Tyler Jacks

News + Videos

Jacks Laboratory Develops Novel Mouse Model for Aggressive Thyroid Cancer

KI researchers from the Jacks Laboratory have developed and characterized a novel genetically engineered mouse that successfully models progression from papillary thyroid cancer, which has an excellent prognosis, to anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC), a highly lethal disease in need of scientific advances and therapeutic improvements. “The low incidence of the disease has hindered systematic clinical trials and tissue collection, and there has been little progress in developing effective therapies,” says KI postdoctoral researcher David McFadden, lead author of this work and also a thyroid cancer endocrinologist at the MGH Center for Endocrine Tumors. The new model, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, recapitulates the hallmarks of the human disease and expands the limited repertoire of preclinical models of aggressive thyroid cancers. The study also shows that, in this model, combination treatment with MEK and BRAF inhibitors results in enhanced anti-tumor activity as compared to treatment with a BRAF inhibitor alone, suggesting that this combination could be useful as a component of treatment regimens in human ATC. The group is now taking advantage of this new mouse model to better understand why some thyroid cancers progress to ATC and get insights into mechanisms of resistance to therapies. “The goal is to stay one step ahead of the human clinical trials and be able to inform the design of these human trials with the mechanistic details learned from the mouse,” says McFadden. This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and an American Thyroid Association Research Award. 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...

Genetic Road Map from the Jacks Laboratory Reveals Potential New Targets for SCLC

Koch Institute biologists, including KI Director and David H. Koch Professor of Biology, Tyler Jacks, and KI postdocs David McFadden and Thales Papagiannakopoulos, have collaborated with geneticists from the Broad Institute to perform the most comprehensive genetic analysis to date of lung cancer progression and growth using a genetically-defined mouse model of small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The findings, recently published in Cell, identify new drug targets and offer deeper insight into the evolution and spread of SCLC, which is strongly associated with heavy tobacco use.
 
The investigators took advantage of key features of the mouse model, including the absence of exposure to cigarette smoke that contributes to the very high number of mutations observed in human SCLC tumors. By isolating DNA from tumors at different times and analyzing the genetic alterations that occur, the team discovered that early on, tumors produce many copies of a gene called Mycl1, which is known to promote tumor cell proliferation. Over time, cancer cells go on to lose a gene called Pten, which regulates a critical pathway that controls growth and survival. The loss of Pten allows tumor cells to grow very rapidly.
 
By comparing the genomes of cells from the original lung tumors and from tumors that later appeared in other sites, the researchers also analyzed how the cancer migrated to remote sites beyond the lung. They found that multiple subsets of tumor cells from the lung moved to the lymph nodes, whereas usually only a single subset spread from the lymph nodes to the liver. Continued genetic analysis will help identify the specific mutations associated with both metastasis and drug resistance in these tumors.
 
The study was funded by the Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology at MIT, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Human Genome Research Institute, a National Institutes of Health-National Cancer Institute Career Development Award, and a Hope Funds for Cancer Research Fellowship. more...

Yaffe Finds New Target for Cancer Combination Treatment

Mutation of the p53 gene occurs in about half of all cancer patients, and tumors with the mutation continue growing even after intense chemotherapy. Previously, the lab of Michael Yaffe, David H. Koch Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, discovered that blocking a gene called MK2 can overcome the effects of the p53 mutation and make these tumors more vulnerable to chemotherapy in vitro. In a new study published in Cell Reports, Yaffe lab researchers collaborated with KI Director Tyler Jacks to create mice with MK2 genes that can be turned on and off and test the process in vivo. They found that in p53-deficient tumor-bearing mice with MK2 turned off, tumors shrank successfully upon treatment with the DNA-damaging therapeutic cisplatin, whereas tumors in mice with unblocked MK2 genes continued growing. This study suggests potential for new cancer treatments combining MK2 inhibitors with DNA-damaging drugs. Drugs that inhibit MK2 are in the works for other diseases such as arthritis, but this is the first time they are being considered for cancer therapy. The research was primarily funded by a TRANSCEND grant from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
 
The study was profiled in MIT Technology Review. more...

