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 KKL-JNF.
First Israeli Green Renovation Project Inaugurated
The aim of this renovation, which forms part of the Ministry of Housing’s Urban Renewal project, was to upgrade an old building and make it the first structure to be refurbished to meetgreen building standards, and those of the Retrofit method in particular. At the end of June the building was inaugurated at a formal ceremony with the participation of KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar, MK Yael Cohen Paran, Ministry of Housing and Construction Director General Eshel Armoni and Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi.
This national endeavor on the part of KKL-JNF, in conjunction with the Israel Energy Forum and the Sderot Municipality, brought to a successful conclusion an energy-saving green renovation project initiated by the Ministry of Housing and Construction. The objective was the renovation of an old 18-apartment building to make it conform as much as possible to green energy-saving construction standards.
The Ministry of Housing and Construction is the initiator of Israel’s Urban Renewal program, and this particular project was an additional step in a series of moves to benefit the residents of dozens of towns and cities, via the renovation of buildings and public areas, social activism, and community empowerment.
- 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 Technion
Smart Prayer Room
Students at the Technion have developed a system that informs the user whether the Faculty prayer room is occupied or vacant and whether the worshipers are men or women. It does this with the aid of sensors alone, and without using a camera, which could violate the worshippers’ privacy
could violate the worshippers’ privacy
Mosallah (مصلى) is the name of an original system for monitoring the presence of worshippers in the Muslim prayer room at the Technion Faculty of Computer Science. The unique app can identify the current stage of the prayer and, according to this information, the system can estimate when the prayer will end. The innovative system was developed by three students at the Technion Faculty of Computer Science - female students Anwar Dabur and Lina Mudalej and male student Bakr Odeh - as their final project in the course on systems programming in an Arduino environment, held in conjunction with Microsoft R&D.
Dabur relates, “It all started two years ago, when the Faculty provided its Muslim students with a mosallah (dedicated prayer room). It was of course a very important step for us Muslims who want to pray during the day, but we soon found that there was a little problem: a person who wants to pray in the room has no way of knowing whether it’s vacant or occupied.”
Unlike prayers with many participants, where men and women gather in the same hall, prayer in small prayer rooms is not mixed. “Therefore it is important for us to know not only if the room is occupied but also who is inside - men or women. We realized that this was a very complex challenge, but we are students at the Technion - there’s no way we would fail to solve all those problems.”
During the past year, the project year, the three visited many prayer rooms in order to analyze the characteristics that could be monitored during prayers in the mosallah, and developed the system, constantly improving it based on experiments. From the outset, it was clear to them that cameras would not be used, because they violate the worshiper’s privacy. Therefore they developed a smart prayer rug equipped with pressure sensors. The rug provides the system with information enabling it to determine whether the worshippers in the room are men or women. “Women and men pray differently,” Dabur explains. “When men pray, one of the worshippers stands in front and the others behind, while women pray in a single row. The order in which they kneel is also different. Therefore, based on the information obtained from the pressure sensors, we can determine the gender of the worshipers without entering the room.”
The system developed by the three students includes pressure and distance sensors, an Arduino controller and servo motor; software that analyzes the data; and a dedicated app that sends the user prayer reminders on his mobile phone and tells him when the prayer room is vacant or partly vacant. The system can also be used without a smartphone, thanks to an interactive interface based on an LCD touch screen installed outside the prayer room, enabling the user to obtain relevant data and inform the system that he is waiting outside.
“Using the system saves the user a lot of time. Everyone knows that time is a rare commodity when you’re a student at the Technion,” concludes Lina. “This way, instead of standing in line to enter the prayer room, I study at the library and when I see on my phone that the room is vacant, I go there to pray. In the future, we intend to turn the app into a tool for learning prayers and the special movements that go with them.”
The course on systems programming in an Arduino environment is held in conjunction with Microsoft R&D, and enables students to use technology and state-of-the-art software during their studies, including smartphones and tablets for running apps during the development phase. In the course, which is designed to challenge the students with independent product-building projects, the students design smart systems that combine hardware and software using Arduino-based controllers connected to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud.
Photo The student Lina Mudalej / Technion
- 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