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Technion scientists mobilized in the worldwide effort to find solutions for the current global health crisis

Researchers in more than 20 Technion labs are working round the clock to help fight the spread of COVID-19. Their research includes early detection and diagnosis of the virus, development of a vaccine and therapies, and designing robotic solutions for remote monitoring and care of patients.

“Technion is at the forefront of science and technology worldwide, and during this time of crisis, we are collaborating closely with the health system and the hospitals in order to find immediate solutions to the challenges they are facing,” said Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan. “We are working on advanced diagnostic techniques, personalized medical treatment, technologies that enable pinpointed drug delivery, treatment protocols based on machine learning and artificial intelligence, data mining and Big Data management, developing robots for remote medical care, and more. Technion’s added value is apparent in the close interaction between medicine and engineering at our university, and in the interdisciplinary collaborations that are generating rapid and sophisticated solutions to help fight COVID-19.”

 

Technion emergency projects include:

Diagnostics

Prof. Hossam Haick, Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering: His lab is developing a diagnostic test for pre-symptomatic coronavirus carriers. Research focuses on two approaches: diagnosing the virus with a breath test, and monitoring the virus with an inexpensive patch adhered to the arm or chest.
Prof. Roy Kishony, Faculty of Biology: Pooling method for accelerated testing of COVID-19.
Prof. Amit Meller, Faculty of Biomedical Engineering: Identifying and quantifying viral RNA using nanopores.
Prof. Moran Bercovici, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering: Innovative and rapid diagnostic test using blood and saliva.


Vaccine development

Prof. Avi Schroeder, Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering: Developing a vaccine for coronavirus based on a vaccine for shrimps, he invented at Technion – and is being commercialized by his Technion start-up ViAqua Therapeutics.
Prof. Zaid Abassi and Prof. Oded Lewinson, Rappaport Faculty of Medicine: Prof. Lewinson is developing recombinant ACE-2 receptors in collaboration with Prof. Ofer Mandelboim of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The aim is to develop antibodies for ACE-2 receptors on which the coronavirus attaches itself to the host organism’s cells.


Therapeutics

· Prof. Josué Sznitman, Faculty of Biomedical Engineering: Innovative technology for delivering drugs to the lungs. Especially suitable for treating acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is the principal cause of death among coronavirus patients.

Prof. Roee Amit, Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering: Developing an ointment to treat coronavirus infections.
Prof. Marcelle Machluf, Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering: Trapping the coronavirus using the existing nano-ghost technology developed in her lab.
Prof. Avi Schroeder, Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering: Developing a targeted drug for treating acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), based on existing drug delivery methods.


Aids for medical teams

Prof. Eyal Zussman, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering: Developing filters and coatings using nanometric fibers.
Prof. Yotam Bar-On, Rappaport Faculty of Medicine: Virologist specializing in COVID-19 – expert advice to medical teams.
Prof. Shai Shen-Orr, Rappaport Faculty of Medicine: Identifying infected individuals based on their immune response; monitoring disease progression and complications in infected individuals; triage for the aged population and predict those with higher risk of complications or death. Additional collaboration is to develop rapid cell-based diagnostics for infections.

Prof. Shady Farah, Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering: Developing anti-viral disinfectants.
Prof. Shie Mannor, Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering: Artificial Intelligence research to evaluate the patients' condition and the progress of the disease, in collaboration with Prof. Uri Shalit, Davidson Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management and Prof. Joachim Behar, Faculty of Biomedical Engineering.
Prof. Alex Bronstein, Faculty of Computer Science is developing ultrasound for lung imaging. The researchers are adapting inexpensive ultrasound sensors in order to identify infections in the lungs caused by the coronavirus. Prof. Ron Kimmel, Faculty of Computer Science and Doron Shaked of General Electric are collaborating on this project.
Prof. Ezri Tarazi, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning: Design and produce novel protective equipment for medical personnel using 3D printing; establishing a national network of designers who will plan and produce products for immediate use in the COVID-19 crisis.


