(Picower Institute at MIT) Machine learning software advances could help anesthesiologists optimize drug dose, potentially improving patient outcomes.
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(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Researchers at MIT and the Ragon Institute of MIT, MGH, and Harvard are now working on strategies for designing a universal flu vaccine that could work against any flu strain. In a new study, they describe a vaccine that triggers an immune response against an influenza protein segment that rarely mutates but is normally not targeted by the immune system.
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Using specialized nanoparticles, MIT engineers have developed a way to turn off specific genes in cells of the bone marrow, which play an important role in producing blood cells.
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Using specialized nanoparticles, MIT engineers have developed a way to diagnose pneumonia or other lung diseases by analyzing the breath exhaled by the patient.
Long before symptoms like memory loss even emerge, the underlying pathology of Alzheimer's disease, such as an accumulation of amyloid protein plaques, is well underway in the brain.A new study by MIT neuroscientists at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory could help those efforts by pinpointing the regions with the earliest emergence of amyloid in the brain of a prominent mouse model of the disease.Notably, the study also shows that the degree of amyloid accumulation in one of those same regions of the human brain correlates strongly with the progression of the disease.This will in turn facilitate the development of effective therapeutics."Many research groups have made progress in recent years by tracing amyloid's path in the brain using technologies such as positron emission tomography and by looking at brains post-mortem, but the new study adds substantial new evidence from the 5XFAD mouse model because it presents an unbiased look at the entire brain as early as one month of age.The team used SWITCH, a technology developed by Chung, to label amyloid plaques and to clarify the whole brains of 5XFAD mice so that they could be imaged in fine detail at different ages.
CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Most antibiotics work by interfering with critical functions such as DNA replication or construction of the bacterial cell wall.However, these mechanisms represent only part of the full picture of how antibiotics act.In a new study of antibiotic action, MIT researchers developed a new machine-learning approach to discover an additional mechanism that helps some antibiotics kill bacteria.Exploiting this mechanism could help researchers to discover new drugs that could be used along with antibiotics to enhance their killing ability, the researchers say.Jason Yang, an IMES research scientist, is the lead author of the paper, which appears in the May 9 issue of Cell.Other authors include Sarah Wright, a recent MIT MEng recipient; Meagan Hamblin, a former Broad Institute research technician; Miguel Alcantar, an MIT graduate student; Allison Lopatkin, an IMES postdoc; Douglas McCloskey and Lars Schrubbers of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability; Sangeeta Satish and Amir Nili, both recent graduates of Boston University; Bernhard Palsson, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California at San Diego; and Graham Walker, an MIT professor of biology.
CAMBRIDGE, MA -- MIT engineers have designed tiny robots that can help drug-delivery nanoparticles push their way out of the bloodstream and into a tumor or another disease site.Like crafts in "Fantastic Voyage" -- a 1960s science fiction film in which a submarine crew shrinks in size and roams a body to repair damaged cells -- the robots swim through the bloodstream, creating a current that drags nanoparticles along with them.The magnetic microrobots, inspired by bacterial propulsion, could help to overcome one of the biggest obstacles to delivering drugs with nanoparticles: getting the particles to exit blood vessels and accumulate in the right place."When you put nanomaterials in the bloodstream and target them to diseased tissue, the biggest barrier to that kind of payload getting into the tissue is the lining of the blood vessel," says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and its Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and the senior author of the study."Our idea was to see if you can use magnetism to create fluid forces that push nanoparticles into the tissue," adds Simone Schuerle, a former MIT postdoc and lead author of the paper, which appears in the April 26 issue of Science Advances.In most cases, researchers target their nanoparticles to disease sites that are surrounded by "leaky" blood vessels, such as tumors.
Many of the earliest RNAi treatments have focused on diseases of the liver, because RNA-carrying particles tend to accumulate in that organ.MIT researchers have now shown that an engineered model of human liver tissue can be used to investigate the effects of RNAi, helping to speed up the development of such treatments.In a paper appearing in the journal Cell Metabolism on March 5, the researchers showed with the model that they could use RNAi to turn off a gene that causes a rare hereditary disorder.And using RNA molecules that target a different gene expressed by human liver cells, they were able to reduce malaria infections in the model's cells."We showed that you could look at how this new class of nucleic acid therapies, especially RNAi, could affect rare genetic diseases and infectious diseases," says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and the senior author of the study.The liver tissue model can also be used to manipulate metabolic enzyme levels, which could help researchers to predict how different patients would metabolize drugs, allowing them to identify possible side effects earlier in the drug development process.
