Cancer Cells Mobilizing the Nervous System? Let’s Use Them to Inhibit the Tumor

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Cancer Cells Mobilizing the Nervous System? Let’s Use Them to Inhibit the Tumor

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Technion researchers have just published findings in Science Advances that support the efficacy of the technology that they developed: Treatment of breast cancer by anesthesia of the nervous system around the tumor. The treatment not only inhibited tumor growth but also prevented metastasis to other organs                                                                                                

Professor Avi Schroeder

Researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have developed an innovative treatment for breast cancer, based on analgesic nanoparticles that target the nervous system. The study, published in Science Advances, was led by Professor Avi Schroeder and Ph.D. student Maya Kaduri of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, and despite breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment, about one thousand women in Israel die of the disease per year. Around 15% of them are under the age of 50. Worldwide, some 685,000 women die each year from breast cancer.

Prof. Schroeder has years of experience in developing innovative cancer treatments, including ones for breast cancer and specifically triple-negative breast cancer – an aggressive cancer characterized by rapid cell division with a higher risk of metastasis. Technologies developed in his lab include novel methods for encapsulating drug molecules in nanoparticles that transport the drug to the tumor and release it inside, without damaging healthy tissue.

The researchers found that cancer cells have a reciprocal relationship with the nerve cells around them: the cancer cells stimulate infiltration of nerve cells into the tumor, and this infiltration stimulates cancer cell proliferation, growth, and migration. In other words, the cancer cells recruit the nerve cells for their purposes.

Based on these findings, the researchers developed a treatment that targets the tumor through the nerve cells. This treatment is based on injecting nanoparticles containing anesthetic into the bloodstream. The nanoparticles travel through the bloodstream toward the tumor, accumulate around the nerve cells in the cancerous tissue, and paralyze the local nerves and communication between the nerve cells and the cancer cells. The result: significant inhibition of tumor development and of metastasis to the lungs, brain, and bone marrow.

The nanoparticles simulate the cell membrane and are coated with special polymers that disguise them from the immune system and enable a long circulation time in the bloodstream. Each such particle, which is around 100 nm in diameter, contains the anesthetic.

Maya Kaduri

According to Maya Kaduri: “We know how to create the exact size of particles needed, and that is critical because it’s the key to penetrating the tumor. Tumors stimulate increased formation of new blood vessels around them, so that they receive oxygen and nutrients, but the structure of these blood vessels is damaged and contains nano-sized holes that enable penetration of nanoparticles. The cancerous tissue is characterized by poor lymphatic drainage, which further increases accumulation of the particles in the tissue. Therefore, the anesthetizing particles we developed move through the bloodstream without penetrating healthy tissue. Only when they reach the damaged blood vessels of the tumor do they leak out, accumulate around the nerve cells of the cancerous tissue, and disconnect them from the cancer cells. The fact that this is a very focused and precise treatment enables us to insert significant amounts of anesthetic into the body because there is no fear that it will harm healthy and vital areas of the nervous system.”

In experiments on cancer cell cultures and in treatment of mice, the new technology inhibited not only tumor development but also metastasis. The researchers estimate these findings may be relevant for treatment of breast cancer in humans.

The research is supported by the Rappaport Technion Integrated Cancer Center (RTICC) as part of the Steven & Beverly Rubenstein Charitable Foundation Fellowship Fund for Cancer Research, and by Teva, as part of its National Forum for BioInnovators. The research was conducted in cooperation with the Faculty of Medicine at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Institute of Pathology at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

Prof. Avi Schroeder is head of the Louis Family Laboratory for Targeted Drug Delivery & Personalized Medicine Technologies at the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering. Maya Kaduri, who has a B.Sc. from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion, began researching under the guidance of Prof. Avi Schroeder during her bachelor’s degree, and this year she is expected to complete her Ph.D. (direct track).

For the article in Science Advances click here

Click here for video demonstrating the research

 

Printing Blood Vessel Networks for Implantation

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Printing Blood Vessel Networks for Implantation

For the first time, Technion scientists succeeded in forming a network of big and small blood vessels, necessary for supplying blood to implanted tissue

Engineered constructs promote host functional vasculature ingrowth upon anastomosis with rats’ femoral artery. Transversal and side µCT images of perfused vascular networks in explanted engineered tissues. Vascular structures in the scaffold lumen (brown) communicate with vessels located in the surrounding hydrogel (green). The dashed line inserts show regions with vessel segments crossing the scaffold wall and communicating the luminal and external vasculatures.

