Despite advances in technology, providing amputees with prosthetics that mimic real limbs is an ongoing challenge. They may be more aesthetically pleasing than they used to be but are not necessarily practical. For example, a prosthetic hand may help wearers hold a cup and drink from it, but making the coffee, using a computer, or playing the piano involves much more complexity.  

“Many people who have lost a hand give up on the prosthesis after a short period because it is heavy, cumbersome, and its effectiveness is very limited,” said Dean Zadok, a Ph.D. student in the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science. “We are trying to develop lightweight, comfortable, and efficient solutions” that enable precise and sensitive hand actions and finger movements. 

Zadok developed a robotic hand that allows the wearer to play the piano and type on a keyboard. His system uses ultrasound that reads muscle movements. It was developed with three Technion faculty members: Professor Alon Wolf, a robotics and biomechanics expert from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Alex Bronstein (computational learning), and Dr. Oren Salzman (robotics), both from the Faculty of Computer Science.  

The device attaches to the forearm and interprets the user’s intentions based on muscle movements, including complicated and fine gestures. Most smart prosthetics currently rely on sensor stickers attached to the skin to interpret muscle signals.  

According to Zadok, “This technology is very limiting, and what we are proposing is a new approach based on ultrasound, providing real-time dynamic information about relevant muscle movements for hand and finger motions.” 

The researchers are currently working on enhancing the hand’s capabilities. They believe this significant leap will substantially advance the field of prosthetics, providing many users with an improved quality of life. 

Dean Zadok received both his bachelor’s (’19) and master’s (’22) degrees in computer science from the Technion. He began his work on the ultrasound solution during his graduate studies, where he volunteered in Prof. Wolf’s lab and at Haifa 3D, a nonprofit that provides free 3D-printed prosthetic hands to Israeli children. He also spent the summer of 2023 at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute as a visiting scholar.  

“I always wanted to apply my knowledge for the benefit of human health. Algorithms find their application in a variety of fields, and I am glad I could harness it for the important topic of improving prosthetics for those who have suffered.” 

This research is supported by the European Research Council, Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Israel-U.S. Binational Science Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Wein Family Foundation.  

American non-profit health insurer Highmark has added an Israeli migraine treatment band to the items covered by its insurance policies.

The Nerivio Remote Electrical Neuromodulation (REN) migraine band, developed by Netanya-based Theranica, is placed on the upper arm as soon as a migraine starts (or even used as a preventative measure), and vibrates at an intensity just below the patient’s pain threshold.

It causes nerve fibers in the body to deliver a message to the brain, where it decides that the sensation is harmless and releases neurotransmitters to prevent the sufferer from feeling pain – including in their head. The band can be used on people 12 and older.

The addition by Highmark, which covers around 7 million people in the Pennsylvania area, came after the completion of its own November 2022 study of the band’s clinical benefits, involving more than 384 chronic migraine sufferers.

Most of us recognize the tell-tale signs of ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) — the fidgety child who blurts out an answer before the question is completed; the adult who starts new tasks before finishing the old. Still, there is no clear-cut diagnosis, and students have faked symptoms to receive medication that helps them focus and pull all-nighters.  

Now technology based on 12 years of research conducted at the Technion appears to accurately detect, measure, and quantify impaired attention by observing eye-blinking patterns to particular sounds. Israeli company MindTension, which narrowly escaped tragedy on October 7, developed a medical device that tests the brainstem’s Moro reflex, or response to startle sounds. Children who retain this involuntary startle response past infancy are hypersensitive to outside stimuli and often demonstrate symptoms commonly linked with ADHD.  

Currently, an ADHD diagnosis is based on questionnaires and other exams that can be vulnerable to bias, backed up only 10% of the time by computerized tests that have proved to be inadequate. MindTension’s device employs a proprietary algorithm that quantifies the patient’s attention levels and deficits objectively and precisely, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and treatment.   

“We provide a precise diagnosis in 5 minutes with an EMG-based (electromyography) response to brief auditory stimuli,” said MindTension chief scientist Avi Avital, a Haifa University faculty member who previously headed the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab at the Technion. Avital co-founded the company with CEO and Technion alum Zev Brand, M.E. ’08.  

Beyond diagnosing ADHD, MindTension scientists say their device could save lives by detecting attention deficits in pilots, surgeons, and truck drivers due to lack of sleep or long shifts. 

Approximately 9.5% of children and 2.6% of adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with ADHD. MindTension’s device is undergoing the process of FDA approval in the U.S. and plans to launch a large clinical trial in Israel and at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to test and prove the accuracy of its algorithms.  

