The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and and the Alfred Mann Institute at
the Technion (AMIT) have established a new company for commercialization of stem
cell technologies developed for over a decade at the stem cell research center
headed by Professor Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor from the Technion’s Bruce and Ruth
Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.
The company, Accellta, will market
technologies that will enable commercial companies and research laboratories to
culture masses of homogeneous stem cell lines in a fast and cost-effective
The innovative technologies – developed by Itskovitz-Eldor, a
world leader in the field of stem cell research, and Dr. Michal Amit, a senior
researcher at the stem cell research center – address the need for genetic
manipulation of the cells. Although a highly desirable procedure, such
manipulation is currently associated with poor outcomes. The revolutionary
technologies introduced by Accellta enable successful manipulation of the cells
and thus enhance the development of prospective stem cell-based therapies and
disease models. In the future the company will also focus on regenerative
medicine solutions and stem cell-based therapeutics for currently incurable
Itskovitz-Eldor, chairman of the obstetrics/gynecology
department at Rambam Medical Center and director of the Technion’s stem cell
center, isolated the first human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in 1999. This is
considered one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in medical
history. In the same year, he established the first stem cell research
laboratory in Israel and currently holds the largest number of scientific
publications in the field of hESCs.
Accellta will operate in the global
stem cell market, estimated at $2 billion and with double-digit annual growth.
The market comprises mostly products and services for stem cell research and
development, as most stem cell technologies are still in development and have
not yet been authorized for clinical use in humans. The stem cell market is
expected to skyrocket in the coming years, once treatments currently under
clinical evaluation receive approval from health authorities.
founded by US billionaire Dr. Alfred Mann, has been operating since 2006 to
accelerate the development and commercialization of selected biomedical
technologies invented by Technion scientists.
Accelita will facilitate
the adoption by industrial and clinical entities of some of the world’s most
innovative and advanced technologies for culturing pluripotent stem cells (both
embryonic and induced). These unique cells have the ability to generate any cell
type of the human body.
STUDENTS’ SOCIAL NETWORKS CAN PREDICT GRADES
well or badly a student will perform in an academic course can be predicted by
analyzing social network data, according to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
researchers, who recently presented their research at the Advanced Media
Technology Conference in Macau, Hong Kong.
PhD student Michael Fire, of
the social networks security research group in BGU’s department of information
systems engineering has developed a novel method to predict students’
performance at university or in college. The information can be used to
determine which students need the most help, as well as which ones will excel
and might be guided to further study or careers in that subject
“While most papers about social network analysis deal solely with
information gathered online, this study draws some of the information from the
real world – social interactions that were conducted off the grid,” said
Fire.The researchers analyzed data from a BGU course that included assignments
submitted online and website logs (containing 10,759 entries) to construct
social networks of explicit and implicit cooperation among the students. The
implicit connections are used to model all the social interactions that happened
“offline” among the students: e-mails with questions, conversations in the lab
while preparing the assignments and even course forums.
connections were very important, as we sought to model the social interactions
within the student body,” Fire explained. In addition to analyzing the online
submissions of the students who had to work in pairs or in groups, they also
tracked login time and computer usage. For instance, if two students submitted
their assignments from the same computer, it was a likely indication that the
two had worked together to complete the assignment. If two students submitted
assignments from different computers, but one right after the other on more than
one occasion, the authors assigned a value to that data, as well.
explanation for what we discovered is that your friends influence your grade in
the course, so if you pick your friends well, then you will get a higher grade,”
Fire said. “Alternatively, social networks in courses offer conditions whereby
good students will pair with other good students, and similarly, weaker ones
will pair with weaker students.”
HONEY BEES SAY ‘AH’
Honey bees are a
highly organized and social species, as demonstrated by their complex colonies
and the geometric structure of their hives. For hive building, the honey bee
strongly relies on its tactile sense, and a new article in JoVE (Journal of
Visualized Experiments) illustrates a novel tactile conditioning experiment
using the bees.
The technique, presented by the lab of Dr. Volker Dürr of
Germany’s Bielefeld University, trains honey bees to stick out their tongues
when their antennae touch an object. This procedure allows researchers to
analyze how changes in antennal movement correspond to tactile pattern
recognition and learning.
“We work with honey bees because they are an
important model system for behavioral biology and neurobiology. They can be
trained,” Dürr said. “If you can train an insect to respond to a certain
stimulus, then you can ask the bees questions in the form of ‘Is A like B? If
so, stick your tongue out.’” To train the honey bees, researchers let them
sample a textured surface with their antennae, and then gave them sugar water.
As the training proceeds, the honey bee will start to extend its tongue when it
touches the associated surface. The researchers record the movement of the bee’s
antennae on video to understand how the bee uses active motion for tactile
“It is clear that if a bee touches something with an
antenna, which is a finely textured structure, the bee has to move it [the
antenna] to get the information it wants. We don’t fully understand the
relevance of this movement,” Dürr explained.
By recording the antennal
movements, Dürr hopes to gain clearer insight into honey bee
Training new students can often be problematic for this
“We actually use this method in teaching often.
conditioning of the bees and recording of their antenna is better expressed in
Associate editor Allison Diamond added: “JoVE shows how research
on an atypical subject, the honey bee, can be extremely beneficial to
scientists, as the bees are a good species to train. We hope videos such as this
will push other scientists to adopt similar techniques in their own research.