Jacks Recognized by Hope Funds for Cancer Research

Congratulations to KI Director Tyler Jacks for receiving the 2014 Award of Excellence for basic science from The Hope Funds for Cancer Research. Each year, The Hope Funds honors individuals that have made notable contributions in the areas of cancer-related basic science, philanthropy, clinical development, or medicine. Professor Jacks has pioneered the use of gene-targeting technology for studying cancer-associated genes in mice and creating valuable mouse models of many different human cancer types. more...

Cancer Treatment Challenges Symposium/Roundtable

At this May 6, 2013 event, cancer biologists, engineers, and clinicians gathered at the Koch Institute at MIT for an open discussion of the greatest challenges and most promising solutions in cancer care. Speakers included:

Phillip A. Sharp, Institute Professor, Koch Institute at MIT
Sangeeta N. Bhatia, John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology & Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Koch Institute at MIT
K. Dane Wittrup, Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Koch Institute at MIT
Michael B. Yaffe, David H. Koch Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, Koch Institute at MIT
Catherine J. Wu, Associate Physician, Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Jay S. Loeffler, Chief, Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Matthew R. Smith, Director, Genitourinary Malignancies Program, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
Steven P. Balk, Staff Physician, Hematology/Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Hear highlights from the discussion in the video below. The event also featured presentations by researchers working on existing Bridge Project teams: Christopher Love, Koch Institute at MIT, Hidde Ploegh, Whitehead Institute and Koch Institute at MIT, and Kai W. Wucherpfennig, Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Novel Immunotherapies Against Pancreatic Cancer Elazer Edelman, Institute of Medical Engineering and Sciences at MIT and Koch Institute at MIT and Jeffrey W. Clark, Massachusetts General Hospital
A Pancreatobiliary Chemotherapy Eluting Stent for Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinomas Rakesh K. Jain, Massachusetts General Hospital and Robert Langer, Koch Institute at MIT
Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs) as a Novel Approach to Improve Drug Delivery in the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer Keith L. Ligon, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and J. Christopher Love, Koch Institute at MIT
Single-Cell Functional, Genomic and Transcriptomic Analysis in Glioblastoma watch...

KI Researchers Named Fellows of the Inaugural Class of the AACR Academy

KI members Tyler Jacks, H. Robert Horvitz, Phillip Sharp, and Bob Weinberg have been elected as members of the inaugural class of Fellows of the AACR Academy, which recognizes and celebrates distinguished scientists whose stellar scientific contributions in cancer research have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. David Baltimore, a founding faculty member of the KI's predecessor, the MIT Center for Cancer Research, is also among the elected Fellows. The AACR Academy will be inducting its inaugural class of illustrious Fellows at the 2013 Annual Meeting this April. more...

How Does Cancer Learn To Spread?

The Jacks lab works to uncover the genes that enable the deadly spread of cancer. watch...

Understanding the Unmet Needs in Lung Cancer

On May 24, 2012 researcbers, engineers, and clinicians gathered to discuss the clinical, translational, and basic science aspects of lung cancer and explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

Presenters included: Yolonda Colson, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Tyler Jacks, Koch Institute
Matt Meyerson, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (not recorded)
Alice Shaw, MGH and Koch Institute  watch...

Koch Institute Members Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences today announced the election of 220 new members, among them the KI's Angela Belcher and director Tyler Jacks. The new class of fellows continue a 230-plus year history recognizing some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders. One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, the humanities and culture, and education. more...

Collaboration Key in Unique Attack on Cancer

The Bridge Project collaboration between the Koch Institute at MIT and Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) awarded funding to four interdisciplinary teams on March 6, 2012 The teams will work together on two of the most lethal forms of cancer - pancreatic and glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.  The unprecedented clinical research effort awards teams made up of biologists, bioengineers and clinical researchers from both cancer centers. It is the most extensive collaboration of its kind between Boston's two National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers.  more...

