Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

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May 30, 2019 is World MS Day, uniting individuals and organizations from around the world to raise awareness and move us closer to a world free of MS.

Canada leads the world with one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS). With an estimated 1 in every 385 Canadians living with MS, research and innovations on the disease are of high interest to our country.

Luckily, Technion researchers have made the news with some very promising discoveries over the past couple years.

PREVENTION

Could what we eat be the cause of autoimmune diseases such as MS? Technion Professor Aaron Lerner and his colleague Torsten Matthias published their research on additives in our food and their effects in Autoimmunity Reviews

https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/news-posts/2016/01/08/rise-ms-autoimmune-disease-linked-processed-foods/ (news article)

RESEARCH

As a subsidiary of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the Technion Research & Development Foundation Ltd. (TRDF) offers a unique gateway to the Technion cutting edge scientific and technological knowledge and capabilities.

The Merck Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation is a Technion effort to raise money to continue digging for new information on the disease. Discoveries may help those who suffer, as well as prevent new cases from occurring! https://www.trdf.co.il/eng/kolkoreinfo.php?id=6753

ANCIENT GREECE

It took a while, but a hypothesis from the old-world Greeks has been proven accurate! Led by Professor Hossam Haick, a team of 56 researchers from 5 different countries proved smells can be more telling than we thought.   https://ats.org/news/you-are-what-you-exhale-different-diseases-have-distinct-chemical-signatures/

DEDICATION

Associate Professor Ariel Miller has devoted much of his professional career towards understanding the causes and how to treat MS. http://www.rappaport.org.il/Rappaport/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&TMID=610&FID=77&PID=0&IID=245

ONE BRAIN, MANY THOUGHTS: Just take a look at the published paper on his Multiple Sclerosis research! 17 publications since 2001! https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1191/1352458504ms980oa

VIRTUAL REALITY

Technion Computer Science Emeritus Prof. Yoram Baram’s virtual reality device helps people with Movement Disorders like Multiple Sclerosis to walk. Film made by the American Technion Society. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVA1DOf1K9M

 

Looking back is always a refreshing way to see how far we have come. We can’t wait to see what new discoveries come from Technion in the future! Hopefully with all these discoveries we will see the end of this debilitating disease in the near future.

Student Hackathon at Technion

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Technion Hosts t-hack – Israel’s Largest Student Hackathon

The PneuMonitor team developed a system for monitoring life-threatening situations on the battlefield and won first place and a NIS 50,000 prize.

PneuMonitor is the team that won the NIS 50,000 first-place prize at t-hack – the largest student hackathon in Israel, which was held at Technion. The four group members: Noy Mark, Anat Lyubin Haimov, Rafi Gerasi, and Eran Sasha developed an innovative technology that detects a dangerous medical condition known as pneumothorax also known as a collapsed lung.

More than 600 students throughout the country and across 150 teams participated in t-hack, winning cumulative prizes totalling NIS 100,000. In the final stage of the hackathon, 10 groups with outstanding ideas presented their projects to a panel of judges which included, Prof. Adam Shwartz,  Technion’s Senior Executive Vice President; Dr. Irit Idan, Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; Dov Moran, a serial entrepreneur, investor and inventor of the disk-on-key; and Eden Shochat, a venture capitalist, equal partner at Aleph VC, and  co-founder of Face.com, a world leader in facial recognition for social networks.

T-hack, initiated by Technion’s Student Union (ASAT) and t-hub, Technion’s new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, focuses on three main areas:  autonomous systems, smart cities and accident and emergency medicine. Leading entrepreneurs from Israel’s industry and participating companies served as mentors for the students. The event was funded by Technion and supported by Intel, Facebook, Noble Energy and other technology companies.

At the opening of the event, Prof. Adam Shwartz, said that, “The event was born out of the understanding that entrepreneurship is a worldview and a way of life, and   Technion must provide entrepreneurial education to its students.” Prof. Schwartz is also the Chairman of t-hub, Technion’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, which recently won a NIS 10 million grant from the Council for Higher Education. He added, “We are committed to providing all interested students with the tools to solve engineering, technological and scientific challenges during their professional careers, whether they work in academia, start-up companies, industrial, civilian or security companies, or in any other companies that benefit the public.”

