News & Press Releases

Intel Announces Winner of SyllaBoost Program Linking Industry to Academia Hebrew University’s Dr. Amir Capua Wins NIS 100,000 Grant

Intel Announces Winner of SyllaBoost Program Linking Industry to Academia Hebrew University’s Dr. Amir Capua Wins NIS 100,000 Grant

23 August, 2022

This week, Intel announced that Dr. Amir Capua, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences, is the winner of its SyllaBoost Program and was awarded a NIS 100,000 grant on behalf of his department.  This program, now in its second year, promotes links between industry and higher education.  It aims to integrate innovation into teaching using new learning technologies to improve students’ learning experience and to facilitate their entry into the employment market, especially in the hi-tech sector.  A key factor in HU’s win was revamping its master’s degree program in electrical engineering and applied physics to include a course called “Backend”.  There, students designed a chip from “from code to silicon” using RISC-V architecture. 

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Dr. Amir Capua, Faculty Member, HU’s Department of Applied Physics, shared, “the chip industry in Israel is flourishing, as hi-tech giants open new development centers. At the same time, there is a severe lack of engineers at all levels.  In our role to prepare the next generation of engineers, Hebrew University’s curriculum for electrical engineering and applied physics is attentive to market needs.  We provide our students with the most up-to-date studies, including the skills and knowledge they will need when they complete their studies. It’s is a complex field, with technology changing at a dizzying speed.” Capua continued, “in our proposal to the Intel’s SyllaBoost Program, we went deep to equip our graduates with the final and critical stage of chip design: the backend stage, just before a chip is rolled out on the most advanced production lines.”

Thanks to support for the new syllabus by HU’s management, headed by VP and CEO Mr. Yishai Fraenkel, an industrial working environment based on cloud infrastructure was created for students. This allows for continuous updating of course content, distance learning for students, and tech support from an external company.  HU plans to expand this infrastructure to other VLSI courses offered in microelectronics specialization, enabling more students to gain gain hands-on experience of the most up-to-date technologies and methodologies used in the chip-making industry.

Mariana Waksman, Head of Academic and Education Relations at Intel Israel, shared, “our collaboration with Hebrew University is important to us and will continue on in the future. HU’s new course will benefit not only students in its Department of Applied Physics but also the chip design industry at large—a growing industry in Israel and particularly in Jerusalem.  We are committed to advancing academic teaching in all areas of chip design and development, and will continue to strengthen Israel’s academia by supporting and conducting strategic partnerships with various universities.”


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Israel’s Hebrew University & Volcani Institute Team Up to Prevent Looming Global Food Crisis:

Israel’s Hebrew University & Volcani Institute Team Up to Prevent Looming Global Food Crisis:

23 August, 2022

New Biological Sensor Detects Hidden Disease in Potatoes.

Despite advances in increased food production, half of all world’s harvested food is lost due to שבrots caused by microorganisms.  Plants emit various volatile organic compounds into their surrounding environment, which can be monitored for early detection of plant disease and prevent food loss.

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New research study led by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) and the Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization (Volcani Institute) details the success of a biological sensor for early detection of hidden disease in potato tubers, one of Israel’s chief export industries at 700,000 tons a year. 

Israeli farmers import European potatoes for planting in Israel.  However, a certain percentage of them carry disease within—either visibly or invisibly—that cause rot and significantly reduce the potato’s quality.  The Hebrew University-Volcani alliance is about to change that. They’ve developed a sensor that detects disease and can be used to inhibit the rot from growing and spreading. Their study, published in the upcoming edition of Talanta, was conducted by Dr. Dorin Harpaz and her PhD student Boris Veltman at HU’s Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, under the supervision of Dr. Evgeni Eltzov of the Volcani Institute.  The team collaborated with the Volcani Institute’s Dr. Sarit Melamed and Dr. Zipora Tietel, as well as Dr. Leah Tsror from the Gilat Research Center.

