Paula T. Hammond

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Sights Set on Ovarian Cancer

With her sights set on ovarian cancer, KI faculty member Paula Hammond is using her expertise in nanoparticles to develop a delivery system rapidly applicable in the clinic. “Ovarian cancer in particular is compelling to me because it’s one of the few cancers where we haven’t made real progress in 30 or 40 years, so that the death rates are still the same,” says Hammond, David H. Koch Professor in Engineering. With support from a Teal Innovator Award, and in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Hammond is developing sophisticated nanoparticles to deliver siRNA and siRNA/chemotherapy treatments that will enable clinicians to provide personalized treatments for advanced stage ovarian cancer patients. In conjunction with this research, Hammond and the Koch Institute will host Bridging the Gap in Ovarian Cancer on Sept. 16, a special symposium for ovarian cancer patients, survivors, family members, advocates, and other concerned members of the public. more...

Double Trouble for Aggressive Cancers

KI researchers led by Paula Hammond, David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, and Michael Yaffe, the David H. Koch Professor of Science, have engineered new, “smart” nanoparticles that directly target tumor cells to deliver multiple drugs in a staggered, precisely-timed regimen.

In 2012, the Yaffe Lab showed that the timing of drug administration can make a great difference in the success of combination treatments. Yaffe’s team discovered that pre-treating tumor cells with erlotinib, a therapeutic that shuts down uncontrolled tumor growth, before administering a DNA-damaging agent called doxorubicin, is more effective than giving the two drugs simultaneously.

As part of efforts to adapt the findings for patient care, Yaffe enlisted the help of KI colleague Paula Hammond. Hammond and her team designed dozens of nanoparticles to carry Yaffe’s treatment and found that liposomes, small droplets covered in a fatty shell, were most effective. With the first drug, erlotnib, injected in the outer layer, and the second, doxorubicin, contained in the inner core, the liposomes dispatched treatment to the cells at ideal intervals as the particles broke down in the body. In the study, published in Science Signaling, this treatment was shown to effectively knock out triple-negative breast tumors and non-small-cell lung tumors in mouse models. The researchers hope to expand time-staggered treatment to other types of chemotherapy.

This work was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Fund for Cancer Research. more...

Triple Threat: A New Breed of Nanoparticles

MIT chemists from the laboratory of Jeremiah Johnson and researchers from the group of KI faculty member and David H. Koch Professor in Engineering Paula Hammond have come together to develop a new method for building nanoparticles that carry the drugs cisplatin, doxorubicin, and camptothecin—three drugs that are often used in a combination treatment for ovarian cancer. In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Johnson and colleagues demonstrated that the triple-threat nanoparticles could kill ovarian cancer cells more effectively than particles carrying only one or two drugs.

Instead of building a particle and then binding a drug, the new approach uses drug-loaded building blocks that can be attached to others in a very specific structure. The team is now working on four-drug particles with the goal of developing new treatment regimens that could better target cancer cells while avoiding the toxic side effects of traditional chemotherapy. “This is a new way to build the particles from the beginning,” Johnson said. “In principle, there’s no limitation on how many drugs you can add.” more...

Hammond Joins National “We The Geeks” Online STEM Discussion in Honor of Black History Month

Last February, KI faculty member and David H. Koch Professor in Engineering Paula Hammond participated in a live White House Google+ Hangout entitled “We the Geeks: Celebrating Black History Month.” The online conversation, hosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, brought together seven African American STEM innovators and educators to talk about how this country’s STEM workforce can be broadened, diversified, and strengthened.
 
Hammond described her childhood excitement for science, inspired by her high school chemistry class. “The magic of chemistry got me excited…that you can have something that never existed before by putting two things that are very different together,” she said. She also discussed her current research on nanomaterials—materials the size of one strand of hair split 10,000 times, she explained— including her work on nanoparticles that can deliver cancer treatments specifically to target tumor cells while avoiding healthy ones. more...