Despite its location in Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza border, MindTension offices remained unscathed on October 7. The kibbutz security officer was alerted early that morning, took up armed positions at the gate, and ensured its members sheltered in safe rooms.

A study by GrayMatters Health, which develops digital training therapies to help the brain regulate mental health care, has shown that its FDA-approved Prism device is effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

The device, now available in selected clinics in the US, shows a patient’s brain activity in the amygdala, the small region of the brain associated with emotions and memory, while interacting with different scenarios.

This can help patients with PTSD control their symptoms by better understanding what triggers that heightened activity in that part of the brain. 

The study included 79 male and female patients, including combat veterans with chronic PTSD. It checked each patient’s Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5), a diagnostic interview that gives a patient a medical diagnosis and a symptom severity rating. 

According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Psychiatry Research, 32 percent of patients achieved remission after three months of using the device. 

“Millions of Americans struggling with PTSD must navigate medication side effects, revisit traumatic experiences with psychotherapy or choose not to seek treatment due to societal stigma,” said Oded Kraft, CEO and co-founder of Haifa-based GrayMatters Health. 

“These clinical results build on prior research and demonstrate that Prism offers patients living with PTSD an effective and safe pathway toward improved mental health,” he said. 

Israel was plunged into war on October 7, when Hamas terrorists from Gaza launched an unprecedented attack on the country’s southern border communities, killing 1,400 people, abducting hundreds and wounding thousands more. 

And for the more than 1.5 million people in Israel living with disabilities, it has been a time of quiet suffering, frequently isolated and struggling to ask for the practical and emotional help they need. 

Determined to aid this often overlooked community, an organization that supports autistic people has created a new online service to help them get that assistance. 

The ESNA Initiative (short for Emergency Special Needs Assistance) acts as a universal portal for disabled people who have a specific need or request, but feel unable to search for it themselves. 

A screenshot from the ESNA website. The text in yellow reads: “You are not alone”

The platform brings together specialist organisations, helplines, professionals and volunteers in one place, in order to ease the process of finding the best response to a disabled person’s specific need from a potentially overwhelming maze of resources. 

Once the person has completed a simple online form, the volunteers staffing the ESNA platform reach out to help them make contact with the relevant body or professionals. 

“Our volunteers make the match, contact an organization, ask them if they can help this specific person, make that connection and ensure that the problem has been solved,” Ilana Mushkin, one of the creators of the initiative, tells NoCamels. 

The initiative was born out of Hackautism, an organisation encouraging startups that ease the daily lives of people with autism. Following the events of October 7, Hackautism co-founder Mushkin brought together women connected to that organization to find a way of supporting Israel’s disabled community.

These women included Hackautism spokesperson Karin Tamir and Moria Barak, the founder of StellarAI, a startup to train autistic people in the field of AI data classification. 

Hackautism co-founder Rimon Tubin, left, with his son Yuval, who inspired him to create the organization (Courtesy)

There are many resources for people with disabilities, says Mushkin. The problem is that narrowing it down to which hotline or organization is best suited for the individual can be daunting, especially in times of war when people are under extraordinary stress. 

“I would guess that there are hundreds if not thousands of organizations and hotlines out there,” she says. “There are so many of them right now, but you have to know how to reach them and make sure your request gets processed.”

The ESNA initiative began as a WhatsApp group, which was almost instantly flooded with requests for help.

“We realized that if we wanted to be able to really give help on a large scale, we needed a system that was much more sustainable,” says Mushkin. 

Using technology donated by, a NASDAQ-listed project management software company based in Tel Aviv, ESNA was able to create a bespoke platform that handles both incoming requests and its many points of contact for assistance. 

ESNA began as a WhatsApp group, which was almost instantly flooded with requests for help (Courtesy Porapak Apichodilok/Pexels)

“The system lets us receive a large number of requests for help and deal with them very efficiently,” she explains.  

Volunteers use a triage system, categorizing each request in order of urgency and dealing with the most time-sensitive issues first.

And for the people in need of assistance, says Mushkin, the site is as simple as it can be. 

The webpage includes just five links. The first four links are: for individuals seeking help, which leads to the simple request form; for urgent cases, which leads to a WhatsApp chat with an ESNA volunteer; for would-be volunteers; and for organizations and operation centers wishing to participate in the initiative. 

The final link leads to a Zoom meeting room, which is open every day from 8am to 10pm and is also staffed by ESNA volunteers.

“It’s for the people that need to talk to somebody,” says Mushkin of the Zoom feature. 

“Maybe they can’t fill out a form, maybe they’re too frazzled to even wrap their heads around it.

“They can go into our Zoom room where someone will talk to them, help them fill out the form, and connect them to an expert in the field in real-time if need be.”