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World Health Day

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With a dual focus on research and clinical studies, Technion’s mission is to advance knowledge in life and medical sciences, improve health care, and train compassionate clinicians, researchers and teachers. Inspired by their valiant efforts we have pulled together a round-up of recent health oriented topics going around Technion!

The next generation: doctoral student Limor Arbel-Ganon unlocks mysteries of the heart. Her sinoatrial node research won her first place at the Israeli Society of Psychology and Pharmacology this past February!

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A psychologist may not agree with this logic, but Nanomedic Technologies Inc.’s Spincare prevents pain by keeping a safe distance from its patients.

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Technion researcher, Lerner Aaron made strides this January finding what may be the root of our celiac epidemic!

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YoFix Yogurt takes soy and dairy out of the equation while still providing you with the benefits of probiotics.

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Now you can be sure you know where your food came from! Jet-Eat prints sustainable food right at home!

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Educating the population on how to keep themselves healthy is one of the most important things we can do! We are proud of the Technion researchers and graduates for their endeavours within the health sector! Cannot wait to see what is coming next!

Hey Doc, How’s My Immune System Doing?

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If those ubiquitous TV infomercials are to be believed, a person’s age can be determined solely by outward signs, like wrinkled skin, grey hair, and yellow teeth. But according to a team of researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Stanford University, the state of a person’s immune system provides a far more accurate measurement of a person’s health than physical signs or even chronological age. The team has also developed a way to gauge “immune age,” which could bring about new frontiers in personalized medical treatment, drug and vaccine clinical development, and health management and insurance processes.

Over an individual’s life, the immune system declines in function, a process accompanied by an increase in inflammation. This ultimately leads to an inability to cope with infections and a higher risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, the leading causes of death among older people. Due to the high complexity of the immune system, no real metric of immunological health exists in the clinic beyond the Complete Blood Count. This lab test, which has been in existence since 1957, enumerates the abundance of immune cells, but at a resolution too low to identify anything but extreme conditions.

Enter the new monitoring system developed by the Technion-Stanford team. Their study characterized annually, at high resolution and with thousands of different parameters, the immune systems of 135 healthy people at different ages over a period of nine years. The researchers collected rich longitudinal data that allowed for the capture a pattern of immune cellular changes occurring over time that are common to all adults, irrespective of individual differences between peoples’ immune systems.

“Individuals varied only at the rate their immune system changes, not in the actual pattern of change,” said Shai Shen-Orr, Associate Professor in the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and lead co-senior author of the study. “This allowed us to map a path of how the immune system ages and to quantify an individual’s immune age. Unlike your actual chronological age, the immune-age is intimately tied to the state of one’s immune system, the body’s chief sentinel. We can, therefore, capture medically relevant information using immune age that physicians would otherwise miss.”

Using the new method, the researchers quantified the immune age of more than 2,000 adults who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, which has been carried out among people living in the Boston area for more than half a century. By analyzing the data collected on this large sample, the researchers showed that advanced immune age predicts mortality at an older age beyond known risk factors. In other words, although they may be in the same age group, people with an “older” immune system are at higher risk of dying than people with a “young” immune system.

“This paper represents a very important step towards developing useful measures of immunological health, especially as it could help to identify who is at risk for cardiovascular and other diseases,” said Professor Mark M. Davis, Head of the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection and the other co-senior author of the study. “It’s been sixty years since the last immunological benchmarks (CBCs) were introduced into general medical practice and so it’s high time we had something much more sophisticated such as we describe here, that reflects the tremendous explosion of knowledge that we have had in the field in this time.”

Because immune age is also affected by genetics, the researchers want to characterize the immune age of populations with a genetic predisposition to a long life, such as descendants of people who passed the age of 100. “By doing so, we may characterize genes that affect immune age,” said Prof. Shen-Orr. “In addition, the method we developed will make possible identification of lifestyle, habits, and medications that affect immune age positively or negatively.”

