Medical expo dazzles with vast array of innovations

Professor Ami Ballin: “The leading cause of anemia in preemies is a deficit of red blood cells due the taking of blood samples for medical testing.”The intensive medical treatment that premature infants receive often saves their lives. But along with …

Professor Ami Ballin: “The leading cause of anemia in preemies is a deficit of red blood cells due the taking of blood samples for medical testing.”The intensive medical treatment that premature infants receive often saves their lives. But along with the good comes the bad – many of these delicate infants eventually suffer from anemia, because of the frequency that blood is taken from them for various tests in the first days of their lives.

An Israeli clinician is developing a solution to this problem – a syringe that would enable unused red blood cells to be returned to the baby’s system. It was one of the many innovations on display for the first time last week at the three-day Medax-Israel Medical Week exhibition and conference in Tel Aviv.

Professor Ami Ballin, a professor of pediatrics and hematology at the Wolfson Medical Center, explained that the “leading cause of anemia in preemies is a deficit of red blood cells due the taking of blood samples for medical testing.”

Anemia in infancy can affect psychomotor development as well as mental and motor functioning for up to a decade of a child’s life.

Ballin’s syringe, which is being developed with support from the Israeli government, is able to return unused and precious red blood cells back into the infant, and minimize the damage of the extensive blood testing to the baby’s system.

He demonstrated the device, which is already undergoing clinical testing, to the hundreds of doctors who passed by his booth at the Medax event.

The Medax conference featured speakers from Israel and from abroad, with lectures and discussions on medical technologies and medical care. This year, the conference devoted a day of discussions on children’s medicine, another on geriatrics, and a third on medical innovations. The conference, was attended by thousands of physicians from around the country, who debated issues such as the question of many innovations for a few or few innovations for many, the use of robots to perform surgery, and many other subjects.

The large-scale exhibition accompanying the conference featured the latest in medical equipment, including the newest Israeli developments in what has become an increasingly important field. Several of the new developments on display, like Ballin’s, are being developed with government support in order to attract investment. The seed money provided by the government in its Tnufa program, allows those with new ideas for medical technological advances to develop them to the point where they can be shown to investors.

According to Dr. Eli Opper, Israel’s chief scientist, “The life sciences sector is taking an increasingly large role in venture capital investment in Israel and around the world. This has already been expressed in the amount of interested from investors in this field, in the various developments here.”

The 15th Israel Medical Week, held every two years, is organized by the Stier Group and the Israel Medical Association and included 1500 exhibitors from Israel and abroad.

In addition to physicians, the exhibits attract members of the medical profession such as nurses, medical technicians, engineers, physiotherapists, hospital maintenance teams, buyers of medical equipment, laboratory technicians, and all other related branches of the profession.

Some of the advanced medical technologies that were on display included Teva’s DXI system for rapid results of endocrinology and cancer tests; an automatic, compact monitor/defibrillator that saves people from cardiac arrest; advanced sterilization equipment that comes in various new sizes; software that performs nutritional assessments; and a tabletop platform for oncology patients using heat, medications, pressure, and radiation.

Another device being developed in Israel under the Tnufa program includes medication bottles that enable the medicine to be inserted into a syringe without the use of a needle.

In an age of health care savings, medication in hospitals increasingly comes from multi-use bottles and not disposable ampules. Disturbingly, needles carrying infection that have been used to draw the medicine out of the multi-use bottles have contaminated the entire contents of the bottle and have spread disease throughout medical care facilities. More careful design of these bottles can keep the medication sterile and protect the health of patients.

Also featured at Medax was an artificial intelligence system that makes it possible for doctors to give an oral description of a patient’s medical history and condition that is turned into digital and printed files will be on display for the first time.

The technology was developed at Nahariya Government Hospital in cooperation with the Fully Information company, with supervision by the Health Ministry’s computerization branch.

Dr. Jack Stolero, head of the hospital’s emergency medicine department, and hospital director-general Shaul Shasha told The Jerusalem Post that the system covers the patient’s medical file from the moment of admission to the emergency room through his discharge – all without any manual entering of data.

The system, called Doc-Talk, has been programmed with a wide variety of medical terms so that it “understands” what the doctor is speaking about in a natural language.

The developers said the system minimizes errors caused by doctors’ scribbles on charts, saves time, and forces users to fill in mandatory fields set down by hospital management.

There was a significant American presence at Medax, due to the efforts fo the U.S. embassy, who organized a U.S. Catalog Show at the exhibit. American products account for 50% of Israel’s $500 million market of imported medical equipment. Companies such as GE Medical, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, 3M, and others are established in Israel to pursue market opportunities and to form strategic partnerships with local R & D companies.