Making a Difference – With Your Help

Since the start of the pandemic, the Weizmann Institute of Science has mobilized and redeployed its scientists, laboratories, and expertise to attack the coronavirus from multiple directions. The Institute’s goal has been to stop the pandemic in its tracks today and prevent the outbreaks of tomorrow.

 

There are now more than 65 crucial coronavirus-related projects underway on campus, including global collaborations, as the Institute fights the disease on three fronts: optimizing treatment; creating enhanced testing methods; and tracking and predicting the virus to help manage its spread. Beyond these major areas, the Institute is also examining the impacts of the coronavirus on our lives, such as the increase in stress levels due to isolation.

TREATMENT

Optimizing Treatment

While vaccines have proven highly effective at preventing serious symptoms and hospitalization, the battle against COVID-19 is not over and the new Delta variant has proven a formidable foe. Weizmann scientists continue to play a critical role in developing effective therapies, from creating new treatments to studying off-the-shelf medications. For example, Prof. Ron Diskin, an expert in animal-borne viruses, and Prof. Sarel Fleishman are advancing a promising clinical approach. They designed a “decoy” molecule that effectively draws the virus away so it won’t infect healthy cells.

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TESTING

New, Improved, Faster Testing

When the pandemic struck, the Weizmann Institute quickly converted its high-tech labs into medical facilities capable of testing thousands of COVID-19 samples per day. Meanwhile, Profs. Eran Elinav and Ido Amit created a safer, automated, one-step test that can process tens of thousands of samples at a time – a tenfold increase of prior capabilities. Today, the scientists are in the advanced stages of testing their technology in various hospitals throughout Israel and abroad. Their work is critical for monitoring current and emerging viral variants, such as the Delta strain.

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PREDICTION

Tracking, Prediction, and Management

One of the difficulties in fighting COVID-19 has been predicting where outbreaks will occur. Profs. Eran Segal and Benny Geiger created a method called PredictCorona in which questionnaires, filled out by both sick and healthy members of the public, are used to track the development of virus symptoms. Responses are analyzed via Big Data algorithms and artificial intelligence, leading to early identification of viral clusters. Such knowledge has enabled health authorities to act quickly and slow the spread of the virus.

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