The research was published in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine and was led by Prof. Shai Shen-Orr of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Prof. Mark Davis of Stanford University, with co-first authors, doctoral student Ayelet Alpert and Dr. Yishai Pickman of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, together with other Technion and Stanford researchers. The research has been supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH-NIAID), the Ellison Foundation, the Howard Hughes Institute, the Israel Science Foundation, the Rappaport Institute, and the Kollek and Taub Family Awards.

Click  here for the paper in Nature Medicine

New Center for 3D Tissue Printing

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An innovative center for the printing of cells, tissues, and organs has been established in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Faculty Dean Professor Shulamit Levenberg, who heads the center, said that “the new center is open to all Technion researchers and will lead the Technion’s tissue engineering department into new areas.”

The field of tissue engineering has undergone dizzying progress in recent decades – and the Technion has filled a significant role in this revolution. Technion researchers are developing complex and precise artificial tissues that significantly improve their integration in the target organ. This involves, among other things, the creation of tissue containing a developed system of blood vessels that quickly connect to the patient’s blood vessels.

The 3-D Bio-Printing Center for Cell and Biomaterials Printing will provide a significant boost to the field of tissue engineering. The center operates an innovative printer that prints three-dimensional scaffolds and the cells that grow into tissue. The printer translates the information obtained from the patient’s CT scans into three-dimensional tissue suited to the injury area. The system has additional tools to design scaffolds or cells to make 3D tissues, Levenberg said. “You can design as you wish and seed cells in the proper orientation to allow them to better organize into the right tissue structure.”

The printer is relevant to all areas of regenerative medicine and makes possible the printing of various tissues and the integration of controlled- release systems. It has several different printing heads, enabling the simultaneous creation of printed tissue from different materials. It is equipped with precise motors of variable speed and accuracy of 0.001 mm, as well as a built-in camera that improves the exactitude of the printing needle.

The system is suitable for a wide range of raw materials, such as hydrogels, thermoplastic materials and ointments, with precise temperature and radiation control (ranging from 0 to 70 degrees Celsius and 30 to 250 degrees Celsius and ultraviolet radiation). The printing can be carried out directly into the culture dish.

Technion on Display at AIPAC Policy Conference

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Even among keynote speeches by Israeli and American leaders, countless presentations, and demonstrations of groundbreaking Israeli innovations on parade at last week’s AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., it’s the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology that will be remembered by many of the 20,000 people in attendance.

The most visual representation of the Technion was the LABSCAPES exhibition displayed in the AIPAC Village for the duration of the conference.

The most visual representation of the Technion was the LABSCAPES exhibition displayed in the AIPAC Village for the duration of the conference. Created and curated by Anat Har-Gil, an artistically gifted member of the Technion’s Computing and Information Systems Department, the exhibition featured unforgettable images taken with microscopes used in the fields of chemistry, physics, life sciences, engineering, and medicine that at first glance evoke thoughts of spectacular natural vistas. In reality, the images show the majesty of crystals, bacteria, human cells, and other entities invisible to the naked eye are revealed through the power of the modern microscope.

Also wowing the AIPAC crowds was Technion alumna Orly Rapaport (B.Sc. Computer Science) presented her startup, “myFavorEats” for consideration to a “Shark Tank”-like panel. According to Rapaport, the company’s founder and CEO, myFavorEats uses Artificial Intelligence to mimic a Chef’s intuitive thinking and a nutritionist’s wisdom, enabling users to instantly personalize their recipes to their dietary needs and adapt them to their digital kitchen appliances. myFavorEats is part of the Technion Drive Accelerator.

Gilad Hizkiyahu (B.Sc., Aerospace Engineering), who is the Co-CEO at Singer Instruments and Control Ltd., gave a fascinating presentation about how defense innovation is not just keeping Israel safe; it is also being utilized for applications in medical technologies that benefit the world.

Finally, in a private reception with Technion supporters, another graduate of the Technion, Eliad Peretz (B.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering) shared about his position was a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow. Currently a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University and a researcher for new space missions, he leads the development of materials and technologies that will enable the creation of more advanced detectors used for space exploration.

