In the News

Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Special Symposium: Bridging the Gap in Ovarian Cancer

Join us on September 16 for Bridging the Gap in Ovarian Cancer, a special symposium for ovarian cancer patients, survivors, family members, advocates, researchers, and other interested members of the public. This free public event has been organized by the Koch Institute to share and discuss advances in science and technology to fight ovarian cancer and will highlight the power of bringing bioengineering, advanced cancer science, and clinical oncology together to solve today’s most challenging problems in ovarian cancer through collaborative, interdisciplinary research. Symposium attendees are invited to stay for our evening program, SOLUTIONS with/in/sight: Women Converge on Cancer, which will take place at the Koch Institute immediately following the reception. This evening program will feature remarkable women who are staunch advocates for cancer research. (Photo by MesserWoland / CC BY-SA 3.0) more...

with/in/sight

SOLUTIONS with/in/sight: Women Converge on Cancer

From MIT's Great Dome to the rotunda on Capitol Hill, cancer research and associated advocacy efforts are changing the lives of patients everywhere. On September 16, join three staunch advocates for cancer research to learn more about the personal journeys and powerful collaborations at the forefront of the fight against cancer. Whether forging the convergence revolution, carving out new paths for research and funding, or elevating public conversation, these inspiring leaders embody the perseverance, partnerships, and progress that move the field ever forward. more...

Talk with Vik Muniz & Tal Danino at the Galeria Nara Roesler in Sao Paulo

In a conversation with bioengineer Tal Danino at the Galeria Nara Roesler, visting artist Vik Muniz presented on the innovative research that underlies his new Sandcastles and Colonies series and the results of his MIT residency. While undertaking a residency at MIT, Muniz started taking his research into high-technology materials to the extreme in order to develop his two new series. They both combine artistic ingeniousness and cutting-edge science work by leading names such as bioengineer Tal Danino, who was Muniz’s guest for the conversation Galeria Nara Roesler hosted on August 16. more...

New technique allows for better study of hepatitis B and drug treatments

When a hepatocyte—the main liver cell type—is isolated from the liver for study in the lab, it quickly becomes unstable. As a result, it is normally difficult to study how HBV-infected cells respond to antiviral drugs. Now, in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, members of Sangeeta Bhatia’s laboratory at MIT and Charles Rice’s laboratory at Rockefeller University describe how to effectively stabilize these liver cells and infect them robustly with HBV, which will allow researchers to study the immune response and investigate new treatments for the virus. HBV infects about 400 million people around the world and often leads to serious complications, including liver cancer. more...

A new way to rapidly study cancer-causing mutations

In a study appearing in Nature, researchers from the lab of KI Director and David H. Koch Professor of Biology Tyler Jacks, together with Phillip Sharp’s and Daniel Anderson’s labs, have shown that they can generate liver tumors in adult mice by using CRISPR, a gene-editing tool, to disrupt tumor suppressor genes p53 and pten. This technique allows for rapid screening of these mutations and tumors’ response to treatment without needing to undergo the long and expensive process of breeding a strain of mice with a particular mutation. “The sequencing of human tumors has revealed hundreds of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in different combinations. The flexibility of this technology, as delivery gets better in the future, will give you a way to pretty rapidly test those combinations,” says Institute Professor Phillip Sharp. The team is now working on ways to deliver the necessary CRISPR components to other organs, allowing them to investigate mutations found in other types of cancer. more...

Nanoscale film

Dressing drug molecules in layers

David H. Koch Professor in Engineering Paula Hammond and her laboratory have refined a technique to steadily release pain medications and other drugs to a specific part of the body over a time period as long as 14 months. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe using a layer-by-layer technique to attach diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug, to individual layers of biodegradable, nanoscale thin-film coating. The film can be used to coat implantable medical devices or nanoparticles that can be injected into a local site. This system will reduce the need for patients to take medication frequently and, as the treatment is localized, should reduce potential side effects from medication. Researchers will now study how to best optimize this drug-delivery system for different bodily environments and other drugs. more...

Flash Mob

Cancer Immunotherapy Gets Flashy

Pom-poms, foam fingers, umbrellas, T-shirts, whistles…all the ingredients the KI community needs to hack the immune system to fight cancer. On April 25, approximately 180 friends, colleagues, and strangers gathered to turn cutting-edge biotechnology into a larger-than-life battle behind the KI building as part of the annual Cambridge Science Festival. Documented with words and video, the third annual biology flash mob was a smashing success, educating students and adults alike about the promise of adoptive T cell transfer and cancer immunotherapy. Well, maybe not such a success for the redshirts, who, as cancer cells, suffered a rather humiliating defeat at the hands T cells' aforementioned pom-poms and foam fingers…but at least they had fun. more...

Celebrating Anniversaries at the Koch Institute

June 1974…1964…1944…cancer research historians, time travelers, and fans of the number four thrilled at the convergence of special anniversaries occurring at MIT in June 2014. This year marked 40 years since MIT’s official foray into cancer research, and we celebrated with a formal program saluting advances made by members of our cancer research community and raising a glass to the progress yet to come. Among those honored were KI members Robert Weinberg, Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and director of the KI’s Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology—who was himself celebrating his 50th undergraduate MIT reunion—and Institute Professor Phillip Sharp—who turned 70 that day. Celebrations extended into the following week, when Sharpies reconnected at the Sharp Lab’s 40th reunion. Commemorating decades of discovery in the Sharp Lab, touching speeches and hilarious musical interludes proved true Sharp’s assertion that “culture is more important than strategy.” Here’s to another well-cultured 40 years! more...

Lees & Weinberg Tackle Unanswered Questions

Jacqueline Lees, associate director of the Koch Institute and professor of biology, and Robert Weinberg, Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and director of the KI’s Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology, each tackled a still-unanswered question about cancer biology in the July issue of Scientific American. Lees weighs in on the potential role of inflammation after cancer treatment and surgery in waking up dormant cancer cells, which in turn could interact with nearby normal cells and restart a tumor. According to Lees, the right sequence of drugs could suppress this interaction. When it comes to understanding the mechanisms underlying the metastasis process, Weinberg points out that how cancer cells adapt and survive in a new tissue after leaving the primary tumor site remains unknown. He hypothesizes that this process results from significant changes in gene expression. Inquiries like these help spark the bold new cancer treatment approaches in development at the KI. more...

Nisarg Shah & Stephen Morton

Small Particles, Big Collaborations

Layer by layer, Hammond Lab trainees Stephen Morton and Nisarg Shah work individually and collaboratively to develop nanoparticles for hard-to-treat cancers. Morton focuses on drug delivery (see some of his nanoparticles here), and has been part of several studies that have demonstrated progress in fighting aggressive cancers, such as a triple-negative breast cancer project with the Yaffe Lab and non-small cell lung cancer with the Jacks Lab. Shah’s work centers on bone tissue, which poses special problems for joint replacement as well as cancer treatment. In the lab, he has assembled nanolayered coatings that help new bone tissue to grow into implants, forming a tighter bond. He and Morton are now adapting that approach for nanoparticle drug delivery to bone cancer or bone metastases. Partnerships like theirs typify the KI’s collaborative approach to cancer research. more...