Illustrative: For individuals who feel to frazzled to fill out a form, there is an ESNA Zoom room that is open from 8am to 10pm (Courtesy Anna Shvets/Pexels)

The hundreds of people who have already used the platform have sought assistance with a wide range of issues. 

One case, shares Mushkin, was of a mother with two children on the autism spectrum who came under fire from Hamas terrorists while evacuating their community in the south of the country. Israeli soldiers saved them at the very last minute, and the family managed to reach the safety of Even Yehuda, a town in central Israel. 

ESNA was able to quickly find volunteers from the same city to bring them food and provide them with psychological support. 

Another case was of a blind woman who was evacuated from Nahariya on the Lebanese border, and had been forced to leave her home without her cane. She found refuge at a hotel in Tel Aviv, but was unable to replace her cane unaided. 

ESNA volunteers helped buy and deliver a replacement cane for a blind woman who was evacuated from northern Israel (Courtesy Eren Li/Pexels)

ESNA was able to contact a center for the blind to open their shop for one of the organization’s volunteers to buy a replacement cane and deliver it to her. 

“No bot, no AI, nothing like that could have answered these kinds of cases,” says Mushkin. 

ESNA is not the only initiative offering services to disabled people in need. Other initiatives include Shavvim (Hebrew for equals), an online media outlet for people with disabilities, which has collaborated with former member of Knesset and deaf activist Shirly Pinto to open a 24/7 situation room. 

This project also aids individuals who need help with essential requests such as finding psychological assistance, refilling prescriptions and buying groceries.  

ESNA’s partners include the National Israeli Society for Children and Adults with Autism (ALUT), which provides a range of services for people with autism of all ages nationwide; Access Israel, whose main mission is to promote accessibility and inclusion among all sectors; and Brothers in Arms, an organisation of IDF reservists who provide full-time aid and relief to those in need. 

A Hackautism volunteer (Courtesy)

The platform also has 15 other initiatives created through Hackautism that are available to assist with specific requests. “We are proud to offer innovative solutions to the challenges we now face,” says Rimon Tubin, co-founder of Hackautism. 

The entire ESNA platform is managed by a team of around two dozen volunteers and ESNA is actively seeking more help to address the growing number of daily requests. 

“People can volunteer in an impactful way from their home or from their office,” says Mushkin.

“All it takes is to go into our system and connect these people with the organizations that could best help them,” she explains. “It’s very gratifying.”

To donate to Hackautism, click here.

Kfar Aza resident Neta Portal woke up to the sound of warning sirens in her apartment with her partner Santiago on the morning of October 7. Despite hiding out in their safe room, terrorists penetrated the door with bullets before throwing a grenade that forced Neta and Santiago to flee from the apartment through a window. While escaping, Neta retained seven gunshot wounds to her legs while Santiago suffered from a gunshot to his back. The couple was ultimately rescued and treated in the hospital, but both still have a long way to go to heal.

Now, Neta is back on her feet – literally – thanks to Assistant Professor Dana Solav of the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Amir Haim, director of the Biomechanical Rehabilitation Unit and senior physician at the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Center. The two created a unique orthotic device tailored specifically for Neta based on 3D scans of her leg to aid her in walking while her injured ankle is unable to bear weight. They developed the technology under the guidance of Professor Alon Wolf during their studies at the Technion and have maintained a rewarding professional relationship since.

The device’s purpose is to enable the recovery of mobility while practicing natural and symmetrical walking under the requirement that the ankle is entirely or partially offloaded. It effectively transfers weight to the healthy part of the leg above the injury, allowing walking without causing pain. It features an adjustment mechanism that allows for a gradual and measured increase of weight-bearing of the affected part of the leg, according to the level permitted by the clinical condition.

Credit: Chen Galili, Technion Spokesperson’s Office

According to Prof. Solav, the device allows the knee and hip joints to move and function normally, which helps prevent muscle atrophy and bone density reduction – especially in long-term rehabilitation processes. The 3D scanning technology eliminates the need for a traditional plaster cast, and the computational design process facilitates the fabrication process, which combines a lightweight aluminum frame and 3D-printed parts.

Along with her research team of students and engineers, Prof. Solav is continuing to develop and improve the device for other uses, such as assisting diabetic patients who cannot walk due to pressure ulcers on their feet. The team is also planning to conduct clinical trials in collaboration with Loewenstein Rehabilitation Center and hopes to see how the orthosis can aid in walking rehabilitation.

