Science & Technology
- Written by TAU
Breakthrough research at Tel Aviv University unravels the metastatic mechanism of melanoma
Tel Aviv University researchers, together with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, have discovered the mechanism by which melanoma spreads to other organs in the body, and have found ways to prevent the metastasis.
In a landmark discovery, researchers at Tel Aviv University have unraveled the metastatic mechanism of melanoma, the most aggressive of all skin cancers. The scientists discovered that before spreading to other organs, the tumor sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of microRNA. These induce morphological changes in the dermis – in preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells. The researchers also found chemical substances that can stop the process, and are therefore promising drug candidates.
The paper was published yesterday (Monday, 22 August 2016) as the leading cover-page article of the prominent scientific journal Nature Cell Biology .
Melanoma, the most aggressive and lethal type of skin cancer, causes the death of one person every 52 minutes (according to data from the Skin Cancer Foundation), and the number of diagnosed cases has been on the rise for the past three decades. Despite a range of therapies developed over the years, there is still no full remedy for this life-threatening disease. A recent study at Tel Aviv University proposes new and effective methods for diagnosing and preventing this most deadly of skin cancers.
"The threat of melanoma is not in the initial tumor that appears on the skin, but rather in its metastasis – cancer cells sent off to colonize in vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver and bones," says research leader Dr. Carmit Levy of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine. "We discovered how the cancer spreads to distant organs, and found ways to stop the process before the metastatic stage."
Morphological changes in the dermis
The researchers began by examining pathology samples taken from melanoma patients, and the findings were striking indeed. "We looked at samples of early melanoma, before the invasive stage," says Dr. Levy. "To our surprise we found changes that had never before been reported, in the morphology of the dermis – the inner layer of the skin. Our next task was to find out what these changes were, and how they related to melanoma." In the ensuing long and complex study the group was able to discover - and also block – a central mechanism in the metastasis of melanoma.
According to Dr. Levy, scientists have known for years that melanoma forms in the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. At this early stage the cancer is unable to send off colonizing cancer cells, because it has no access to blood vessels - the highways that carry the cells to other parts of the body. With no blood vessels present in the epidermis, the tumor first needs to contact the abund ant blood vessels running through the dermis. But how is the connection made?
"We found that even before the cancer itself invades the dermis, it sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of microRNA. These induce the morphological changes in the dermis, in preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells. It now became clear to us that by blocking the vesicles, we may be able to stop the disease altogether."
Transforming melanoma into a nonthreatening illness
Having discovered the mechanism, the researchers proceeded to look for substances that could intervene and block the process in its earliest stages. They found two such chemicals: one, SB202190, inhibits the delivery of the vesicles from the melanoma tumor to the dermis; and the other, U0126, prevents the morphological changes in the dermis even after the arrival of the vesicles. Both substances were tested successfully in the lab, and may serve as promising candid ates for future drugs. In addition, the changes in the dermis, as well as the vesicles themselves, can be used as powerful indicators for early diagnosis of melanoma.
"Our study is an important step on the road to a full remedy for the deadliest skin cancer," says Dr. Levy. "We hope that our findings will help turn melanoma into a nonthreatening, easily curable disease."
The group at Tel Aviv University worked in close collaboration with Prof. Jörg D. Hoheisel and Laureen Sander at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Dr. Shoshi Greenberger at the Sheba Medical Center and Dr. Ronen Brenner at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Lab research was led by Dr. Shani Dror of Dr. Levy's research group.
(The research was funded with the support of the Science, Technology and Space Ministry in the framework of a joint German-Israeli canc er research program.)
- Written by Technion
2015 Shanghai Rankings - Technion consolidates its standing among the world’s elite universities
2015 Shanghai Rankings: Technion consolidates its standing among the world’s elite universities
Technion ranks #77 overall, 18th in computer science and 44th in engineering
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has consolidated its standing as one of the top 100 universities in the world, according to the annual Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, considered the most reliable global university ranking. The 2015 results, which were published yesterday (Saturday, Aug. 15), highlight Technion’s position among the world’s elite universities, especially in the Technion's core areas of research and education:
· In the field of computer science the Technion ranks 18th for the third consecutive year. The Technion is one of only four non-U.S. universities among the world's top 20 in computer science. This is the highest ranking of any Israeli university in a specific subject area.
