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Even when the results of the basic research at the Weizmann Institute are translated directly to medical application, it may take years to reach patients. But, once in a while, a finding can change lives almost immediately.
In 2006, Prof. Nava Dekel of the Institute’s Biological Regulation Department, together with doctors in the IVF unit of Kaplan Medical Center, made the surprising discovery that performing a uterine biopsy – causing a slight injury to the lining of the uterus – just before a woman undergoes in vitro fertilization (IVF) doubles the chances of a successful pregnancy. Although the mechanism was not completely clear, Dekel and her team assumed that the injury provokes a response in the uterus that makes it more receptive to the embryo’s implantation.
The next year, Dekel was in Toronto, Canada, giving a lecture in the framework of the Weizmann Women and Science series, organized by Weizmann Canada. That lecture was reported in detail in a local Jewish newspaper, where it caught the attention of Howard and Roslyn Kaman. After many years of undergoing unsuccessful fertility treatments, failed IVF and miscarriages, the article gave the couple new hope. They contacted Dekel by e-mail, and she referred them to Drs. Amichai Barash and Irit Granot, who had participated in the original research along with Drs. Yael Kalma and Yulia Gnainsky of the Weizmann Institute.
The doctors in Rehovot sent, as requested, a detailed description of the procedure, which was then performed in a fertility clinic in Toronto. The result: A healthy baby girl, Hannah Esther Angel Kaman, was born this past October.
Prof. Nava Dekel’s research is supported by the Kirk Center for Childhood Cancer and Immunological Disorders. Prof. Dekel is the incumbent of the Philip M. Klutznick Professorial Chair of Developmental Biology.
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to 2,600 scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.
Weizmann Institute news releases are posted on the World Wide Web at http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/, and are also available at http://www.eurekalert.org/