Tiny fish swims to Israel to help unlock mystery of aging

The search for the proverbial fountain of youth is moving underwater. Experimental biologist Itamar Harel, returning to Israel this spring from a post-doc at Stanford University School of Medicine, will establish an aging research lab focused on the tiny East African turquoise killifish, the shortest-lived vertebrate that can be cultivated in the laboratory easily.

Gleaning insights into human aging from a fish that lives an average of four to six months sounds counterintuitive. But the East African turquoise killifish has an aging progression remarkably similar to ours, making it perfect for studying human aging in a rapid timeframe.

“In the past 25 years, experiments in short-lived yeast, worms and flies have revolutionized the way we perceive aging – revealing that the aging rate itself can be manipulated by genetic and environmental interventions,” Harel says.

“However, the lack of short-lived vertebrate models for genetic studies has significantly limited our understanding of vertebrate aging, including the role of vertebrate-specific genes, organs and physiological processes.” At Stanford’s Brunet Lab, Harel used a new genome-editing technique called CRISPR to develop a tool for examining aging and disease in killifish.

Harel’s own lab, to open in March 2018 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Life Sciences, will take this research to the next level.

“The key aspect I’m trying to accomplish is to see if we can slow down some of the age-associated diseases we have and extend good health, even if we live the same amount of years,” Harel tells ISRAEL21c.

“I envision using killifish as a platform for testing the role of specific drugs and their effect on age-associated pathologies such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases,” he says.

“Manipulating the aging rate itself might allow us to postpone the onset of these devastating diseases, which will have a tremendous impact on human health.”

The 37-year-old scientist got his undergraduate degree at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2005 and his PhD in developmental biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2012.

When he arrived at Stanford in 2013, he was fascinated to learn about the killifish, which has been bred in captivity since 1968 but had never been genetically engineered.

The tool he developed using CRISPR enabled him to study the effects of early interventions on elderly killifish.

“I was able to do it almost twice as fast as in parallel genetic models like mice, which have a lifespan of two to three years,” he says. In his Jerusalem lab, he will study aspects of aging unique to vertebrates.

“The majority of aging research has been done on invertebrates, in which it is challenging to study things like bone degeneration, declining immune function, declining ability to benefit from vaccinations, and increasing susceptibility to cancer and infections,” says Harel.

“I think my uniqueness will be to study specific niches that are exceptionally challenging or impossible to study using current models.”

To start, Harel will investigate dyskeratosis congenita syndrome, which causes bone-marrow failure.

“The killifish model shows rapid onset of this disease and I want to see if we can develop interventions to slow down some of these phenotypes, screen for drugs and do genetic interventions.”

People have studied this syndrome in mice but you have to breed them for three to four generations before the phenotypes develop.

In killifish, the phenotype happens in the first generation, and as fast as only two months.” In the long term, Harel hopes the little fish will reveal why aging is the primary risk factor for every disease type. “We know different organisms live vastly different lifespans.

Killifish live six months, while koi fish live up to 200 years,” he says.

“Nature has fabulously played with this trait of the aging rate. If we understand the basics behind the differences we could potentially manipulate them ourselves and see what aspects make the body more susceptible or more resilient.” He isn’t trying to make killifish live as long as koi fish.

“But we could tailor specific interventions to boost our ability to cope with Alzheimer’s or other degenerative diseases,” says Harel, whose family history does not include any centenarians that he knows of. Harel notes that aging research is advanced in Israel, with multiple aging-related research labs doing groundbreaking work.

The Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology recently issued a call for “technologies and innovation for older persons,” including biomedical research on aging.

In October, Israeli longevity expert Dr. Nir Barzilai from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York gave a keynote address, “How to die young at a very old age,” at the Pathways to Healthy Longevity conference at Bar-Ilan University sponsored in part by the Israeli Longevity Alliance.

Harel was on the judging panel that awarded prizes to graduate students studying the biology of aging, healthy longevity and quality of life.

“Doing research in Israel comes with a sense of community and ease of developing new collaborations,” says Harel. “For me it was clear that I wanted to go back.”

Read the source article at ISRAEL21c


Archaeologists uncover bittersweet end of 1,800-year-old Tiberias menorah

Why would Crusaders decorate a staircase with the carving of a menorah? This archaeological mystery — almost two millennia in the making — was recently solved, seven years after the Jewish symbol was discovered in a Hebrew University excavation of ancient Tiberias. The massive menorah, originally carved on a basalt tomb door, is tangible evidence of the city’s dramatic historical periods in the past centuries, under the world’s three major monotheistic religions.

Menorah carved into the door of a Jewish tomb, circa 150-350 CE found in Tiberias. (Tal Rogoveski)

The 68×78-centimeter (27×31 inch) seven-stemmed menorah was uncovered in a dig led by the Hebrew University’s Dr. Katya Tzitrin Silverman, which has been ongoing since 2009. The door the menorah decorated was typical of a Jewish tomb from circa 150-350 CE, said Silverman in conversation with The Times of Israel on Monday. After the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, Tiberias was a center for Jewish life. It is thought that the Sanhedrin, the court of Jewish law and scholarship, sat in Tiberias from circa 190 CE. Following Muslim conquest in 635 CE, the city became a seat for the early caliphate. It was during this period, archaeologist Silverman said, that the menorah door was reused as the base of a mosque, which was built on an earlier mosque, said Silverman. Because the door was not found in situ, researchers cannot exactly pinpoint its provenance. However, said Silverman, it is clear that the use of this door by the Muslims in building a mosque was highly intentional. The mosque, she said, also contained reused pagan and Christian pillars, which were put on display as corner pieces. These materials taken for intentional secondary use are called “spoila,” said Silverman. They are trophies, a way of clearly stating, “We’re building our structure on the backs of those who came before us,” she said. “There is an expression of victory and inheritance” in their use, she said. Interestingly, said Silverman, during the team’s excavations, it was discovered that there was a church located next to the mosque which used the spoila. According to an inscription found at the church’s nave, it was still in use until at least the 10th century. “There was only a street between them,” she said, adding that although they’ve found remains of what appears to be a pagan temple, the team has not yet found a synagogue on the site of the ancient religious hub. “It’s strange to think that in Israel we have one of the most important excavations for early Muslim mosque architecture,” said Silverman.

Where the menorah was discovered.