· In engineering/technology, Technion is ranked #44, and is the only Israeli university to place in the top 50.
· In the overall global ranking, Technion is in 77th place, up from #78 last year. Technion broke through to the top 80 in 2012, and has remained in this elite group since.
“The Shanghai ranking is recognized as the leading academic ranking of world universities and it continues to acknowledge Israeli scientific achievements, and Technion in particular,” stated Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie, following the publication of this year’s rankings. “I am very pleased at Technion’s standing among the world’s elite universities in engineering and especially in the field of computer science. These achievements are a clear manifestation of Technion’s excellence. Our outstanding faculty members, researchers and staff will continue to nurture and train Technion students, who represent the future of Israeli science and technology.”
The Shanghai Ranking was established in 2003 with the aim to identity the global standing of top Chinese universities while comparing them to 500 of the world’s leading institutes. Since then it has evolved into the most influential ranking of universities worldwide. Many objective indicators are examined, including the number of faculty and alumni who have won Nobel Prizes and other prestigious awards; the number of articles published in leading scientific journals; and other per capita performance indices of the universities. More than 1000 universities are ranked by ARWU every year and the top 500 are including in the published rankings.
Heading the list of the world's top universities are leading American institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley.
- Written by GPO
NIS 5 Million to Be Granted for Innovative Ideas Helping Resolve Global Health Issues and Ensuring Food Safety. Ten Initiatives Will Receive Grants from the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Up to Half a Million Shekels Each
JERUSALEM. JULY 22nd 2015– The Grand Challenges program is an international initiative taking place in countries like the US, Canada, India, Brazil, China and others, aimed at encouraging novel solutions for global food safety and health challenges, with an emphasis on developing countries. The Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) and the Prime Minister's Office are launching the second round of Grand Challenges Israel, a competition aimed at encouraging innovative technological or social solutions in food safety and global health, with an emphasis on developing countries. The program promotes Israeli technological innovation in new markets as an expression of Israel's commitment to offering aid to these countries.
Israeli Minister of Economy and Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee Aryeh Machluf Deri: "This exceptional program helps the weakest sectors. Most of the world's population suffers from lack of food and access to fresh water and increased exposure to disease. We invite Israeli entrepreneurs to develop technologies that will improve the quality of life of billions of people around the world."
Developing countries face complex challenges related to under-development, lack of resources, technology, skilled personnel and advanced infrastructure. They require innovative solutions adapted to their complex environment. Israel enjoys a large community of developers and entrepreneurs, focusing mainly on the markets of Western Europe and North America - with extensive knowledge and industrial R&D capabilities in the life sciences in general and public health in particular.
The Israeli Ministry of Economy, through the Office of the Chief Scientist, helps strengthen and broaden the technological base of Israeli industry with a variety of support programs. As part of this support and in light of Israel's international cooperation and assistance programs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ MASHAV agency, the Prime Minister's Office and the Israeli Ministry of Economy have initiated a unique program operated by the Office of the Chief Scientist intended to promote research and development to find technological solutions for health challenges in developing countries - Grand Challenges Israel.
As part of the program, up to NIS 500,000 will be granted to prove the viability of innovative solutions for problems in global health or food safety. The program aims at directing Israeli entrepreneurs to seek solutions for developing markets - markets where urgent solutions are needed on the one hand and which offer large, unrealized business potential for Israeli industrialists and entrepreneurs on the other.
Among the ten initiatives given grants last year: a novel device to diagnose cervical cancer, a tool for diagnosing malaria, innovative water purifiers and affordable wheelchairs for children to enable maximum mobility and access to education.
Israel’s Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy Avi Hasson said: “The Israeli segment of the International Grand Challenges competition is an expression of Israel's capabilities in the field of technological innovation, together with the Israel’s world-renowned entrepreneurial spirit. A combination of doing good by helping resolve global challenges and establishing a foothold in new markets with unique consumer demands for the Israeli industry can bring Israeli entrepreneurs vast new business opportunities."