 

Professor Shulamit Levenberg

Researchers led by Technion Professor Shulamit Levenberg, who specialises in tissue engineering, have succeeded in creating a hierarchical blood vessel network, necessary for supplying blood to implanted tissue. In the study, recently published in Advanced Materials, Dr. Ariel Alejandro Szklanny used 3D printing for creating big and small blood vessels to form for the first time a system that contained a functional combination of both. The breakthrough took place in Prof. Levenberg’s Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Laboratory in the Technion’s Faculty of Biomedical Engineering.

In the human body, the heart pumps blood into the aorta, which then branches out into progressively smaller blood vessels, transporting oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues and organs. Transplanted tissues need similar support of blood vessels, and consequently so do tissues engineered for transplantation. Until now, experiments with engineered tissue containing hierarchical vessel networks have involved an intermediary step of transplanting first into a healthy limb, allowing the tissue to be permeated by the host’s blood vessels, and then transplanting the structure into the affected area. (e.g. this study by Idan Redenski about engineered bone grafts, published earlier this year.) With Dr. Szklanny’s new achievement, the intermediary step might become unnecessary.

Dr. Ariel Alejandro Szklanny

To create in the lab a tissue flap with all the vessels necessary for blood supply, Dr. Szklanny combined and expanded on two separate techniques. First, he created a fenestrated polymeric scaffold that mimics the large blood vessel, using 3D printing technologies. The fenestration served to create not just a hollow tube, but a tube with side openings that allowed the connection of smaller vessels to the engineered larger vessel. Using a collagen bio-ink, tissue was then printed and assembled around that scaffold, and a network of tiny blood vessels formed within. Finally, the large vessel scaffold was covered with endothelial cells, which are the type of cells that constitute the inner layer of all blood vessels in the body. After a week of incubation, the artificial endothelium created a functional connection with the smaller 3D bio-printed vessels, mimicking the hierarchical structure of the human blood vessel tree.

The resulting structure was then implanted in a rat, attached to its femoral artery. Blood flowing through it did what we would want blood to do: it spread through the vessel network, reaching to the ends of the structure, and supplied blood to the tissue without leaking from the blood vessels.

One interesting point to note is that while previous studies used collagen from animals to form the scaffolds, here, tobacco plants were engineered by the Israeli company CollPlant to produce human collagen, which was successfully used for 3D bioprinting the vascularized tissue constructs.

This study constitutes an important step towards personalized medicine. Large blood vessels of the exact shape necessary can be printed and implanted together with the tissue that needs to be implanted. This tissue can be formed using the patient’s own cells, eliminating rejection risk.

The study received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.

For the full article in Advanced Materials click here

Click here for video demonstrating the research

 

Hydrogen On the Way

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Hydrogen On the Way
Researchers in the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion have developed a new system for producing hydrogen from water with a low energy investment and using available and inexpensive materials

Water electrolysis is an easy way to produce hydrogen gas. While hydrogen is considered a clean and renewable fuel, efficient electrolysis today requires high electric potential, high pH and in most cases, catalysts based on ruthenium and other expensive metals. Due to the inherent promise of hydrogen, many research groups are striving to develop electrolysis technologies that will make it possible to produce hydrogen fuel at a low electric potential, at a pH between 7-9 and with catalysts based on available and inexpensive metals such as copper, manganese, and cobalt.

Professor Galia Maayan

The Journal of the American Chemical Society  recently reported on a unique solution for this issue developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. It is the fastest system of its kind reported so far that operates with available metal (copper) catalysts. The research was led by Professor Galia Maayan, head of the Biomimetic Chemistry Laboratory in the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, and doctoral student Guilin Ruan.

The Technion researchers designed and developed a homogeneous electrolysis system, or in other words, a system in which the catalyst is soluble in water, so that all components of the system are in the same medium. The innovative and original system is based on (1) copper ions; (2) a peptide-like oligomer (small molecule) that binds the copper and maintains its stability; and (3) a compound called borate whose function is to maintain the pH in a limited range. The main discovery in this study is the unique mechanism that the researchers discovered and demonstrated: the borate compound helps stabilize the metallic center and participates in the process so that it helps catalyze it.