The sensor relies on smart bioengineering and optics.  When the sensor is exposed to an infected potato, a bacterial compound within lights up—with the strength of the luminescence indicating the concentration and composition of the rot.  “The intensity of the light given off by the bacteria panel makes it possible to quickly and quantifiably analyze the characteristics of the disease, which the sensor can ‘smell,’ before the appearance of visible symptoms,” explained Eltzov. “The biosensor we developed will help identify diseased potatoes that do not yet have any external indications, and keep them away from healthy tubers, thus preventing the rot from developing or spreading to other healthy plants,” Harpaz added.

To form the bacteria panel, the team created a compound of four genetically-engineered bacteria that measure biological toxicity.  In this study, the biological sensor detected disease before there was any visible trace, and caused the optical sensor to shine twice as brightly as did the sensors in non-infected potatoes. Their capabilities were also demonstrated in a previous study that used the sensors to detect toxicity among artificial sweeteners in sport supplements. 

According to the researchers, early discovery of disease--before the potatoes are exported to foreign markets or replanted, offers a significant advantage to food growers. “The biological sensor can be used to quickly and economically identify hidden rot in potatoes, facilitate better post-harvest management, and reduce food wastage—particularly important given the current global food crisis,” concluded Harpaz.



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Hebrew University Ranks 77th Worldwide and #1 in Israel, According to the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities

15 August, 2022

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) climbed 13 places to rank 77th among the world’s top universities and number one in Israel, according to the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

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Topping the list were Harvard, followed by Stanford, MIT, Cambridge, and UCLA Berkeley.  Two other Israeli universities placed in the top 100, as well—the Technion and Weizmann Institute both shared the 83rd spot.  This is a major achievement for Israel’s higher education at large and for Hebrew U., specifically.


This past July, ARWU released its Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, where HU University topped the list among Israeli institutions for higher education in: mathematics, earth sciences, atmospheric sciences, nanoscience and nanotechnology, environmental sciences, water resources, food sciences, agriculture, dentistry, medical technology, economics, law, political science, communications, and public policy. Globally, Hebrew U. strengthened its academic standing, placing 17th in mathematics and communications (up 7-8 places, respectively, relative to 2021), 30th in law, and 48th in public policy.


Upon hearing the news, Professor Asher Cohen, president of the Hebrew University, shared, “Hebrew University’s success in this year’s rankings is a testament to our ongoing academic and research excellence.  To date, we’ve made notable achievements in a variety of disciplines, have developed lifesaving medicines and established influential companies in cutting-edge industries, placing Israel at the forefront of science worldwide.”


Rector Prof. Barak Medina noted, “Hebrew University is a symbol, an exemplar of uncompromising excellence in research and equal access to higher education.  Our researchers are involved in theoretical and applied sciences and stand at the forefront of science that will change our lives for the better.  Thanks to our wonderful student body, faculty, staff and academic partnerships with leading universities worldwide, Hebrew University’s reputation has been forged as a local and global leader, and a key driving force behind Israel’s thriving economy and society.


ShanghaiRanking’s ARWU, published annually, is considered one of the most reliable ratings in academia. It assesses the quality of research at academic institutions and is based on various indicators including the number of faculty members and alumni who have won Nobel prizes and Fields medals, the number of articles published by researchers in leading scientific journals, and the extent to which researchers’ articles are cited by their peers.  The full rankings are available at

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Rainy days make us meaner online reviewers

11 August, 2022


Hebrew U. Research Shows How a Rainy Day Affects Our Reviews of a Past Stay in a Hotel

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Gone are the days when people relied on recommendations from friends and family before making consumer purchases, choosing a vacation destination or perhaps even when casting a vote.  Today, there is a whole online community influencing us.  Understanding how opinions are formed and decisions are made in our online world is the focus of the research by Dr. Yaniv Dover of the Jerusalem Business School and the Federmann Center for the study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (HU). His latest publication, in one of the top leading journals in management, the Journal of Consumer Research, shows that even the weather of the day can color our perception of past experiences.


