Israel Leads the Way in Detecting SARS and Deadly Biological Agents


As concern over Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) grows worldwide, Israeli technology is leading the way in the race to develop a method of quickly detecting the presence of viruses that cause such illnesses, ISRAEL21C reported. Integrated Nano-Technologies, a leading U.S. company, is now using Israeli technology developed at the Haifa Technion as the backbone of a new DNA based testing system called BioDetect that will rapidly and accurately test for the presence of biological pathogens, such as the virus that causes SARS as well as anthrax, and smallpox.

According to a World Health Organization report, a total of 3169 cases of SARS, with 144 deaths, have been reported to WHO from 21 countries.

The Rochester, New York-based Integrated Nano-Technologies has acquired from the Technion Research and Development Foundation in Haifa the right to use three patents developed by its researchers, which cover the metallization of DNA, and form the basis for the BioDetect system. Technion’s ground-breaking work in this field has been recognized in the journals Science and Nature.

According to the company, the Israeli technologies, when combined with INT’s expertise in chip fabrication and molecular biology, will produce an entirely new and more effective sensor for virus detection.

The BioDetect system will fill a substantial void in current methods of detection, which are slow, lab-based, and expensive. The system will return results in less than 30 minutes, and is small enough to be carried for use outdoors or installed in air circulation systems, according to INT.

"Traditional biological agent detection systems involve sending samples to laboratories, where they undergo a complex testing process that can take up to 24 hours to complete," said Michael Connolly, CEO of Integrated Nano-Technologies.

"The BioDetect system will generate results in the field substantially faster and with greater accuracy than any existing system or test."

The Technion team included Prof. Uri Sivan, Dr. Yoav Eichen, and technician Gedalia Ben Yosef. The company paid the Technion $4 million in cash and will pay royalties on future sales. This is the first deal of its kind for the Technion in the nanotechnology field.

Dmatek Ltd., a Tel-Aviv based company, is also helping in the fight against SARS, saying last week it would supply electronic monitoring systems to the Health Ministry of Singapore to monitor the whereabouts of SARS patients subject to quarantine. Dmatek’s products enable people to be tracked without interruption while they go about their daily lives.

Source: New York Israeli Consulate