The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

In the News

Green Lights for KI Faculty Startups

The end of year brings new beginnings for KI faculty startups. Lumicell’s signature imaging system has been granted fast track designation approval for breast cancer treatment. Fate Therapeutics reports positive Phase 1 data for its combination immunotherapy as well as a promising case study for its targeted NK cell therapy, both in lymphoma patients. Verastem announces Phase 2 initiation for trials in recurrent low-grade serous ovarian cancer. Syros presents positive results from Phase 2 trials in acute myeloid leukemia and an initiation plan for future trials. Finally, Dragonfly Therapeutics has licensed its first NK cell based immunotherapy candidate to Merck. more...

Blazing Trails in Biopharma

Dragonfly Therapeutics Head of Biology Ann Cheung is featured among Endpoints News’ top trailblazers in biopharmaceutical research & development. The profile chronicles her career transitions from her early years as the lone immuno-oncology researcher in the Jacks Lab to her current role moving NK cell therapies from bench to bedside. Longtime Koch Institute member Aviv Regev is also recognized for her groundbreaking work in single cell sequencing, computational biology, and genetics. more...

Division of Liver

The Shalek Lab codiscovered a mechanism that helps damaged livers function while they regenerate. A study appearing in Nature Communications showed that liver cells increase transcription of important genes ahead of proliferation, and may even divide labor between cells that proliferate and those that maintain core functions. This contributes to a larger effort to identify stem cells in normal and cancerous liver tissue, and is funded in part by the MIT Stem Cell Initiative. more...

Amy Keating at MIT

Bringing Computers Into the Protein Fold

The Keating Lab mixes lab work, modeling and, most recently, machine learning to understand how protein sequences determine their interactions. While the COVID-19 crisis disrupts lab research, Keating’s team is focusing on computational projects, including exploring interactions between “short linear motifs” and a family of proteins implicated in metastasis.  more...

Black & white photo of two researchers in the lab in the 1970s

The Long History of Rapid Vaccine Development

In the 1970s, Phillip Sharp and his colleagues on the fifth floor of the MIT Center for Cancer Research set out to unravel the mysteries of tumor virology, cancer genetics, and cell biology. Looking at parts of the adenovirus genome responsible for tumor development, Sharp had long wondered why RNA in the nucleus was longer than RNA found outside the nucleus in the cytoplasm. While this curiosity led to the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of split genes and spliced RNA, neither Sharp nor his colleagues were thinking about the possibility of mRNA vaccines at the time. Nevertheless, that discovery, together with many years of mRNA research and key technology advances like nanoparticle delivery of RNA, set the stage for companies such as Pfizer and Moderna to develop mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines with record speed.

The discoveries that enabled RNA vaccines | RNA vaccines explained more...

Live and Let Liver

The Cima Lab has developed a non-invasive diagnostic tool to assess liver damage. The technology, described in Nature Biomedical Engineering, uses nuclear magnetic resonance to measure fat content and detect scarring that can be indicative of fatty liver disease and a precursor to fibrosis, both known risk factors for cancer. Click to expand inline more...

Regina Barzilay speaks at the virtual STAT summit

Barzilay Argues for Equity in AI-Influenced Health Care

Machine learning pioneer Regina Barzilay is holding AI developers to a higher standard, flagging commonly-used machine learning models as likely perpetrators of health care inequities. Barzilay cites her experience image-based breast cancer risk prediction, where existing AI models assessed white women’s risks more accurately than for women of African and Asian descent. (subscription required) more...

Conducting Research in a New Way

A new imaging technique from the Boyden Lab, published in Cell, identifies up to five different molecule types from random, distinct locations throughout a cell, uncovering a full “symphony” of cellular activity. The technology will be instrumental in understanding how cell signaling differs between cells from healthy and diseased tissue.  more...

Small Molecule, Big Potential

A multidisciplinary team from the Koehler Lab identified a compound that could target key proteins in advanced prostate cancer, as well as a variety of other cancer types. The compound, KI-ARv-03, works by selectively binding to an androgen receptor cofactor known as CDK9, thereby destabilizing androgen receptor proteins in a key pathway contributing to the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and curbing the expression of associated oncogenes. The study appears in Cell Chemical Biology and was supported in part by the Koch Institute-Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Bridge Project, the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., via the Transcend partnership.

Kronos Bio, co-founded by Koehler, has developed a more powerful version of the CDK9 inhibitor, KB-0742 and recently received IND clearance to begin a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in 2021. Preclinical tests in cell lines and mouse models revealed significantly reduced tumor growth in CRPC models and other oncogene-addicted cancers. more...

lung cancer cells

Age of Senescence

The Hemann and Walker labs previously discovered that the compound JH-RE-06 enhanced the tumor-shrinking effects of DNA-damaging chemotherapies. While they expected JH-RE-06 to amplify programmed cell death induced by DNA damage, two studies appearing in PNAS showed that JH-RE-06, or genetically ablating the pathway targeted by JH-RE-06, instead puts tumor cells in a permanently dormant state known as senescence. Because senescent cells are often cleared by immune cells, these findings suggest a complementary approach to traditional chemotherapies.  more...