News Archive: 2009

(Dr. Annick D. Van Den Abbeele, Dana-Farber)

Old discovery could bring new cancer therapies

An 80-year-old discovery about the way cancer cells use sugar to generate energy is fueling a new wave of research into how cancers proliferate - and how to stop them. more...

2009 Linus Pauling Medal awarded to KI faculty member

The 2009 Linus Pauling Medal was awarded to Stephen J. Lippard, Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at MIT, for his outstanding contributions to chemistry. Among his other accomplishments, he is well-known for his work on the mechanism of the platinum-containing anti-cancer drug cisplatin, which is primarily used to treat testicular and ovarian cancers. more...

"The Cima Seven" selected and honored

Great inventors share a common set of traits, the most important of them: curiosity, empathy and leadership. more...

Biodegradable polymer (Image: Jordan Green)

Nanoparticles for gene therapy improve

About five years ago, Professor Janet Sawicki at the Lankenau Institute in Pennsylvania read an article about nanoparticles developed by MIT's Daniel Anderson and Robert Langer for gene therapy, the insertion of genes into living cells for the treatment of disease. The resulting cross-institutional collaboration has led to a promising ovarian cancer formulation. more...

Nanoparticles target tumors and dodge the immune system

A nanotechnology therapy that targets cancer with a 'stealth smart bomb' is to begin patient trials next year in the first clinical test of a pioneering approach to medicine. The nanoparticle, which targets tumour cells while evading the body's immune system, promises to deliver larger and more effective doses of drugs to cancers, while simultaneously sparing patients many of the distressing side-effects of chemotherapy. more...

Precancerous pancreatic cells (Image: Sharon Friedlander)

Possible origins of pancreatic cancer revealed

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing an estimated 35,000 Americans each year. One of the reasons pancreatic cancer is so deadly is that it is hard to detect it in the early stages, and that's partly because scientists aren't sure from which cell(s) it arises. Now, in findings that could help answer that question, MIT cancer biologists have identified a subpopulation of cells that can give rise to this disease. more...

MicroRNA-mediated metastasis suppression

Metastases are responsible for over 90% of cancer deaths. In an upcoming article, Dr Robert Weinberg (MIT) and colleagues lend molecular insight into how microRNAs suppress tumour metastasis. more...

Clear cell adenocarcinoma (Image: NCI)

Koch Institute collaborative teams expand to include physicists

Cancer research has traditionally been the realm of biologists, and, more recently, engineers. Now, physicists are getting in on the action. MIT has been awarded a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to start a new Physical Science-Oncology Center. The funding, approximately $3.5 million per year, will support four cancer research projects led by MIT physical scientists. more...

Mouse lungs (Image: Etienne Meylan)

Defining the combination of genetic circumstances that make certain lung cancers more treatable

A protein that normally helps defend cells from infection can play a critical role in the development of lung cancer, according to MIT cancer biologists. Their findings suggest that the protein, NF-kappaB, could be a promising target for new drugs against lung cancer, which kills more than one million people each year. more...

KI director Tyler Jacks elected to Institute of Medicine

Tyler Jacks was one of two from MIT elected to the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academies of Science. Jacks said he is honored to become part of the Institute of Medicine, which advises government officials on medical issues. "It's tremendous to be recognized in this fashion, and I'm extremely grateful," says Jacks, who is now serving a one-year term as president of the American Association for Cancer Research. more...

KI member receives award for cancer pathways research

David M. Sabatini is one of three young investigators who will be the recipients of this year's Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, a prize awarded biennially since 2001 to scientists under the age of forty-six by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. more...

Three KI cancer researchers are selected by NIH for innovative grants

Professor Leona Samson is among 18 scientists nationwide to receive 2009 Pioneer Awards, the annual National Institutes of Health grants designed to encourage scientists to explore high-risk projects with the potential to dramatically transform health research. Linda Griffith, professor of biological and mechanical engineering, will receive one of 42 NIH Director's Transformative R01 (T-R01) Awards, another program to fund highly innovative research. KI researcher Sangeeta Bhatia is also a co-principal investigator on one of the T-R01 grants. more...

KI's new approach to cancer research is a turning point

For the past 40 years, cancer research at MIT has focused on identifying the molecular mechanisms that cause the disease. While that is still a hot research field, the focus is now expanding. MIT researchers are trying to "not only understand how cancer develops and how it undergoes metastatic spread, but to use our knowledge in new ways to diagnose and treat the disease," says Institute Professor Phillip Sharp, a member of MIT's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. more...

Killing the killer: cancer stem cells

A new approach for identifying drugs that specifically attack cancer stem cells, the cellular culprits that are thought to start and maintain tumour growth, could change the way that drug companies and scientists search for therapies in the war against cancer. more...

Tumor mutations can predict chemo success

New work by MIT cancer biologists shows that the interplay between two key genes that are often defective in tumors determines how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy. The findings should have an immediate impact on cancer treatment, say Michael Hemann and Michael Yaffe, the two MIT biology professors who led the study. The work could help doctors predict what types of chemotherapy will be effective in a particular tumor, which would help tailor treatments to each patient. more...

KI Researchers take aim at ovarian cancer

Tiny particles carrying a killer gene can effectively suppress ovarian tumor growth in mice, according to a team of researchers from MIT and the Lankenau Institute. The findings could lead to a new treatment for ovarian cancer, which now causes more than 15,000 deaths each year in the United States. more...

NOVA scienceNOW profiles KI's Sangeeta Bhatia

Intrigued by the idea of artificial organs, a biomedical engineer uses computer-chip technology to craft tiny livers. Scientist, MIT professor, and mom, Sangeeta Bhatia says she's just a "regular person." more...