Dover's research, done in collaboration with Prof. Leif Brandes at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, used 12 years of data and 3 million hotel bookings to examine how 340 000 anonymous online reviews of hotels were influenced by the weather on the day they were written.  This was a far from simple evaluation that included matching between the booking made by the consumer and the written review, identifying the weather at the location of the reviewer, the star rating given, classification of vocabulary used to describe the stay, and the weather experienced during the stay at the hotel.  The researchers also used a special statistical model that takes into account both the decision to provide a review and the content of the review.


The results showed conclusively that, on average, bad weather (rain or snow) reduced the reviewers’ evaluation of their past hotel experience sufficiently to nearly demote the hotel from a 5- to a 4-star rating. Bad weather also made reviewers write longer and more critical and detailed reviews. They also showed that on rainy days there was a higher chance of choosing to write a review and that the effect of weather on the review was independent of the weather they experienced during the hotel stay. The authors suggest that this effect may be because bad weather days trigger more negative memories, or induce a negative mood which colors the review.


This research is interesting in itself but has much wider implications because it shows, for the first time, how our external physical environment—in this case the weather—can be a factor in our online judgments. Dover explains that this type of research "exposes an aspect of the dynamics of our new digital world… and can help policy makers frame policies to better engineer a more productive and healthy effect of online activities on our daily lives."



CITATION: Offline Context Affects Online Reviews: The Effect of Post-Consumption Weather. Leif BrandesYaniv Dover Journal of Consumer Research, Jan 28 2022, DOI: 10.1093/jcr/ucac003


FUNDING: Israel Science Foundation




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Heberew U. Researchers Discover Why There’s Less Lightning in Storms Over Oceans than on Lan

8 August, 2022


As the world grapples with the cataclysmic events associated with climate change, it is increasingly important to have accurate climate models that can help predict what might lie ahead. 

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Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Institute of Earth Sciences, led by Professor Daniel Rosenfeld and his doctoral student Zengxin Pan, focused on the role of small particles (aerosols) in controlling the amount of rain and lightning produced by clouds. Their research has been able to explain why heavy ocean storms are accompanied by much less lightning than when a similar event occurs on land.  They identified that it is the larger, coarse sea spray that reduces the amount of lightning by as much as 90%, whereas smaller aerosols increase lightning. The size of particle also affects rainfall.  Their work clearly shows that the role of aerosols in clouds needs to be incorporated in climate models. 


Rosenfeld’s findings, published in Nature Communications, fill in the gaps in previous theories about what was responsible for the difference in lightning between land and ocean storms. It had always been assumed that the dearth of lightning in ocean storms was due to cleaner air over the ocean.  However, keen observations had already shown that even highly polluted air is associated with reduced lightning at sea when sea spray aerosols are abundant. 


The HU researchers in collaboration with scientists at Wuhan and Nanjing Universities in China, and the University of Washington, were able to use satellite imagery to track clouds over land and sea.  This was combined with lightening measurements from the Worldwide Lightning Location Network (WLLN) and with data that provided information on the amount of aerosols in the clouds.   "We found a major cause for such a difference between ocean storms and those on land," shared Rosenfeld. "The effect of aerosols on clouds has been underappreciated.  It needs to be incorporated into the models for better weather and climate prediction."




CITATION:   Zengxin Pan, Feiyue Mao, Daniel Rosenfeld, Yannian Zhu, Lin Zang, Xin Lu, Joel A. Thornton, Robert H. Holzworth, Jianhua Yin, Avichay Efraim & Wei Gong, Coarse sea spray inhibits lightning, Nature Communications





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Promising New Molecule Developed at Hebrew University May Prevent Age-Related Diseases and Increase Life Expectancy and Wellness

1 August, 2022

With a constant renewal of cell vitality in diseased tissues, this new drug will hopefully lead to the treatment or prevention of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

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While breakthroughs in the world of medicine and technology account for the global increase in life expectancy, improvements in quality of life for the elderly population lag far behind.  Longevity without a decline in health is one of the major challenges that faces the world of medicine. A new study led by Professors Einav Gross and Shmuel Ben-Sasson of the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) has identified a group of molecules that enable cells to repair damaged components, making it possible for those tissues to retain proper function. The efficacy of the molecules was demonstrated on a model-organism.  The research team examined the effect of various therapies on longevity and quality of life, and successfully proved they can protect the organism’s and human cells from damage. Their findings were published in Autophagy.


