In the News

Cima & Langer

Major step for implantable drug-delivery device

MIT spinout Microchips Biotech, co-founded by KI faculty members Michael Cima and Robert Langer, has partnered with Teva Pharmaceuticals to commercialize its microchips that release therapeutics inside the body. The implantable microchips can be wirelessly programmed to release individual doses over a period of up to 16 years to treat a variety of diseases—including the treatment of cancer as a chronic illness. While the device would provide convenience to patients, Cima and Langer say that it also would improve medication adherence, especially as the lack thereof in the U.S. annually leads to hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs, around 125,000 deaths, and up to 10 percent of all hospitalizations. more...

J. Christopher Love

Seeking rare cells

Circulating tumor cells can provide valuable information about how cancer progresses and metastasizes, but finding these cells—which can be hidden among hundreds of thousands of other cells—is like finding a needle in a haystack. Here, MIT News profiles KI faculty member J. Christopher Love, who is using microscale and nanoscale technology to isolate and analyze these rare cells. more...

Probiotics

Programmable probiotics

KI researchers in Sangeeta Bhatia's laboratory are engineering probiotics — bacteria similar to those found in yogurt — that can specifically detect metastatic tumors in the liver. These safe-to-consume bacteria, delivered orally, produce a luminescent signal that can be detected with a simple urine test and can even change the color of urine to indicate the presence of cancer. At the TED2015 conference in March, TED Fellow Tal Danino, a postdoc in Bhatia’s lab and one of the lead authors of this newly published research, discussed his work in programming bacteria (watch his TED talk). As a next step, Danino is studying how these bacteria can be engineered to treat cancer not only by targeting tumors but also by producing therapeutic molecules inside the tumor environment. more...

Manalis Lab microfluidics go with the flow

Researchers in the laboratory of KI faculty member Scott Manalis have developed a new technique to measure how tiny particles are relatively positioned as they flow through a fluidic channel. Using a suspended microchannel resonator, first developed by Manalis and his colleagues in 2007, the researchers vibrate the device’s tiny cantilevers — which behave like oscillating diving boards — at various frequencies simultaneously. By measuring the changes in each frequency as individual particles rapidly flow through the device, Manalis and his colleagues can calculate not only the mass of particles with near-attogram precision (one millionth of a trillionth of a gram) but also the distance between particles, potentially to a resolution of about four nanometers (four millionths of a millimeter). This approach has several applications, including monitoring assembly of engineered nanoparticles with extreme precision as well as studying how cancer cells deform as they metastasize. more...

From body to bedside

KI researchers in the laboratories of David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer and David H. Koch Professor of Engineering Michael Cima have developed an implantable device that could allow doctors to test drugs in patients before prescribing chemotherapy. When implanted in a tumor, this tiny device diffuses small doses of up to 30 different drugs — or combinations thereof — in surrounding tumor cells. After one day, the implant and a small biopsy of surrounding tissue are removed, allowing researchers to study and rank the efficacy of drugs. This research was featured extensively in the news, including in New ScientistThe Scientist, and The Boston Herald. This device is now an integral part of multiple translational projects, including a Bridge Project collaboration between David H. Koch Professor of Biology Michael Yaffe and colleagues at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to test combination drug therapies for advanced prostate cancer. more...

No pain, big gain

Congratulations to the KI’s Carl Schoellhammer, graduate winner of the $15,000 Lemelson-MIT “Cure it!” Student Prize. He is developing two inventions for painless and effective drug delivery: a swallowable drug capsule coated with tiny needles that can inject drugs directly into the stomach lining, and a probe that uses low-frequency ultrasound to drive therapeutics to the gastrointestinal tract. Schoellhammer is a member of the laboratories of KI faculty member Robert Langer and Daniel Blankschtein. more...

Diviya Sinha

Graduate student Diviya Sinha earns Schlumberger Foundation Fellowship

Chemical engineering graduate student Diviya Sinha has received a Faculty for the Future Fellowship from the Schlumberger Foundation. These fellowships are awarded to deserving female scientists and engineers from developing and emerging countries who are pursuing advanced degrees at leading universities worldwide. As a 2015-2016 fellow, Sinha receives a grant of up to $50,000 per year to support her research in immunology. Sinha is a graduate student in the laboratories of KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, and Daniel Blankschtein. more...

CellSqueeze

Freshly squeezed vaccines

KI researchers have shown that they can use a microfluidic cell-squeezing device to introduce specific antigens inside the immune system’s B cells, providing a new approach to developing and implementing antigen-presenting cell vaccines. Through CellSqueeze, the device platform originally developed at MIT, the researchers pass a suspension of B cells and target antigen through tiny, parallel channels etched on a chip. A positive-pressure system moves the suspension through these channels, which gradually narrow, applying a gentle pressure to the B cells. This “squeeze” opens small, temporary holes in their membranes, allowing the target antigen to enter by diffusion. more...

Tyler Jacks

Tyler Jacks receives MIT’s Killian Award

Tyler Jacks, a pioneering cancer biologist and director of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is this year’s recipient of MIT’s James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award. Jacks is recognized for his leadership of MIT’s cancer research community, and his influence on the field of cancer research. The Killian Award is the highest honor MIT grants to members of its faculty. more...

Creativity Lab

Creativity Lab

Are you interested in exploring the creative side of research science through hands on biology labs? Creativity Lab, hosted by the Koch Institute and the Whitehead Institute, allows high-school students to understand the connection between art and biology. The program will feature ample hands-on experiments in a research lab led by visiting scientists. We will take the science concepts learned in the labs and use them to jump-start art projects. Discover how creative thinking plays a critical role in both disciplines! Applicants must be at least 16 years old at the time of the program. $250 per student fee and seats are limited. Please visit http://wi.mit.edu/programs/creativitylab to register or contact Mary Brooks (brooks@wi.mit.edu) for more details. more...