The mosque that was built was upon the menorah was destroyed in an earthquake in 1068. Subsequently, its building materials were reused by the Crusaders and so our menorah became the decoration for a staircase in a room in a sugar factory. Calling it Israel’s “first industrial revolution,” Silverman said that after the crop was introduced under Muslim rule, by the Crusader period, the whole area of the Jordan and Ginosar Valleys was cultivated for sugar production. The heart of residential Tiberias had by this period moved north and the sugar production was done on the outskirts of the city. Silverman said that the menorah’s meaning as a Jewish symbol is not likely to have been understood during the Crusader period. Its use as a step in a secular sugar factory was, if anything, “pragmatic” — a bittersweet end to the menorah, which started its life on a Jewish tomb.

Read the source article at The Times of Israel


Honorary Doctorate Ceremony for His All Holiness

On December 6, 2017, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople received an Honorary Doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The event was attended by a wide array of religious leaders, ambassadors, and dignitaries. The presentation of the honorary degree was followed by an address from His All Holiness:

His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, popularly known as the “Green Patriarch,” was appointed as the primary spiritual leader of the world’s approximately 300 million  Orthodox Christians on November 2, 1991. Since then he has pursued a constant vision of spiritual revival; of Orthodox unity and Christian reconciliation; interfaith understanding and coexistence; and environmental awareness and protection — making every effort to mobilize the world’s moral and spiritual forces for the sake of harmony among all human beings and between humankind and nature.

Under his auspices, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has advanced interreligious dialogue with the Muslim world and with the worldwide Jewish community. He has also initiated and co-sponsored international peace conferences and symposia dealing with issues such as racism and fundamentalism and  has endeavored to generate cooperation and increase mutual tolerance and respect among Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox Christian communities, particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

No less important, the “Green Patriarch” Bartholomew I is a distinguished environmentalist, avidly involved in urgent ecological issues such as the pollution of the world’s waterways. His reputation for raising global environmental awareness has earned him the Sophie Prize, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, and numerous other awards. His efforts to promote religious freedom and human rights, his initiatives to advance religious tolerance among the world’s religions, together with his work toward international conflict resolution and environmental protection, have justly placed the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the forefront of global visionaries, peacemakers, and bridge-builders.

Click here to enjoy photos from the event.



James Patterson and Einstein archivists creating new series

Already co-writing a political thriller with former President Bill Clinton, James Patterson is now set for a collaboration with the managers of Albert Einstein’s archives.

The best-selling and prolific novelist is developing a series for middle schoolers inspired by Einstein’s scientific discoveries. In a licensing deal with the Einstein archive, Little Brown will publish the first of three planned books, currently untitled, next fall. The release will come through the author’s own JIMMY Patterson children’s imprint.

“I love the idea of introducing Einstein and the ideas of science to millions of kids around the world,” says Patterson, sounding childlike himself as he speaks of “taking this so freaking seriously.”

Patterson, admittedly still learning when it comes to science, has worked in an innovation of his own. The series’ young protagonist, Max Einstein, is a girl.

“Women are definitely underrated in science and I wanted to address that,” he told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. Little, Brown describes Max as “inventive, irreverent, highly imaginative,” one who “loves to solve problems in fun, unconventional ways, much like Einstein himself.”

“The high-stakes adventure series follows Max and the world’s brightest kids as they travel the globe to solve humanity’s biggest problems with the power of science,” the publisher announced.

Financial terms for the books were not disclosed. According to Little Brown, Einstein archivists will assist Patterson with research and also have input in the manuscripts and artwork. Proceeds will be divided among the archive, the publisher and Patterson.

Einstein has inspired fiction before, such as Alan Lightman’s critically praised “Einstein’s Dreams.” He also was the subject of a best-selling biography by Walter Isaacson and of numerous biographies for children.

Officials for the Einstein archives, which are based at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, cite Patterson’s enormous popularity and see the new series as an ideal way to expand Einstein’s appeal among young people. Dr. Roni Grosz, curator of the archives, praised Patterson’s ability to keep readers interested.

“You don’t want readers just putting the books down because they’re not interesting enough,” he told the AP. “There’s tremendous interest in Einstein, but it’s not easy to convey his lessons and his knowledge. These books are one way to package this rather complex information and present it to young readers.”

Read the source article at Washington Post


Why teamwork is better than attempting lone heroism in science

This article originally appeared on Massive.

MASSIVE_logoThe best way for scientists — or anybody, really — to address shortcomings after experiencing failure is teamwork. And never has that been more clearly apparent than in the story of Doxil, the first nanomedicine, which failed multiple times before a resourceful team cracked the code.

Nanomedicine is the application of nanoscale technologies (think about it as really, really tiny pieces of matter — 10,000 times smaller than a strand of hair or 100 times smaller than a red blood cell) for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and study of disease and human health. It’s pretty successful at getting funded as well — privately held nanomedicine companies (such as Nanobiotix) are getting a lot of money — in the tens of millions of dollars — from pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Merck.

But nanomedicine wasn’t always such a buzzworthy topic — it really hit the scene in the 1990s when an anti-cancer drug called Doxil became the first FDA-approved nanomedicine-based therapy thanks to a multinational team headed by biochemist Yechezkel Barenholz at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Decades in the making

Barenholz believed as far back as the late 1970s that chemotherapy could be improved by placing anti-cancer drugs in nanoscaled carriers made of lipids — the stuff that forms the membranes of all the cells in our body. Placing the free-floating drug molecules into carriers takes advantage of the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect, in which nanosized particles in the blood stream should enter and accumulate in solid tumors more easily than in healthy tissue.

 Placing drugs in nanocarriers would cause fewer side effects and require smaller doses.

One of the characteristics of tumors is their rapid growth, causing blood vessels to grow abnormally, which results in tiny gaps in the vessel walls that nanoparticles can pass through easily. Another consequence of rapid growth is the suppression of “lymphatic drainage,” meaning that the lymph fluid in tumors can’t clear out waste products and nanoparticles as effectively as in healthy tissues, causing more accumulation in tumors than in the rest of the body. Ideally, placing the drugs in nanocarriers would cause fewer side effects and require smaller doses as a result.

Barenholz began to develop early prototypes of such a drug in 1979 with oncologist Alberto Gabizon. But in 1987, that trial drug, called OLV-DOX, failed its clinical trial. The carriers were too large; they didn’t have enough of the drug inside of them to be effective, and they were readily destroyed by the body’s immune system.