Currently, a major factor in aging tissues is the reduced effectiveness of the cell’s quality-control mechanism, which leads to the accumulation of defective mitochondria. As Gross explained, “mitochondria, the cell’s ‘power plants,’ are responsible for energy production. They can be compared to tiny electric batteries that help cells function properly.  Although these ‘batteries’ wear out constantly, our cells have a sophisticated mechanism that removes defective mitochondria and replaces them with new ones.” However, this mechanism declines with age, leading to cell dysfunction and deterioration in tissue activity.


This degenerative process lies at the heart of many age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure and sarcopenia, which are on the rise.  Gross and Ben-Sasson’s study may have far-reaching practical applications since their new technology, developed at Hebrew U., helped create innovative compounds to treat diseases that are currently incurable.  The study also showed that these molecules can be used preventively. “In the future, we hope we will be able to significantly delay the development of many age-related diseases and improve people’ quality of life,” shared Ben-Sasson.  Further, these compounds are user-friendly and can be taken orally. 


To advance their important research and translate it into medical treatment for a variety of patients, the research team, together with Yissum, Hebrew University’s tech transfer company, established Vitalunga, a startup that is currently developing this drug.  “Ben-Sasson’s and Gross’s findings have significant value for the global aging population,” noted Itzik Goldwaser, CEO of Yissum. “As Vitalunga advances towards pre-clinical studies, they’re closer than ever to minimizing the unbearable burden that aging-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, has on individuals, their families and the our health care systems.“



CITATION: Vijigisha Srivastava, Veronica Zelmanovich, Virendra Shukla, Rachel Abergel, Irit Cohen, Shmuel A. Ben-Sasson & Einav Gross (2022) Distinct designer diamines promote mitophagy, and thereby enhance healthspan in C. elegans and protect human cells against oxidative damage, Autophagy, DOI: 10.1080/15548627.2022.2078069  





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27 July, 2022

Hebrew University Researchers Provide Timely Understanding of Putin's Food PolicyRecent headlines of a deal between Russia and Ukraine on the export of Ukrainian grain have focused attention on the vital role of these key providers in global food markets. A timely paper by Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) researchers on the political role of food in Putin's Russia presents a detailed analysis of Kremlin policies on food security from a historico-political perspective. 

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It shows how Putin's determination to develop Russian agriculture has, at the moment, paid off – not only by protecting Russia from threats of food sanctions but also by providing political control over the countries dependent on Russian grain imports. The paper was published in the recent issue of the Journal of Democracy.


The authors, Professor Yitzhak Brudny and two former doctoral students Dr. Janetta Azarieva and Prof. Eugen Finkel, present in this paper, "Bread and Autocracy in Putin's Russia," an overview of Putin's policies of nutritional self-sufficiency that now enable Russia to use food as both a shield and a weapon.  A book of the same title will be published by Oxford University Press.


This paper provides an important perspective for understanding global politics. As Prof Brudny explained, "It highlights the importance of food independence for authoritarian regimes…We take food for granted but non-democratic countries can only survive if they keep prices down." And that is problematic in closed markets without competition.


The paper charts how every major development in Russian and Soviet history since the 1917 revolution has either been driven by or closely associated with the availability of food. Indeed, it explains, how food scarcity in the USSR during the 1980s doomed President Mikhail Gorbachev's plans to revitalize communism.  It also shows that in 1992, Putin, as the vice-mayor of St Petersburg was committed to a policy of food security for the city.  The plan was a disaster but as soon as Putin became president in 2000, he embarked on a path of securing Russia's food independence from imports. The success of his policies owing much to the skills and professional expertise of the Minister of Agriculture (1999-2009) Aleksei Gordeev.