Doctoral student Guilin Ruan

In previous studies, the research group demonstrated the efficacy of using peptide-like oligomers to stabilize metal ions exposed to oxygen – exposure that may oxidize them in the absence of the oligomer and break down the catalyst. Now, the researchers are reporting on the success in creating a very efficient and fast electrolysis system. The stable system oxidizes the water into hydrogen and oxygen under the same desired conditions: low electric potential, pH close to 9 and inexpensive catalysts. According to Prof. Maayan, the system was inspired by enzymes (biological catalysts) that use the protein’s peptide chain to stabilize the metallic center and by natural energetic processes such as photosynthesis, which are driven by units that use solar energy to transport electrons and protons.

Copper complex, consisting of two molecules of a peptide-like oligomer that binds two copper ions, reacts under electrolysis conditions with a molecule of the borate compound; the product of the reaction is the catalyst that allows the water to oxidize and create oxygen and hydrogen efficiently and quickly.

The research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) and the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program.

Click here for the paper in The Journal of the American Chemical Society

This E-Skin Knows What Movement You Make

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This E-Skin Knows What Movement You Make

Technion scientists created a wearable motion sensor capable of identifying bending and twisting

The new device

 

Professor Hossam Haick

Technion scientists have produced a highly stretchable electronic material and created a wearable sensor capable of precisely identifying bending and twisting motion. It is essentially an electronic skin capable of recognizing the range of movement human joints normally make, with up to half a degree precision. This breakthrough is the result of collaborative work between researchers from different fields in the Laboratory for Nanomaterial-Based Devices, headed by Professor Hossam Haick from the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering. It was recently published in Advanced Materials and was featured on the journal’s cover.

Yehu David Horev

Prof. Haick’s lab is focused on wearable devices for various uses. Currently existing wearable motion sensors can recognize bending movement, but not twisting. Existing twisting sensors, on the other hand, are large and cumbersome. This problem was overcome by Ph.D. candidate Yehu David Horev and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Arnab Maity. Mr. Horev found a way to form a composite material that was both conductive (and thus, usable as a sensor) and flexible, stretchable, breathable, and biocompatible, and that did not change its electrical properties when stretched. Dr. Maity then solved the mathematics of analyzing the received signal, creating an algorithm capable of mapping bending and twisting motion – the nature of the movement, its speed, and its angle. The novel sensor is breathable, durable, and lightweight, allowing it to be worn on the human body for prolonged periods.

“This sensor has many possible applications,” Prof. Haick stated. “It can be used in early disease diagnosis, alerting of breathing alterations, and motor system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. It can be used to assist patients’ motor recovery and be integrated into prosthetic limbs. In robotics, the feedback it provides is crucial for precise motion. In industrial uses, such sensors are necessary in monitoring systems, putting them at the core of the fourth industrial revolution.”

“Electrically conductive polymers are usually quite brittle,” explained Mr. Yehu about the challenge the group had overcome. “To solve this, we created a composite material that is a little like fabric: the individual polymer ‘threads’ cannot withstand the strain on the material, but their movement relative to each other lets it stretch without breaking. It is not too different from what lends stretch to t-shirts. This allows the conductive polymer withstand extreme mechanical conditions without losing its electrical properties.”

What makes this achievement more important is that the materials the group used are very cheap, resulting in an inexpensive sensor. “If we make a device that is very expensive, only a small number of institutions in the Western World can afford to use it. We want the technological advances we achieve to benefit everyone, regardless of their geographic location and socio-economic status,” said Prof. Haick. True to his word, among the laboratory’s other projects is a tuberculosis-diagnosing sticker patch, sorely needed in developing countries.

Dr. Arnab Maity

The scientists who contributed to this study are Yehu David Horev, Dr. Arnab Maity, Dr. Youbin Zheng, Yana Milyutin, Dr. Muhammad Khatib, Dr. Ning Tang, and Prof. Hossam Haick from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology; Miaomiao Yuan from the Eighth Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, China; Dr. Ran Yosef Suckeveriene from the Department of Water Industry Engineering at the Kinneret Academic College; and Prof. Weiwei Wu from the School of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Xidian University, China.

