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The Trojan Horse of the Hamlin Piper

Dr. Patricia Mora-Raymondo of the Technion won a prestigious European award for developing a method to treat Parkinson's disease with the help of music

Dr. Patricia Mora-Raymondo receiving the award. Credit: EuroTech Universities Alliance
Dr. Patricia Mora-Raymondo receiving the award. Credit: EuroTech Universities Alliance

Dr. Patricia Mora-Raymondo, a postdoctoral student in Professor Avi Schroeder's research group at the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, won first place in the Future Award competition of the EuroTech University Alliance. The prestigious award was given to her for developing an innovative method for transporting drugs for degenerative diseases through the blood.
The EuroTech Alliance is a strategic partnership between leading universities in science and technology. On January 1, 2019, the Technion joined the alliance as the sixth member of the network and the first outside of Europe. you are a prize Future Award The Scientific-Technological Alliance was founded last year to honor researchers who are expected to bring about dramatic changes in their fields for the benefit of humanity. The winners are selected based on their existing and potential contribution to promoting the vision of the United Nations as it is reflected in the 17 goals of the United Nations for sustainable development - goals set in 2015 and adopted by all member countries of the organization.

Dr. Mora-Raymondo
, working on her post-doctorate under the guidance of Prof. Avi Schroeder, completed her academic education in pharmacy at the University of Madrid [Universidad Complutense de Madrid]. She is engaged in the development of new treatments for Parkinson's disease, solutions for crossing the blood-brain barrier for the benefit of treating brain diseases, creating nanoscale lipid particles to transfer nucleic acids to the body. She won many awards as well as the Azrieli scholarship, and is a member of the "Teva" national forum for innovation in the life sciences.
Dr. Mora-Raymondo began researching nanometer drugs already at the University of Madrid, in the context of bone cancer treatment. In 2020, the last year of her PhD, she arrived for a short period in Prof. Schroeder's laboratory. The short period was extended due to her interest in the research fields at the Technion laboratory, and she decided to continue with post-doctoral studies.

In the proposal that won her the Future Award, Dr. Mora-Raymondo presents the MINND model: using music in nanotechnology-based treatments for neurological disorders.
"My journey in the world of science began in 2012," says Dr. Mora-Raymondo, "following my grandfather who instilled in me curiosity and faith in effort and perseverance and shaped my character - and later my research as well. About a decade ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and his condition influenced me to choose research related to this disease. In the advanced stages of the disease, most of my grandfather's abilities faded, but music continued to speak to him. This is the inspiration for the development that I submitted to Eurotech."

Neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second cause of death. Nanometric drugs promise improved solutions for the treatment of these disorders - better than conventional treatment. One of the technological challenges in the application of nanoscale medicine is related to the fact that in order to affect the brain, the nanoscale particles are required to cross the blood-brain barrier. This barrier, which protects the brain from infections found in the blood, is a complex obstacle in the therapeutic context as it makes it difficult to transfer drugs to the brain. This is one of Dr. Mora-Raymondo's tasks in the current study - to increase the amount of particles that cross the barrier to the brain. "Like the Hamelin flute player, I seek to open the blood-brain barrier in a controlled manner to allow the passage of these particles, and like the Hamelin flute player, I use music.

"As mentioned, my grandfather is the inspiration, because despite Alzheimer's he continued to listen to music for a long time. I read extensive scientific literature on the subject and discovered that music creates new connections in the brain. Then I asked - could listening to music improve the transfer of medicinal particles to the brain? The answer is positive, and more than that, I find differences in the effect of different types of music - from Mozart to Pink Floyd - on brain activity." The system developed by Dr. Mora was tested in mice with Parkinson's disease and indeed led to an improvement in their motor abilities.

As mentioned, Dr. Mora won first place in the award Future Award. He won the second place Dr. Yudong Shu from EPFL (Switzerland) on the development of nanoscale coatings for hydrogen production systems. She won the third place Dr. Melissa Bernard Valla from the Technical University of Denmark for developing new snakebite treatments. 

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