Daniel G. Anderson

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RNA combination therapy for lung cancer offers promise for personalized medicine

Researchers in the Jacks, Anderson, and Langer Labs report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they have successfully delivered nanoparticles carrying small RNA therapies in a clinically relevant mouse model of lung cancer to shrink tumors and slow their growth. They found that their nanoparticle treatment extended life just as well as a standard-care chemotherapy drug, and furthermore, that the combination therapy of the nanoparticles and the drug together prolonged life by about an additional 25 percent. “Small-RNA therapy holds great promise for cancer,” Jacks says. “It is widely appreciated that the major hurdle in this field is efficient delivery to solid tumors outside of the liver, and this work goes a long way in showing that this is achievable.” 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...

Cancer Researchers on the Up-and-Up

Congratulations to KI faculty members Daniel Anderson, J. Christopher Love, and Laurie Boyer on being awarded tenure from MIT. Both Love and Anderson hold appointments in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, bringing their respective expertise in bioanalytics and biomaterials to bear on the Koch Institute's mission (read more). Boyer, an extramural KI member, is a biochemist who develops high-throughput platforms for genome analysis. The granting of tenure to these three by MIT is a testament to the quality of their research and teaching. On June 13, Boyer and Anderson will speak at the KI’s annual summer symposium, "RNA Biology, Cancer, and Therapeutic Implications."

In other promotion-related news, Forest White was promoted to full Professor in the Department of Biological Engineering, and Matthew Vander Heiden, Howard S. (1953) and Linda B. Stern Career Development Professor, to Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. Congratulations to all! more...

Expanding the Playing Field for RNA Interference

RNA interference (RNAi), a process that turns off specific genes inside cells, holds great potential for treating diseases caused by malfunctioning genes, and has shown particular success targeting genes within the liver. However, the safe and effective delivery of gene-blocking RNA to tissues beyond the liver has proved challenging. In a recent study published in Nature Nanotechnology, researchers led by KI members Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Professor of Applied Biology, and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, reported the most successful RNAi-mediated gene silencing in non-liver tissues to date. The engineers encased short strands of RNA, called siRNA, within newly designed nanoparticles optimized to target endothelial cells, which line most organs, and they showed successful delivery of RNA to the kidneys and heart, among other organs. They also used lower doses of RNA than previous treatments, increasing the therapy’s safety and efficiency.

These results open the door to achieving the broad potential of RNAi therapeutics, silencing disease-causing genes in many parts of the body to treat many types of disease, including cancer. more...

KI Collaborators Edit Genes to Correct Genetic Diseases

Using a new gene-editing system known as CRISPR to replace mutated DNA with the correct sequence, KI engineers and biologists from the Anderson, Jacks, and Sharp Laboratories have cured mice of a rare liver disorder caused by a single mutation in an enzyme needed to break down the amino acid tyrosine. This collaborative work, described in Nature Biotechnology, offers the first evidence that this technology can reverse disease symptoms in living animals. The team believes that recent advances in the delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics provide hope that CRISPR-mediated correction of genetic diseases may be translatable to humans. The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the Marie D. and Pierre Casimir-Lambert Fund. more...

Anderson and Langer’s Nature-mimicking Nanoparticles

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and featured in The Boston Globe describes the work of KI faculty members Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, in designing new nanoparticles that efficiently and selectively deliver snippets of genetic material that turn off disease-causing genes (an approach known as RNA interference) in the liver. These nanoparticles, which are inspired by tiny particles that carry cholesterol through the body, silence target genes in the liver more efficiently than any previous delivery system. The technology has already been licensed for commercial development and holds great promise to treat cancer by selectively blocking mutated cancer-causing genes.  more...

KI Team Deciphers Mechanisms of Nanoparticle-Mediated RNA Interference 

A new study published in Nature Biotechnology and led by KI faculty member Dan Anderson in collaboration with Robert Langer will help scientists design more efficient nanoparticles to shut down malfunctioning genes in cancer.  The work provides, for the first time, insights into how nanoparticles carrying short RNA strands are processed inside the cell and how the delivery of their payloads could be improved. Among the team's findings was the identification of a protein that helps cells excrete the particles faster. With the protein knocked out, the particles achieved a level of gene silencing 10 to 15 times greater than in normal cells. The team is now looking for other targets to slow cellular 'recycling' of the nanoparticles and potentially improve potency. Gaurav Sahay, postdoc in the Langer lab, is the first author of this work. more...

The KI at The Leading-edge of Nanomedicine

The nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems being developed at the KI are a revolutionary gateway to new, more targeted disease treatments. An  MIT News article published on March 11 nicely featured the exciting work of KI members Dan Anderson, Paula Hammond, Michael Cima, and Robert Langer, who are engineering new nanoscale therapeutic agents that selectively target and destroy cancer cells or help monitor tumor response to treatment. “We’re doing this because we can do some cool technology, but more importantly, we’re doing it because there’s a clinically meaningful need,” says Cima.

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Nucleic Acid Origami Improves Therapeutic RNA Delivery to Cancer Tumors

KI researchers have built tiny particles made out of DNA and RNA that can deliver snippets of RNA directly to tumors, turning off genes expressed in cancer cells. The particles' composition, together with their specialized construction, poses less risk of side effects and allows for better targeting. This research is reported in the June 3rd edition of Nature Nanotechnology. more...

Cancer Drug Therapy Direct to Tumor

KI researchers devised new nanoparticles that, triggered by UV light, can synthesize proteins to fight cancer cells once they reach the tumor site. The proteins battle the cancer cells while avoiding healthy cells, reducing side effects of treatment. The research appears in the journal NanoLetters. more...

RNA Interference Inhibits Inflammation

Collaborative effort, including KI researchers, successfully delivered short strands of RNA to reduce inflammation. The findings are reported in the October 9, 2011 issue of Nature Biotechnology and could eventually lead to treatments for cancer and heart patients. more...

Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Improved

KI and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals researchers collaborated to find a new nanoparticle that successfully delivered siRNA therapeutics into cells. The researchers tested over 1,500 diverse nanoparticles to deliver the drugs. The research paper appears in this week’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). more...

Inside the Lab: Daniel Anderson

Daniel Anderson

Learn more about the work that Professor Anderson’s lab is doing to create tiny nanoparticles that can deliver RNA to a cancer cell to stop tumor growth. watch...

Biodegradable polymer (Image: Jordan Green)

Nanoparticles for gene therapy improve

About five years ago, Professor Janet Sawicki at the Lankenau Institute in Pennsylvania read an article about nanoparticles developed by MIT's Daniel Anderson and Robert Langer for gene therapy, the insertion of genes into living cells for the treatment of disease. The resulting cross-institutional collaboration has led to a promising ovarian cancer formulation. more...

Using RNAi to tackle ovarian cancer

Small RNA molecules can effectively keep ovarian tumors from growing and spreading in mice, according to a team of researchers from MIT, the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. more...

Team develops safe, effective RNA interference technique

A team of researchers from MIT and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals has developed safe and effective methods to perform RNA interference, a therapy that holds great promise for treating a variety of diseases including cancer and hepatitis. more...