detection, the colonoscopy is not the most pleasant medical procedure. However, in addition to being unpleasant, the current procedure has a number of drawbacks:
- The colonoscope can spread diseases between patients if it is not properly disinfected between patients.
- The colonoscopy procedure requires a lengthy learning curve
- If performed improperly the procedure can result in patient injury
- There is a danger of missing pathologies
GI View (Ramat Gan, Israel) developped the Aer-O-Scope to meet these challenges. The device is disposable and using proprietary tecnology provides a 360 degree view of the view.
The Aer-O-Scope is easily controlled by a joystick and moves inside the colon by gentle pressure and by controlling the pressure of inflatable balloons, thereby greatly reducing the risks of injuries inflicted by the colonoscope. It is CE marked and has received 510(k) clearance.
The following clip shows exactly how the Aer-O-Scope works:
SteadyMed Therapeutics has just joined the growing list of Israeli companies that got their start in a technological incubator, and that went on to gain investor confidence in a big way, by raising $40 million in its NASDAQ IPO.
SteadyMed Ltd. is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development of drug products to treat orphan and high value diseases with unmet parenteral delivery needs. The company’s lead candidate is Trevyent, a development stage drug product that utilizes SteadyMed’s PatchPump technology to administer treprostinil, a vasodilatory prostacyclin analogue to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. PatchPump is a proprietary, disposable, parenteral drug administration platform that is prefilled and preprogrammed at the site of manufacture.
While the company is headquartered in the USA, much of the R&D work is done in Rehovot Israel.
As stated above, the company’s chief product is its PatchPump drug delivery system. The PatchPump is attached to the patient’s body where it delivers medication over a defined period using a battery powered disposable pump. The the battery (called an e-cell) serves as both power supply and pump as is shown in the following video clip:
The company got its start in 2005 in the Rad Biomed incubator by three founders: Ian Solomon, Amir Genosar, and Gideon Kahana. As with many Israeli startups the founders initially worked without receiving a salary while outsourcing much of the development work.
Consider how difficult it is to walk. Humans are the only mammals who regularly walk around on only two legs and if you think about it, we are in constant danger of tipping over. Thanks to our brain managing to process a huge amount of input and send the correct signals to our muscles we generally manage to avoid catastrophic falls. Now think about the surfaces where you walk most days. Are they smooth like a treadmill or do they have bumps, obstacles, elevations and declines? Now think about what a challenge the simple act of walking is for people with neurological disabilities such as cerebral palsy and stroke.
Step of Mind, based in Israel, developed the Re-Step™ system to improve the walking and balance performance of stroke and brain trauma patients or people with CP. As the company’s website states:
“The system consists of a pair of special shoes whose sole height and angles change in a specific given order, thereby facilitating motor learning and problem solving in real time.
The shoes measure the parameters of the user’s gait. Additionally, progress data and treatment recommendations can be delivered to different types of computers (desktops, tablets, etc.) or smart mobile devices connected to the system.”
The clip below provides a brief explanation of how the system works:
Re- Step was partly developed by Dr. Simona Bar Haim, who before earning her PhD while in her forties, worked with children with cerebral palsy as a physical therapist. Several scientific studies have been published in peer reviewed journals showing the system’s effectiveness.
It is no secret that the Middle East is one of the most conflict-ridden areas on the globe. That is why it is so refreshing to note that, in addition to in Israel, Step of Mind has is actively collaborating with health professionals in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Turkey
To get a better idea of what is going on with the Israeli medical device scene let’s first look at some numbers about the Israeli hi tech sector of which medical devices is a part.
- There are currently more than 250 multinationals with R&D centers in Israel including 80 Fortune 500 companies such as: Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, General Motors, J&J and GE
- With the exception of China, Israel has more NASDAQ listed companies than any other country outside the USA.
- In 2011 foreign companies bought out 83 Israeli start-up companies
- Israel has the highest number of engineers per capita in the world
- In the last decade Israel has produced 10 Nobel laureates
- Israel ranks #2 in the world (behind South Korea) in R&D expenditures as percent of GDP
These numbers reflect very well the power of the Israeli hi-tech sector. My next post will delve more specifically into the medical device scene.
What is so interesting about the medical device scene in Israel, a tiny country roughly the size of Massachusetts with a population of approximately 8.3 million? Israel is so small that on most world maps the word “Israel” instead of appearing on the country itself, floats somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. Why did Covidien, acquire four Israeli medical device companies over the space of 18 months including Given Imaging for $860 million? Why have other giant international medical device companies such as Medtronics, J&J, GE Medical and Stryker snapped up multiple Israeli medical device companies? Why is tiny Israel the home to approximately 700 medical device companies?
This blog will try to provide the answers to these questions, to profile exciting Israeli companies and to discuss medical devices in general.