Our work on remote control T cells for cancer immunotherapy was recently published in ACS Synthetic Biology! Engineered T cell therapies are a new class of treatments that have the potential to cure patients of cancer. However, tumors have the uncanny ability to turn off T cells to evade being targeted. In our study, we developed a new technique to remotely activate T cells, which were genetically modified, using laser targeting and pulses of heat.
Our study was highlighted by numerous news outlets – read more about this technology below.
ASME: Precisely targeting tumors with cancer fighting T cells
Georgia Tech Research Horizons: Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells
Medical News Today: This ‘genetic switch’ could help fight cancer
Our work on engineering thermal gene switches for spatial and remote control of transcriptional activity in mammalian cells using pulses of heat was published in ACS Synthetic Biology! Congrats to Ian and the team!
Read the entire manuscript here.
|Summary | Genetically engineered T cells have the potential to cure patients of cancer. Yet after they are infused into recipients, we lack the ability to control their activity throughout the body including at disease sites. Here we genetically engineer T cells to allow them to be remotely controlled using pulses of heat localized by laser light. This could improve the precision of T cell therapies for cancer.|
|Press Coverage | Georgia Tech Research Horizons “Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells” | ASME “Precisely targeting tumors with cancer fighting T cells” | Medical News Today “This ‘genetic switch’ could help fight cancer” | Science Daily | Controlled Environments | Phys.org | EurekAlert! | Nanowerk | Nanotechnology Now | Medgadget “Remote-controlled signal activates T cells for cancer immunotherapy”|
Patients who are discharged after an operation are at risk for complications such as infections and blood clots. A simple molecular test designed for patients to monitor their own health at home may significantly improve how post-operative complications are managed. In collaboration with the Bhatia lab at MIT, we developed a sustained-released formulation of nanoparticles that are designed to be administered beneath the skin, and report the risk of bacterial infections or blood clots days after discharge. The detection signals are produced in the patients’ urine and detected by inexpensive paper tests. This at-home test may allow patients to monitor their own health during high-risk periods after surgery.
Read the full research study published in Advanced Functional Materials titled “Sustained-release synthetic biomarkers for monitoring thrombosis and inflammation using point-of-care compatible readouts“
Our work examining the use of activity-based biomarkers for early cancer detection has been published in PNAS.
Summary | The discovery of cancer at an early stage improves treatment outcomes, yet cancer detection thresholds based on blood biomarkers shed by small tumors lack predictivity. We develop a mathematical framework to explore the use of activity-based biomarkers for early cancer detection. In contrast to blood biomarkers, activity-based biomarkers rely on the catalytic activity of enzymes to amplify cancer-derived signals. Using a class of activity-based biomarkers called synthetic biomarkers, we comprehensively explore how detection sensitivities depend on probe design, enzymatic activity, and organ physiology, and how they may be precisely tuned to reveal the presence of small tumors in humans.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Mathematical framework for activity-based cancer biomarkers
Georgia Tech Petit Institute: Amplifying the signals of cancer
From Science Daily, “Engineers have devised a way to detect cancer that has spread to the liver, by enlisting help from probiotics — beneficial bacteria similar to those found in yogurt. Using a harmless strain of E. coli that colonizes the liver, the researchers programmed the bacteria to produce a luminescent signal that can be detected with a simple urine test.”
MIT News: Diagnosing cancer with help from bacteria
Popular Science: Mutant bacteria will test you for disease and color your pee accordingly
Newsweek: MIT Professor creates cancer-detecting yogurt
livescience: Urine test could detect cancer one day, as new method shows promise
U.S. News & World Report: Helpful bacteria may help detect cancers that have spread to liver
Science Daily: Diagnosing cancer with luminescent bacteria: Engineered probiotics detect tumors in liver
Boston Globe: Yogurt laced with bacteria may serve as a test for cancer in the liver
BBC News: Bacteria sensors ‘detect diabetes and cancer’
Los Angeles Times: Talented bacteria detect cancer, diabetes
The Scientist: Next Generation: Souped-up Probiotics Pinpoint Cancer
Science: Engineered bacteria detect cancer and diabetes in urine
Read our study here.