In an interview with Ynet, Neta shared her gratitude and optimism: “Before the operation, thanks to the Technion’s device, I already managed to take several steps and jump on my right leg. It’s important for me to say that the work carried out by the team is amazing, and it has become an integral part of my rehab. They were very attentive and responsive. I was in a wheelchair for almost three months, and thanks to them, I went back to walking on my feet, even if not completely. They don’t know yet whether I will fully recover, but I hope so.”

Researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a new tool to determine whether a cancer patient is predisposed to an advanced kind of treatment called immunotherapy. 

The immune system contains “checkpoints” to prevent it from attacking cancer cells too strongly, as this would also potentially damage nearby healthy cells. 

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) suppress this action and allow the immune system to attack the cancer cells, but they are only effective in less than 40 percent of patients and tools currently being used to predict the drug’s efficacy are not completely accurate. 

Now, according to Prof. Keren Yizhak and Ofir Shorer, how well a patient responds to ICI therapy can be predicted by the metabolic activity in their immune system cells, as they battle any cancer cells in their environment for nutrients and other resources. 

The two are members of the Technion’s Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences. 

To make sure of the accuracy of the tool, Yizhak and Shorer analyzed some 1,700 metabolic genes taken from over one million immune cells of cancer patients receiving ICI. 

The study was recently published under the title “Metabolic predictors of response to immune checkpoint blockade therapy” by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information. 

An Israeli startup that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose cancer has unveiled a new solution that will help pathologists detect the specific treatments that will benefit breast cancer patients most. 

Ibex Medical Analytics’ Galen Breast HER2 platform can accurately determine the expression in cancer slides of the protein HER2, which is responsible for the proliferation of breast cancer cells. 

The platform uses AI to analyze the slides, identify the tumor cells and rapidly calculate the HER2 score of the tissue. The results are highlighted for the pathologist, who can review them and make a final decision as to what cancer treatment is best for each patient. 

Traditionally, pathologists evaluate HER2 in tumor samples visually, which may result in varied interpretations. The Galen Breast HER2 scoring system quantifies the sample’s expression of the protein into four standard categories to help the pathologist make a more accurate decision.

The technology was developed and validated by Ibex in collaboration with AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish multinational biotechnology company, and Daiichi Sankyo, a Japanese pharma company. 

“We are committed to providing pathologists with the most comprehensive AI platform as they implement digital pathology,” said Issar Yazbin, VP Product Management at Ibex Medical Analytics.

“In addition to HER2, we are now able to support full review of breast biopsies and excisions, distinguish between multiple types of invasive and non-invasive cancer, detect more than 50 malignant and non-malignant morphological features, and provide the underlying technology for automated quantification of additional prognostic and predictive breast biomarkers such as Ki-67, ER and PR.”

Advanced technology identifies pairs of drugs that can fight disease together, in microscopic doses.

Researchers have developed a pioneering AI “matchmaker” that pairs together existing cancer drugs for use in nanomedicine.

Prescribing a combination of two or more medications is already an established practice – known as combination therapy — that can prove highly effective.

But a team at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, has gone beyond simply identifying separate medications that will work well together.

These scientists have developed technology that singles out drug pairs whose molecular structure allows them to join together chemically as nanoparticles, measuring just a millionth of a millimeter. Their findings are published in the Journal of Controlled Release.

Administering medicines as nanoparticles – or nanomedicines – has many advantages, allowing doctors to use lower doses, target specific cells and minimize side effects.

The artificial intelligence tool developed at the Technion trawls published articles on existing cancer treatments, gathering information that allows it to predict pairs of drugs that will work well together and, crucially, that are able to chemically assemble into combined nanoparticles.

PhD student Dana Meron Azagury and Prof. Yosi Shamay. Photo courtesy of Technion Spokesperson’s Office

Prof. Yosi Shamay describes the new approach as a “synergy of synergies” or a “meta-synergy.”

The first synergy is the combination of two drugs so that their combined effect is greater than using each of them in isolation.

The second synergy is identifying which of these drugs pairs can be used in nanomedicine, bringing a whole array of new benefits.

The AI tool has so far proposed 1,985 possible nanomedicine drug combinations to treat 70 types of cancer.

One example is combining Bortezomib (a blood cancer drug) and Cabozantinib (a liver, kidney and thyroid cancer drug) as treatment for head and neck cancer. This combination has proven effective and caused fewer side effects than using either of the drugs individually.

Drug synergy prediction produced by the model. Photo courtesy of Technion Spokesperson’s Office

Standard drug combinations combat a tumour more effectively than they would do individually and may prevent the tumour from developing resistance to treatment.

