No. 78
Pushing BBBoundaries, Crossing BBBarriers

Blood brain barrier getting in the way of brain cancer treatment? Na-no problem! A collaborative effort between the laboratories of Paula Hammond, a David H. Koch Professor in Engineering and head of MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering, Michael Yaffe, the David H. Koch Professor of Science and director of MIT's Center for Precision Cancer Medicine, and former Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Clinical Investigator Scott Floyd has yielded a layered nanoparticle coated with a protein known as transferrin that can pass through the blood brain barrier to deliver a targeted one-two punch to glioblastoma tumor cells. Mice treated with these transferrin-coated nanoparticles survived for twice as long as mice that received other treatments. The work is described in Nature Communications and was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program, a KI Quinquennial Cancer Research Fellowship, and the Bridge Project. Read more.

The Boom Where It Happens

What is progress and how does it come to be? Journalist Karen Weintraub went behind the scenes of Kendall Square's "Bio Boom" on WBUR's Common Health, speaking with KI members Susan Hockfield and Eric Lander, and Frequency Therapeutics CEO David Lucchino, about what makes our local neighborhood, the Heart of Biotech, so special, and what the sector can do to sustain this dynamic trajectory of growth. In a separate feature, she spoke with KI member Robert Langer and others about the ups and downs of life in the biotech startups fastlane.

Boston Globe correspondent Scott Kirsner examined the past, present, and future to unravel the secret to Boston's innovation economy. KI member and biotech guru Phillip Sharp, also heard on WBUR discussing how Kendall Square became the epicenter of the biotech world, was among those interviewed.

Intestinal Stem Cells: The Next Regeneration

How does fasting improve GI health? A new study from the laboratories of KI members Ömer Yilmaz and David Sabatini reveals that fasting can change intestinal stem cells' metabolism and improve their ability to regenerate. These "fast and curious" results, obtained in mice and published in Cell Stem Cell, have important implications for colon cancer risk, and suggest potential interventions for at-risk individuals such as older people recovering from GI infections or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The research was supported in part by the MIT Stem Cell Initiative through Fondation MIT and the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund. Read more.

Get a Life (Science, That Is!)

Curious about the scientific endeavor? Looking for some pre-summer reading or listening? Sit down with brand new Whitehead Institute Fellow Kristin Knouse, a recent alumna of the Amon Lab (and 2014 Image Awards winner), as she talks fundamental biology with Tabula Synthase and shares lessons learned from her MD/PhD journey. Or, join KI graduate student Lauren Stopfer on the GLiMPSE podcast (fun fact: Spranger Lab postdoc Tim Fessenden is one of the new co-hosts!) to share insights about her work in the White Lab, graduate admissions at MIT, and what it means to "look like a scientist." Finally, get to know immunologist Kaitlyn Sadtler, a current Image Awards winner, Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine Convergence Scholar, TED Fellow, and postdoc in the Anderson/Langer lab through her interview with The Female Scientist, offering reflections and advice for aspiring scientists and engineers. From success to failure, confidence to doubt, and everything in between, their stories are sure to inspire, educate, and engage. And, for more "I knew them when" stories, check out this video from Dickinson College, featuring new Jacks Lab technician Grace Crossland.

Ligands, Microarrays, Action!

Rising pharmaceutical star Kronos Bio has signed a major deal with biotech celebrity Norbert Bischofberger, booking him as the inaugural CEO for their big screen debut. And when we say "big screen," we mean it. Building on the high-throughput screening techniques developed in the laboratory of founding scientist and KI member Angela Koehler, the company aims to discover and develop novel therapies to target the most intractable and challenging cancer targets—the so-called "undruggable" transcription factors. With their stellar crew and private lot in Lab Central, Kronos Bio is well poised to be a therapeutic blockbuster.

