microscopic image of cells with DNA in magenta and lysosomal markers on surface in green

Spring Cleaning

MIT News

Manalis Lab researchers have discovered that before cells divide, they take out the molecular trash. In a study appearing in eLife and funded by the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine, the team detected a drop in the dry mass of cancer cells using a technique deploying the Manalis Lab’s signature suspended microchannel resonator. Further experimentation revealed an uptick in lysosomal exocytosis, a process where lysosomes—cell organelles that process cellular waste—jettison their contents. Because exocytosis plays a role in the development of resistance to some chemotherapies, the findings could inform new strategies for making cancer cells more susceptible to treatment.

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Diversifying Innovation

The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe profiles the efforts of Sangeeta Bhatia, Susan Hockfield, and Nancy Hopkins to ensure that women have access to the information, resources, and connections needed to start companies. Through their Future Founders Initiative, the trio aims to recenter opportunities for women of color in the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem.

Survey Says

Scientific Reports

Collateral sensitivity is when cells’ vulnerability to a particular drug coincides with resistance to another. Hemann and Lauffenbuger Lab researchers conducted a comprehensive survey of collateral sensitivities associated with different combination chemotherapy regimens for cancer. Their findings, published in Scientific Reports, reveal that such responses are uncommon and heterogeneous, suggesting the existence of multiple different states of resistance.

This work was funded in part by the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine and the Ludwig Center at MIT.

Decoding Cellular Composition

Nature Biomedical Engineering

Nature Biomedical Engineering paper from the Shalek, Langer and Yilmaz Labs demonstrates a breakthrough screening approach for uncovering molecules that control the cellular composition of barrier tissues. Using intestinal organoids, they discovered a tissue-modifying molecule that targets intestinal stem cells and signals the creation of new Paneth cells, a rare but important antimicrobial producing cell that is known to be depleted in several diseases. Their findings could inform understanding of normal tissue function and therapeutic intervention.

Parts of this work have been supported by the MIT Stem Cell Initiative, the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program via the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund, and the Bridge Project.

Test Solutions

MIT News

Sharp Lab postdoc Digbijay Mahat arrived at MIT with one objective: become an expert in cancer research and diagnostics to help improve healthcare in Nepal. But when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, he put his goal on pause to help Nepal access resources needed to roll out widespread COVID testing and vaccines. Now, as these efforts are taking hold, Mahat continues to advocate for local solutions to cancer disparities in his home country.

Rising to the Occasion

MIT News

Love Lab researchers, in collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, SpyBiotech, and the Serum Institute of India, have engineered yeast cells to produce a protein subunit vaccine that elicits a strong immune response against SARS-CoV2. Composed of spike protein fragments, the vaccine offers a safe, inexpensive, easy-to-store alternative to RNA vaccines, particularly well suited to low- and middle-income countries. The work was published in Science Advances.

Path to Progress

The Guardian

Robert Langer walks and talks with The Guardian, sharing his pathway into chemical engineering, the importance of taking failure in stride, and how his 1976 invention—polymer capsules designed to deliver nucleic acids and other large molecules to cells—was an important early step toward the development of mRNA vaccines.  

Predicting Gene Expression

MIT News

A neural network model from the Regev Lab deciphers the evolutionary past and future of gene regulation. The model, described in Nature, predicts how changes to non-coding DNA sequences affect gene expression and can be used to custom-design expression patterns in cells for industrial and pharmaceutical purposes, including potential treatments for cancer.  

More than a CV

Edges & Nodes

“Edges & Nodes,” created by White Lab postdoc and Convergence Scholar Tigist Tamir, highlights the work and life of minority scientists across various fields and institutions. The series’ goal is to demystify the idea of who scientists are and what their day-to-day life looks like by telling the unique stories of individuals. Check it out on YouTubeTwitter, or Instagram.  

A Class Act

MIT News

Since 2016, MIT's "Research Experience in Biopharma" class has offered graduate students an opportunity to learn about the innovation ecosystem in Kendall Square and beyond through coursework and hands-on internships. The course has its roots in the MIT Biotechnology Group, co-founded by KI alums Raven Reddy, Nathan Stebbins, and others. KI faculty members Doug Lauffenberger and Amy Keating are among those working to ensure the class continues to achieve the goals of these early efforts.

Welcome, Joelle!

MIT Koch Institute

Pediatric oncologist and former Hammond Lab postdoc Joelle Straehla is the KI’s newest Charles W. (1955) and Jennifer C. Johnson Clinical Investigator. Her clinical work at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center focuses on care of children with tumors of the brain and spinal cord. Straehla’s research focus, and that of her new laboratory, is aimed at improving delivery and efficacy of therapies for brain cancer.

KI audiences may recognize her from the 2020 with/in/sight program “Pushing Boundaries, Breaking Barriers in Brain Cancer” and her lightning talk about “Tortuous Trafficking” at the 2021 Image Awards.