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

Paving the Way for Metastasis

Ninety-percent of cancer deaths are caused by the spread of tumor cells to new parts of the body. In a wonderful example of convergence research, KI biologists and engineers Frank Gertler, Doug Lauffenburger, Bob Langer, Michael Cima, and Richard Hynes have uncovered how cancer cells take some of the first steps away from their original tumor sites. Their team discovered that cancer cells with a particular version of the Mena protein, MenaINV, can actually remodel their environment to make it easier for them to migrate to blood vessels and spread through the body. The paper, published in Cancer Discovery, outlined a correlation between high levels of MenaINV and metastasis, as well as earlier deaths among breast cancer patients. more...

Timing is of the Essence

Cancer patients often endure a battery of different drug treatments to find a therapy that works. Scientists have known for some time that genetics help explain why certain drugs may work on one person and not on another, but new findings by KI members Michael Hemann and Doug Lauffenburger suggest that the timing of these treatments may also be a critical factor. Tumors evolve through various stages, and the team’s study shows that sensitivity to a particular drug can depend on the stage at which it is administered. Their findings indicate that there may be windows of opportunity for drugs that had previously been written off as failures for individual patients. Hemann and Lauffenburger hope that modeling methods will predict tumor evolution and improve targeted therapies to help combat drug resistance. This research was supported in part by the Go Mitch Go Foundation. more...

Shooting for the Moon with Paula Hammond

When Vice President Joe Biden called for a “moonshot” to cure cancer, he emphasized the importance of bringing new therapies from laboratories to patients. In an op-ed for ACS NANO and during an MSNBC interview, Paula Hammond, a David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, laid out some of the groundbreaking new treatments making their way from labs to clinical settings. Hammond also emphasized the importance of increased funding to realize the potential of this science. These insights build on her remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There, Hammond was among the experts brought together by Vice President Biden to discuss potential opportunities to advance the pace of progress in the fight against cancer. more...

Fueling Cancer Growth

Glucose is the main source of fuel that cancer cells use to divide and reproduce uncontrollably. For some time, this had led scientists to believe that most of the cell mass in new cancer cells comes from glucose. Now new findings from a group including KI members Eisen and Chang Career Development Professor Matt Vander Heiden and Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor Scott Manalis, suggest that the largest source for new cell material is amino acids, which growing cells consume in considerably smaller quantities than glucose. The paper, published in Developmental Cell, offers a new way to look at cancer metabolism, a process that Vander Heiden mentioned in a recent NPR interview plays an important role in cancer development. more...

No Presents, Please; We’re Focused on the Future

MIT Building 76, home of the Koch Institute, turned five on March 4 and received a brand new set of images in its Public Galleries for the occasion. Backlit by LEDs and the promise of new discoveries, the towering, colorful canvases glow with a wide spectrum of possibilities. From stem cells to circuit boards, organoids to nanoparticles, the 2016 Image Awards exhibition celebrates the diversity of research coming out of MIT and provides the backdrop to this spring’s celebration of the KI anniversary and five years of biology and engineering under one roof. The KI exhibit also includes an image from Wellcome Images as a part of our annual image exchange, while the Wellcome judges selected ‘Launching a Satellite Liver’ from the Bhatia Laboratory. All 20 Wellcome Images are displayed at many venues across Europe and Africa. We congratulate this year’s winners and wish our entire community and a happy fifth birthday as we continue to fight cancer together. Read more and watchmore...

Diet and Cancer

New research by KI members Omer Yilmaz and David Sabatini sheds light on how a high-fat diet can lead to an increased risk of colon cancer. The team, who published their results in Nature, found that mice fed a high-fat diet exhibit an increased proliferation of both intestinal stem cells and progenitor cells that acquire stemness, both of which increase the risk of tumor formation. If the results hold true for humans, they offer a clue to explain the mechanism by which a high-fat diet contributes to cancer risk. This work was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund, and by the V Foundation. more...

Growing Healthy with the Gupta Lab

Like any Koch Institute Image Awards winning images, Gland of Opportunity (2015) and Duct Duct Goose(2016) from the Gupta Laboratory, are more than just pretty pictures. In this case, they are part of a much larger project to use three dimensional hydrogel scaffolds to grow viable human breast tissue in culture. These robust models, described in a recently published article in Breast Cancer Research, have great potential for studying normal mammary development as well as cancer formation. more...

KI Undergrad Receives Gates Scholarship

For the second time in three years, a KI undergraduate is among the recipients of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Camilo Ruiz will pursue an advanced degree in computer science at Cambridge University in the UK. Working in the Langer laboratory, Ruiz helped to develop a cell-squeezing device named one of the top 10 world-changing ideas by Scientific American in 2014. Ruiz has also been active with Camp Kesem, a student-led organization that runs a free summer camp for children of cancer patients, serving as both an operations coordinator and a counselor. Established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship provides funding for talented students from outside the UK to study at Cambridge. more...

A Renaissance Woman for the Nano Age

From an early age, the KI’s Sangeeta Bhatia displayed an innate curiosity and desire to solve problems. Bhatia, who contributes to cancer diagnosis and treatment through fields as diverse as sensor technology, chemical biology, and engineering, has received an impressive array of awards and honors for her work. She is a recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Prize, the Packard Fellowship, and the Heinz Award, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Inventors. Bhatia’s passion extends beyond the lab as a leading voice in encouraging young women in STEM fields. Bhatia serves as advisor to the MIT Society of Women Engineers and is an advocate for female scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs at MIT and beyond. more...

License to Killian

It was standing room only when KI director Tyler Jacks delivered the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award Lecture on February 11. Jacks was nominated by fellow MIT faculty members to receive the 2015 Killian Award for his leadership of the Koch Institute as well as his important contributions to cancer research. Members of the KI community honored him with a warm send off as he left the building to walk to the auditorium. Read the MIT News story here, see the pictures and watch the full lecture. more...