In the interim, though, Barenholz started a parallel project as part of a team. In 1984, after chatting with an old colleague from UC–San Francisco, Dimitri Papahadjopoulos, Barenholz was convinced to take a sabbatical at Papahadjopoulos’s startup, Liposome Technology Inc. (LTI) in California, on the condition that LTI would support the ongoing Doxil research at Hebrew University at the same time.

Second time’s the charm

In the 1990s, Barenholz and his team at LTI worked together on what they called “stealth liposomes.” An outer layer of a polymer called polyethylene glycol (commonly called PEG) was added to the lipid carrier to extend the circulation time of the liposomes. This polymer is very hydrophilic — it interacts well with water, so that the closely packed water molecules at the surface of the liposome will prevent the liposomes from interacting with any proteins or cells in the blood stream, allowing them to reach their intended target.

At the same time, Barenholz was working in his lab in Israel to figure out a way to make the nanocarriers smaller while still being able to put enough of the drug inside to make the treatment effective. These teams patented these new technologies by 1989, and the new and improved OLV-DOX, now called Doxil, began clinical trials in Jerusalem in 1991.

Barenholz leaves us with a lesson anyone can learn from.

The rest is history. FDA approved in 1995, the team was excited to have brought the first nanomedicine to market. Even though another research and development company approached Barenholz with a large sum of money and royalties for the rights to the early Doxil prototypes, he stuck with LTI, believing that he would have more control and success with the team there. (LTI is part of Johnson & Johnson today.)

In some of the last words of his reflective and personal review, Barenholz wrote that he wants to transfer his experience with Doxil development and eventual approval to researchers worldwide. He leaves us with an overarching lesson that anyone can learn from: collaboration is an essential part of successful science and is undervalued most of the time in the pursuit of great personal discoveries.

Read the source article at


Israeli serial startup stars of blockchain tech return with QEDit, a zero-knowledge proof diligence tool

Leveraging some “mind boggling math” introduced as an update onto the Ethereum blockchain only a few months ago, QEDit is launching its product on our Battlefield stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

The company, which takes its name from the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum (which was what would have been demonstrated) relies on the principle of zero knowledge proofs to provide audit and due diligence services for financial institutions.

One of the problems that’s been slowing down blockchain adoption in businesses is how to share information based on proprietary data. Companies don’t want to share a lot of information with competitors, but need to have ways to ensure that the information they’re receiving is correct.

The QEDit service allows that on the blockchain. Creating ways for multi-party transactions to engage in queries that prove certain facts about a business, without ever accessing the data underlying those proofs.

This differs from a “regular” blockchain where every transaction is sent to all the nodes on the network and all of those nodes record the rules and value of the transaction on a public ledger. With QEDit, only the user runs the rules on their own data. The only thing that anyone else on the chain sees are the proofs.

One of the company’s co-founders is Aviv Zohar, a researcher at Hebrew University whose work was cited by none other than Ethereum project developer VItalik Butarin in his early writing about cryptocurrency. Zohar has been working in cryptography for years and his work is critical to the very “mind boggling math” that makes zero knowledge proofs possible.

Helping him round out the team at QEDit are Jonathan Rouach and Ruben Arnold, two serial entrepreneurs who first met in 1999 while studying at Technion University in Israel.

“We saw that there were two conflicting trends. More and more data is accumulated in the enterprise world and companies are trying to keep it for themselves and monetize it and companies are trying to keep it for themselves but there are instances… on the one hand you want to keep the data for yourself and on the other hand you want to share the data with other parties,” says Rouach of the idea behind QEDit. “This is what we built. It’s the possibility of sharing proofs about the data without sharing the data itself.”

While Arnold pursued a career in consulting in Paris at McKinsey & Co., Rouach stayed in Israel working in electrical engineering. But around 2012 he became interested in a novel idea percolating out from the edges of the internet called bitcoin (it was a post on Slashdot, Rouach says).

In 2013, he co-founded Bits of Gold with his brother Yuval Rouach and Arnold as one of the first bitcoin exchanges to launch in Israel.

“It was the technology,” that first attracted Rouach to the Bitcoin bomb that was exploding on the Internet. “It’s a beautiful solution to a problem that I didn’t even think of… How can you create trust between people without central coordination?”

Rouach’s fascination with that concept of anonymous trust is a thread that runs through his future endeavors as well — businesses that all attempt to refine that notion of anonymous, verified trust.

“Every fact on the blockchain is mathematically verified,” says Rouach. “That is enough to know what is the state of the whole world.”

While bitcoin may have been Rouach’s gateway drug into the wild world of cryptobusiness, he quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the technology to actually fulfill the promise of expanding on that notion of anonymous trust and verification.

That’s because the security issues around bitcoin had yet to be resolved. So Rouach launched a second company called LedgerLock, which provided security services for a range of digital assets.

Once LedgerLock was sold to Digital Assets Holdings, during the split between the application of blockchain technology to business problems which ignored the push to tokenization, and a more public-facing movement that was predicated on token sales.

So QEDit is the next step on the road to a fully cryptographic, nearly automated transaction system. The idea is to replace the army of auditors that are involved in providing due diligence and oversight for negotiations and transactions that involve proprietary information.

Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), audit firms, financial services companies, and large telecoms themselves are on board for the experiment. QEDit has partnerships with Deloitte, BNP Paribas and British Telecom for its first product called QEDit Enhanced Diligence.

Unlike the rash of companies based on blockchain that have gone the coin sale route, Rouach tells me that his firm has no intention of launching an ICO. “We’re completely on the enterprise blockchain side and what we want to do is ensure that companies can build trust between them without having to reveal their private data.”

The company sells the service on a per use basis and as part of the beta launch here at Disrupt the QEDit is offering two free years of service to customers that sign up for its beta.

Rouach says there’s a big market for this kind of work, with roughly $6 billion floating out there in the rating market alone.

It’s hard to understate how radical the change this technology could bring to financial services actually could be.

“You never had a peer-to-peer way of an investor or an acquirer or an auditor knocking on the door of the company and say prove me this, and to know what they’re giving back is accurate,” says Rouach.

Read the source article at TechCrunch


At Stanford, Israeli brain scientist thinks thoughts about thinking

Ask Adi Mizrahi if he loves his work and his answer is a no-brainer.

“I’m absolutely convinced I have the best job in the world,” said Mizrahi, a neurobiologist, award-winning scientist and the director of the Hebrew University’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences.

Mizrahi, 47, now on sabbatical at Stanford University, is taking a year to talk to other scientists and learn about cutting-edge research techniques he can bring back to Israel. It’s part of his philosophy of interdisciplinary science, which he believes is crucial for understanding the brain.