KI Director to be Named to National Cancer Advisory Board

In the White House announcement of his appointment, Jacks was recognized by the President for his depth of experience and tremendous dedication to cancer research. more...

Overexpressed Gene Could Lead to Improved Lung Cancer Therapy

In a recent issue of Genes and Development, KI researchers detailed their study of aggressive small cell lung cancer in mice models. Using whole-genome profiling, the researchers were able to identify sections of chromosomes that had been duplicated or deleted in mice with cancer, including a single overexpressed gene called Nuclear Factor I/B.  These findings could pave the way for improved targeted therapy of lung cancer. more...

Welcome

Tyler Jacks, Director, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research watch...

Drug Found to Target Common Oncogene

KI researchers have identified a class of drugs with selective activity against cells expressing oncogenic K-ras – the most frequent oncogenic mutation in human cancer. The most potent member of this class, lanperisone, acts by inducing nonapoptotic cell death, selectively killing K-ras-expressing cells. more...

Gene Change Increases Lung Cancer Metastasis

KI researchers have identified a genetic change that makes lung tumors more likely to spread to other parts of the body. The findings, published in the April 6 online issue of Nature, offers new insight into how lung cancers metastasize and could help identify drug targets to combat metastatic tumors, which account for 90 percent of cancer deaths. The biologists in Tyler Jacks' lab found the alteration while studying a mouse model of lung cancer. They then compared their mouse data to genetic profiles of human lung tumors and found that reduced activity of the same gene, NKX2-1, is associated with higher death rates for lung-cancer patients. more...

A complex between DNA and the protein p53. Image: Thomas Splettstoesser

Timing is everything for p53

Since the early 1980s, cancer researchers have known that a protein called p53 plays a critical role in protecting cells from becoming cancerous. Knowing p53's critical role in controlling cancer, researchers have been trying to develop drugs that restore the protein's function, in hopes of re-establishing the ability to suppress tumor growth. In a new study that highlights a possible limitation of such drugs, MIT cancer biologists show that restoring p53's function in mice with lung cancer has no effect early in tumor development, but restoring the function later on could prevent more advanced tumors from spreading throughout the body. more...

Modeling and Personalizing Cancer 1

Tyler Jacks, Director, Koch Institute, and David H. Koch Professor of Biology watch...

Precancerous pancreatic cells (Image: Sharon Friedlander)

Possible origins of pancreatic cancer revealed

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing an estimated 35,000 Americans each year. One of the reasons pancreatic cancer is so deadly is that it is hard to detect it in the early stages, and that's partly because scientists aren't sure from which cell(s) it arises. Now, in findings that could help answer that question, MIT cancer biologists have identified a subpopulation of cells that can give rise to this disease. more...

Mouse lungs (Image: Etienne Meylan)

Defining the combination of genetic circumstances that make certain lung cancers more treatable

A protein that normally helps defend cells from infection can play a critical role in the development of lung cancer, according to MIT cancer biologists. Their findings suggest that the protein, NF-kappaB, could be a promising target for new drugs against lung cancer, which kills more than one million people each year. more...

KI director Tyler Jacks elected to Institute of Medicine

Tyler Jacks was one of two from MIT elected to the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academies of Science. Jacks said he is honored to become part of the Institute of Medicine, which advises government officials on medical issues. "It's tremendous to be recognized in this fashion, and I'm extremely grateful," says Jacks, who is now serving a one-year term as president of the American Association for Cancer Research. more...

Tyler Jacks on The Today Show announces Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) funding

Five "dream teams" awarded $73M in funding to support highly collaborative projects. more...

KI Director is elected to prestigious National Academy of Sciences

Tyler Jacks is one of 72 newly elected to NAS for distinguished and on-going achievements in original science. more...

Uncovering a protective role of microRNA

Snippets of genetic material that have been linked to cancer also play a critical role in normal embryonic development in mice, according to a new paper from MIT cancer biologists. more...

Tyler Jacks on the new David H. Koch Institute

Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute, discusses his vision for the new center and the cancer research that will take place there in this interview with MIT News Office writer Anne Trafton. more...