'Pub' Crawl: News from the Research Journals

Grab a beverage and sit down to enjoy some of our KI researchers' latest pub-lications:

Former Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Clinical Investigator Peter Ghoroghchian is the senior author on a Trends in Molecular Medicine review, Advancements in Nanomedicine for Multiple Myeloma. Now *that's* a cover charge we can get behind!

Of course, once you're in the door, ambience and menu matter quite a bit, and that's true for precision cancer medicine as well, as shown in the Vander Heiden Lab's Science review of how the nutrient environment affects therapy.

And let's not forget about shots. Langer Lab researchers in the Jaklenec group have moved one step closer to helping eradicate polio, thanks to a new nanoparticle vaccine that can deliver multiple doses in a single injection.

Still looking to fill your belly? An ingestible sensor developed by KI member Timothy Lu, along with co-senior author Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering, and members of the Traverso research team in the KI's Langer Lab, can monitor GI conditions and communicate data to a smartphone.

Are you "knotty" enough for one last dish? Indulge youself with new research from the laboratory of KI member Patrick Doyle, who seeks to improve genome sequencing technologies by untangling DNA knots.

In Good Company

MIT News profiled Sigilon Therapeutics and their "living drug factories." Together with partner Eli Lilly and Company, this Anderson/Langer Lab startup has been developing implantable devices that could replace injections and enable cell therapy for diabetes and other diseases.

On May 9, Biogen co-founder Phillip Sharp and CEO Michel Vounatsos acceped Boston Biotech Conference's Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of the company's 40th anniversary.

Tarveda, co-founded by KI member Robert Langer, announced Phase 1 results from an ongoing Phase 1/2a study to test the efficacy of drug conjugate PEN-221 in patients with neuroendocrine tumors and small cell lung cancer.

Learn more about how KI members Stefani Spranger and Darrell Irvine are helping to guide next generation cancer immunotherapy at Venn Therapeutics.

Fellow immuno-oncology startup Neon Therapeutics announced the first lung cancer patient to be treated with the NEO-PV-01 vaccine in a Phase 1 clinical trial. Soon after, it was reported that the company, co-founded by KI member Eric Lander, would seek a $115 million IPO for the product.

Celsius Therapeutics, co-founded by KI member Aviv Regev, announced $65 million in Series A financing. The company is leveraging single-cell genomic analysis to fight autoimmune diseases and cancer using precision therapeutics.

Also launching is CAMP4 Therapeutics, a bioinformatics company based on technology developed in the laboratory of KI member Richard Young. Coming out of stealth mode with $30 million in Series A funding, CAMP4 is combining epigenomics, computational biology, and machine learning to accelerate progress and reduce risk in drug development.

Cheers to Dragonfly Therapeutics, co-founded by KI director and David H. Koch Profesor of Biology Tyler Jacks, for being selected by Nature Biotechnology as one of the top academic startups of 2017. (Although the article itself is subscriber-only, congratulations are 100% public!)

KI Community Highlights

Congratulations to KI member Ed Boyden, newly named HHMI fellow and 2018 Blavatnik National Awards Finalist in Life Sciences.

As of last month, KI member and cardiologist Elazer Edelman is not just a member of MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, he's also the director!

Chemistry professor and KI member Brad Pentelute spoke with MIT News about his work discovering, designing, and developing novel proteins for a wide range of applications.

Alice Shaw, Jacks Lab alumna and former Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Clinical Investigator at the KI, was recently profiled by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, highlighting key milestones and landmark discoveries in her career as a thoracic oncologist.

Jacks Lab researcher Caterina Colon spoke with WGBH about a new book by MIT professor Daniel Jackson, entitled Potraits of Reslience, and the conversations that need to be had around student mental health issues.

Finally, don't forget to register for the KI's 17th annual summer symposium, Breakthrough Cancer Nanotechnologies, to be held in MIT's Kresge auditorium on Friday, June 15.

The newsletter of the David H. Koch Institute at MIT: providing up-to-date information on next generation cancer solutions coming from MIT and our collaborators across the world.
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