“I think it is a multidisciplinary problem,” he said. “You cannot neglect one side and expect to solve the problem.”

It’s an approach he uses at the Center for Brain Sciences, which brings together physicists, neurobiologists, psychologists, computer scientists and engineers to collaborate on research. The cross-discipline point of view is essential because the brain is just too complicated to be understood by one approach. “If you only look at behavior, you’ll never know what the cells are doing,” Mizrahi said.

Mizrahi, the author or co-author of more than 25 papers, with titles such as “Distinct Spatiotemporal Response Properties of Excitatory Versus Inhibitory Neurons in the Mouse Auditory Cortex,” does what he calls “basic research.” That means that it’s not dedicated to finding practical solutions for immediate problems. “We do it for the sake of knowledge,” he said.

“We do it for the sake of knowledge.”

But sometimes results come anyway. For example, the center — not Mizrahi personally — has made splashy headlines for therapies such as deep brain stimulation, a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

In 2009, Mizrahi won the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Discovery in Medical Research, which goes to a scientist under 45 at Hebrew University or the University of Sydney, in alternate years. The award honored Mizrahi for his work on new approaches that are “essential steps towards therapies which will allow the regeneration of brain structures from stem cell technology,” according to the prize website.

Hebrew University’s brain sciences center was founded in 2009 with $20 million in funding from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. In 2015 this was increased by another $30 million, a hefty chunk of the center’s $150 million initial budget. Next year, the center will move into a new 156,000-square-foot home, the Goodman Brain Sciences building. (The new building will be the largest neuroscience center in Israel and one of the most ambitious in the world, according to Hebrew University.)

Until then, Mizrahi says his time as a visiting professor at Stanford, where he can focus on studying and learning about techniques like revolutions in RNA sequencing, is a gift and a privilege. But he is also looking to the future, including to students he and others are training back at the Center for Brain Sciences.

He said it’s those “the scientists of tomorrow” who are growing up within the interdisciplinary approach, who will be able to take research even further with their intuitive understanding of how to approach the brain from many points of view. But once they become scientists, they’ll find it’s a hard but rewarding road, where being ready to fail again and again is a prerequisite for the job.

“Science is not for everyone,” Mizrahi said, even if he’s sure that it’s definitely for him.

Read the source article at


Ancient Temple Built by the Descendent of A Vast Biblical Kingdom Discovered by Israeli Military Drones


Experts working at the Horvat ‘Amuda site have said the drone images allowed them to pinpoint their dig.

Drones flying over a military training area in Israel have revealed the location of an ancient temple built by the biblical Idumean people some 2,200 years ago.

Subsequent excavations of the structure, spotted in military aerial photographs, uncovered a number of cultic jars and vessels and a rare hellenistic altar for the burning of incense decorated with the image of a bull.

Experts working at the Horvat ‘Amuda site have said the drone images allowed them to pinpoint their dig, the Times of Israel reported.

“This technology helped us choose where to focus our excavation probes, and, indeed, it very quickly emerged that this was in fact a unique discovery,” Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University, and Pablo Betzer and Michal Haber from the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

The temple discovered in the Lachish region military training area is just one of handful of Idumean buildings recovered in Israel. The ancient people settled across the holy lands until the civilization was wiped out by the Babylonians in B.C. 700.

Trading across the region in the time of Alexander the Great they were eventually assimilated into the area’s Jewish population. The ancient carved city of Petra in modern Jordan remains one of the most prominent examples of remaining Idumean culture and architecture.

Excavations at Horvat ‘Amuda revealed a series of rooms, one of them containing two stone incense altars. The bull image adorning one of them also showed the architecture of what appears to be a temple or a similar structure like a palace. “[This] may have symbolized a deity worshipped by the Idumeans,” Israel’s Archaeological Authority said in a statement. It added that as well as painted bowls, juglets and oil lamps made of delicate pottery the altar was a rare and significant find.

The temple appears to have been dismantled on purpose rather than destroyed. Experts believe this may have occurred in around 112 B.C. during the conquests of the Hasmonean king, John Hyrcanus I.

The Hasmonean dynasty that ruled Judea and the surrounding area at the time sacked Maresha, a nearby Idumean stronghold, home to 6,000-10,000 people. As part of the conquests locals were forced to convert to the Jewish faith or leave the area.

Numerous archaeological discoveries have been made in and around Horvat ‘Amuda including remains dating from the Jewish revolts against the Romans in the second century.

Read the source article at Newsweek


3 Israeli Universities Ranked In World’s Top 100 Most Innovative

(JTA) — Three Israeli universities were ranked in the top 100 of the most innovative universities in the world in the Reuters’ annual list. Hebrew University came in at 82, climbing 12 spots from last year. Tel Aviv University was ranked at 88 and The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology was 89. The Reuters analysis identifies the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and power new markets and industries. The ranking is based on a number of indicators, including patent filings and research paper citations. Reuters cited the Hebrew University’s technology transfer company, Yissum Research Development Company, as bringing students’ and researchers’ technologies and discoveries to market, with 10,000 registered patents covering 2,800 inventions, more than 900 licensed technologies, and the launch of 125 startups. Stanford University came in first place for the third year in a row. MIT was ranked second and Harvard University third. Overall, the top 100 consists of 51 universities based in North America, 26 in Europe, 20 in Asia and 3 in the Middle East.

Read the source article at The Forward


Enhancing the Quantum Sensing Capabilities of Diamonds

Shooting electrons at diamonds can introduce quantum sensors into them

Researchers discovered that dense ensembles of quantum spins can be created in a diamond with high resolution using electron microscopes, paving the way for enhanced sensors and resources for quantum technologies.

Diamonds are made of carbon atoms in a crystalline structure, but if a carbon atom is replaced with another type of atom, this will result in a lattice defect. One such defect is the Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV), where one carbon atom is replaced by a nitrogen atom, and its neighbor is missing (an empty space remains in its place). 

If this defect is illuminated with a green laser, in response it will emit red light (fluoresce) with an interesting feature: its intensity varies depending on the magnetic properties in the environment. This unique feature makes the NV center particularly useful for measuring magnetic fields, magnetic imaging (MRI), and quantum computing and information.

In order to produce optimal magnetic detectors, the density of these defects should be increased without increasing environmental noise and damaging the diamond properties.

