Medical Device Daily Contributing Writer

HAIFA, Israel — The second Israel Innovation Summit, held here March 21-22, brought more than 180 breakthrough Israeli technologies from start-up to global enterprises in areas where Israel is a prominent player together with developers, financiers, and others interested in such developments.

Amit Dar, head of R&D at NESS (Ra'anana), showed the company's latest noninvasive neuroprosthesis, the NESS L300, an innovative wireless system designed to improve gait in people suffering from foot drop, a condition commonly following central nervous system trauma, injury or disease that results in weakness or paralysis of muscles of the lower leg.

The NESS L300 is a three-part device — an electronic orthosis that wraps around the knee, an Intelli-Sense Gait Sensor placed under the heel, and a control unit. Together they detect and transmit foot placement and provide synchronized electrical stimulation to the targeted muscles and nerves to stimulate dorsiflexion of the foot, giving toe clearance during the swing phase of ambulation, thus improving gait and lessening the likelihood of tripping.

NESS recently reported a planned merger with Bioness (Santa Clarita, California) (Medical Device Daily; April 2, 2007).

Both the veteran Given Imaging (Haifa) and InSightec (Tirat Carmel) focused on new applications of their devices.

Yoav Medan, InSightec VP, opened the session on Cancer Devices with the company's new non-invasive cancer treatment option, showing how the MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) technology can be widely applied going well beyond the treatment of uterine fibroids, its flagship application since 2004.

Medan told MDD that "currently, InSightec is in clinical trials applying the non-invasive treatment paradigm to breast, liver, bone and brain tumors" and that the ExAblate system "holds the possibility of treating numerous problems" such as alleviation of pain caused by bone metastases in patients ineligible for radiation therapy (citing a study in Annals of Oncology); and selective disruption of the blood-brain barrier, a potential treatment for a wide variety of neurological deficits caused by trauma, stroke and Parkinson's disease.

"HIFUS, when combined with MRI for precise visualization and guidance, thermal control, with real-time outcome assessment, is the ideal surgical tool with the potential to provide non-invasive surgical alternatives able to transform the nature of the operating theater, both for patients and for medical personnel," Medan said. "The list of potential applications is very long."

Cancer treatment devices that fast-freeze and zap with radioactive emitters were also introduced.

Didier Toubier, CEO of start-up Arbel Medical in the Naiot Venture Accelerator (Yokneam), presented its APOC platform based on liquid cryogen pulses, aimed to cryosurgically treat benign lumps of the breast (fibroadenomas) in an outpatient procedure, at less than half the cost of MRgFUS, with the same patient outcome.

Gideon Shichman, CEO of Althera, told MDD how Althera overcame the problem of delivering the short-ranged radioactive Alpha particles into the tumor to decimate it. "This radiation has been known for years to be extremely effective in destroying solid tumors, and, unlike standard brachytherapy devices, the DART Applicator uses a single penetration hole to implant multiple DART wires of different lengths at random trajectories throughout the tumor volume, a substantial reduction of the traumatic effects of the treatment."

Shichman said that Althera, which is in early clinical trials, would be the first to market for alpha radiation.

Israel also is known for its high-tech, software and communications developments.

Mark Lewis, executive VP and chief development officer at EMC Corp. (Hopkinton, Massachusetts), said that "seamless integration" is key. One could say that makes these systems run as smoothly as the nervous system.

Sarah Lipman, founder of Power2B (Jerusalem), gave MDD a quick tour of digital muscle come to bear on life sciences: the combination of finger-touch input with point-and-click TV capabilities that intuitively searches through reams of medical records, images, arrays and databases.

"Imagine being able to intuitively flip thru a stack of MRI 'slices,' through thousands of digital records, through libraries of pharma leads, diagnostic databases or epidemiological tracks, using your natural body language to hone in on the data you need without scrolling through endless lists," Lipman said. "Power2B's sensing system is the ultimate human-computer interface: precisely the data you want, precisely when you want it."

Declaring that "the age of digital health has arrived," Shmuel (Mooly) Eden, corporate VP and general manager of the Mobile Platforms Group at Intel (Santa Clara, California), introduced the Mobile Clinical Assistant in Israel. This small, portable device is set to transform the hospital.

Wireless, durable and disinfectable, the smart touch pad, identifies, verifies, documents and transmits–patient, condition, medication-treatment, at the point of care, with screen and voice in concert.

The $5,000 price tag buys five devices in one, including barcode and RFID reader, camera, a fingerprint reader, biosensors and voice communication.

Intel collaborated with Motion Computing (Austin, Texas) — a long-time provider of mobile healthcare products — with extensive ethnographic research worldwide on medical professionals to inaugurate the Intel MCA platform and category that they are gearing up for a revolution ushering in the digital hospital.

Eden said, "Intel is looking at the broader infrastructure and incorporation of wireless and point-of-care software applications that prove that it can decrease costs of errors, increase time-efficient healthcare, improve outcomes, leaving more humane time for patients."

Uzia Galil — the 80-something, who founded and led Elron Electronic Industries (Haifa) for some decades, then established Uzia Initiatives and Management (Haifa) and the Galil Medical Center at the Faculty of Medicine of the Technion (Haifa) to accelerate the application of new research advances — focused on digital health records and patient management.

Galil told MDD, "It was a very good surprise to see Intel, a devoted chip manufacturer, making a presentation for a digital health management device, the MCA. This is very sophisticated marketing of Intel's chips, which run the infrastructure for the MCA. Intel understands that by demonstrating the impact of the MCA on improved patient outcome with better efficiency, cost control and greater patient autonomy, then the device will sell its chips."

Galil believes that "the creation of digital health records for every patient is key to shortening the decades of trials between research advances and applications that benefit patients."

"Digitization allows comparison of hundreds or thousands of patients, understanding the range of drug reactions, and how to optimize treatment protocols, the basis for personalized medicine," he said.