Click here for the paper in Advanced Materials

 

Technion among world’s top 100 universities

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Technion among world’s top 100 universities

The Shanghai Ranking, which ranks the world’s leading academic institutions, places Technion 94th in the world

Haifa, Israel – August 16, 2021 – The Technion is 94th on a list of the world’s top 100 universities, according to a report published yesterday by Shanghai Ranking, the world’s leading index for higher education. The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is also on the top 50 list in two fields: aerospace engineering (16th place) and automation & control (46th place). In chemistry, the Technion ranks among the top 50-75 universities in the world. The Technion has consistently made the top 100 list of the Shanghai Ranking since 2012 (with one exception in 2020).

“The Technion is one of the world’s leading universities, and we will continue to invest efforts and resources to maintain this position for years to come,” said Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan. “The Technion’s strength lies in its excellent human capital, which leads to numerous achievements and breakthroughs in research and teaching. This is the result of hard work and dedication by Technion faculty, deans, administrative staff, and management.”

Prof. Sivan added that the Technion’s listing on the Shanghai Ranking and other indices “is not a purpose on its own. Global academic competition is rapidly intensifying, and while many governments around the world are steadily increasing their investments in academia and research, Israeli universities rely almost entirely on donations, which are becoming increasingly difficult to get.”

According to Prof. Sivan, “in order for Israel to preserve its standing at the forefront of global research, and to ensure the nation’s security, as well as its academic and economic future, the government should significantly increase investment in research and teaching, as well as adopt a welcoming stance toward the absorption of foreign faculty and students.”

While Prof. Sivan is “pleased that the Technion is among the three Israeli academic institutions on the top 100 list, we must remember that without government support and globalization of our research institutions, it will be harder for us to maintain this position.”

The Shanghai Ranking, first published in 2003, categorizes academic institutions according to objective criteria, such as the number of Nobel Prize laureates and other prestigious awards; the number of scientific articles published in the leading journals Nature and Science; the number of times scientific articles published by university researchers have been quoted; and researchers who’ve been frequently quoted in academic journals, relative to their peers in the field.

The index looks at 1,800 universities, from which the top 1000 are selected. Leading the list are Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Cambridge, MIT and UC Berkeley.

Letter from Uri Sivan, President Technion – Israel Institute ofTechnology Click Here

For the full ranking, click here.

Solution to the Chaotic Three-Body Problem

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Solution to the Chaotic Three-Body Problem

Scientists find an effective solution for the centuries-old famous three-body problem in physics, and all related to a drunkard’s walk

The three-body problem is one of the oldest problems in physics: it concerns the motions of systems of three bodies – like the Sun, Earth, and the Moon – and how their orbits change and evolve due to their mutual gravity. The three-body problem has been a focus of scientific inquiry ever since Newton.

Star orbits in a three-body system

When one massive object comes close to another, their relative motion follows a trajectory dictated by their mutual gravitational attraction, but as they move along, and change their positions along their trajectories, the forces between them, which depend on their mutual positions, also change, which, in turn, affects their trajectory et cetera. For two bodies (e.g. like Earth moving around the Sun without the influence of other bodies), the orbit of the Earth would continue to follow a very specific curve, which can be accurately described mathematically (an ellipse). However, once one adds another object, the complex interactions lead to the three-body problem, namely, the system becomes chaotic and unpredictable, and one cannot simply specify the system evolution over long time-scales. Indeed, while this phenomenon has been known for over 400 years, ever since Newton and Kepler, a neat mathematical description for the three-body problem is still lacking. 

In the past, physicists – including Newton himself – have tried to solve this so-called three-body problem; in 1889, King Oscar II of Sweden even offered a prize, in commemoration of his 60th birthday, to anybody who could provide a general solution. In the end, it was the French mathematician Henri Poincaré who won the competition. He ruined any hope for a full solution by proving that such interactions are chaotic, in the sense that the final outcome is essentially random; in fact, his finding opened a new scientific field of research, termed chaos theory. 

The absence of a solution to the three-body problem means that scientists cannot predict what happens during a close interaction between a binary system (formed of two stars that orbit each other like Earth and the Sun) and a third star, except by simulating it on a computer, and following the evolution step-by-step. Such simulations show that when such an interaction occurs, it proceeds in two phases: first, a chaotic phase when all three bodies pull on each other violently, until one star is ejected far from the other two, which settle down to an ellipse. If the third star is on a bound orbit, it eventually comes back down towards the binary, whereupon the first phase ensues, once again. This triple dance ends when, in the second phase, one of the star escapes on an un-bound orbit, never to return.