Now, scientists from the research group of Nir Bar-Gill at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics and Department of Applied Physics, in cooperation with Professor Eyal Buks of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, have shown that ultra-high densities of NV centers can be obtained by a simple process of using electron beams to kick carbon atoms out of the lattice.

This work, published in the scientific journal Applied Physics Letters, is a continuation of previous work in the field and demonstrates an improvement in the densities of NV centers in a variety of diamond types. The irradiation is performed using an electron beam microscope (Transmission Electron Microscope or TEM), which has been specifically converted for this purpose. The availability of this device in nanotechnology centers in many universities in Israel and around the world enables this process with high spatial accuracy, quickly and simply.

The enhanced densities of the NV color centers obtained, while maintaining their unique quantum properties, foreshadow future improvements in the sensitivity of diamond magnetic measurements, as well as promising directions in the study of solid state physics and quantum information theory.

Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) color centers exhibit remarkable and unique properties, including long coherence times at room temperature (~ ms), optical initialization and readout, and coherent microwave control.

“This work is an important stepping stone toward utilizing NV centers in diamond as resources for quantum technologies, such as enhanced sensing, quantum simulation, and potentially quantum information processing”, said Bar-Gill, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University, where he founded the Quantum Information, Simulation, and Sensing lab.

“What is special about our approach is that it’s very simple and straightforward,” said Hebrew University researcher Dima Farfurnik. “You get sufficiently high NV concentrations that are appropriate for many applications with a simple procedure that can be done in-house.”


Hebrew University Graduates Ranked Among Most Employable in the World

International survey ranks Hebrew University among the world’s best at preparing students for workplace

November 20, 2017 — An analysis published by Times Higher Education (THE) has ranked Hebrew University of Jerusalem students as the 62nd most employable graduates in the world, placing the Hebrew University among the world’s top 100 universities at preparing its students for the workplace. The ranking also positions Hebrew University graduates as the most employable from Israeli universities, followed by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology at 113, and Tel Aviv University at 135. The Hebrew University moved up 5 points this year, from 67 last year.

The global employability ranking, designed by the French human resources consultancy Emerging and published exclusively by Times Higher Education, reveals which universities the recruiters at top companies think are the best at preparing students for the workforce. The survey was conducted among thousands of recruiters and managers from a range of firms and industries around the world. Respondents were asked to define what they look for in graduates and which universities they believe produce the most employable graduates.

The top 5 ranked institutions globally were Caltech-California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Columbia University, MIT-Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Cambridge. The complete Global University Employability Ranking list is available online.


First time in Israel: Ancient deer bones discovered near Sea of Galilee

In an unprecedented find, Israeli archeologists recently unearthed the first evidence of ancient deer bones on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, near the Jordan Valley. According to researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth Sciences and the Geological Survey of Israel, the remains are approximately 9 million years old. The discovery was initially made by two doctoral candidates at the university, Alexis Rosenbaum and Dotan Shaked-Gelband, who were reconstructing the lake’s stretch to characterize the composition of its ancient waters, the university said Monday. “The bones were partly submerged in a coastal sediment, and it is assumed that the animal apparently died on the shore of the lake and was eroded,” the researchers said in a joint statement. “The presence of an ancient deer is not rare in assemblages during the same period, but this is the first time such remains have been discovered in Israel. The reason for this apparently lies in the processes of extinction and burial.” The researchers added that the presence of the deer is also “indicative of a rich world of terrestrial animals” known from other areas of the Levant and the Mediterranean basin. “Moreover, the development of freshwater bodies during the Miocene Epoch (23 million to 5.3 million years ago) in the Mediterranean basin allowed the distribution of reindeer from Asia to the West,” they noted. The researchers said that studies of this type are of great importance in understanding regional climate change in recent years, as well as the development of the Mediterranean Sea.

Read the source article at Jpost


Therapix Biosciences Plans Preclinical Study to Evaluate Opioid-Sparing Effects of Two Innovative Synthetic Cannabinoids

/PRNewswire/ — Therapix Biosciences Ltd. (Nasdaq: TRPX), a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company specializing in the development of cannabinoid-based treatments, executed a non-exclusive material transfer agreement with Yissum, the technology transfer company of The , for two synthetic cannabinoids synthesized by , Ph.D., Professor of medicinal chemistry at the university and Chairman of the Therapix Scientific Advisory Board. Therapix plans to initiate a preclinical study during the fourth quarter to evaluate the opioid-sparing effect of these compounds in a rat model. The opioid overuse epidemic in was recently declared a public health emergency by President . According to Medical Care, prescription opioid overdose, abuse and dependence carries high costs for society with an estimated total economic burden of alone. Nevertheless, for immediate relief of moderate-to-severe acute as well as chronic pain, opioids are frequently the treatment of choice due to their rapid onset and efficacy. However, due to their addictive nature and deleterious adverse events that may lead to lethal outcomes, there is a need to significantly reduce their effective therapeutic dose, Chief Technology Officer at Therapix, said, “To address the opioid issue, Therapix is collaborating with Professor Mechoulam to develop a therapy of innovative cannabinoids and opioids. The study builds upon the innovative work of Professor Mechoulam and seeks to reduce the use of opioids by combining them with proprietary cannabinoid molecules to alleviate pain.” “Based on our research surrounding the effects of the endocannabinoid system and how cannabinoids can play a role in pain relief, our group of research scientists has synthesized cannabinoids with improved binding affinity and target specificity, which do not cause the therapeutically undesirable cannabis psychoactivity,” stated Professor Mechoulam. “In view of their parallel actions in pain, cannabinoids and opioids together may allow the development of a novel therapy that could exhibit a synergistic effect that reduces the therapeutic effective dose of opioids.” , Chief Financial Officer at Therapix, said, “We are privileged to be working with Professor Mechoulam and the in paving the way forward to a potential new therapeutic that may one day help to address this deadly social and medical crisis.” About Therapix Biosciences Ltd.: Therapix Biosciences Ltd. is a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company led by an experienced team of senior executives and scientists. Our focus is creating and enhancing a portfolio of technologies and assets based on cannabinoid pharmaceuticals. With this focus, the Company is currently engaged in the following drug development programs based on repurposing an FDA approved synthetic cannabinoid (dronabinol): THX-110 and THX-120 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome (TS) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA); THX-130 for the treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); and THX-150 for the treatment of infectious diseases. Please visit our website for more information at About Yissum: Yissum is the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University . Founded in 1964, it is the third company of its kind to be established, and serves as a bridge between cutting-edge academic research and a global community of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry. Yissum’s mission is to benefit society by converting extraordinary innovations and transformational technologies into commercial solutions that address our most urgent global challenges. Yissum has registered over 10,000 patents covering 2,800 inventions; licensed over 900 technologies and has spun out more than 125 companies. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Boston Scientific, Google, ICL, Intel , Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Microsoft, Novartis and many more. For further information please visit Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements about the Company’s expectations, beliefs, and intentions. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as “believe”, “expect”, “intend”, “plan”, “may”, “should”, “could”, “might”, “seek”, “target”, “will”, “project”, “forecast”, “continue” or “anticipate” or their negatives or variations of these words or other comparable words or by the fact that these statements do not relate strictly to historical matters. Such forward-looking statements used in this press release include, among other things, references to the clinical and commercial potential of the Company’s product candidates. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors. Such factors include, among others, our ability to raise the additional funding needed to continue to pursue our business and product development plans, the inherent uncertainties associated with developing new products or technologies, our ability to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our ability to commercialize our product candidates, competition in the industry in which we operate and overall market conditions. Any forward-looking statement in this press release speaks only as of the date of this press release. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as may be required by any applicable securities laws. More detailed information about the risks and uncertainties affecting the Company is contained under the heading “Risk Factors” in Therapix Biosciences Ltd.’s annual report on Form 20-F dated filed with the SEC, which is available on the SEC’s website, For further information: Investor Contact: , CFO, Therapix Biosciences, [email protected] Therapix Biosciences Ltd. For further information: +972-3-616-7055 Media Contact: +1-212-825-3210 SOURCE Therapix Biosciences Ltd