Head of MASHAV at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gil Haskel, said: "This unique program reflects Israel's wish to continue helping developing countries in relevant fields and constitutes the meeting point between Israel's diplomacy and technological innovation."
In light of the complex business environment in developing countries, the Office of the Chief Scientist and MASHAV will help entrepreneurs who show interest in finding compatible partners for the development and implementation of initiatives in developing countries. The criteria for submissions include: Potential effect on the health situation in developing countries - the contribution R&D products can have on health challenges in developing countries; the possibility of implementing developed products in developing countries in order to improve public health, save lives or minimize disability. The product and the technology - a different and original approach, technological viability, advantages over existing solutions, the ability to reach significant milestones within the implementation period and the ability to undertake a realistic R&D program during the implementation period. Quality of personnel - knowledge and experience of applicants in the relevant field, personnel available for attaining the program's goals. Scalability - the existence of a clear plan to implement R&D products to solve health challenges in developing countries on a commercial scale within a reasonable amount of time, including the possibility of fundraising and/or finding compatible partners for continued development and commercialization; and Integrated innovation - combining technological innovation with social and business innovation in a way which can maximize the effect of R&D on health challenges, including cooperation with relevant social initiatives in developing countries.
Applications are welcome from researchers, entrepreneurs, small and medium sized businesses (up to 100 employees), research institutions and NGOs. Submissions found compatible will receive funding at up to 90% of the initiative's approved budget, to a maximum of NIS 500,000 - for proof of concept.
Additional data is available at http://www.grandchallenges.org.il
- Written by MFA
The World Economic Forum has published the annual list of Technology Pioneers. Two of the 14 companies chosen in the category of Life Sciences & Health are Israeli: Consumer Physics and ElMindA.
The World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers programme recognizes early-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society. Technology Pioneers come from a wide range of sectors such as life sciences and health, energy and environment, and information technologies and new media.
The World Economic Forum has published the annual list of Technology Pioneers, which this year consists of 49 companies from 10 countries, recognizing the world's 49 most promising Technology Pioneers for 2015. Two of the 14 companies chosen in the category of Life Sciences & Health are Israeli: Consumer Physics and ElMindA.
Consumer Physics, founded in 2011 and based in Herzliya, has produced the SCiO - a tiny spectrometer that allows you to get instant relevant information about the chemical make-up of just about anything around you, sent directly to your smartphone. The world's first molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand, it allows users to explore objects by scanning materials.
For example, you can:
Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: Dairy products, Fruits and vegetables. Other apps for drinks, meats, ripeness, salad dressing and more will be released on a regular basis as our database expands.
Know the well-being of popular plants.
Identify capsules containing medicine and nutritional supplements.
Help build the world's first database of matter.
Potential future use cases include analysis of pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, cosmetics, textiles, plants, gemstones, rubber, plastics, and the human body.
ElMindA, also based in Herzliya, was founded in 2006, with the vision of revolutionizing the management of brain disorders and injuries, by transforming state of the art neuroscience into bed-side clinical practice.
ElMindA Ltd. has developed Brain Network Activation (BNA), a non-invasive technology that allows physicians to accurately differentiate between the function of a healthy brain and the dysfunction of an injured brain. With BNA physicians can monitor change in brain networks and address brain health by identifying disease onset and assessing treatment efficacy. ElMindA is revolutionizing our ability to assess and treat the brain across a broad range of previously elusive conditions such as depression, pain, or memory loss.
ElMindA’s innovative approach and supporting data have led to partnerships with top pharmaceutical companies and leading neurological and psychiatric institutes around the world. The company has already completed several clinical trials establishing the utility of the BNA™ technology, and its technology is already being utilized by leading pharmaceutical companies as an integral part of their clinical development programs for monitoring drug effect on the brain.
BNA™ as a measure of brain state and brain changes, can potentially be applied to a wide spectrum of indications and their therapeutic interventions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Concussion, ADHD, pain, stroke, depression, and other Central Nervous System related conditions. In addition, the technology serves as a valuable tool in the development of CNS related treatments.