Hammond Knocks Breast Cancer Down, Then Out

To help overcome chemotherapy resistance, David H. Koch Professor in Engineering Paula Hammond and her team have created targeted, multi-layer nanoparticles that codeliver the cancer drug doxorubicin, alongside RNA that can shut off a gene that cancer cells use to escape the drug. This strategy disables tumors' defenses and makes them much more vulnerable to chemotherapy. Using these nanoparticles, the researchers were able to shrink agressive triple-negative breast tumors in mice, as reported in the journal ACS Nano. The team is now testing the therapy in a more complex model of the cancer, and they are also working on adapting it to treat ovarian and lung cancers. The research was funded by a TRANSCEND grant from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and the National Cancer Institute.

The study has been profiled in media outlets including MIT News, The Economist, Chicago Tribune, Chemical and Engineering News, Science Daily, and Computer World. more...

Hammond Sets Sights on Ovarian Cancer

KI faculty member Paula Hammond has been awarded the Department of Defense's Fiscal Year 2012 Ovarian Cancer Teal Innovator Award.  The five-year, single investigator research award supports a visionary individual from any field principally outside of ovarian cancer to focus his/her creativity, innovation, and leadership on ovarian cancer research. The disease has proved one of the most intractable cancers, and Hammond plans to use her expertise in creating highly targeted, multi-layer, and multi-cargo nanoparticles, along with new understandings of ovarian cancer biology, to design tailored drug delivery systems. more...

Hammond's Improved 'Sandwich' Approach Makes Customized, Reproducible Nanoparticles

The KI's Paula Hammond is well known for the layer-by-layer approach she uses to successfully coat nanoparticles with impossibly thin films of drugs, RNA, targeting components and other molecules. Her lab recently developed a spray-based technique that allows each layer to be applied in a few seconds, rather than a whole hour. Paired with a nanoparticle mass production system developed by a collaborator at the University of North Carolina, Hammond's new sprayed multi-layer coatings are part of a new, industrial-scale process that yields large quantities of high quality, uniform nanoparticles while dramatically reducing production time. The process, which the research team tested first against breast cancer cells, can incorporate a wide variety of materials into both the nanoparticle core and coating and can be used for a number of applications. more...

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Recognizes Paula Hammond

KI faculty member Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, was elected this year to the prestigious national society.  The AAAS recognizes leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.  For more than 200 years the Academy has honored leaders from various disciplines, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.  It counts more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners among its current membership. more...

Technology Workshop: Paula Hammond

September 20, 2012 Drug Delivery
Paula Hammond, Koch Institute watch...

"Human Body on a Chip" Research

Four KI members are part of research team funded by Defense Advanced Research Project (DARPA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) to create a versatile platform capable of accurately predicting drug and vaccine efficacy, toxicity, and pharmacokinetics in preclinical testing.  more...

Paula Hammond Named One of a Dozen Bostonians Changing the World

The Koch Institute member was one of a small group of Hub residents recognized for their contributions to society by the Boston Globe Magazine. Hammond was honored for the diversity and practical application of her lab's projects, which include a way of packing RNA segments into tiny but hardy spheres that can find their way to diseased cells and silence genes that have gone awry. more...

Tiny Sponge-Like Spheres May Be New Way to Deliver Cancer Treatment

KI researchers have found a way to pack RNA into microspheres to knock down the expression of specific genes. The delivery system's dense arrangement can avoid degradation until it reaches its target and holds promise for cancer therapeutics and other chronic diseases. The findings are reported in the February 26th edition of Nature Materials. more...

Targeted Drug Delivery 'Cloaks' Cancer Drugs

KI engineers have designed a new type of drug-delivery nanoparticle that exploits a trait shared by almost all tumors: They are more acidic than healthy tissues. Such particles could target nearly any type of tumor, and can be designed to carry virtually any type of drug, says KI's Paula Hammond, the senior author of a paper describing the particles  in the journal ACS Nano. The new MIT particles are cloaked in a polymer layer that protects them from being degraded by the bloodstream. However, the KI team designed this outer layer to fall off after entering the slightly more acidic environment near a tumor, revealing another layer that is able to penetrate individual tumor cells. more...

Use of Nanotechnology in Cancer 3

Paula T. Hammond, Bayer Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering watch...

Nanoscale Self-Assembly and Modular Design Approaches to Cancer Drug Delivery

Paula Hammond, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research watch...