Read the source article at PR Newswire


In Jerusalem forest, spiders weave their magic

On the banks of a creek near Jerusalem stands an enchanted forest, its trees shrouded by giant cobwebs woven by long-jawed spiders. Science and nature combined to create the unusual sight: the Soreq creek largely contains treated sewage full of nutrients that promote the proliferation of mosquitoes that serve as a source of food for spiders, which then reproduce in multitudes. “It’s an exceptional case,” said arachnophile Igor Armicach, a doctoral student at Hebrew University’s Arachnid Collection. He said millions of long-jawed spiders created the webbing that envelops the forest, a phenomenon rarely seen in the Middle East. But while spider egg sacs and spiderlings are everywhere along the banks of the creek, the future is bleak. Colder temperatures will soon cause a drastic drop in the mosquito population that sustains the web-weavers.

Read the source article at Jpost


QueenB takes a byte out of gender gap to promote diversity in tech

As Israel faces a shortage of some 10,000 engineers and programmers in the coming decade, three Jerusalem-area students in the tech field noticed an even bigger scarcity in their classrooms and workplaces: women. “We’re frustrated that not enough girls are involved in the computer science field,” said Noga Mann, a Hebrew University student and a co-founder of QueenB. Yasmin Dunsky and Neta Moses, and later, Mann, wanted to address the gender disparity as early as possible. They created QueenB, a mentorship and training program for girls of middle-school age, to support their interest in computer science and instill confidence in their abilities. Israel has some 5,600 active innovation companies and startups, which raised a record $4.8 billion in funding last year. But the number of women in this growing and lucrative field is relatively meager. According to Innovation Authority 2016 data, females account for 26% of the some 140,000 people who work in research and development in Israel, or some 36,000 women. Mann traces part of this problem to the messages girls receive when they are first thinking about what they want to do when they grow up. “They think that computer science is not for them; they think it’s only for geniuses or it’s very boring,” said Mann. QueenB is now in its second year, offering basic classes in computers and programming once a week in a computer lab at Hebrew University. Currently, there are about 30 volunteer instructors helping 120 girls, teaching them a relatively high level of computer programming and utilizing high school and college-level materials, said Mann. Maayan Mirchan, 28, studies at Hebrew University and is in her second year of volunteering with QueenB. She found out about the organization through a friend who works at Google, who’s also a friend of Dunsky’s. “I’m the only girl studying electrical engineering in my year,” said Mirchan. “It’s a bummer that there aren’t more girls in the field. I think a lot of it has to do with self-confidence.… It doesn’t have to be a guys’ subject.” Mirchan teaches Java programming, as well as sessions on gender stereotyping and famous women involved in computer engineering. And the girls are quick learners. “They can work by themselves after three months, and none of them knew how to program before,” said Mirchan. QueenB girls also participate in hackathons, coding competitions, and tours of tech companies, some of which help to sponsor the organization. They learn about being a tech entrepreneur and how to “pitch” or present their products to an audience. The girls also start working on their own personal app during the year. Past projects have included an exercise app, in which clicking on a photo of muscles on the body would show exercises that could relieve pain in that muscle, and an app that identifies nail polish brands. “It was really important for us to be really interesting and creative,” said Mann. “We try to make it close to the things they’re interested in.” Tuv Feller, 14, created a “friendship” app last year that tests how well friends know each other through questions. After getting involved in QueenB, she said, she would now like to study something in the computer science field. Feller said the instructors are like “big sisters.” “The leaders are very nice, they explain everything really well. And I think it’s a good program because it’s very good for girls. There are lots of girls from all the sciences and computer science,” said Feller. And QueenB will be able to do more teaching with $72,000 it recently won at the WeWork Creator Awards, which took place in Tel Aviv on October 26. The co-working space WeWork held a competition for nonprofit and for-profit startups in Israel and around the world, awarding a total of $20 million. Mann said with the prize money they will be able to expand out of Jerusalem into other cities in Israel, such as Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Haifa and Beersheba. “The dream is having branches all over Israel,” she said. She Codes, another female tech initiative in Israel, also won big at the WeWork Creator Awards, with a large grant of $180,000. She Codes is a community of 7,000 female computer programmers that offers mentoring and courses to women who are already working in the tech field. QueenB focuses on younger girls, with the aim of giving them the confidence to enter a field dominated by men. Mann and the other co-founders hope those girls will in turn become mentors for younger girls. And even if some don’t go onto work in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — Mann said they hope to give the girls motivation and belief in their own abilities. “We teach them to be brave and take on challenges, even if later on in life they won’t be programmers,” she said. Mirchan hopes that QueenB can lead to more women in the tech world. “Long term, it would be really cool if we got a community of high-tech women, even 5 or 10 years in the future,” said Mirchan. “A whole networking system would be really cool to pass around job openings and that could benefit a lot of women.”