Professor Hagai Perets (Left) and Ph.D. student Yonadav Barry Ginat

In a paper accepted for publication in Physical Review X this month, Ph.D. student Yonadav Barry Ginat and Professor Hagai Perets of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology used this randomness to provide a statistical solution to the entire two-phase process. Instead of predicting the actual outcome, they calculated the probability of any given outcome of each phase-1 interaction. While chaos implies that a complete solution is impossible, its random nature allows one to calculate the probability that a triple interaction ends in one particular way, rather than another. Then, the entire series of close approaches could be modeled by using a particular type of mathematics, known as the theory of random walks, sometimes called “drunkard’s walk.” The term got its name from mathematicians thinking about a drunk would walk, essentially of taking it to be a random process – with each step the drunk doesn’t realize where they are and takes the next step in some random direction. The triple system behaves, essentially, in the same way. After each close encounter, one of the stars is ejected randomly (but with the three stars collectively still conserving the overall energy and momentum of the system). One can think of the series of close encounters as a drunkard’s walk. Like a drunk’s step, a star is ejected randomly, comes back, and another (or the same star) is ejected to a likely different random direction (similar to another step taken by the drunk) and comes back, and so forth, until a star is completely ejected to never come back (and the drunk falls into a ditch).

Another way of thinking about this is to notice the similarities with how one would describe the weather. It also exhibits the same phenomenon of chaos the Poincaré discovered, and that is why the weather is so hard to predict. Meteorologists therefore have to recourse to probabilistic predictions (think about that time when a 70% chance of rain on your favorite weather application ended up as a glorious sunshine in reality). Moreover, to predict the weather in a week from now, meteorologists have to account for the probabilities of all possible types of weather in the intervening days, and only by composing them together can they get a proper long-term forecast.

What Ginat and Perets showed in their research was how this could be done for the three-body problem: they computed the probability of each phase-2 binary-single configuration (the probability of finding different energies, for example), and then composed all of the individual phases, using the theory of random walks, to find the final probability of any possible outcome, much like one would do to find long-term weather forecasts.

“We came up with the random walk model in 2017, when I was an undergraduate student,” said Mr. Ginat, “I took a course that Prof. Perets taught, and there I had to write an essay on the three-body problem. We didn’t publish it at the time, but when I started a Ph.D., we decided to expand the essay and publish it.”

The three-body problem was studied independently by various research groups in recent years, including Nicholas Stone of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, collaborating with Nathan Leigh, then at the American Museum of Natural History, and Barak Kol, also of the Hebrew University. Now, with the current study by Ginat and Perets, the entire, multi-stage, three-body interaction is fully solved, statistically.

“This has important implications for our understanding of gravitational systems, and in particular in cases where many encounters between three stars occur, like in dense clusters of stars,” said Prof. Perets. “In such regions many exotic systems form through three-body encounters, leading to collisions between stars and compact objects like black holes, neutron stars and white dwarves, which also produce gravitational waves that have been first directly detected only in the last few years. The statistical solution could serve as an important step in modelling and predicting the formation of such systems.”

The random walk model can also do more: so far, studies of the three-body problem treat the individual stars as idealized point particles. In reality, of course, they are not, and their internal structure might affect their motion, for example, in tides. Tides on Earth are caused by the Moon and change the former’s shape slightly. Friction between the water and the rest of our planet dissipates some of the tidal energy as heat. Energy is conserved, however, so this heat must come from the Moon’s energy, in its motion about the Earth. Similarly for the three-body problem, tides can draw orbital energy out of the three-bodies’ motion.

 
“The random walk model accounts for such phenomena naturally,” said Mr. Ginat, “all you have to do is to remove the tidal heat from the total energy in each step, and then compose all the steps. We found that we were able to compute the outcome probabilities in this case, too.” As it turns out a drunkard’s walk can sometime shed light on some of the most fundamental questions in physics. 

Click here for the paper in Physical Review X

 

Growing Lymph Vessels in a Lab

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Growing Lymph Vessels in a Lab

Technion scientists have succeeded in producing an engineered lymph vessel network, opening path to novel lymphedema treatment

An engineered structure implanted in a mouse. Green: the transplanted lymphatic network; In blue: the mouse lymphatic network connects to the transplanted network.