In addition, Technion researchers and Rambam Health Care Campus medical staff are working together in high gear on numerous emergency projects. This collaboration is led by Technion VP for External Relations and Resource Development Prof. Alon Wolf, Rambam Director-General Prof. Michael Halberthal and former Rambam Director-General Prof. Rafi Beyar

 

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The Cabinet has approved emergency regulations to reduce the spread of the corona virus in Israel. These include a further limiting of going out into the public sphere, the imposition of restrictions on public transportation and more.

 

The Cabinet, last night, approved emergency regulations to limit activity in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Israel. The regulations include a further limiting of going out into the public sphere, the placing of responsibility on employers, the closure of non-essential shops and the imposition of restrictions on public transportation.

The regulations will take effect at 17:00 today (Wednesday, 25 March 2020), for a period of seven days.

According to the new emergency regulations, it will not be permitted to leave one's place of residence or regular domicile and go into the public sphere except or one of the following actions or objectives:

1) An employee going to permitted work, according to the regulations

2) Purchasing food, medicines, essential products and receiving essential services

3) Receiving medical treatment

4) Donating blood

5) Legal proceedings

6) Demonstrations

7) Going to the Knesset

8) Receiving treatment by social services


9) An individual or people who live in the same residence may leave said residence for a short time but may not venture more than 100 meters from said residence.

10) Providing medical assistance to a person in distress or who needs assistance

11) Prayer in an open space, funerals, weddings or circumcisions and women going to immerse in a mikveh provided her arrival is coordinated in advance.

12) Taking a minor to a designated educational framework (as per health regulations) for the children of essential workers

13) Transferring a minor, whose parents live apart, by one parent to the home of the other parent

14) Transferring a minor, when the parent responsible for him or her must attend to an essential need and when there is no one at the place of residence to assume responsibility for the minor

It was also decided to reduce public transportation to 25% of what currently prevails, as per the directives of the Ministry of Health.


Taxi services will be permitted for one passenger only or an additional accompanying person for medical treatment. Passengers will sit in the back; the windows of the vehicle shall be open.

The regulations stipulate that in the public sphere and in workplaces, a distance of at least two meters shall be maintained between individuals. Essential travel in private vehicles shall be limited to two passengers. Transportation to places of work shall be permitted subject to the limitations.

It is further determined that employers shall be responsible for taking temperatures at the entrance to the workplace. Anyone whose body temperature is 38 degrees Celsius or higher shall not be allowed to enter.

Food and newspaper delivery services shall be allowed to operate as will be essential services for home maintenance, electronic goods, communications services and medical devices. Online sales with home delivery is permitted for all types of products. Delivery personnel shall place the delivered items outside the door of the residence.


Businesses that sell food for consumption outside the premises where it is prepared and which is sent by delivery service only, pharmacies, optometrists or any shop the main occupation of which is the sale of hygiene products, will operate while maintaining a distance of two meters between individuals and preventing crowding. At no time will there be more than four customers per active cashier in the shop.


It is determined that violating the prohibitions will constitute a criminal offense; violators shall be subject to administrative fine. The regulations provide the police with the authority to enforce these instructions.

The final wording of the emergency regulations shall be published forthwith upon the completion of the necessary corrections by the relevant professional authorities.

In addition to the above, it will be underscored that there is a mutual need to adhere to the rules in order to defeat the spread of the virus. Individuals aged 60 and over, especially the elderly and at-risk groups, must remain at home and avoid risking themselves by going out.

 

 

 

 

 On March 17, 1992 , At 14.45hs  a powerful bomb shattered the building of the Israel Embassy in Buenos Aires, taking the lives of 29 people. Hezbollah, calling itself a "party of God", claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bombing of the Israel Embassy in Buenos Aires, 1992


At 14.45 on March 17, 1992 a powerful bomb shattered the building of the Israel Embassy in Buenos Aires, taking the lives of 29 people, among them three Israeli embassy personnel, six local embassy employees, and scores of innocent Argentineans, including elderly residents of a nearby nursing home, and schoolchildren on a passing bus.

