An Israeli start-up has won the right to have its technology tested in outer space.

Vecoy Nanomedicine beat out a field of over 1,200 start-up companies worldwide to win second prize in a competition sponsored by the Center for Advancement of Science in Space, the non-profit research and development wing of the International Space Station US Laboratory.

“It is amazing for us, and we are proud to be a small Israeli company going into space. And we want to share our pride with the ecosystem in Israel,” Vecoy company strategist Eitan Eliram said.

During an upcoming NASA mission, astronauts will test Vecoy’s virus decoy system in the space labs, allowing the team to gain new insights on the technology, which Eliram explained works like the Israeli Iron Dome to stop viruses before they can attack.

“The Iron Dome does not allow missiles to hit the ground, but disarms them mid-air. Vecoys do the same, not allowing the virus to hit the human cell and cause damage,” he said, adding “this technology radically changes the approach to viral prevention, by destroying them before they invade healthy cells.”

He further stressed that this new line of viral defense is a game-changer. “To date, 100 percent of the pharmaceutical companies in the world are waiting for the virus to come into a cell before they try to stop it.”

The Vecoy team is currently planning how it can best use the space lab time to produce information that can help refine its anti-viral technology further.

“In space, we hope to be able to learn how our Vecoys maneuver to the threat and how easy it will be for the Vecoy to find the virus,” Eliram said. “From this we can find a way to improve the design of our nano-scale virus traps.”

Ultimately, Eliram believes Vecoy’s “viral Iron Dome” will prove invaluable to creating nano-defense against biological weaponry.

“We have good connections with the bio-defense industry,” he said. “NASA is paying attention just as other governments are paying attention. Everyone is seeking a solution that does not yet exist.”