No one is immune to the effects of the world’s most pressing medical challenges. And none of these challenges are immune to the brilliance and dedication of IMRIC’s researchers. Get to know them a little better by checking out their bios.
I am fascinated with how embryos manage to generate diversity in an organized fashion. The establishment of the embryonic axes early in development helps provide the positional information necessary for subsequent differentiation. We have identified and we are currently studying a family of proteins called VICKZ that can read these early positional signals and help traffic RNA molecules to specific locations within cells. In humans, VICKZ proteins are expressed during embryonic development, turned off after birth, but re-expressed in many kinds of cancer, where they are associated with cell migration and metastasis. These proteins represent highly specific biomarkers of transformed cells, and we are developing tools that will enable us to eliminate cells expressing VICKZ proteins.
Prof. Saul Yedgar was born in Jerusalem and served in the IDF paratroop battalion. He completed his Ph.D. at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in 1977. After doing postdoctoral research at the University of California at San Diego, he joined the Hebrew University faculty in 1981, serving as full professor since 1997. He has conducted research at the NIH, Bethesda, the Curie Institute (Paris), and Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Germany, and has received a number of international awards. He has authored over 120 scientific papers and filed over 20 patents. He is considered an expert in the field of inflammatory lipid mediator function and control. He and his wife, Erella, have three children and six grandchildren.
Saul Yedgar, PhD founded Morria Biopharmaceuticals Plc in 2004 and serves as its Chief Scientific Officer and Director. Prof. Yedgar has developed Morria's proprietary technology and is currently working on new drug candidates. As Chief Scientific Officer, he benefits Morria with his unparalleled knowledge of the technology involved and his innovative thinking. He continues his work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He provides invaluable consulting services on Morria's scientific product development. He has carried out work in collaboration with European and American teams and is considered an expert on the field of lipid mediator function and control. He has carried out work at NIH in Bethesda and at the Curie Institute (Paris). He served as the Chairman and a Member of Scientific Advisory Board for Morria Biopharmaceuticals Plc. He is the Member of various international committees. He is the recipient of several international awards and has authored over 75 scientific papers. He studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and received a PhD in 1977) and at UC San Diego, after which he received tenure at the Department of Biochemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (The Walter & Greta Stiel Chair in Heart Studies).
Our research group includes two teams: One team studies the role of phospholipase A2 (PLA2) in inflammtory/allergic processes, and their control by PLA2 inhibition. The other team, headed by Dr. Gregory Barshtein, studies the role of red blood cell (RBC) flow properties in cardiovascular and inflammatory conditions.
Role of phospholipase A2 in inflammatory/allergic processes: Phospholipase A2 (PLA2), which hydrolyzes cell membrane phospholipids (PL), is a super family of enzymes that consists of two main kinds: the secreted (sPLA2) and the intracellular (cPLA2and iPLA2) enzymes. By hydrolyzing cell membrane PL, PLA2 initiates the production of numerous metabolites that mediate diverse pathological states, particularly those related to inflammatory processes. These includes mainly lyso-phospholipids (LysoPL and PAF), as well as arachidonic acid, which is metabolized by the cyclooxygenase (COX) pathways into prostaglandins or by the lipoxygenase (LOX) pathways into leukotrienes - many of them involved in the development of numerous pathological conditions, especially in inflammation-related processes. PLA2 enzymes, sPLA2 in particular, are also linked to cell signaling and production of inflammatory cytokines, apart from their lipolytic activity. In inducing inflammatory processes, the PLA2 enzymes may act independently, in synergism, or in antagonism. To differentiate between the contributions of the PLA2 iso-enzymes, we have designed and synthesized a prototype of cell-impermeable extracellular sPLA2 inhibitors (ExPLIs), which control PL hydrolysis at the cell membrane without directly affecting intracellular activities. Using the ExPLIs, we have studied the involvement of PLA2s in diverse inflammatory/allergic conditions, in cell cultures and animal models (see Publications). The interrelationship and cross-talk between the PLA2 iso-enzymes is the focus of our current research.
Role of red blood cell (RBC) flow properties in cardiovascular and inflammatory conditions: Red blood cells (RBC) have special properties that are key determinants in blood flow and hemodynamics: These are their aggregability (tendency to form multi-cellular self aggregates), deformability, flexibility (ability to change their shape in order to pass through blood capillaries), and potential adherence to blood vessel wall endothelium. Normally, RBC are singly dispersed, sufficiently deformable, and their adherence to vessel wall is negligible. However, under pathological conditions, mainly cardiovascular, inflammatory and oxidative stress states, RBC aggregability, rigidity and adherence are enhanced, resulting in flow hindrance and irregular flow patterns, leading to reduced tissue perfusion and infarct. To comprehensively investigate the role of RBC hemodynamics in the pathophysiology of circulatory disorders, we have designed and constructed a unique computerized cell flow properties analyzer (CFA), which enables the direct visualization and monitoring of the dynamic organization of RBC in a narrow-gap flow chamber, under controllable flow conditions resembling those in a microvessel. The CFA, which is a most advanced and sophisticated imaging system for in-vitro monitoring of RBC hemodynamics, provides an array of parameters, some newly defined, for comprehensive characterization on RBC flow properties and their alteration in pathological conditions. The CFA has been employed in a number of laboratories for studying the involvement of RBC flow properties in the pathophysiology of cardio-vascular and inflammatory conditions, as well as for studying effects of blood banking procedures on the hemodynamic behavior of blood for transfusion therapy. Our current research focuses on elucidating biochemical and physical factors in RBC that are responsible for the alteration of their flow properties in pathological conditions and during blood banking procedures
I wanted to study the mechanisms that underlie epilepsy, which is the main focus of our IMRIC research.
We are investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the disease, including synaptic and electric mechanisms which trigger this busting activity.
Through our IMRIC collaboration with Dr. Peter Carlen, Head of the Division of Fundamental Neurobiology at the University of Toronto, we are looking to open new avenues for treating this devastating disease.