But total self-sufficiency brings its own problems. The system is vulnerable, explained Azarieva, "A few agro-industrial companies, controlled by the state, in turn, monopolize food production in Russia … the lack of competition results in price rises." Putin has responded, she said, by increasing salaries and social welfare payments – all funded by Russia's considerable gas and oil revenues. 


However, the country's revenues from grain exports have diminished – even though the West has not imposed sanctions on food from entering or leaving Russia. There is no point in sanctioning food imports when a country is self-sufficient, noted Azarieva.  However, sanctions on banks do impact the international network required to keep Russian exports flowing.  Further, silos are not emptying fast enough to provide storage for the next bumper harvest.  Countries of the former Soviet Republics anxiously await supplies, as does Turkey, and countries in North Africa and further afield. It is a complex interdependent web. This paper helps clarify and contextualize many of these complexities.




CITATION: Azarieva, J., Y. Brudny, and E. Finkel. “Bread and Autocracy in Putin’s Russia”. Journal of Democracy, vol. 33, no. 3, July 2022, pp. 100–14.




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20 July, 2022

Archaeological Excavations near Temple Mount Also Unearth Pool Built by Soldiers from Rome’s 10th Legion and Byzantine lamp inscribed, “The light of Christ shines for all”

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A salvage excavation near the Temple Mount by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology has unearthed a unique ritual bath (“mikveh”) dating back to the Late Second Temple period (1st Century CE).   These excavations, begun in February 2021 to provide handicap access between Jerusalem’s Old City and the Western Wall, were overseen by HU’s Michal Haber and Dr. Oren Gutfeld, funded in part by Israel’s Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs and the William Davidson Foundation, and spearheaded by the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.


The ritual bath was found within a private villa, hewn into the bedrock and featuring a vaulted ceiling with fine masonry typical of the Herodian period.  It is located on top of a cliff in the “Upper City”—a phrase coined by historian Josephus Flavius to describe the area of Herod’s City which housed Jerusalem’s elites.  A plastered water cistern was uncovered near the same villa.  It had been in use until the destruction of the Second Temple by Rome in 70 CE, and held the remains of nearly 40 cooking pots, some still intact.


In addition to the ritual bath, the excavations unearthed additional artifacts that span the Second Temple, Roman-Byzantine and Ottoman periods, including a network of plastered pools and channels.  Among the finds were a section of the Ottoman-period phase of the “Lower Aqueduct” which transported water from Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem all the way to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period; and an industrial pool built by soldiers of Rome’s Tenth Legion who were stationed in Jerusalem after the establishment of the Roman colony of “Aelia Capitolina” in 130 CE. The pool lies on top of the remains of an earlier Roman oven, also installed by soldiers of the Legion.  The bottom contains a layer of tile bricks, one of which was stamped with the letters “LXF,” alluding to “Legio X Fretensis,” the full name of the Tenth Legion. 


Also discovered over the course of excavation was a fragment of Late Byzantine-period ceramic oil lamp, inscribed with the Greek formula "The Light of Christ shines for all." This phrase may have its source in the ceremony of the Holy Fire, part of the Orthodox Easter celebrations in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Such oil lamps, dated primarily to the 6th and 7th centuries CE, may have been purchased by Christian pilgrims thronging to the Byzantine city -- by now known as “Hierosolyma”. 


Zeev Elkin, Israel’s Minister of Construction and Housing and of Jerusalem Affairs, inaugurated the Western Wall Elevator Project, noting “these rare finds, made during the Western Wall Elevator Project excavations, are truly exciting.  They provide proof of a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for millennia.  Under my leadership, Israel’s Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage will continue to preserve and develop Jerusalem’s rich Jewish past and to transform the capital into a modern, innovative city.”


Surveying the unique finds, Gutfeld shared, “The excavation revealed remains dating from the Second Temple, Roman-Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. The amount of water channels, cisterns and pools discovered in the area reflect the central role played by Jerusalem’s water supply throughout the ages.”


