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British-Israeli Research Partnership Announces Funding for New Medical Initiatives

Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX), a partnership between Israel and the United Kingdom, have announced funding for eight research initiatives this year, The Times of Israel reported today:

The BIRAX partnership, a joint initiative of the British Embassy and the British Council in Israel, is a bilateral research program that promotes regenerative medicine research, a biomedical approach to curing and restoring the functions of the human body, often using the body’s own tissues. …

Funding will be awarded to 11 leading universities in Britain and Israel where the research will take place, including Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Hadassah Hospital, Hebrew University, MIGAL (Galilee Research Institute), the Technion and the Weizmann Institute. Part of the £3.2 million funding for the projects will be provided by four leading UK medical research charities, including the British Heart Foundation, type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, the MS Society and Parkinson’s UK.

Among the projects: Regenerating the liver using a patient’s own stem cells (University of Edinburgh/Hebrew University); using a breath test for diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (University of Cambridge/Technion); regenerating immune cells to treat diabetes (Cardiff University/MIGAL); and using heart cells to restore damaged heart muscle (University of Oxford/Weizmann Institute).

Ha’aretz reported that Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the partnership saying:

“In so many areas our scientists are working together and engaged in some of the most significant projects of our age. Their research has the potential to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people.”

Ha’aretz reported further:

Chair of the U.K.-Israel Science Council and Oxford Professor Raymond Dwek said: “Every now and then a technology breakthrough in science holds promise for dramatic progress in disease therapy and cures. The BIRAX initiative which is supported by leading scientists in the U.K. has focused on stem cell therapies with this goal and acknowledges that the U.K. science base is complemented by the outstanding work in this area in Israel. This combination offers real hope of substantial progress in many disease areas”.

One of the initiatives being pursued this year is a breath test that detects Parkinson’s disease. The Israeli researcher involved in this initiative, Prof. Hossaim Haick of the Technion, has been involved in developing breath tests for early detection of cancer and pneumonia.

The first BIRAX initiatives were announced two years ago.

[Photo: coursera / YouTube ]