Israeli scientist's shrimp antiviral could be adapted for coronavirus
The project is one of the several emergency projects that are the focus of around the clock work by 20 different labs at Technion-Institute of Technology
By AARON REICH
Israeli scientist and entrepreneur Prof. Avi Schroeder is working on a preventative drug for the coronavirus by adapting a food additive designed for shrimp.The project is one of the several emergency projects that are the focus of around-the-clock work by 20 different labs at the Technion Institute of Technology to work on coronavirus vaccines, therapeutic treatments, diagnostic methods and patient treatment methods.The 43-year-old scientist is a member of the Technion's Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, and his lab first developed a food additive to boost the immune system of animals to protect them from contracting viral diseases. This invention formed the basis of his own commercialized start-up company, ViAqua Therapeutics, which focused the development of the drug on shrimp, as over 30% of the global shrimp population is wiped out yearly by a viral disease known as white spot syndrome.This development was motivated by Technion's prior studies, which predicted that viruses would be the biggest threat to animal life."Technion has been at the forefront of science and technology for so many years," he said in a video Technion uploaded to social media."In fact, Technion was established to address the greatest challenges that human kind has faced. Viral diseases are one of these challenges... in fact, five years ago, at Technion itself, we identified viral diseases as the next big threat that animals may face."At that time, we didn't think of this threat that we're all facing here as humans," he added, referring to the COVID-19.However, he now thinks that his research can be adapted to help humans.“The gap is not great. We understand how the virus works and where we can attack it to stop its progression inside the body,” he said.Since the outbreak first began, Schroeder has been very active in helping Israel prepare for and fight the coronavirus, even having agreed last week to advise the IDF Home Front Command on containing the virus.ViAqua Therapeutics is not the only start-up involving animals that Schroeder has involved himself with. Another start-up he is involved with focuses on how elephants can help prevent cancer in humans, and is fittingly called Peel Therapeutics, with peel being the Hebrew word for elephant.In addition, he is also working on another of Technion's emergency projects to combat the coronavirus, this one being a theraputic treatment method that could treat some respiratory distress symptoms.
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