These emergency projects focus on different important aspects, such as detection and diagnostics; vaccine development; therapeutic treatments; and methods for remote care and monitoring of patients.
Article published at www.jpost.com on March 25, 2020.
An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany
(photo credit: REUTERS/ANDREAS GEBERT)
Researchers from over 20 labs at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are working around the clock to combat the further spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak around the world.
These emergency projects focus on different important aspects, such as detection and diagnostics; vaccine development; therapeutic treatments; and even methods for remote care and monitoring of patients suffering from COVID-19, including robotic solutions.
Noteworthy examples in coronavirus diagnostics include Prof. Hossam Haick, from Technion’s Wolfson Faculty of Chemical engineering. His research is working on a diagnostic test for coronavirus carriers before they show symptoms.
In the vaccine development field, the chemical engineering faculty’s Prof. Avi Schroeder is working on a vaccine based on one developed for shrimps. If successful, the vaccine will be commercialized by his start-up company, ViAqua Theraputics. Schroeder is also working on a therapeutic treatment method by working on a drug that could treat some respiratory distress symptoms.
“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.”
In addition, Technion researchers are collaborating with medical staff from Rambam Medical Center on numerous other emergency projects to help combat the coronavirus.
However, other research institutes in Israel are also working hard on treatments and vaccines for the virus. Earlier this week, the Kiryat Shmona-based MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute announced that they expected to begin human testing of an oral vaccine – which was based on a vaccine originally designed to prevent the Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) in poultry – for the coronavirus in eight to 10 weeks.
“We are currently in intensive discussions with potential partners that can help accelerate the in-human trials phase and expedite the completion of final product development and regulatory activities,” said MIGAL CEO David Zigdon.
The coronavirus outbreak has spread throughout the world in the past few months, infecting hundreds of thousands of people and killing thousands more. At the time of writing, Israel has confirmed over two thousand cases and five deaths from COVID-19, and the country has been hard at work expanding testing and implementing containment measures.