News Archive: 2010

A complex between DNA and the protein p53. Image: Thomas Splettstoesser

Timing is everything for p53

Since the early 1980s, cancer researchers have known that a protein called p53 plays a critical role in protecting cells from becoming cancerous. Knowing p53's critical role in controlling cancer, researchers have been trying to develop drugs that restore the protein's function, in hopes of re-establishing the ability to suppress tumor growth. In a new study that highlights a possible limitation of such drugs, MIT cancer biologists show that restoring p53's function in mice with lung cancer has no effect early in tumor development, but restoring the function later on could prevent more advanced tumors from spreading throughout the body. more...

Matthew Vander Heiden. Photo: Patrick Gillooly

An unexpected twist in cancer metabolism

Most cells in the human body burn sugar to fuel their activities. When cells become cancerous, they employ an alternative, wasteful fuel-burning strategy – one that cancer biologists believe lets tumors devote resources to generating building blocks for new cancer cells. In a paper appearing in the Sept. 16 online edition of Science, KI's Matthew Vander Heiden and researchers at Harvard University report a previously unknown element of cancer cells' peculiar metabolism. The finding could help scientists design drugs that block cancer-cell metabolism, essentially starving them of the materials they need to grow and spread. more...

Image: Darrell Irvine and Matthias Stephan

A pharmacy on the back of a cell

Clinical trials using patients' own immune cells to target tumors have yielded promising results. However, this approach usually works only if the patients also receive large doses of drugs designed to help immune cells multiply rapidly, and those drugs have life-threatening side effects. Now a team of MIT engineers has devised a way to deliver the necessary drugs by smuggling them on the backs of the cells sent in to fight the tumor. That way, the drugs reach only their intended targets, greatly reducing the risk to the patient. more...

Artist's rendering of new KI building. Image: ELLENZWEIG

Koch Institute and OMJP launch TRANSCEND

KI announced a major strategic partnership with Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and its affiliates, called TRANSCEND, whereby the parties will begin to collaborate in multiple areas of oncology research and technology development. more...

Antibody binds to its target molecule. Image: Kelly Orcutt

KI researchers "fast track" directed evolution

In nature, evolution takes place over eons. But evolution can also happen on a small and fast scale in the laboratory. The approach is called "directed evolution," and scientists are using it to generate proteins that do not occur in nature – for example, cancer drugs, new microbial enzymes for converting agricultural waste to fuel, or imaging agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). more...

India

Tackling cancer on a new front

Cancer, which has been predominantly a disease of industrialized nations, is rapidly encroaching on the developing world as people live longer and diagnostic technology improves. In India, about a million new cases are diagnosed every year, and that number is projected to triple in the next 20 years. Efforts are now under way in India to make cancer research a priority – an endeavor that is getting a boost from a new program at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. more...

KI team develops new tool for high-throughput DNA damage analysis

Our DNA is under constant siege from a variety of damaging agents. Damage to DNA and the ability of cells to repair that damage has broad health implications, from aging and heritable diseases to cancer. Unfortunately, the tools used to study DNA damage are quite limited, but MIT researchers have developed a new tool for rapid DNA damage analysis that promises to make an impact on human health. more...

Embryonic stem cells reveal oncogene's secret growth formula

A comprehensive new gene expression study in embryonic stem cells has uncovered a transcription control mechanism that is not only more pervasive than once thought but is also heavily regulated by the cancer-causing gene c-Myc. more...

Professor of Biology Angelika Amon

KI member elected to National Academy of Sciences

Angelika Amon is among 72 newly elected to the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. more...

Phillip Sharp

KI member recieves AACR's Margaret Foti Award

Phillip Sharp receivee the fourth annual American Association for Cancer Research Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research at the AACR 101st Annual Meeting 2010. This award recognizes an individual whose leadership and extraordinary achievements in or in support of cancer research have made a major impact on the field overall. more...

Targeting cancer "gangs"

After years focused on cancer cells, researchers have realized they need to broaden their horizons. Cells outside the tumors play a key role in the development of malignant cancers, helping them to grow and spurring them to attack, scientists are discovering. more...

Weighing the cell

Using a sensor that weighs cells with unprecedented precision, MIT and Harvard researchers led by KI's Scott Manalis have for the first time measured the rate at which single cells accumulate mass – a feat that could shed light on how cells control their growth and why those controls fail in cancer cells. more...

Cancer cells. Image: National Cancer Institute

KI pushes forward in research on cancer metabolism

KI's Matthew Vander Heiden is part of a new generation of cancer researchers that is setting its sights on cancer cells' bizarre and seemingly inefficient metabolism, which appears to be tightly linked to many of the genes already implicated in cancer. more...

KI to host a new Center for Cancer Systems Biology

This past week, the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT received funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to become a Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB). These centers are part of NCI's Integrative Cancer Biology Program (ICBP), which is the NCI's primary effort in cancer systems biology, a field that is rapidly seen as an essential component in the future of cancer research. more...

KI participates in launch of new pancreatic cancer research consortium

The Lustgarten Foundation announced today that it has formed a national pancreatic cancer research consortium, a collaborative effort involving six world-renowned medical institutions to advance the most promising research initiatives aimed at finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. more...

Cancers' common denominator: metabolism

The revival of a classic hypothesis about sugar biochemistry is making contributions to a promising area of cancer research, one in which the altered metabolic state all cancer cells share – rather than gene mutations specific to certain cancers – could be the key to finding new treatments. more...

Hepatitis virus

Hepatitis fight aided by liver cells advance

For the first time, a US team led by KI's Sangeeta Bhatia has managed to watch the progress of a rare strain of hepatitis C among liver cells kept alive in a lab dish. In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they say it could lead to easier drug testing. more...

Researchers develop 'nano cocktail' to target and kill tumors

A team of researchers including a group at MIT has developed a "cocktail" of different nanometer-sized particles that work in concert within the bloodstream to locate, adhere to and kill cancerous tumors. more...

AAAS Science reviews and looks at future of science signaling with KI faculty member

A conversation with Michael B. Yaffe about research articles published in Science Signaling in 2009. more...