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עמוד בית
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January 2023
Naama Hermann MD, Pnina Mor CNM PhD, Orit Kaidar-Person MD, Rinat Bernstein-Molho MD, Mali Brodsky RN MSc, Dana Madorsky Feldman MD, Anath A. Flugelman MD MPH MA, Hadar Aboody Nevo MD, Danna Meshoulam Avital MD, Miri Sklair-Levy MD, Eitan Friedman MD PhD, Tanir M. Allweis MD

Background: Population screening for the BRCA mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish women was recently implemented in Israel and is expected to lead to a 10-fold increase in the diagnosis of asymptomatic carriers. Performing the screening follow-up within multidisciplinary dedicated clinics for carriers is recommended for early detection and risk reduction.

Objectives: To determine the availability, capacity, and practices of dedicated screening clinic for BRCA carriers in Israel.

Methods: A telephone-based survey of all public hospitals in Israel was conducted October 2020 to August 2021 to determine whether they had a dedicated clinic. Dedicated clinics were defined as multidisciplinary screening clinics offering at least breast and gynecological screening and risk reducing services on site. The clinic director or nurse navigator answered a questionnaire about screening practices followed by a semi-structured interview.

Results: Of the ten dedicated BRCA clinics found in Israel, nine participated. Approximately 4500 BRCA carriers are currently being followed. No specialized clinics are available in the southern district or in the northernmost half of the northern district of Israel, leading to a disparity between periphery and center. Screening recommendations, although asserted as adhering to international guidelines, vary among clinics including age at initiating of clinical exam, use of adjunct imaging modalities, and follow-up during lactation and after risk reducing surgery.

Conclusions: There is a suboptimal distribution of dedicated clinics for BRCA carriers in Israel. Nationally centralized attempt to create guidelines that will unify screening practices is warranted, especially considering the expected increase in demand.

December 2013
Sergiu C. Blumen, Anat Kesler, Ron Dabby, Stavit Shalev, Chaiat Morad, Yechoshua Almog, Joseph Zoldan, Felix Benninger, Vivian E. Drory, Michael Gurevich, Menachem Sadeh, Bernard Brais and Itzhak Braverman
 Background: Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) produced by the (GCG)13 expansion mutation in the PABPN1 gene is frequent among Uzbek Jews in Israel.

Objectives: To describe the phenotypic and genotypic features in five Bulgarian Jewish patients, from different families, with autosomal dominant OPMD.

Methods: We performed clinical follow-up, electrodiagnostic tests and mutation detection. Blood samples were obtained after informed consent and DNA was extracted; measurement of GCG repeats in both PABPN1 alleles and sequencing of OPMD mutations were performed according to standard techniques.

Results: We identified five patients (four females), aged 58 to 71 years, with bilateral ptosis, dysphagia, dysphonia (n=3) and myopathic motor units by electromyography. In all patients we noticed proximal weakness of the upper limbs with winging scapulae in three of them. All cases shared the (GCG)13-(GCG)10 PABPN1 genotype.

Conclusions: OPMD among Bulgarian Jews is produced by a (GCG)13 expansion, identical to the mutation in Uzbek Jews and French Canadians. In addition to the classical neurological and neuro-ophthalmological features, early shoulder girdle weakness is common in Bulgarian Jewish patients; this is an unusual feature during the early stages of OPMD produced by the same mutation in other populations. We suggest that besides the disease-producing GCG expansion, additional ethnicity-related genetic factors may influence the OPMD phenotype. OPMD is a rare disease, and the identification of five affected families in the rather small Bulgarian Jewish community in Israel probably represents a new cluster; future haplotype studies may elucidate whether a founder effect occurred. 

October 2013
I. Abadi-Korek, J. Glazer, A. Granados, O. Luxenburg, M.R. Trusheim, N. Hakak and J. Shemer
September 2012
R. Sukenik-Halevy, U. leil-Zoabi, L, Peled-Perez, J. Zlotogora, and S. Allon-Shalev

Background: Genetic screening tests for cystic fibrosis (CF), fragile X (FRAX) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) have been offered to the entire Arab population of Israel in the last few years. Since 2008, screening for CF is provided free of charge, but for FRAX and SMA the screening is privately funded with partial coverage by complementary health insurance programs.

Objectives: To assess the compliance of Arab couples for genetic screening tests, and the factors that affect their decisions.

Methods: We analyzed compliance for genetic screening tests at the Emek Medical Center Genetic Institute, and in outreach clinics in four Arab villages. We enquired about the reasons individuals gave for deciding not to undergo testing. We also assessed the compliance of these individuals for the triple test (a screening test for Down syndrome).

Results: Of the 167 individuals included in our study, 24 (14%) decided not to be tested at all. Of the 143 (86%) who decided to be tested, 109 were tested for CF only (65%) and 34 (20%) for SMA and FRAX (as well as CF). The compliance rate for the triple test was 87%. Technical reasons, mainly financial issues, were the most significant factor for not undergoing all three tests.