As noted, the highlight of the archaeological dig was the ritual bath. Haber explained the significance of this find, “during the Herodian period, the area in question was home to the city’s wealthiest residents. While several other ritual baths have been unearthed in the area, the importance of this particular discovery stems from its striking proximity to the Temple Mount—raising the question of who lived in this grand villa on the eve of the city’s destruction. It may well have been a priestly family.”


With the help of Dr. Amit Reem, chief archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Jerusalem District, the ritual bath will be preserved and incorporated into the new Western Wall Elevator complex.


The Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, headed by Minister Elkin, continues to develop Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter.  Current projects include the Western Wall Elevator, the Tiferet Israel synagogue, upgrades to the Herodian Quarter and the Broad Wall archaeological site.


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HU Entrance


19 July, 2022

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) has maintained its status as the leading academic institution in Israel and was ranked number one in half the academic subjects assessed, according to Shaghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects published today.  Further, Hebrew University was ranked among the 50 best academic institutions in the world in Mathematics, Law, Communications, and Public Policy.

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According to the ranking, the Hebrew University placed 17th worldwide in Mathematics and Communications and 30th in Law.  In Israel, HU was ranked first for the following subjects: Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Atmospheric Sciences, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Environmental Sciences, Water Resources, Food Sciences, Agriculture, Dentistry, Medical Technology, Economics, Law, Political Science, Communications, and Public Policy.

Professor Asher Cohen, President of Hebrew University, noted, “Academic and research excellence is part of Hebrew University’s DNA. The amazing breakthroughs happening here will enable all of us to live better, healthier and, most likely, longer lives, as well.  Hebrew U.’s strong position helps our alumni pave the way to lead Israel to achievements on an international scale.”

Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, the independent body which publishes the yearly ARWU, uses six objective indicators to rank world universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, the number of highly cited researchers, the number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, the number of articles indexed in the Science Citation Index, and universities’ per capita performance. 

For the full list of rankings, see    


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17 July, 2022

Parkinson's is a progressive and debilitating disease of the brain that eventually compromises patients' ability to walk and even to talk. Its diagnosis is complex, and in the early stages – impossible.

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The usual method of visualizing brain structure utilizes a technique most of us are familiar with, called MRI. However, it is not sensitive enough to reveal the biological changes that take place in the brain of Parkinson patients, and at present is primarily only used to eliminate other possible diagnoses. 

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) researchers, led by Professor Aviv Mezer, realized that the cellular changes in Parkinson's could possibly be revealed by adapting a related technique, known as quantitative MRI (qMRI). Their method has enabled them to look at microstructures within the part of the deep brain known as the striatum – an organ which is known to deteriorate during the progress of Parkinson's disease.  Using a novel method of analysis, developed by Mezer's doctoral student, Elior Drori, biological changes in the cellar tissue of the striatum were clearly revealed. Moreover, they were able to demonstrate that these changes were associated with the early stages of Parkinson's and patients’ movement dysfunction. Their findings were published today in the prestigious journal Science Advances.

qMRI achieves its sensitivity by taking several MRI images using different excitation energies – rather like taking the same photograph in different colors of lighting.  The HU researchers were able to use their qMRI analysis to reveal changes in the tissue structure within distinct regions of the striatum. The structural sensitivity of these measurements could only have been previously achieved in laboratories examining the brain cells of patients post mortem.  Not an ideal situation for detecting early disease or monitoring the efficacy of a drug!

"When you don't have measurements, you don't know what is normal and what is abnormal brain structure, and what is changing during the progress of the disease," explained Mezer. The new information will facilitate early diagnosis of the disease and provide "markers" for monitoring the efficacy of future drug therapies. “What we have discovered,” he continued “is the tip of the iceberg.” It is a technique that they will now extend to investigate microstructural changes in other regions of the brain.  Furthermore, the team are now developing qMRI into a tool that can be used in a clinical setting. Mezer anticipates that is about 3-5 years down the line.

Drori further suggests that this type of analysis will enable identification of subgroups within the population suffering from Parkinson’s disease – some of whom may respond differently to some drugs than others. Ultimately, he sees this analysis “leading to personalized treatment, allowing future discoveries of drug with each person receiving the most appropriate drug".


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