Technion Researchers on the Frontline in the Fight against COVID-19

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

Published on March 26, 2020.

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.