Technion Coronavirus Breakthroughs

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Dear Friend,

So much has changed at the Technion. In-person classes have moved online, events have been cancelled, and COVID-19 research is well underway. In fact, right now, at least 40 Technion research teams are developing rapid diagnostic tools, treatments for patients, and potential COVID-19 vaccines. In the midst of so much anxiety, there is hope… thanks to the dedicated students and brilliant researchers at the Technion.

You can support students to continue their studies and ensure that vital COVID-19 research gets out of the lab and starts saving lives.  It won’t surprise you that the response from the Technion community is nothing short of remarkable.

SUPPORT THE COVID RESEARCH FUND

CHEAP, FAST CORONAVIRUS TEST

Prof. Naama Geva-Zatorsky leads a team of researchers at Technion in developing a cheap and fast home kit to test for coronavirus. Without the need for elaborate lab equipment, the researchers say the kit is 99% accurate.

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LIQUID FOAM THERAPY: NEW HOPE FOR COVID19 PATIENTS

Prof. Josué Snitzman and his team developed Liquid Foam Therapy (LIFT), a potentially-life saving technology combined with a smart inhaler that delivers necessary drugs to the lungs. This gives hope for COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

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QUICK, AFFORDABLE VENTILATORS TO SAVE LIVES

Maj. Dr. David Alkaher, the CTO and innovation leader of the Israeli Air Force’s Unit 108, led the AmboVent project: a ventilator hack that could help COVID-19 patients and responders on the frontlines. Maj. Dr. David Alkaher is a Technion alumnus.

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AIR-SHIELD TO PROTECT MEDICAL STAFF

Prof. Ezri Tarazi and his team have created an innovative device for medical staff masks. This shield continuously blows air on their faces improving protection against infection, while eliminating fogging and overheating.

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INTEL ACQUIRES MOOVIT FOR $900M

Intel recently acquired Israel’s Moovit for $900m for their transit solution helping essential workers get to their jobs safely amidst the coronavirus crisis. Co-founders Yaron Evron and Roy Bick are Technion alumni.

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TOUCH-FREE ACCESS

Corsight’s technology gives medical teams touch-free access to open locked areas through an AI-based facial recognition system without the removal of protective gear. Cortica was founded by Prof. Yehoshua Zeevi and doctoral graduates, Igal Raichelgauz and Karina Ordinaev.

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NANOGHOSTS TO TRAP CORONAVIRUS

Prof. Marcelle Machluf found an innovative way to help those affected by the coronavirus through her patented Nano-Ghost therapy. Best known for her cancer research to treat melanoma, Prof. Machluf has refocused her research on the pandemic.

We’re in this together. Behind every innovation, idea and breakthrough, there is one common purpose: to save lives.
With your support, the Technion can take even greater strides to help those in need and prove how determination and the Israeli spirit can make the impossible possible in fighting the pandemic.

SUPPORT THE EMERGENCY RESEARCH FUND

Touchless Access in a Post-COVID World

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Sonorax CCO Nimrod May

Israeli startup Sonarax is ready for a touchless new world with its ready-to-install ultrasonic data-transmission technology.  In the era of COVID, we are all more of shared touch surfaces such as elevator buttons, ATM touch pads and other buttons touched by multiple people. Sonarax offers a touchless solution based on machine-to-machine technology using sound-waves to transfer data between any devices equipped with a speaker and microphone.

“It all began with Roni Papo, an engineer from the Technion, who had the vision and passion to harness sound-waves in order to deliver data,” says Sonarax Chief Commercial Officer Nimrod May.  “He developed algorithms to send data in small packages over soundwaves.”

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Breakthrough in Microscale Bio-separations from IBM Research and the Technion

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Researchers: Dr. Govind Kaigala, Prof. Moran Bercovici, Vesna Bacheva, Dr. Federico Paratore

Collaborative research between IBM Research and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has led to a new method for the separation of particles and molecules from small samples, based on their diffusivity, a molecular property which correlates well with size.  The researchers are currently adapting the method for rapid and direct detection of coronavirus from throat swabs.

In a recent paper published in Angewandte Chemie and designated by the journal as a “Very Important Paper,” researchers at IBM Research Europe in Zurich and at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology presented a new method and device for separation of particles and biomolecules. 

The device makes use of virtual channels, a concept presented by the same team a year ago in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, wherein unique flow fields can be generated in a microfluidic chamber using electric field actuation.  In their latest findings, the authors used this technology to create bidirectional flows – alternating stripes carrying fluid in opposite directions.  Such a flow field is impossible tocreate using traditional pumps and valves, and when particles are introduced into this flow they behave in a well-explained yet initially non intuitive manner: small particles remain stationary, while large particles flow away quickly. 

“We know that all particles in a fluid move in random directions in a process called Brownian motion” said Vesna Bacheva, a PhD candidate in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and a co-first author of the paper. “This is the same mechanism that allows us to smell a small drop of perfume from across the room – the molecules simply make their way randomly in a process also known as diffusion.  However, small particles diffuse much faster than large ones, and when placed in the bidirectional flow they move across the opposing flow streams very quickly. This makes them move very slightly back and forth but overall – stay in place. Larger molecules or particles diffuse much slower and end up being carried away by the flow.”  The team calls their method BFF, meaning “bidirectional flow filter.”  This separation mechanism was defined by one of the paper reviewers as “a fundamentally significant contribution to the field that only comes along every 10-20 years.”

“It really is very simple,” added Dr. Federico Paratore, postdoctoral researcher at IBM Research in Zurich, who also co-first authored the paper. “Surprisingly, it hasn’t been done so far, most likely because of technological limitations. Whereas developing the concept certainly took time and iterations, with today’s microfabrication capabilities the final device is rather a simple solid-state device that can be produced on a large scale”.

In the paper the team demonstrated the separation of antibodies and particles from small molecules and provided the theory and engineering guidelines for separation of wide variety of biomolecules.   “The reason this might be very useful is because the majority of biological assays rely on a reaction between a probe and the target molecule in the sample, followed by removal of the excess probe molecules that did not find their target. This last step is often very involved and is extremely challenging when the volume of the sample is small,” said Prof. Moran Bercovici.  “Our method does this very well, provided that the two reacting elements are of sufficiently different size.”

The team is currently working to adapt the method for rapid detection of the novel Coronavirus.

Dr. Govind Kaigala explained the concept: “Fortunately, the coronavirus is fairly large – about 100 nm in diameter. This is much larger than antibodies or other probes that can be used to bind to it. Using our method we hope to be able to place a patient’s sample into our chip where it will mix with visible probes, and then see only the viruses flowing out while the unbound probes stay behind.”

This work was funded by the European Research Council (MetamorphChip) and by the BRIDGE program (project 40B1-0_191549), funded by Innosuisse and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Click here for the paper in Angewandte Chemie

Click here to video explaining the research

Israel at forefront of COVID vaccine research

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Prof. Avi Shroeder

Israeli researchers and universities are among those working on a potential vaccine for COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, 70 vaccine trials are now taking place around the globe.

This article highlights the vaccine research being conducted by Professor Avi Schroeder, and by Israel’s MIGAL Institute. Former Technion Professor Yitzhak Apeloig is on the MIGAL Board of Directors. Its scientific advisory committee includes Technion Nobel laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover, Professor Gadi Schuster, and Professor Moshe Shoham.

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