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Let's start 2020 with happy thoughts. In this latest DARA newsletter, you can read a curated collection of good news stories that came across our desk and we hope set a tone for the entire year that catches.

Keep scrolling to hear about an inspirational blood drive, Israeli aid in yet another disaster zone, and Israeli scientists driving forward to treat pancreatic cancer.

Jews, Muslims come together to donate blood

"This blood drive shows that people can really come together during a time when there is so much division and we are honoured that so many people from across the whole community have come here today to donate.”

Those are the words of Ali Madani, from the Centre for Islamic Enlightening in London, England. He was speaking at an interfaith blood drive in late December, where Jews and Muslims came together to donate blood in the Golders Green neighbourhood.

The event allows the area's large Jewish population to return the goodwill supplied by their Muslim neighbours in November 2017. Just after the Islamic Centre opened, members came to Golders Green United Synagogue to donate blood for Mitzvah Day.

For Rabbi Natan Levy, the recent event gave an opportunity to declare his support for the nascent Muslim community.

“[I wanted] to meet my neighbours and give blood at the Markaz Hippodrome because there are people right here in Golders Green who feel that this generous and open hearted community does not belong here," said Levy.

Pancreatic cancer: Israeli scientists find new and improved treatment

Israeli scientists have discovered a new way to treat pancreatic cancer that shows results after two weeks of daily injections.

The breakthrough, achieved by researchers in Tel Aviv University, could cause the destruction of up to 90% of pancreatic cancer cells when patients are injected with a molecule known as PJ34.

Researchers tested the treatment on mice, will next roll it out to pigs, and hope to begin human trials in two years.

The PJ34 molecule worked by inducing the self-destruction of human cancer cells during mitosis, or cell division.

“This molecule causes an anomaly during mitosis of human cancer cells, provoking rapid cell death,” said Prof. Malka Cohen-Armon, who led the study. “Thus, cell multiplication itself resulted in cell death in the treated cancer cells.”

Even more promising, the treatment did not harm any health cells in the mice tested.

Israel engineers bring earthquake expertise to Albania

Another month, another sighting of Israeli professionals offering post-disaster aid in a foreign country. 

The location this time: Albania, where an earthquake levelled thousands of buildings in late November.

Israeli residents deal with the constant threat of an earthquake that experts warn is due to hit the country. But Israeli engineers this time transported their expertise overseas.

“They are from Israel and they are No. 1,” said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. “The engineer says that after the catastrophe you should kiss your home because it has resisted (the quake) and has protected you."

Other countries sending engineers include Greece, Italy, the United States, France, Bulgaria, and Romania.

The earthquake, which hit on November 26, killed 51 people and injured several thousand more. 

The Israeli engineers in Albania have worked on the damage to the country's infrastructure, with more than 11,000 buildings damaged. Albanians have been left homeless as the government assesses the situation. Many residents will face the winter while sleeping in tents.


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