In the News

Guiding light

While aptamers—single-stranded nucleic acids—offer promise as drug-delivery tools for cancer treatment, it has proven difficult to get them to tumor cells at therapeutic levels. Now, researchers in the laboratories of Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor and member of the Koch Institute, and Daniel S. Kohane, director of the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at Boston Children’s Hospital, describe in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences how a new light-triggered strategy can provide more accurate control over where aptamers accumulate. This strategy holds promise for using light triggering to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of drug delivery, especially as aptamers can be attached to a variety of therapeutic agents and delivery devices, including chemotherapy drugs, siRNA, and nanoparticles.  more...

Bhatia’s disruptive technology nabs international acclaim

Koch Institute faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia has been selected as one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014 for her work developing inexpensive and noninvasive diagnostics for the early detection of colon cancer. The annual list identifies top minds with translational ideas in politics, business, technology, the arts, and the sciences that have the potential to impact millions around the world. This year’s list has a particular focus on disruptive ideas and technologies. The honorees were recognized at an event in Washington, D.C., where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was the keynote speaker. Bhatia, the John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was specifically recognized for developing a diagnostic driven by nanoparticles and a simple, inexpensive, paper-strip urine test that can reveal the presence of cancer within minutes. more...

The inside story: Implantable technology improves treatment

Working on implantable devices for drug delivery, KI member Michael Cima, David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, hopes to make cancer treatments safer, more effective, and more convenient. As these implantable devices advance toward the clinic, so does the promise for improving patient outcomes and experiences. more...

Herman Eisen

In fond remembrance

The KI community mourns the loss of Herman Eisen, a professor emeritus of biology and founding faculty member of the MIT Center for Cancer Research (CCR), who died Nov. 2 at age 96. Over a 70-year career, Eisen forged a path as a pioneering immunologist whose research has significantly shaped the field. He joined the MIT faculty in 1973, having been recruited by CCR founder Salvador Luria. Eisen retired from MIT in 1989, albeit only in the official sense: As a professor emeritus, he maintained an active laboratory and continued to advise students and postdocs, research, and publish until his very last day. “Herman was a true treasure: an inspiring colleague, a caring mentor, and a wonderful human being,” says Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute and David H. Koch Professor of Biology. “We all aspire to be Herman Eisen.” more...

Tyler Jacks

Life lessons from 34 years of fighting cancer

At TEDxCambridge in September, Koch Institute Director Tyler Jacks shared insights from his 34 years in the "maze" of cancer research. more...

Jacks Lab

Genome-editing technique speeds analysis of genes mutated in tumors

Cancer genome sequencing has revealed thousands of mutations linked with the disease, but identifying these cancer-driving mutations is an arduous process. It generally involves sifting through a deluge of data and developing mice that model a specific mutation, a process that can take a year or more. Now, researchers from Tyler Jacks’s lab have developed a new approach to rapidly model genetic mutations in mice by using the genome-editing technique CRISPR. The researchers, including co-lead authors Francisco Sanchez-Rivera and Thales Papagiannakopoulos, used their approach to examine individual genes’ roles in lung tumor growth. By modeling APC, a tumor-suppressor gene linked to colon cancer whose role in lung cancer is not well understood, they found that APC loss does indeed drive lung tumor progression. The researchers envision that this technique could one day be used to quickly and effectively study personalized treatment options for cancer patients by modeling mice based on the genetic profile of an individual patient’s tumor. more...

Oct. 22 webinar from the Koch Institute and Cell Signaling Technology - Targeting Cancer Pathways: Tumor Resistance

The Koch Institute and Cell Signaling Technology are proud to present this webinar, the first in a series focusing on the pathways that allow for cancer development and progression, the emerging research in identifying and targeting these pathways, and the innovations in the development of cancer treatment options. more...

Swallowing your next injection

Scared of needles? When it’s time for your next shot, imagine if you could simply swallow a pill instead. MIT researchers from the labs of KI member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor; KI member Daniel Anderson; and Daniel Blankschtein, professor of chemical engineering, have developed an ingestible drug capsule coated with tiny needles that can safely and painlessly inject drugs directly into the stomach lining. In fact, they found that this microneedle pill can deliver drugs more effectively than subcutaneous injection. The researchers tested their pill with insulin and predict that this modular platform will be most useful for delivering drugs to treat cancer, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. Lead authors on this paper, which appeared in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, were Giovanni Traverso, Carl Schoellhammer, and Avi Schroeder. more...

Predicting the future with amino acids

Pancreatic cancer is too often detected in late stages and with a poor prognosis. While early detection is still a major hurdle to overcome, KI member Matthew Vander Heiden, the Eisen and Chang Career Development Professor, and collaborators from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute, have found that elevated levels of three amino acids, known as the branched chain amino acids, are an accurate predictor of pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Even blood samples taken from patients up to 10 years before diagnosis revealed evidence of protein breakdown and dysregulated metabolism. While researchers must examine why this early breakdown occurs and determine if this amino-acid signature could definitively be used for early diagnosis, these findings offer promise for cancer therapeutics that target metabolic pathways. more...

Sangeeta Bhatia

Koch Institute Member Awarded $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize

Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia, biomedical engineer and faculty member at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, is the recipient of the 2014 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. Bhatia is recognized for designing and commercializing miniaturized technologies with applications to improve human health. The Lemelson-MIT Prize, celebrating its 20th year, honors outstanding mid-career inventors improving the world through technological invention and demonstrating a commitment to mentorship in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is the second consecutive year, and third overall, in which a Koch Institute faculty member has been awarded the prize. Dr. Angela Belcher, W.M. Keck Professor of Energy, received the prize in 2013, and Dr. Robert S. Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, received the prize in 1998. This also is only the fourth time an MIT faculty member has received the prize in its 20-year history. more...