With COVID-19 coronavirus infections surging in Israel and worldwide, TAU biomedical specialists have dropped everything to push forward the fight against the virus. Eleven teams at the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology are working to expand the arsenal of vaccines, drugs, testing methods and public health insights aimed at saving lives. Now, a significant and timely gift from philanthropists Sana and Vlad Shmunis of the San Francisco Bay Area is providing the School with much needed core equipment for the research push. “We needed emergency scientific funding and, when we turned to the Shmunises, both TAU Governors, they responded immediately and generously,” said TAU Vice President Amos Elad. “It’s heartwarming to see the concern of our TAU friends take such concrete form and so quickly.” The funding has gone toward the purchase of a new ultracentrifuge and a new high capacity autoclave. “This vital equipment will bolster the ability of our research teams to conduct molecular virology and immunology research much faster than before and with the highest quality,” said Prof. Tal Pupko, Head of the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. Among the School’s urgent research goals are:
- Aiding the authorities focus quarantine efforts, understand if there are “super-spreading” infected individuals, and predict how quickly the disease spreads or wanes.
- Screening Israeli COVID-19 survivors for antibodies as a basis for therapies and a vaccine.
- Developing novel inhibitors for viral entry and viral activity.
- Finding candidate compounds to kick in the body’s natural immunity to COVID-19 and ability to overcome infection.
- Understanding lung immune responses to viral infection.
- Introducing a robotic system for much faster detection of coronavirus presence in tests.
- Repurposing known and FDA-approved drugs for prevention and treatment.