Read the source article at The Times of Israel


German-Israeli Accelerator Speeds Up Cybersecurity Innovation and Collaboration


November 6, 2017 — A new initiative to accelerate cybersecurity innovation and collaboration between Germany and Israel was launched in Jerusalem.

The Hessian Israeli Partnership Accelerator for Cybersecurity (HIPA) brings together top talents in cybersecurity from Israel and Germany to jointly work on cybersecurity projects in areas such as network technologies, internet infrastructure, and software security. The overarching goal is to trigger the creation of innovation and businesses in cybersecurity in Israel and Germany.

HIPA connects the participants with entrepreneurs, researchers, mentors, customers and influencers, and the in-depth technical and business training provided is expected to give the start-ups emerging from HIPA exceptionally high chances of succeeding in the market.

The accelerator program began with one week of in-depth entrepreneurship and cybersecurity training in Jerusalem (October 29 to November 5, 2017), which will be followed by two months of targeted research and development activities. The results will be reviewed and finalized in one week of technology training in Darmstadt, Germany, and presented in team pitches at a conference in Berlin, Germany (January 2 to 9, 2018).

HIPA is organized by the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT in Darmstadt, Germany, and the Cyber Security Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Computer Science and Engineering. This partnership connects one of Europe‘s leading cybersecurity research centers with Israel‘s vibrant start-up scene to develop a new generation of cybersecurity researchers and to foster collaboration between Germany and Israel.

Almost half of the researchers at the Hebrew University’s School of Computer Science and Engineering are currently involved in various aspects of cybersecurity research. Israeli scientists in general, and researchers from the Hebrew University, in particular, have always played a major role in securing the Internet and ensuring its robustness.

Fraunhofer SIT is the leading institute for applied cybersecurity research in Germany and one of the oldest research institutions for IT security in the world. Fraunhofer SIT conducts world-class applied research with the aim of bringing new technology to the market. Together with its partners, the institute works on innovative new methods and procedures, creates prototypes, develops customized IT solutions and tests existing products and systems.

In 2015, the Hebrew University and Fraunhofer SIT initiated the Fraunhofer Project Center for Cybersecurity in Jerusalem. The joint Project Center is part of the Hebrew University’s Cybersecurity Innovation Center, a leading institute for applied cybersecurity in Israel.


German and Israeli thought leaders and industry experts attended the launch reception on Thursday, November 2 at the Hebrew University’s Edmond J. Safra campus. Participants included Boris Rhein, the Hessian State Minister for Higher Education, Research and the Arts; Yigal Unna, Head of Cybersecurity Technology Unit, Israeli National Cybersecurity Directorate; and Iddo Moed, Cybersecurity Coordinator, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The event was opened by Professor Danny Dolev, head of Hebrew University’s Cybersecurity Innovation Center, and Professor Michael Waidner, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT. The accelerator programme was presented by Dr. Haya Shulman, Division Director at Fraunhofer SIT and Managing Director of the accelerator.

“Cyber-attacks are a constant threat to state and financial entities, as well as to each and every one of us,” said Professor Danny Dolev, the Berthold Badler Chair in Computer Science and head of the Cyber Security Research Center at the Hebrew University. “As is proven daily, the communications infrastructure of the Internet and the many services that rely on it are most vulnerable to such attacks. At the Hebrew University, we are researching many aspects of cyber protection, including protection of Internet data routing, cloud computing, Bitcoin, the smart grid, and more. Our collaboration with Fraunhofer deepens the research into these issues and will enable researchers from both countries to collaborate on the creation new tools for dealing with cyber-attacks.”

“The establishment of a joint project center with Fraunhofer is a vote of confidence in the Hebrew University’s scientific excellence and in Israel’s position as a global innovator in cybersecurity,” added Professor Yair Weiss, head of the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hebrew University.


U of Illinois signs research deal with Israeli university

The University of Illinois has signed a research partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

U of I President Timothy Killeen signed the pact Tuesday during Gov. Bruce Rauner’s trip to Israel this week. Rauner says the collaboration will boost Illinois’ economy.

Officials say Hebrew University has more than 100 research centers and 7,000 patents to its credit. They say like the U of I, it’s routinely ranked among the top universities globally.

Killeen says Hebrew University is “a global leader in producing the workforce and innovation of tomorrow through world-class programs.”

Asher Cohen is Hebrew University president. He says the school is trying to “establish internationalization,” expand student-exchange programs and advance large-scale research.

Read the source article at Chicago Tribune


New Technique Reveals the Intricate Beauty of Cracked Glass

October 31, 2017 — Researchers have long pondered on the origin of delicate criss-cross facetted patterns that are commonly found on the surfaces of broken material. Typical crack speeds in glass easily surpass a kilometer per second, and broken surface features may be well smaller than a millimeter. Since the formation of surface structure lasts a tiny fraction of a second, the processes generating these patterns have been largely a mystery.

Now there is a way around this problem. Replacing hard glass with soft but brittle gels makes it possible to slow down the cracks that precipitate fracture to mere meters per second. This novel technique has enabled researchers Itamar Kolvin, Gil Cohen, and Professor Jay Fineberg, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics, to unravel the complex physical processes that take place during fracture in microscopic detail and in real time.

Their work sheds new light on how broken surface patterns are formed. Surface facets bounded by steps are formed due to a special “topological” arrangement of the crack that cannot easily be undone, much as a knot along a string cannot be unraveled without pulling the whole length of the string through it.

These “crack knots” increase the surface formed by a crack, thereby creating a new venue for dissipating the energy required for material failure, and thereby making materials harder to break.

“The complex surfaces that are commonly formed on any fractured object have never been entirely understood,” said Professor Jay Fineberg. “While a crack could form perfectly flat, mirror-like fracture surfaces (and sometimes does), generally complex facetted surfaces are the rule, even though they require much more energy to form. This study illuminates both how such beautiful and intricate patterns emerge in the fracture process, and why the crack cannot divest itself of them once they are formed.”

This physically important process provides an aesthetic example of how physics and mathematics intertwine to create intricate and often unexpected beauty. The research appears in Nature Materials.


Joint Israeli-US research distinguishes cancerous cells from healthy ones

A protein “switch” that activates the immune system to attack cancer cells when it detects signs of the disease has been developed by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The switch stimulates an immune response only when it detects the cancer cells, without harming other healthy tissues, the researchers said.

The important discovery has just been published in the journal Cell.

Immunotherapy is now seen as having great potential in the research effort to develop drugs against a wide variety of cancers. Despite this success, the use of immunotherapy remains limited due to the lack of antibodies specific to the tumor of substances that can cause an immune response to a particular type of cancer.