 

Prof. Shulamit Levenberg

Technion scientists have managed to grow an engineered human lymphatic vessel network. Published in PNAS, the study was led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Shira Landau and conducted in the laboratory of Professor Shulamit Levenberg of the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. The significance of the researchers’ findings lies in a better understanding of lymphatic vessel generation, which could have implications for treatment of lymphedema and the generation of more lifelike tissue flaps.

The lymphatic vessels are built similar to veins. They collect the fluid between the cells in all body tissues. This lymphatic fluid is collected by lymph capillaries, then transported via progressively larger lymphatic vessels through lymph nodes, before emptying ultimately into major veins. The lymphatic system also plays an important role in the body’s immune response. Damage to the lymphatic vessels results in localised swelling, a condition called lymphedema. Lymphedema currently has no cure. Common treatments that provide partial improvement include compression of the affected limb and massage. In severe cases, bypass surgery is prescribed.

Dr. Shira LandauIn the lab, Dr. Shira Landau and her coresearchers grew human lymphatic vessels, together with blood vessels and supporting cells, creating engineered tissue with a functioning vessel network. This was done from inner-lining cells of lymphatic vessels, together with blood vessels respectively, together with support cells, all seeded on sheets of collagen – the main structural protein of the body’s connective tissue. That is, their engineered tissue mimics as closely as possible the body’s natural structures. From this seemingly simple starting point, the group had within a few days a network of vessels that displayed both the arrangement and the functionality expected of them in the body. The engineered tissue was further implanted into a mouse, and successfully integrated with the mouse’s lymph and blood vessels.

This success by the Technion scientists has multiple implications. First, the platform they grew would facilitate the study of lymphatic vessels, their formation, and the factors that affect them. Second, lymphedema, which currently lacks effective treatment, could be in the future treated by implanting a functional network of smaller and larger lymph vessels that would merge with the host’s system, all grown from the patient’s own cells, eliminating fear of rejection. Third, engineered tissue flaps, that is units containing multiple tissues necessary for transplantation, such as muscle, blood vessels, and connective tissue, could be made more lifelike, containing lymph vessels as well. This would improve the implant’s integration and speed up healing.

Click here for the paper in PNAS

Nature Communications

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Nature Communications:
Technion Researchers Develop Innovative Rapid Imaging Technology

Visualizing the movement of C. elegans with the new technology. Creating such videos had not been previously feasible with SPI technologies.
Professor Amir Rosenthal

Researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have developed an innovative rapid imaging technology and demonstrated its performance in reconstructing the movement of a minute animal. Published in Nature Communications, the development project was headed by Professor Amir Rosenthal, doctoral student Evgeny Hahamovich, and master’s student Sagi Monin of the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Doctoral student Evgeny Hahamovich

The research team’s technology is based on the innovative SPI (single-pixel imaging) concept – the production of high-quality images using a device equipped with only a single detector. This concept, which enables photographs to be taken without a camera, has vast potential for diverse applications, such as the development of components of warning systems in autonomous vehicles or enhanced image depth in microscopy of biological tissues.

Master’s student Sagi Monin

SPI is based on the illumination of an object with encoded light patterns, generally by means of a projector. Based on the properties of the light reflected and propagated by the object, the image of the object can be produced using reconstruction algorithms. The problem is that to date, these systems have been hampered by significant limitations, one of them being the slow image acquisition rate, which is the result of the fact that the projectors themselves are slow. This has, until now, limited use of the systems to photographing stationary objects.

 

Visualizing the movement of C. elegans with the new technology. Creating such videos had not been previously feasible with SPI technologies.

The Technion research team broke through this limitation by applying a new method for spatially encoding light at unprecedented frequencies – 2.4 MHz as opposed to 22 kHz, which is the maximum frequency currently available in SPI technology. This represents an improvement of more than a hundredfold in projection rates and image acquisition rates. By using a rotating device fitted with a coding mask, the researchers created a completely new illumination pattern and an SPI microscope with unprecedented capabilities.

To demonstrate the system’s capabilities, the research group produced videos with a frame rate of 72 FPS (frames per second). The films accurately depict the complex movement of the nematode worm, C. elegans, an impossible achievement using currently available SPI technology.