 In one moment, the embassy and the nearby church were literally wiped off the map. Hezbollah, calling itself a "party of God", claimed responsibility for the attack.

 The Argentine Supreme Court ordered an expert investigation of the attack which was carried out by the head of the national police bomb disposal and explosives unit. The result was conclusive: "The explosion took place outside the building when a car bomb struck the embassy building." Nonetheless, in 1996 the Argentine Supreme Court issued a statement saying it was impossible to determine who was responsible for this act of terror.

 In May 1999, following a formal investigation, the Argentinian Supreme Court accused Hezbollah of the attack and issued an arrest warrant for Imad Mughnieh, commander of Hezbollah military-terrorist wing. An investigation carried out by Israel, whose findings were made public in 2003, showed that the highest levels of the Iranian regime were aware of Hezbollah's intention to carry out the attack and had in fact authorized Hezbollah to carry it out.

 The 2006 report of the findings of the special team which investigated the terrorist attack which destroyed the Jewish Community Center building (AMIA) in Buenos Aires (18 July 1994) states that according to expert testimony, "the modus operandi of the attack was identical to the method employed two years previously in the attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires (an attack that the Argentinean Supreme Court found was the work of Islamic Jihad in its capacity as the military wing of Hezbollah)."

To date, no one has been brought to justice for these attacks. Israel remains convinced of Iranian responsibility for the bombing of the embassy in 1992 and of the Jewish community center AMIA.

On March 17, 2000, a memorial was inaugurated on the site of the former embassy

A marble monument, a replica of the column of the original embassy building, stands today in the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, in memory of those who died who died on that fateful day in 1992, bearing the verse of the prophet Amos: "I will raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old."

 

Youtube  Remembering the Terrorist Bombing of Israel's Embassy in Buenos Aires   https://youtu.be/ldRRpLCqOpc

Credit :Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry

 Foto :Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pooling Method for Accelerated Testing of COVID-19


Technion and Rambam Health Care Campus scientists present a novel method for testing more than 60 patients simultaneously

 

Researchers at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology and Rambam Health Care Campus have successfully tested a method that will dramatically increase the current COVID-19 testing capacity using existing available resources. This method, known as pooling, enables simultaneous testing of dozens of samples. Its implementation has the potential to greatly accelerate the rate of testing and detection of COVID-19 infected patients in the population. The trial was completed in a matter of days thanks to the support of the Ministry of Health and the close collaboration between Technion and Rambam.


Testing for COVID-19 is currently being conducted in Israel with the focus on people with specific symptoms. The current rate of testing - about 1,200 a day – does not allow for monitoring of asymptomatic carriers in the population, which is vital to curb the epidemic.

 

COVID-19 is diagnosed with PCR testing, which is common for virus monitoring. This test examines the presence of a unique genetic sequence of viruses in a sample taken from the patient. The test takes several hours thus generating a bottleneck in identifying COVID-19 infected people in Israel and around the world. According to Dr. Yuval Gefen, director of the Rambam Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, “Today, we receive approximately 200 COVID-19 test samples a day, and each sample undergoes individual examination. According to the new pooling approach we have currently tested, molecular testing can be performed on a "combined sample," taken from 32 or 64 patients. This way we can significantly accelerate the testing rate. Only in those rare cases, where the joint sample is found to be positive, will we conduct an individual test for each of the specific samples.”

 

According to Professor Roy Kishony, head of the research group in the Faculty of Biology at Technion, “This is not a scientific breakthrough, but a demonstration of the effectivity of using the existing method and even the existing equipment to significantly increase the volume of samples tested per day. This is done by pooling multiple samples in a single test tube. Even when we conducted a joint examination of 64 samples in which only one was a positive carrier, the system identified that there was a positive sample. Although there are some logistical challenges in implementing the method, we expect that it will greatly increase the volume of samples tested per day so that we can identify the asymptomatic carriers. This approach should reduce the chance of infection and flatten the infection curve.” 