This aerosol could be administered directly to the lungs to help treat diseases such as cystic fibrosis, the researchers say."We think the ability to deliver mRNA via inhalation could allow us to treat a range of different disease of the lung," says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor in MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering, a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), and the senior author of the study.Asha Patel, a former MIT postdoc who is now an assistant professor at Imperial College London, is the lead author of the paper, which appears in the Jan. 4 issue of the journal Advanced Materials.Anderson's lab has previously designed materials that can deliver mRNA and another type of RNA therapy called RNA interference (RNAi) to the liver and other organs, and some of these are being further developed for possible testing in patients.Many existing drugs for asthma and other lung diseases are specially formulated so they can be inhaled via either an inhaler, which sprays powdered particles of medication, or a nebulizer, which releases an aerosol containing the medication.Some previous studies have explored a material called polyethylenimine (PEI) for delivering inhalable DNA to the lungs.
CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Pneumonia, a respiratory disease that kills about 50,000 people in the United States every year, can be caused by many different microbes, including bacteria and viruses.However, current diagnostic approaches often take several days to return definitive results, making it harder for doctors to prescribe the right treatment.MIT researchers have now developed a nanoparticle-based technology that could be used to improve the speed of diagnosis.This type of sensor could also be used to monitor whether antibiotic therapy has successfully treated the infection, says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the senior author of the study.But if the patient's symptoms don't go away, then you would want to see if the bacteria is still growing.Graduate student Colin Buss and recent PhD recipient Jaideep Dudani are the lead authors of the paper, which appears online Nov. 29 in the journal EBioMedicine.
CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Many technology companies are working on artificial intelligence systems that can analyze medical data to help diagnose or treat health problems.Such systems raise the question of whether this kind of technology can perform as well as a human doctor.A new study from MIT computer scientists suggests that human doctors provide a dimension that, as yet, artificial intelligence does not."There's something about a doctor's experience, and their years of training and practice, that allows them to know in a more comprehensive sense, beyond just the list of symptoms, whether you're doing well or you're not," says Mohammad Ghassemi, a research affiliate at MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).This intuition plays an even stronger role during the first day or two of a patient's hospital stay, when the amount of data doctors have on patients is less than on subsequent days.Ghassemi and computer science graduate student Tuka Alhanai are the lead authors of the paper, which will be presented at the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society conference on July 20.
These "plug-and-play" devices, which require little expertise to assemble, can test blood glucose levels in diabetic patients or detect viral infection, among other functions."Our long-term motivation is to enable small, low-resources laboratories to generate their own libraries of plug-and-play diagnostics to treat their local patient populations independently," says Anna Young, co-director of MIT's Little Devices Lab, lecturer at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and one of the lead authors of the paper.Using this system, called Ampli blocks, the MIT team is working on devices to detect cancer, as well as Zika virus and other infectious diseases.The blocks are inexpensive, costing about 6 cents for four blocks, and they do not require refrigeration or special handling, making them appealing for use in the developing world."We see these construction kits as a way of lowering the barriers to making medical technology," says Jose Gomez-Marquez, co-director of the Little Devices Lab and the senior author of the paper.Other authors include Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and a visiting scientist in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering; Nikolas Albarran, a senior engineer in the Little Devices Lab; Jonah Butler, an MIT junior; and Kaira Lujan, a former visiting student in the Little Devices Lab.
CAMBRIDGE, MA -- MIT researchers have discovered a way to make bacteria more vulnerable to a class of antibiotics known as quinolones, which include ciprofloxacin and are often used to treat infections such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus."Given that the number of new antibiotics being developed is diminishing, we face challenges in treating these infections.So efforts such as this could enable us to expand the efficacy of existing antibiotics," says James Collins, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science in MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Department of Biological Engineering and the senior author of the study.(This is different from bacterial resistance, which occurs when microbes acquire genetic mutations that protect them from antibiotics.)In a study published in 2011, Collins and his colleagues found that they could increase the ability of antibiotics known as aminoglycosides to kill drug-tolerant bacteria by delivering a type of sugar along with the drug.The sugar helps to boost the metabolism of the bacteria, making it more likely that the microbes will undergo cell death in response to the DNA damage caused by the antibiotic.
CAMBRIDGE, MA - Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem, especially among a type of bacteria that are classified as "Gram-negative."These bacteria have two cell membranes, making it more difficult for drugs to penetrate and kill the cells.In infection, as in cancer, the name of the game is selectively killing something, using a drug that has potential side effects," says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.The lead author is Ester Kwon, a research scientist at the Koch Institute.Other authors are Matthew Skalak, an MIT graduate and former Koch Institute research technician; Alessandro Bertucci, a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California at San Diego; Gary Braun, a postdoc at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute; Francesco Ricci, an associate professor at the University of Rome Tor Vergata; Erkki Ruoslahti, a professor at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute; and Michael Sailor, a professor at UCSD.As bacteria grow increasingly resistant to traditional antibiotics, one alternative that some researchers are exploring is antimicrobial peptides -- naturally occurring defensive proteins that can kill many types of bacteria by disrupting cellular targets such as membranes and proteins or cellular processes such as protein synthesis.
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