Old drug seems to slow aging, raising enticing questions about cancer and immunity

The active ingredient in Rapamune, rapamycin, was discovered decades ago but scientists didn't understand how the drug worked until a graduate student named David Sabatini discovered the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a protein that acts as part of a complicated set of chemical signals that causes cells to divide. more...

Robert Langer Lab launches collaboration with Korea University

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on behalf of the Robert Langer Labs at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research announced today that they have signed a collaboration agreement with Korea University, on behalf of the Institute for Biomedical Research. The overall purpose of this collaboration is to develop a high impact biomedical research and education program. more...

With and without MicroRNA miR-31 (Image: Scott Valastyan)

KI Member Robert Weinberg's lab reports in Cell how a small RNA suppresses metastasis

High levels of a tiny fragment of RNA appear to suppress the spread of breast cancer in mice. Measuring levels of this so-called microRNA, which is also associated with metastatic breast cancer in humans, may more accurately predict the likelihood of metastasis (which accounts for 90 percent of cancer-related deaths) and ultimately help determine patient outcomes. more...

KI's Sangeeta Bhatia and colleagues awarded Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) funding

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the Entertainment Industry Foundation's charitable initiative supporting groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated timeframe, has reached a significant milestone, awarding the first round of three-year grants - that total $73.6 million - to five multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional research "Dream Teams." more...

Tyler Jacks on The Today Show announces Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) funding

Five "dream teams" awarded $73M in funding to support highly collaborative projects. more...

Implantable monitoring device can detect tumor growth

Biopsies offer a snapshot of a tumor at a single moment in time. Monitoring a tumor for weeks or months after the biopsy, tracking its growth and how it responds to treatment, would be much more valuable, says KI scientist Michael Cima, who has developed the first implantable device that can do just that. more...

Wellcome Trust and MIT launch new interdisciplinary research fellowship program

The Wellcome Trust announced on May 7 the establishment of a new program at MIT that will fund postdoctoral fellows to do research at the interfaces between biology/medicine, computation, the physical sciences and engineering. Postdoctoral researchers in the program will be funded for two to three years at MIT followed by one to two years in the United Kingdom. The program expects to enroll five scientists per year, starting this fall. more...

Gold Nanorods (Image: Sangeeta Bhatia Lab)

Gold "nanorod" formulations show promise in cancer detection and treatment

It has long been known that heat is an effective weapon against tumor cells. However, it's difficult to heat patients' tumors without damaging nearby tissues. Now, MIT researchers have developed tiny gold particles that can home in on tumors, and then, by absorbing energy from near-infrared light and emitting it as heat, destroy tumors with minimal side effects. more...

KI Director is elected to prestigious National Academy of Sciences

Tyler Jacks is one of 72 newly elected to NAS for distinguished and on-going achievements in original science. more...

The Economist reports on medicine going digital

KI research is paving the way for a revolutionary convergence of engineering and biology. more...

"Fuzzy logic" used by MIT team to predict potential treatment responses

Living cells are bombarded with messages from the outside world - hormones and other chemicals tell them to grow, migrate, die or do nothing. Inside the cell, complex signaling networks interpret these cues and make life-and-death decisions. Using a "fuzzy logic" approach, a team of MIT biological engineers has created a new model that reveals different and novel information about these inner cell workings than traditional computational models. more...

New biomarker may lead to a test that can predict aggressive cancer

Researchers have developed a test that could help doctors precisely identify which breast cancer patients should receive aggressive therapy, thereby sparing many women at low risk for metastatic disease from undergoing unnecessary and potentially dangerous treatment. The researchers, including KI scientist Frank Gertler, developed the test based on an earlier finding that the co-mingling of three cell types can predict whether localized breast cancer will metastasize, or spread throughout the body. more...

Forbes reports on the emerging role of artificial livers in developing new drugs

Maybe liver cells have the right to be such temperamental divas. They do a lot, such as building thousands of proteins, breaking down toxins, storing vitamins, metabolizing carbohydrates and helping digest fats. But take them out of the body, and they simply refuse to cooperate. At least so far. And so that's exactly what Sangeeta Bhatia, an MIT engineering professor who also has her M.D., wants them to do--function better outside of the body. If she can convince them to do that, a new vista of medical opportunities opens up, including better toxicity tests and even more replacement organs. more...

KI researchers report on a major advance in reprogramming skin cells into stem cells

Researchers have developed a novel method of removing potential cancer-causing genes during the reprogramming of skin cells from Parkinson's disease patients into an embryonic-stem-cell-like state. Scientists were then able to use the resulting induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to derive dopamine-producing neurons, the cell type that degenerates in Parkinson's disease patients. more...

Bhatia Lab student wins Lemelson-MIT prize

MIT graduate student and biomedical engineer Geoffrey von Maltzahn is this year's winner of the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for his promising innovations in the area of cancer therapy. The 28-year-old PhD candidate in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) was selected specifically for two of his inventions in nanomedicine: a new class of cancer therapeutics and a new paradigm for enhancing drug delivery to tumors. more...

Major KI milestone hit on time and on budget

Highlights of the Topping-Off Ceremony for The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT on Feb. 19, 2009. more...

Using RNAi to tackle ovarian cancer

Small RNA molecules can effectively keep ovarian tumors from growing and spreading in mice, according to a team of researchers from MIT, the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. more...

KI faculty share latest technologies at recent World Economic Forum IdeasLab Annual Meeting

Sangeeta Bhatia and Michael Cima shared their latest research at an international meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. more...

KI professor among 10 "Women to Watch"

Sangeeta Bhatia, a professor of electrical engineering and health sciences and technology, was named one of the 10 "Women to Watch" on Jan. 23 by the newspaper Mass High Tech. Bhatia was cited with nine others for leading their respective fields and for outstanding dedication to technology, entrepreneurship, lifelong learning and civic responsibility. more...