 


Director of the Rambam Virology Lab, Dr. Moran Szwarcwort-Cohen estimates that, “implementing pooling in the final stage of the PCR test will make it easier for us to shorten the entire process and significantly increase the test rate.”


President of the Technion Professor Uri Sivan said: "This experiment conducted by Technion and Rambam researchers is complex, and under normal circumstances would take months. This is a remarkable example of the mobilization of an outstanding team in a time of crisis. The initial experiment was completed in less than four days. This achievement emphasizes the importance of the close relationship between Technion and Rambam and between medicine and engineering. Technion researchers have been enlisted in the war against the Coronavirus and this is one of the many activities currently underway at Technion to combat the spread of the disease.”



General Director of Rambam Health Care Campus Prof. Michael Halberthal said, “This collaboration between Technion and Rambam, for the benefit of all humanity, is just one example of many joint projects between the two institutions. These collaborations are designed to harness the multidisciplinary capabilities of Technion researchers for the advancement of medicine.”


The experiment was led at Technion by Dr. Idan Yelin, together with Noga Aharony, Einat Tamar, and Dina Berenbaum in Prof. Kishony's laboratory together with Amir Argoetti from Professor Yael Mandel-Gutfreund's laboratory, both labs are in the Faculty of Biology. Dr. Esti Messer, head of the Technon Biological Safety Dept, was enlisted to help set up the dedicated laboratory and accompanied the entire experiment. Prof. Kishony holds the Marilyn and Henry Taub Chair in Life Sciences. The Rambam Health Care Campus team was led by Dr. Yuval Gefen and Dr. Moran Szwarcwort-Cohen, and Prof. Michael Halberthal, Rambam General Director and CEO.

Photos

L to r: Prof. Roy Kishony, Einat Tamar, Amir Argoetti, Noga Aharony, and Dr. Idan Yelin

 Dr. Yuval Gefen and Dr. Moran Szwarcwort-Cohen

 More pics at Facebook Israel Diplo

Credit: Technion Spokesperson's Office and Rambam Spokesperson's Office

 

 

.

.At the invitation of the President of the State of Israel, 46 royals, presidents, prime ministers and parliamentary leaders from Europe, North America and Australia, will attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, entitled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism.” 

The World Holocaust Forum organized by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation in cooperation with Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will take place on 23 January 2020 at the Warsaw Ghetto Square in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. The Forum marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, will begin at 13:30.

The event program will include addresses from a number of world leaders: President of the State of Israel H.E. Mr. Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin, Prime Minister of the State of Israel H.E. Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, President of France H.E. Mr. Emmanuel Macron, The Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles, President of Russia H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin, as well as a senior leader from the United States of America and the President of Germany H.E. Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Holocaust survivor and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau as well as Forum organizers – President of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation Dr. Moshe Kantor and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev – will also speak at the event. Interspersed throughout the proceedings there will be several short video clips and musical interludes performed by an international orchestra conducted by world renowned conductor Vladimir Spivakov accompanied by an international choir.

The event will conclude with a memorial ceremony. Holocaust survivors Rose Moskowitz, from the United States, and Colette Avital, Chairperson of the Central Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel will light a memorial torch, after which, heads of delegations will commemorate victims of the Holocaust by laying wreaths at the base of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument in Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem. Cantor Shai Abramson will recite the El Maleh Rahamim memorial prayer, followed by Holocaust survivor Naftali Deutsch who will say Kaddish, the mourner's prayer. The ceremony will conclude with Israel's national anthem, Hatikvah.

The World Holocaust Forum will be broadcast live via satellite feed worldwide and via Yad Vashem's website and Facebook page. The broadcast will be translated simultaneously to six languages – EnglishHebrewFrenchGermanRussian and Spanish.