Conclusions: The compliance of the Arab community for genetic testing for SMA and FRAX is extremely low. We believe that this low utilization of screening is due to economic reasons, especially when a complementary health plan has not been acquired, and largely reflects the perception that these tests are less important since they are privately funded.

April 2012
I. Ben-Zvi, I. Danilesko, G. Yahalom, O. Kukuy, R. Rahamimov, A. Livneh and S. Kivity

Background: Amyloidosis of familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) may lead to end-stage renal failure, culminating in kidney transplantation in some patients.

Objectives: To assess demographic, clinical and genetic risk factors for the development of FMF amyloidosis in a subset of kidney-transplanted patients and to evaluate the impact of transplantation on the FMF course.

Methods: Demographic, clinical and genetic data were abstracted from the files, interviews and examinations of 16 kidney-transplanted FMF amyloidosis patients and compared with the data of 18 FMF patients without amyloidosis.

Results: Age at disease onset and clinical severity of the FMF amyloidosis patients prior to transplantation were similar to FMF patients without amyloidosis. Compliance with colchicine treatment, however, was much lower (50% vs. 98 %). Post-transplantation, FMF amyloidosis patients experienced fewer of the typical serosal attacks than did their counterparts (mean 2214 days since last attack vs. 143 days). Patients with FMF amyloidosis carried only M694V mutations in the FMF gene, while FMF without amyloidosis featured other mutations as well.

Conclusions: Compliance with treatment and genetic makeup but not severity of FMF constitutes major risk factors for the development of amyloidosis in FMF. Transplantation seems to prevent FMF attacks. The protective role of immunosuppressive therapy cannot be excluded.


October 2011
Z. Paz, M. Nalls and E Ziv

In Israel, Yemenite Jews and other populations including Ethiopian Jews and Bedouins have a low neutrophil count. This phenomenon has been called “benign neutropenia” since it has not been associated with any increased risk of infection and has also been described in other populations around the world including Africans, African Americans and Afro-Carribeans. Here we describe the recent success in mapping the gene that underlies benign neutropenia in African American populations. We discuss the known function of the gene and consider potential mechanisms for the effect on neutropenia. We also consider the possibility that this gene underlies the same effect observed in Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian Jews and Bedouins in Israel.

December 2010
O. Ronen, S. Bar Cohen and D. Rund

Background: Traditionally, medication dosage was based on clinical and demographic parameters, but drug metabolism was recently recognized as an important factor for proper dosing and prediction of side effects. Metabolic considerations are crucial when administering drugs with a narrow therapeutic index, such as those of the thioguanides family (azathioprine and 6-MP). These can cause life-threatening myelosuppression due to low activity of a critical metabolic enzyme, thiopurine S-methyl transferase. A number of single nucleotide substitutions encoding variant enzymes account for most enzyme deficiencies.

Objectives: To determine the frequency of individuals from different Israeli ethnic groups who may be at risk for drug toxicity from drugs of the thioguanide family due to enzymatic variants.

Methods: DNA analysis was performed using polymerase chain reaction methods. We tested TPMT[1] allelic variants TPMT*3A (G460A, A719G), TPMT*3B (G460A) and TPMT*3C (A719G) in five subpopulations in Israel: mixed-origin Israeli Jews, Arabs, Druze, Jews of Kurdish extraction, and Ethiopian Jews.

Results: The Druze (P = 0.0002) and Ethiopian Jewish (P = 0.015) subpopulations had a significantly unique distribution of allelic variants compared to the rest of the Israeli population. The Druze subpopulation showed a high number of TPMT variants with decreased activity, and a homozygote for TPMT*3A/ *3A was detected.  Ethiopian Jews were found to carry mainly the TPMT*3C variant, also observed in other studies of African populations.

Conclusions: It is advisable that Druze patients be tested for the TPMT enzyme before starting treatment with 6-MP or azathioprine. Such testing may also be considered for other Israeli ethnic subgroups.

[1] TMPT = thiopurine S-methyl transferase

April 2010
M. Cohen-Cymberknoh, D. Shoseyov, S. Goldberg, E. Gross, J. Amiel and E. Kerem

Pathological gambling is classified in the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and in the ICD-10 (International Classification of Disease) as an impulse control disorder. The association between impulsivity and pathological gambling remains a matter of debate: some researchers find high levels of impulsivity within pathological gamblers, others report no difference compared to controls, and yet others even suggest that it is lower. In this review we examine the relationship between pathological gambling and impulsivity assessed by various neurocognitive tests. These tests – the Stroop task, the Stop Signal Task, the Matching Familiar Figures Task, the Iowa Gambling Task, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, the Tower of London test, and the Continuous Performance Test – demonstrated less impulsivity in gambling behavior. The differences in performance between pathological gamblers and healthy controls on the neurocognitive tasks could be due to addictive behavior features rather than impulsive behavior.

