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Ahead of the Israestem conference: Israel should invest in the field of regenerative medicine and stem cells, in order to maintain its leadership against countries that have decided to promote the field

Says Dr. Avi Treves, chairman of the Israstem conference that will be held in about two weeks in the village of Maccabiah. The conference will be attended by researchers from all over the world as well as regulatory experts.

Dr. Avi Treves, Sheba Medical Center
Dr. Avi Treves, Sheba Medical Center

Treatment of cells, and in particular stem cells, a field known today as regenerative medicine is a field in which Israel is strong, and therefore it was decided to hold the first Israstem conference, where academics, industry and government will meet. In preparation for the conference, the chairman of the conference, Dr. Avi Treves, who is also the deputy director of the Cancer Research Center, Sheba Medical Center and one of the founders of Bio Regenerate and Gamida-cell says

The convention will be held on April 22-23 in the village of Maccabiah. "We mainly concentrate on the clinical applications of the field of cellular healing in general and stem cells in particular, or as it is now called regenerative medicine."

"There are currently 18 companies operating in the country, all of them are in development stages and some of them have started selling products that can be transported through regulatory pathways that are not unique to stem cells. Six companies are already in the stages of clinical trials. The most advanced company is the Gamida-Sal company, which has successfully completed the third phase of a clinical trial and is awaiting FDA approval to sell its first product in the technology for stem cell proliferation: stem cells from umbilical cord blood for the treatment of malignant diseases of the blood - leukemia."

Another company that is in advanced stages is Pluristem, which is in the second stage of clinical trials in the US and Europe in the treatment of chronic wounds that have no other treatments, and we can also mention the Brainstorm company, which is conducting clinical trials in the treatment of ALS (the physicist Stephen Hawking also suffers from it), and Macro-Cure, which developed a technology based on white blood cells from healthy donors that undergo activation and are also intended for the treatment of chronic wounds.

"In addition, such field leaders from around the world will also arrive. One of the most prominent scientists in the field, Prof. Joan Kurzfeld from Duke University in North Carolina will present her work on the treatment of neuronal diseases using umbilical cord blood. Another scientist - Eva Feldman, a neurology specialist from the University of Michigan in Ann Harbor, will present her work on the treatment of neuronal diseases with embryonic stem cells.

In addition to the scientific aspect, the conference will have special sessions on regulation in the US and Europe, and a designated session dedicated to government and private financing of the stem cell field. In addition, companies that manufacture and sell devices and services related to this field will also participate in the conference and exhibition, so that the field of stem cells from all the leading directions in Israel and the world will be discussed.

Fear of losing Israeli leadership

According to Dr. Treves, in all developing countries and also in Israel, there is a unique regulatory track for stem cells in the Ministry of Health, which is responsible for the regulation of cell-based medicines. "Israel is still one of the leading countries in the field, but several countries in the world have declared the field as a favorite and are investing billions of dollars, and the prominent countries are California, South Korea, Japan and England. It will be difficult to compete with such orders of magnitude of investments. In particular when there is no separate track in Israel, but the companies have to compete against companies from other fields in the normal tracks of the chief scientist."

As part of the convention, a team including Dr. Treves himself, working within the Ella Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, will present an interesting work from the Sheba Hospital of treating metastatic melanoma patients using cells from the patient's own immune system. "The treatment, known as TIL - tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, was developed in the USA, Sheba's scientists brought it to Israel, continued to develop it and gained clinical experience in the last 4 years. At the conference, the clinical findings will be reported, which look very promising in combination with drugs that were only approved in the last few months for the same disease."

"Another interesting lecture expected at the conference is that of Prof. Zelig Ashchar from the Weizmann Institute, who over the past 20 years has developed a method for genetic modification of lymphocytes that directs them against cells of cancerous tumors. In the last two years, clinical trials of this technology have already begun in the USA and there are already first reports of its use."

To the Israstem conference website

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