 

 

The study was funded by the Ollendorf Minerva Center.

 

Click here for the paper in Nature Communications

Water From Air

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Water From Air

 H2OLL, an innovative Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) technology developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, has won the prestigious Water Europe Innovation Award for SMEs. The award was announced in June at the Water Innovation Europe 2021 Conference. Water Europe (WE) is a European technology platform for collaboration between research institutes, companies, and water utilities. The Water Europe platform was initiated by the European Commission in 2004, and now encompasses more than 200 commercial businesses, academic and research bodies, and water supply companies whose collective goal is to build a water-smart economy in Europe.

More than 10% of the world’s population, over 670 million people, presently have no access to clean drinking water, which significantly impacts numerous aspects of their lives, including health, education, and gender equality. H2OLL’s Atmospheric Moisture Harvesting (AMH) technology is capable of extracting moisture from the air even in arid and desert regions, and is highly relevant to many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including the rights of every person for clean water, good health, and well-being, climate action, quality education, and gender equality (in many places in the world, children – girls in particular – are required to provide water to the family at the expense of attending classes at school).

The H2OLL technology was developed by Professors David Broday and Eran Friedler from the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering and was patented by the Technion. The development team is headed by Mr. Ilan Katz (M.Sc.) as CTO, Mr. Oded Distel who leads the business development, and Dr. Khaled Gommed from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

The Technion research team built a prototype at the Technion’s Environmental Technologies Yard, which has been producing potable water since the winter of 2019-2020 (i.e. throughout the COVID-19 pandemic) and serves as a proof of concept (POC; www.H2Oll.com). H2OLL is in route to becoming a company and to commercializing the technology, with Mr. Ilan Katz as its CEO and Mr. Oded Distel as VP for business development.

Click here for video demonstrating the research

Technion Makes Dramatic Move: Disposables Will Be Discontinued

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Technion Makes Dramatic Move: On October 1, 2021, Purchases of Disposables Will Be Discontinued

Professor Boaz Golany

In less than three months, on October 1, 2021, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology will stop buying disposable utensils. The decision by Technion Executive Vice President & Director General Professor Boaz Golany came after a lengthy research study and a thorough review of the alternatives.

In 2019, the Technion bought more than 2.3 million disposable cups, almost one million disposable teaspoons, and hundreds of thousands of other single-use items. Disposable utensils currently account for approximately 9% of waste on campus, and the present move is intended to reduce the amount of waste and reduce associated expenses.

In parallel to the CEO’s decision, the Technion will be providing its faculties and units with information on relevant and more environmentally friendly alternatives. Until adequate alternatives are found, the decision excludes cafeterias and small events held in the faculties. It is important to note, however, that even in these cases, the Technion will encourage a shift to reusable plates, cups, and cutlery.

“This is a comprehensive move that encompasses the Technion as a whole, and its implications are far-reaching,” said Prof. Golany. “In the past few years, the Technion has shifted into high gear in all aspects touching upon sustainability. Two important milestones that preceded the present move are the approval of Technion’s Strategic Plan of 2016 and the Technion Comptroller’s Report of 2019, which led to important recommendations related to sustainability. Our handling of these issues integrates research, teachings, and practices, which means that we will be placing special emphasis on promoting additional science-based steps that have the potential to bring about dramatic positive change.”

Professor Daniel Orenstein

The move is being led by the Technion’s Sustainability Hub under the academic guidance of Professor Daniel Orenstein, who has authored important research on the issue of sustainability at universities, and the Hub’s coordinator, Dr. Ronit Cohen Seffer.

“Our view of sustainability and material consumption is holistic, and encompasses all potential responses: reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Prof. Orenstein. “There is no doubt that recycling is important, but reuse and reduction are especially important goals because they prevent pollution already in the production phase.” The production phase of disposable utensils is accompanied by emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases, and the transportation of the goods is also the source of a great deal of pollution.

“Before making this decision, we studied every aspect of the alternative – the use of reusable utensils – and we recognize that in addition to discontinuing the use of disposables, we must provide instructions on the right way to reduce the environmental impact of the alternative, too,” added Prof. Orenstein. “It is important to place consumption habits in a much broader context, which is the attempt to minimize damage to the environment on all fronts: energy, waste, land pollution, water and air pollution, and others.”