The Bible says that God will make the deserts of Israel bloom, but who could have imagined that one day Israelis would be growing coral reefs in the middle of the Negev? Yet for the last six years, a company called OkCoral has been doing just that. Israeli farmer Assaf Shaham began growing manmade coral in aquariums as a tourist attraction for coral enthusiasts. But three years ago, he partnered with an Israeli biotech company called CoreBone to provide coral for human bone grafts.
Coral is an ideal substance for bone grafts, which are used as scaffolding for new bone tissue to grow on. Unlike synthetic materials, coral is as strong as human bone and does not carry the risk of rejection that comes from animal sources. By using coral grown in the desert aquariums, scientists do not have to worry about harming existing natural coral reefs or losing access to this material as more and more countries make it illegal to harvest oceanic coral.
Once again, Israel has provided a solution that allows for a win-win outcome.
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