Photo: Israel's Technological Pioneers: Consumer Physics and ElMindA
Copyright: World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers
- Written by Technion
Technion ranked 31st in the world in the U.S. Academy of Inventors index
The Technion received approval for 65 patents in the U.S. in 2014, the most of any Israeli university.
The rankings list of the National Academy of Inventors, founded in the U.S. in 2010, ranks the Technion in 31st place in the list of universities around the world, based on the number of patents approved in the U.S. in 2014. The Technion, with 65 approved patents last year, ranks above well-known universities such as Yale, Duke, Rutgers, USC (University of Southern California) and Tokyo University, as well as all the other Israeli institutions that placed in the rankings: Tel Aviv University (43rd place), the Weizmann Institute (52nd place) and Hebrew University (73rd place). The top-ranked university is MIT, which advanced from second place in 2013, with 453 approved patents in 2014.
A few of the patents registered by the Technion and approved in 2014 are: medical scaffolding; a system for monitoring air passage in the lungs; a system for the rapid imaging of the macula; non-friction molecular engines; an innovative device for separating oxygen from air; silicon-air batteries; and assessment for the early diagnosis of growths in the large intestine.
Prof. Wayne D. Kaplan, Technion’s Executive Vice President for Research, congratulated the researchers, senior staff and students on this impressive achievement.
“The commercialization of inventions and the registering of patents are strategic goals for us, connected with strengthening the ties between academia and industry. The Technion invests significant resources in these matters, and the Technion’s patent registration department, headed by Ofir Alon, is doing wonderful work. We will continue to strive to translate research into finished technology and to bring inventions from the lab to the market.”
Benjamin Soffer, director of T3―Technion Technology Transfer Office, which houses the patent registration department, said that this impressive accomplishment is “an expression of the Technion’s tremendous openness to innovation and to the balance between the entrepreneurial spirit and excellence in academia and research. In the past few decades the Technion has been constantly increasing the entrepreneurial component in training students, with the intention that at the end of their studies the students will be equipped not only with scientific and engineering tools, but also with the managerial and entrepreneurial skills that will enable them to ‘invent their own workplace’ and not only to find jobs as salaried employees in existing companies.”
In many instances, the approval of a patent is the preliminary stage to the commercialization of technology or an invention. In the commercialization field, too, the Technion has made impressive strides: Within less than a decade, revenues from commercialization have jumped from $10.7 million annually (in 2008-2009) to over $30 million (2014-2015).
“It’s important to take into account that the Technion’s research budget, $135 million a year, is very low compared to the other universities and is only 8% of the MIT’s research budget. If the universities were ranked based on their revenues from commercialization relative to their research expenditures, the Technion would be in third place, behind Princeton and New York University,” said Soffer.
The Technion Technology Transfer (T³) office operated in the framework of the Technion Research & Development Foundation, and is responsible for the commercialization and protection of intellectual property developed by the Technion. One of the outstanding successes in this field is the commercialization of Azilect, a drug developed in cooperation with Teva Pharmaceuticals, based on research by professors Moussa Youdim and John Finberg. Sales of this drug top $400 million annually.
T3 manages holdings in some 50 active companies and over the past three years, the Technion’s portfolio companies have raised over $250 million in investment capital. These companies include Argo Medical Technologies (which develops exoskeletons to help the disabled to walk); Applied Immune Technologies (a drug development company specializing in T-Cell Receptor-Like, TCRL, antibodies); Accellta (media and cell cultures for the stem cell industry), Sealantis (tissue adhesive); Avraham Pharmaceuticals (drugs to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive disorders), Corindus (robotics technology that enables cardiologists to perform remote catheterization), VibeSec (information security on web-based telephony), NanoSpun Technologies (smart fibers), ElMindA (imaging system for neuron network activity in the brain and treatment based on network stimulation) DigiFlex (products for the printing industry and industrial processes) and Regentis (gel for regenerating tissue).
The department is responsible, among other things, for the management of the Technion’s patent portfolio, which has over 780 applications for patent registration.
For the full list of the rankings: http://www.academyofinventors.com/pdf/NAI-IPO-Top-100-Universities-2014.pdf