Super Sensitive, Groundbreaking Smart Sensor “Tastes” and “Sniffs”

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Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed an innovative sensing system capable of identifying and distinguishing different stimuli. The system is based on origami (the art of paper folding) combined with ink developed at the Technion.

The Israeli researchers have developed an innovative sensing system capable of identifying and distinguishing different stimuli. The research, just published in the journal Nature Communications, was led by Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion’s Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, and Dr. Min Zhang, who did his post-doctoral fellowship with him. Dr. Zhang is currently an associate professor at East China Normal University.

“Today, there is significant demand for multi-purpose sensing systems for specific purposes,” said Prof. Haick. “These systems have great potential as applications in medicine, counter terrorism, food safety, environmental monitoring, ‘The Internet of things’ and more. The problem is that existing technologies, such as gas chromatography, have many disadvantages, including high cost.”

The challenge facing the researchers was to develop a single system sensitive enough to identify and distinguish among different stimuli. They say they developed a solution inspired by nature.  “When we think about the human sensory system, we think of a whole that brings all the data to the brain in a format that it understands. That inspired our development, which is meant to concentrate in a different place all the environmental data we want to monitor. It is a multi-purpose sensory system that absorbs the stimuli and distinguishes among them.”

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Elysa Greisman, Technion Canada’s New National Executive Director

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Technion Canada is proud to welcome our new National Executive Director, Elysa Greisman.
Elysa is a talented and seasoned executive with over 20 years of senior management experience. She brings a wealth of expertise in the areas of fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, budgeting, leadership of operations and staff. She is a respected leader in the community who is passionate about education and has a strong commitment to Israel and Jewish values. She has worked at the Jewish Foundation/UJA Federation and at several Jewish Day Schools in Toronto.
 
We look forward to many successful years for Technion Canada under Elysa’s leadership.

Does the Organization of DNA During Sperm Development have an Effect on Future Offspring?

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Researchers at Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine present new findings regarding the organization of DNA during sperm formation and its implications on future organisms. The research which was published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology was done by Prof. Noam Kaplan and MSc student Haia Khoury from the Technion, together with their colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Leading the research at Cincinnati were Prof. Satoshi Namekawa and research student Kris Alvattam.

  The DNA in the living cell is packed, together with the proteins attached to it, in a molecular complex called chromatin. Although it may seem that the chromatin serves only as a packaging of genetic data within the DNA, the way in which the DNA is packed considerably influences cellular systems. For example, DNA that is tightly packed may become inaccessible to biological machinery which reads the DNA, possibly leading to inactivation of genes encoded in that DNA sequence.  

This current research examined the organization of the DNA during spermatogenesis – sperm development. Although spermatogenesis has been long studied, the way in which DNA is packed during this process has not been mapped in detail due to technological challenges. Now, researchers have met this challenge by using a novel technology, called Hi-C, which combines experimental molecular biology with computational analysis to measure the spatial organization of DNA.    

Each day, millions of sperm cells are created in the human male body. One of the critical stages in the formation of sperm cells is meiosis (cell division). Early in meiosis, DNA is drastically reorganized as the chromosomes condense in preparation of the upcoming cell division. Furthermore, these condense chromosomes swap segments of DNA and in this way increase genetic variation.

The Israeli-American research team successfully isolated mouse sperm cells at the start of meiosis when the chromosomes are condensed and then used Hi-C to measure the spatial organization of the DNA. The researchers discovered that the spatial structure of the chromatin gradually strengthens during spermatogenesis, until it reaches its ultimate strength in the mature sperm. They suggest that this organization enables the sperm cells to activate a wide variety of genes during meiosis, enabling the cells to later gain the unique ability of producing all cell types after fertilization. According to Dr. Kaplan, “In the future, we intend to use this approach in order to understand how the genome’s spatial structure may influence fertility.”      

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Azrieli Foundation and the Henry and Marilyn Taub Scholarship.

Prof. Kaplan joined the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine in 2016 and established an interdisciplinary laboratory for studying the spatial structure and function of genomes in health and disease.

Haia Khoury completed her BSc at the Technion’s Faculty of Biology and is currently pursuing an MSc in Biomedical Sciences at the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.

Click here  to read the paper in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology