Leading HU Scientists Help in Fight Against COVID-19

Welcome to segment #8 of Hebrew University Speaks, CFHU’s monthly video series featuring thought-provoking, informative and entertaining presentations by HU faculty.

Our previous instalment presented Prof. Amnon Shashua and Prof. Shai Shalev-Schwartz revealing their proposed pandemic exit strategy that aims to save lives without decimating the economy.

This month, we continue to expand our scope beyond TEDTalks and HUJITalks to include a special four-part short video series focusing on the labs of Dr. Oren Parnas, Dr. Michael Berger, Prof. Rotem Karni, and Prof. Zvika Granot and how they are each fighting COVID-19 at Hebrew University.

Where is COVID-19 hiding before symptoms appear?

Hebrew University’s Dr. Oren Parnas’ lab studies the immune system, exploring the roles of different white blood cells and how they deal with bacteria, viruses and cancer. With Dr. Yotam Drier, they are exploring in which tissues and cell types the virus is hiding and replicating before symptoms appear. This incubation time is particularly long for COVID-19.

Manipulating the immune system to fight COVID-19

Hebrew University’s Dr. Michael Berger’s lab focuses on the antiviral immunity mediated by T-cells, which are the main cells that attach and kill virus-infected cells. His lab explores ways to manipulate these cells to make them more effective against viral infections. Findings from Dr. Berger’s lab show that T-cell immunity is impaired under low oxygen conditions which is characteristic of patients suffering from pulmonary diseases, and are being applied to COVID-19.

Inhibiting the viral replication of COVID-19

Hebrew University’s Professor Rotem Karni’s lab develops molecules that modulate RNA processing as a treatment for cancer and other diseases. Currently they are developing molecules that will target the RNA of the virus, and prevent the virus from multiplying, which will treat the disease following infection.

Limiting immune cell activation to fight COVID-19

Hebrew University’s Professor Zvika Granot’s lab explores the process by which immune cells deal with cancer. He and his team generated cutting-edge tools to modify immune cell activation and his lab is utilizing these tools to target the pathology and deterioration of COVID-19.

Interested in learning more? Visit the lab pages of each of these scientists to see the other projects they are working on when not consumed with COVID-19: