In the News

Canan Dagdeviren

KI postdoc Canan Dagdeviren recognized as an honoree of MIT Technology Review’s annual "Innovators Under 35" list

For over a decade, MIT Technology Review has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world. For her work in the field of nanotechnology and materials, Canan Dagdeviren of MIT’s Koch Institute has been recognized as an inventor on the list. Dagdeviren has developed flexible nano-generators that convert mechanical energy from internal organ movements into electric energy to power medical devices. This technology could extend the battery life of implanted medical devices or even eliminate the need of battery replacement, sparing patients from repeated operations and the risk of surgical complications.  more...

Cima device

Bugging cancer

While biopsies of cancerous tissue can provide insight into an appropriate course of treatment, cancer can evolve, develop resistance to therapies, and find new pathways for growth. Now, researchers in the laboratory of KI faculty member and David H. Koch Professor of Engineering Michael Cima have developed an implantable device, small enough to fit inside a biopsy needle, allowing doctors to monitor cancer in real time. The device wirelessly transmits biomarker data, allowing clinicians to easily and inexpensively receive critical feedback on whether a treatment is working or needs adjusting. Cima’s device was covered extensively in the press, including in Boston Magazine and on Boston.com. more...

worldview

One in ten

Scientific American magazine has named 100 biotechnology visionaries in its 2015 issue of worldVIEW, and the KI community represents over 10% of the list. The cohort of 100 influencers, nominated by leaders in biotechnology and biosciences, includes 11 current and former KI faculty members, trainees, and members of our Leadership Council and administrative team — including Professors Sangeeta Bhatia, Robert Langer, Ram Sasisekharan, and Phillip Sharp. more...

Identifying a key growth factor in cell proliferation

In companion papers published in Cell, KI faculty members Matthew Vander Heiden and David Sabatini identify why proliferating cells, particularly tumor cells, require mitochondrial respiration. The researchers found that the primary role of respiration in cell proliferation is to provide electron acceptors in support of the synthesis of aspartate, an amino acid. This discovery — that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation — provides crucial insight into how cancer growth could be kept in check. more...

Prototype device

New material opens possibilities for super-long-acting pills

KI researchers have developed a new material for creating safe and long-acting gastrointestinal devices, such as orally delivered capsules that can release drugs for up to several months at a time, which could improve medication adherence. This elastic polymer gel can compress and fold devices into easily ingestible pills that expand to full size in the stomach, facilitating prolonged residence. This pH-responsive material is stable in the stomach’s acidic environment but dissociates in the small intestine’s near-neutral pH, permitting safe passage through the remainder of the GI tract — significantly reducing the risk of intestinal obstruction. This new research was featured in Popular Science and in Boston Magazine. more...

Paula Hammond

Paula Hammond named head of Department of Chemical Engineering

Big news about someone who works with tiny technologies: Paula Hammond, KI faculty member, David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, and MIT alumna, has been named head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering (ChemE). A member of the MIT faculty since 1995, she is the first woman and first person of color to hold the position. Hammond will be spending more time across our North Court backyard at ChemE’s headquarters in Building 66; fortunately, this is only a quick walk away from her KI lab, where she will actively continue her research developing new materials and processes for self-assembling polymeric systems for drug delivery and tissue engineering. more...

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 cancer progression and metastasis, but finding these cells  — which can be hidden among hundreds of millions of others in the bloodstream — is like finding a needle in a haystack. KI faculty member J. Christopher Love uses microscale and nanoscale technology, including advanced screening and sequencing, to isolate and analyze these rare cells. By exploring the genomes of these circulating tumor cells, Love and his lab aim to understand how they differ from cancer cells at the primary tumor site, which could lead to new strategies for developing personalized treatments. 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...