Bac­te­ria’s Syria fam­ily smart tac­tics flee to Is­rael re­vealed

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY NATHAN JEF­FAY BY SHIRA RU­BIN

BAC­TE­RIA HAVE the abil­ity to pre­dict when people will take an­tibi­otics and learn to dodge them, Is­raeli re­searchers have found.

The dis­cov­ery comes as a UK govern­ment re­port warned this week that an­tibi­otic-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria could spark a re­turn “to the dark ages of medicine”.

He­brew Univer­sity sci­en­tists ob­served bac­te­ria get­ting used to a three-hour dosage of an­tibi­otics, and learn­ing to go dor­mant for that pe­riod in or­der to sur­vive. They saw bac­te­ria de­vel­op­ing this re­sis­tance af­ter just 10 days of mon­i­tor­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to physi­cist Nathalie Bal­a­ban, who con­ducted the study in con­junc­tion with Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties Har­vard and MIT, the study was the first to show that bac­te­ria have a bi­o­log­i­cal timer. “As the study went on, more bac­te­ria sur­vived as they got a mu­ta­tion which re­jected the tim­ing of an­tibi­otic treat­ment,” she said.

Dr Bal­a­ban claimed that the re­search, which was pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture, may lead to new strate­gies for in­creas­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of an­tibi­otics, such as vary­ing dosage sched­ules to “trick” bac­te­ria.

The study was the first to show that bac­te­ria have a bi­o­log­i­cal timer

A MIXED Jewish-Mus­lim fam­ily has es­caped from Syria to Is­rael, the first such in­stance since the civil war be­gan three years ago.

Their jour­ney, which took weeks, in­volved pass­ing check­points manned both by regime forces and rebel mili­tias, the Jerusalem Post re­ported on Thurs­day af­ter a gag or­der was lifted.

Their es­cape, which in­volved nav­i­gat­ing ter­ri­tory con­trolled by the Sunni ji­hadi group, the Is­lamic State, was made pos­si­ble by ar­range­ments made be­tween Moti Kahana, an Amer­i­canIs­raeli busi­ness­man, and mod­er­ate mem­bers of the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion.

“They said they wanted to go home [Is­rael], and that they had never felt at home,” said Mr Kahana.

Two mem­bers of the fam­ily set out first and were even­tu­ally joined by the re­main­ing seven in a coun­try neigh­bour­ing Syria, where Mr Kahana met them and of­fered them res­i­dency in that coun­try, in the US, or in Is­rael.

The res­cue oper­a­tion was fa­cil­i­tated in con­junc­tion with the Is­raeli NGO Is­rael Fly­ing Aid, as well as the Is­raeli Jewish Agency and the Min­istry of Ab­sorp­tion.

The fam­ily, made up of three gen­er­a­tions, is cur­rently liv­ing in a ab­sorp­tion cen­tre near Tel Aviv and some have re­cently be­gun new jobs, though they asked to re­main uniden­ti­fied.

Their goal now is to blend into Is­raeli so­ci­ety, said Mr Kahana, who is in touch with them on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

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