The toxicity of certain treatments, such as systemic therapy for the whole body, for example, is another obstacle. In addition, the treatments do not work in all cases; only about 30% to 40% of patients will respond positively to treatment, even with the most advanced drugs.

As a result, oncology researchers have been trying to develop integrated therapies of various kinds that serve to increase the immune response to damage the cancer cells accurately and specifically by directing the immune system to attack only cancer cells. But to activate the immune system against the tumor, but not against the healthy tissue, a sophisticated mechanism was needed to distinguish between them.

In a research collaboration between MIT and HU and headed by Dr. Yuval Tabach in Jerusalem, the researchers developed a method for finding short sequences of DNA that differentiate cancer cells from healthy tissue. The research itself was conducted by Dr. Lior Nissim, MIT researchers, and Doron Stop, an HU doctoral student who is also a medical student in the Jerusalem faculty.

These DNA sequences, called “promoters,” react to an existing state of the cell and change it by expressing proteins that are suitable for it – for example, in a situation of heat stress.

The team found that naturally occurring proteins in cells do not distinguish well between cancer cells and healthy cells. The researchers then developed a method that enables the design of promoters that discriminate between cancer cells and healthy cells.

They are continuing to develop them with DNA sequencing and using machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between them thus creating a “guided missile” that attacks only malignancies. To the missile, various methods of killing cancer cells could be added, including an immunotherapeutic “Trojan horse” approach.

“We are in the midst of a huge and growing revolution in which computers, biology, and engineering will join together to change medicine,” said Tabach. “Israeli academia has an essential part in the process. This project and others like it will enable targeting in the near future of a specific cell, and killing it either with the immune system or by initiating cell suicide.”

To do this, the research team built a genetic circuit, encoded in DNA, to differentiate cancer cells from non-cancer cells. The circuit, which can be customized to respond to different types of tumors, is based on simple gates used in electronics that will create a circuit only when two existing inputs are present.

The method is based on the fact that cancer cells differ from normal cells in the profile of their gene expression.

The researchers developed synthetic promoters – DNA sequences – designed to initiate gene expression, but only in cancer cells. The circuit is transferred to cells in the affected area via a virus, and focuses on tumors more accurately than existing treatments, as it requires two cancer-specific signs before it responds.

The researchers were able to build a system that works only in specific cancer cells. They attached an “alarm mechanism” to the system, which activates the immune system and infiltrates the system with virus vectors for a mouse with cancerous growths.

In response, only the cancer cells activated the alarm system that caused the immune system to attack the tumor. Moreover, the researchers have shown that the circuit can also focus on other types of cancer cells.

Therefore, the researchers hope the system will also be used to treat other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune diseases.

Read the source article at Jpost


CIITECH Sponsors Research Project on Cannabis-based Therapy for Asthma at the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

LONDON and TEL AVIV, Israel, October 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/

CIITECH, a UK-Israel cannabis biotech startup, announced today that it has selected to sponsor a research project with the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focused on the therapeutic benefit of cannabis for the treatment of asthma.

CIITECH selected to award research funding, through a non-exclusive grant competition, to the collaborative work of Professor Raphael Mechoulam, a pioneer in the field of cannabis research credited for the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, and his colleague, Professor Francesca Levi-Schaffer, a global expert in asthma research. Together, these two Hebrew University scientists will embark on research to identify a possible inhibitory effect of a derivative of cannabidiol (CBD) on allergic airway inflammation.

CBD is the non-psychoactive ingredient or cannabinoid found in both hemp and regular cannabis strains. Last year, the UK Home Office reclassified cannabis, scheduling only the psychoactive compounds of the drug. CBD is now legal in the UK, available in retailers across the country and online.

We know that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and we’re looking forward to investigating whether this will be effective on treating asthma and related respiratory conditions, said Professor Raphael MechoulamWere excited to further explore the therapeutic potential of cannabis.

Asthma is a common allergic inflammatory disease both in children and in adults of the lungs airways causing a heavy health burden for patients. From 1990 to 2015, the number of asthma cases worldwide has doubled. According to Asthma UK, 5.4 million people here receive treatment for the condition including 1.1 million children, equating to one of the highest rates in Europe. Alongside asthma, other allergic diseases include allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and food allergy that affect approximately 20% of the global population and are continually increasing.

“Most of the symptoms of allergic disease patients are controlled by either symptomatic drugs or corticosteroids. However, some patients are steroid-resistant and allergic diseases such as severe asthma have been labelled as unmet clinical needs by the WHO,” adds Professor Francesca Levi-Schaffer“We believe our research will provide a novel and effective solution to treating this condition.”

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is globally recognized as the epicenter of cannabis scientific research. The Hebrew University’s recently established Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabis Research, headed by Dr. Joseph Tam, now serves as one of the world’s leading institutes on the plant. Israel’s supportive regulatory environment and collaborative healthcare ecosystem place the country at the vanguard of therapeutic cannabis. Prof. Francesca Levi-Schaffer’slaboratory at the University is focused on finding novel ways to treat allergy and recently started to study the effects of cannabis compounds on mast cells and eosinophils, the major effector cells in allergic diseases.

We believe therapeutic, non-psychoactive, cannabis supplements provide consumers with a real alternative option for health and wellbeing, especially in countries such as the UK that have yet to legalise cannabis medicinally, says Clifton Flack, founder of CIITECH. Cannabis could well become this centurys wonder drug and were honored to have the opportunity to support Professors Mechoulam and Levi-Schaffer on this preclinical research project. Many of the planttherapeutic benefits and compounds are yet to be explored and were excited to take part in expanding and galvanizing this new field of therapy.

CIITECH is sponsoring the UK’s first medical cannabis conference Cannatech London on 26th October 2017, organized by iCan: Israel Cannabis.


CIITECH is a cannabis biotech company that focuses on discovering, developing and commercializing therapeutic cannabis products. By collaborating with leading research institutions in Israel and local suppliers in the UK & the EU, CIITECH leverages the full potential of Israel’s cutting-edge cannabis innovation. Through its UK based eCommerce shop, Israeli cannabis products are available for the first time and exclusively overseas. Go to for more info.

About the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research

The Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, staffed by leading scientists and medical doctors from the Hebrew University and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center, conducts and coordinates exciting new research about cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and medical Cannabis, while promoting collaboration and disseminating information. More info at

Read the source article at PR Newswire