Improved Brain Scans
An interdisciplinary research team at Technion has developed nanometric particles that will improve the quality of brain scans by combining MRIs and light microscope photography.
The team from the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute is led by Assoc. Prof. Lilac Amirav from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, together with Dr. Shai Berlin and Prof. Itamar Kahn from the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.
The problem with MRIs is that they don’t provide high enough resolutions at the level of a single cell. Light microscopy, on the other hand, is able to show single cells, but it requires that the tissue be penetrated. The nanometric particles developed at Technion are effective markers in that they are visible in both MRI scans and light microscopes, and they can navigate within the cells.
Artificial Intelligence Hardware: 1000x Faster
A team led by Asst. Prof. Shahar Kvatinsky at the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering has developed hardware for machine learning that is much faster than regular graphic processor units, yet requires much less energy.
Most artificial intelligence applications rely on computers that run programs using mathematical models whose processing capabilities are insufficient. In order to accelerate the computation and reduce the energy, Prof. Kvatinsky’s team uses novel nano-scale devices called memristors to support deep neural networks using one of the most popular learning techniques – gradient descent with momentum.
The research team developed a dedicated hardware based on memristors that is 1,000 times faster than GPUs, while using seven times less energy.
Regenerating Damaged Tissues
Prof. Shulamit Levenberg of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering and her team have brought successful tissue engineering a step closer, paving the way for superior methods of replacing damaged human tissue.
The field of tissue engineering involves taking cells from the body and incorporating them with very porous scaffold biomaterials, which act as 3D templates that guide the growth of new tissue.
Prof. Levenberg and her team found that the most mature grafts with complex vessel networks increased graft-host vessel anastomosis and improved penetration of the vessels in the recipient. The less-mature vessels were less successful in combining with the host tissue and caused more clots to be formed.
World’s 1st Quantum Metamaterials
Two teams of Technion scientists have collaborated to conduct trailblazing research which is leading to the development of a new and innovative scientific field: Quantum Metamaterials. The study was jointly conducted by Dist. Prof. Moti Segev, of the Physics Faculty, and his team, Tomer Stav and Dikla Oren, in collaboration with Prof. Erez Hasman of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and his team, Arkady Faerman, Elhanan Maguid, and Dr. Vladimir Kleiner.
The research demonstrates that it is possible to apply metamaterials to the field of quantum information and computing, thereby paving the way for numerous practical applications, such as the development of unbreakable encryptions, and new possibilities for quantum information systems on a chip.
“Immune Age”: An Accurate Measure of Health
A team of Technion researchers led by Assoc. Prof. Shai Shen-Orr in collaboration with Stanford University, have found that the state of our immune system provides a more accurate measurement of health.
The team has developed a way to gauge “immune age,” which may push the limits of personalized medical treatment, drug and vaccine clinical development, and health management. “Unlike your actual chronological age, your immune-age is directly linked to the state of your immune system, the body’s chief sentinel. We can therefore capture medically relevant information using immune age that physicians would otherwise miss,” explains Shen-Orr.
CT Scans for Clouds Will Improve Climate Prediction
Inspired by medical CT scans, a space mission consisting of tiny satellites will reveal detailed images of cloud structures and properties, and may resolve some major uncertainties that limit current climate prediction.
The project, which was recently awarded €14 million by the European Research Council Synergy program, is led by Prof. Yoav Schechner of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering, an expert in computer vision and computed tomography, along with Prof. Ilan Koren from the Weizmann Institute of Science and Prof. Klaus Schilling of the Center for Telematics in Würzburg, Germany. In analogy to the better-known medical CT, images will be taken simultaneously from many directions around and above the clouds. This feat will be made possible by the networked self-organizing formation of multiple, inexpensive, small satellites.
Chronic Use of β-Blockers Found to Increase the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
A new study led by Visiting Prof. Kira Radinsky of the Computer Science Faculty indicates that chronic use of β-blockers confers a time- and dose-dependent increased risk for Parkinson’s disease.
Prof. Radinsky and her team used Maccabi Health Services electronic charts to identify all patients receiving their first β-blocker treatment. They calculated the morbidity hazard of Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in users of β-blockers compared with non-users, as well as users of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for hypertension. The adjusted hazard ratio for Parkinson’s disease among β-blocker users was 1.51. In contrast, the Parkinson’s disease morbidity hazard for patients receiving ACE inhibitors was no different than for the general population.
Revolutionizing Information Processing
Technion researchers have succeeded in generating minute “nano-hedgehogs of light” called optical skyrmions, which could make possible revolutionary advances in information processing, transfer and storage. The research, published in Science, was led by Assoc. Prof. Guy Bartal of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Assoc. Prof. Netanel Lindner of the Physics Faculty.
The researchers demonstrated that an electric field can take on a “skyrmion” shape and that these “light hedgehogs” are robust against various defects in the material hosting the electromagnetic waves. The new discovery could enable future replication of this unique effect in a wide range of systems and materials, including liquids, nanoparticle systems and even cold atomic gases. It might also lay the ground for new skyrmion applications in optical (rather than magnetic) information processing, transfer and storage.
Innovative System Predicts the Effectiveness of Antibiotic Cocktails
Researchers at the Faculty of Biology discovered an innovative system for measuring the effectiveness of “antibiotic cocktails” and proved that the variety of drugs in the cocktail has a much larger impact than their dosages.
The research was led by Prof. Roy Kishony of the Faculties of Biology and Computer Science, and his findings were recently published in the journal Nature Microbiology. Prof. Kishony’s team developed a system that automatically and precisely measures the effect of different antibiotic cocktails on bacteria. They found that the larger the number of different antibiotics in the cocktail, the lower the doses required of each antibiotic without reducing the cocktail’s effectiveness.
Revealing the Therapeutic Promise of Programmed Cell Death
Asst. Prof. Yaron Fuchs from the Faculty of Biology is the 2019 grand prize winner of the Sartorius and Science Prize for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy, for work that reveals a role for programmed stem cell death in wound healing and tissue regeneration.
The findings, described in his prize-winning essay, “The therapeutic promise of apoptosis,” could potentially pave the way to novel regenerative medicine and tumor therapies that target stem cells undergoing apoptosis – a type of programmed cell death. Prof. Fuchs heads the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.