Above and beyond

Master’s student Ben Friedmann. Photo courtesy of Technion Spokesperson’s Office

Nanomedicine combinations go above and beyond. They target cancer cells more precisely, are more successful at fighting tumors, require smaller doses, are less toxic, and minimize side effects.

“The development of meta-synergy on the nanometric level is a very complex challenge,” said Shamay.

“It necessitates the introduction of [at least] two drugs simultaneously into the same delivery system that would lead them to the desired destination in the body,” he said.

“Our research has shown, both in a computational demonstration and in live experiments, that the combination we proposed indeed leads the drugs to the tumor and releases them there — and that this therapy is very effective in treating the disease.”

The study, conducted at the Shamay Lab for Cancer Nanomedicine and Nanoinformatics, was led by PhD student Dana Meron Azagury, whose focus was on the biology and chemistry side of the research, and master’s student Ben Friedmann, who developed the AI model.

Bacteria can be found everywhere, and some are bad and cause illnesses, but some do more good more than harm.

There are thousands of kinds of bacteria – microscopic, single-celled organisms that are among the earliest known life forms on earth and live in every possible environment all over the world. They might be airborne or found in water, plants, soil, animals and even humans, where some cause dangerous diseases such as salmonella, pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, anthrax, tetanus and botulism.

However, many bacteria, including the ones that comprise the human gut microbiome, do good rather than harm. Bacteria can even be turned into tiny factories that manufacture needed products.

Now, researchers at the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed “bionic bacteria” that have many potential applications in industry.

Among those applications are the targeted release of biological drugs in the body using external light and other precise medical uses, sensing hazardous substances in the environment and the production of better fuels and other compounds. 

The study was led by Assistant Prof. Omer Yehezkeli and doctoral student Oren Bachar, and co-authored by doctoral student Matan Meirovich and master’s student Yara Zeibaq. Their work has just appeared in the international edition of Angewandte Chemie under the title “Protein-Mediated Biosynthesis of Semiconductor Nanocrystals for Photocatalytic NADPH Regeneration and Chiral Amine Production.” The journal, which is published by the German Chemical Society, officially described it as a “hot paper.”

“My research group deals with the interface between engineering and biotechnology at the nanoscale level,” said Yehezkeli. “Our goal is to blur the current boundaries between the different disciplines, and mostly between nanometer materials and biological systems such as bacteria. In our research, we use the unique properties of nanoscale particles on the one hand, and the tremendous selectivity of biological systems on the other, to create bionic systems that perform synergistically.”

Nanoscale semiconductor particles are usually produced in chemical processes that demand high temperatures and organic solvents. In the new Technion study, the researchers were able to create – using engineered proteins – an environment that makes possible the growth of nanometer particles under biological conditions and at room temperature. In turn, the grown nanoparticles can lead to light-induced processes of biological components.

“The use of engineered proteins for the self-growth of nanomaterials is a promising strategy that opens up new scientific horizons for combining inanimate and living matter,” added Yehezkeli. In the current study, the researchers demonstrated the use of engineered proteins to grow cadmium sulfide (CdS) nanoparticles that are capable of recycling nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) with light radiation.

“This is an essential electron donor in all organisms that provides the reducing power to drive numerous reactions, including those responsible for the biosynthesis of all major cell components and many products in biotechnology with light radiation. NADPH is crucial in many enzymatic processes and therefore its generation is desired,” Yehezkeli explained.

CdS nanoparticles have applications as an excellent photographic developer for the detection of cancers and other diseases, and in the treatment of cancer cells. The antibacterial and antifungal biological activity on various foodborne bacteria and fungi can also be studied with the use of CdS nanoparticles.

Enzymes are a common biological component involved in all living cell functions. Billions of years of evolution have led to the development of a broad spectrum of enzymes responsible for the many and varied functions in the cell, said Yehezkeli.

In their study, the researchers showed that NADPH could be produced (recycled) using the genetically modified protein made up of 12 repeating subunits that form a donut-like structure with a three-nanometer “hole” (three-billionths of a meter in diameter).

“This is a preliminary demonstration of the direct connection of inanimate matter [abiotic] with living matter [biotic] and a platform for its operation in a way that does not exist in nature,” concluded Yehezkeli.

“The technology we have developed enables the creation of hybrid components that connect these two types of materials into one unit, and we are already working on fully integrated living cells with promising initial results.

We believe that beyond the specific technological success in the production of NADPH and [various other] materials, there is evidence of the feasibility of a new paradigm that may contribute greatly to improving performance in many areas including energy, medicine, and the environment.” 

“There is evidence of the feasibility of a new paradigm that may contribute greatly to improving performance in many areas including energy, medicine, and the environment.”

Professor Omer Yehezkeli