M. Cohen-Cymberknoh, D. Shoseyov, S. Goldberg, E. Gross, J. Amiel and E. Kerem
December 2009
P. Rozen, I. Liphshitz, G. Rosner, M. Barchana, J. Lachter, S. Pel, T. Shohat, E. Santo, and the Israeli Pancreatic Cancer Consortium

Pancreatic cancer is not a common malignancy in Israel, but it is the third most common cause of cancer mortality, attributable to a lack of screening tests, inaccessibility of the pancreas, and late cancer stage at diagnosis. We reviewed the epidemiology, known risk factors and screening methods available in Israel and describe the Israeli national consortium that was established to identify persons at risk and decide on screening methods to detect and treat their early-stage pancreatic cancer. In collaboration with the Israel National Cancer Registry, we evaluated the incidence and trends of the disease in the Jewish and non-Jewish populations. The consortium reviewed known lifestyle risk habits and genetic causes, screening methodologies used and available in Israel. Overall, there are about 600 new patients per year, with the highest incidence occurring in Jewish men of European birth (age-standardized rate 8.11/105 for 2003–06). The 5 year survival is about 5%. The consortium concluded that screening will be based on endoscopic ultrasonography. Pancreatic cancer patients and families at risk will be enrolled, demographic and lifestyle data collected and a cancer pedigree generated. Risk factors will be identified and genetic tests performed as required. This concerted national program to identify persons at risk, recommend which environmental risk factors to avoid and treat, and perform endoscopic ultrasound and genetic screening where appropriate, might reduce their incidence of invasive pancreatic cancer and/or improve its prognosis


November 2008
Michal Tenenbaum, Shahar Lavi, Nurit Magal, Gabrielle J. Halpern, Inbal Bolocan, Monther Boulos, Michael Kapeliovich, Mordechai Shohat, Haim Hammerman

Background: Long QT syndrome is an inherited cardiac disease, associated with malignant arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

Objectives: To map and identify the gene responsible for LQTS[1] in an Israeli family.

Methods: A large family was screened for LQTS after one of them was successfully resuscitated from ventricular fibrillation. The DNA was examined for suspicious loci by whole genome screening and the coding region of the LQT2 gene was sequenced.

Results: Nine family members, 6 males and 3 females, age (median and interquartile range) 26 years (13, 46), who were characterized by a unique T wave pattern were diagnosed as carrying the mutant gene. The LQTS-causing gene was mapped to chromosome 7 with the A614V mutation. All of the affected members in the family were correctly identified by electrocardiogram. Corrected QT duration was inversely associated with age in the affected family members and decreased with age.
Conclusions: Careful inspection of the ECG can correctly identify LQTS in some families. Genetic analysis is needed to confirm the diagnosis and enable the correct therapy in this disease

[1] LQTS = long QT syndrome

October 2008
P. Rozen, Z. Levi, R. Hazazi, I. Barnes-Kedar, Z. Samuel, A. Vilkin and Y. Niv

Background: Dedicated, organ-specific screening clinics have been shown to significantly reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.

Objectives: To establish a dedicated clinic for Clalit Health Service patients at high risk for hereditary gastrointestinal cancer and to provide them with clinical and genetic counseling, diagnostic screening and follow–up.

Results: During the 3 years of the clinic's activity, 634 high risk families, including 3804 at-risk relatives, were evaluated. The most common conditions were hereditary colorectal syndromes, Lynch syndrome (n=259), undefined young-onset or familial colorectal cancer (n=214), familial adenomatous polyposis (n=55), and others (n=106). They entered follow-up protocols and 52 underwent surgical procedures.

Conclusions: Consistent public and professional education is needed to increase awareness of hereditary colorectal cancer and the possibility of family screening, early diagnosis and therapy. The public health services – i.e., the four health management organizations – should provide genetic testing for these patients who, at present, are required to pay for almost all of these available but costly tests. Dedicated colorectal surgical units are needed to provide the specialized therapeutic procedures needed by patients with familial colorectal cancer. Our future plans include adding psychosocial support for these at-risk patients and their families as well as preventive lifestyle and dietary intervention. 

D. Hershkovitz and E. Sprecher

For centuries skin pigmentation has played a major societal role. Genetic disorders of skin pigmentation have therefore always evoked the curiosity of both laypersons and physicians. Normal skin pigmentation is a complex process that begins with the synthesis of melanin within the melanocytes, followed by its transfer to neighboring keratinocytes where it is translocated to the upper pole of the nucleus and degraded as the keratinocyte undergoes terminal differentiation. Mutations in various genes involved in melanocyte migration during embryogenesis, melanin synthesis and melanosomal function and transfer have been shown to cause pigmentation disorders. In the present review, we discuss normal skin pigmentation and the genetic underpinning of selected disorders of hypo- and hyperpigmentation.

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