 

Confirmed Leaders of Nations and Heads of Delegations at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum
(As of 15 January 2020)

President of Albania H.E. Mr. Ilir Meta
President of Armenia H.E. Mr. Armen Sarkissian
Governor-General of Australia The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd)
Federal President of Austria H.E. Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen
Chairman of the House of Representatives of Belarus H.E. Mr. Vladimir Andreichenko
King of Belgium His Majesty King Phillipe
Chairman of Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina H.E. Mr. Željko Komšić
President of Bulgaria H.E. Mr. Rumen Radev
Governor-General of Canada the Right Honourable Ms. Julie Payette
President of Croatia H.E. Ms. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
President of Cyprus H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic H.E. Mr. Andrej Babiš
Prime Minister of Denmark H.E. Ms. Mette Frederiksen
President of European Council H.E. Mr. Charles Michel
President of the European Commission H.E. Ms. Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Parliament H.E. Mr. David Sassoli
President of Finland H.E. Mr. Sauli Niinistö
President of France H.E. Mr. Emmanuel Macron
President of Georgia H.E. Ms. Salome Zourabichvili
President of Germany H.E. Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier
President of the Hellenic Republic H.E. Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos
Representative of the Holy See His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch
President of Hungary H.E. Mr. János Áder
President of Iceland H.E. Mr. Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson
President of Italy H.E. Mr. Sergio Mattarella
Speaker of the Saeima of Latvia H.E. Ms. Ināra Mūrniece
President of Lithuania H.E. Mr. Gitanas Nauseda
Grand Duke of Luxembourg HRH Henri
President of Moldova H.E. Mr. Igor Dodon
Minister of State of Monaco H.E. Mr. Serge Telle
President of Montenegro H.E. Mr. Milo Đjukanović
King of the Netherlands His Royal Majesty Willem-Alexander
President of North Macedonia H.E. Prof. Dr. Stevo Pendarovski
Crown Prince of Norway HRH Crown Prince Haakon
President of Portugal H.E. Prof. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
President of Romania H.E. Mr. Klaus Iohannis
President of the Russian Federation H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin
President of Serbia H.E. Mr. Aleksandar Vučić
President of Slovakia H.E. Ms. Zuzana Čaputová
President of Slovenia H.E. Mr. Borut Pahor
King of Spain His Majesty King Felipe VI
Prime Minister of Sweden H.E. Mr. Stefan Löfven
President of Ukraine H.E. Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy
The Prince of Wales HRH Prince Charles, United Kingdom
Vice President of the United States of America H.E. Mr. Michael R. Pence*
Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi*
*Awaiting official confirmation

About the Fifth World Holocaust Forum   23 January 2020

Heads of State from Europe, North America and Australia are converging at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, taking place on 23 January 2020. The event, entitled “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism,” is being organized by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, headed by Dr. Moshe Kantor, in cooperation with Yad Vashem, under the auspices of the President of the State of Israel, H.E. Mr. Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin.

As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the message is clear – antisemitism has no place in our global society.

This historic event takes place against the background of the rise in hateful and violent expressions of antisemitism, especially in Europe. Given this alarming situation, efforts to educate about the dangers of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia and foster Holocaust commemoration, education and research have made this event more crucial and relevant than ever.

The Holocaust, aimed at the total annihilation of all Jews everywhere, and the eradication of their culture and history, was fueled by extreme racist antisemitism. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the international community enacted universal principles and instituted international organizations with the express purpose of averting future crimes against humanity. The ways in which antisemitism has persisted since the war and proliferated over recent years need to be identified, studied and understood. World leaders must be alert to antisemitism's current manifestations, and remain resolute in combatting it where it appears. It is the responsibility of all humanity, and especially the leaders that are gathering at Yad Vashem, to work to fight antisemitism, racism and xenophobia.

Yad Vashem works tirelessly to increase the knowledge and awareness of the history of the Holocaust, not only to ensure that its meanings continue to be relevant 75 years after the end of WWII, but also as a lighthouse warning against the alarming racism that is on the rise around the world today.

 

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