Tracing a cellular family tree: New technique allows tracking of gene expression over generations of cells as they specialize

MIT News Office, January 6, 2016

Microfluidic cell-squeezing device opens new possibilities for cell-based vaccines

Dr. Szeto and 6 Irvine Lab undergraduate trainees used a novel microfluidic device developed at MIT (Armon Sharei, Langer/Jensen Labs) as a protein loading platform for B cells. Antigen-presenting cell vaccines, created by reprogramming a patient’s own immune cells to fight disease, have shown preclinical promise for treating cancer and other diseases. Most of these vaccines are created with dendritic cells, a class of antigen-presenting cells with broad functionality in the immune system; this study published in Scientific Reports provides one solution to a major drawback of B cells as APCs: their low non-specific antigen uptake capacity. Using the cell squeezing method, B cells were efficiently prepared to prime cytotoxic CD8 T cells.

Annual Koch Institute Image Award 2015

Congratulations to Sudha Kumari and Yiran Zheng on winning the 2015 Annual KI image award for their image "License to kill: Empowering the immune system to fight cancer".

Congratulations to Gregtory Szeto and Adelaide Tovar on winning the 2015 Annual KI image award for their image "Easy breezy: Particles prop open therapeutic windows".

Dr. Peter DeMuth Won the Quadrant Award 2015

Congratulations to Dr. Peter DeMuth on winning the first prize of international Quadrant Award on January 30, 2015.

BMES Annual Meeting 2014

Congratulations to Anasuya Mandal on receiving the Reviewer Choice Award for her poster at the Biomedical Engineering Society 2014 meeting in the Biomaterials track.

Building Bridges for Award-winning Melanoma Research

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, May 28, 2014
A team led by KI faculty member Darrell Irvine, along with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators Kai Wucherpfennig and Michael Goldberg, received the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) Team Science Award to optimize T cell-targeting nanoparticles for improved melanoma treatment. The Team Science Award Program is the centerpiece of the MRA research funding portfolio and aims to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary, transformational melanoma research advances with the potential for rapid clinical translation. As such, it is no surprise that this team came together through the Bridge Project, a collaboration between the Koch Institute and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center designed to unite bioengineering, advanced cancer science, and clinical oncology to solve challenging problems in cancer research and care. The team's project was among the ten finalists in this year’s round of Bridge Project funding, and speaks to the power of the Bridge Project to establish new connections between unmet clinical needs and innovative technological solutions. Congratulations!

Irvine’s Albumin-targeted Vaccines Hitch a Ride to the Lymph Nodes to Boost Immunity

MIT News Office, February 16, 2014
Vaccines made of small fragments of proteins produced by a disease-causing virus or bacterium are, in many cases, safer than those composed of inactivated versions of a virus. However, these peptide antigen vaccines often fail to provoke a strong enough immune response. In a paper published in Nature, KI faculty member Darrell Irvine and his team describe the development of a new way to deliver such vaccines directly to the immune cell depots, the lymph nodes. Their strategy takes advantage of the function of a protein in the bloodstream known as albumin, which is a transporter of fatty acids. Inspired by an existing procedure for targeting imaging dyes to the lymph nodes, the team’s vaccines are designed to bind to albumin, triggering the immune cells to capture the albumin and take it to the lymph nodes. In animal tests, these "hitchhiking" vaccines provoked immune responses up to 30 times stronger than those generated by the peptide antigens alone. This approach could be especially useful for delivering HIV vaccines and for stimulating the body’s immune system to attack tumors.

New Approaches to Vaccine Development and TB/HIV

HU CFAR Annual Symposium, June 12, 2014
The HU CFAR Annual Symposium was held at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and featured international and local experts in the field of HIV/TB research.

Irvine Wraps Up Vaccines for Improved Response

MIT News Office, September 25, 2013
In a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine, the Irvine lab showed how formulation of protein or peptide vaccines in lipid nanocapsules makes them much more durable inside the body and protects the vaccine content long enough to generate a strong immune response at mucosal surfaces. The nanoparticle packaging enhances the efficacy of vaccines designed to block respiratory infection in the lungs or infection at other mucosal sites such as the gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts. In addition, the particles show promise for the delivery of therapeutic cancer vaccines, which stimulate the body’s own immune system to destroy tumors.

Drug Delivery

Bridge Project Technology Workshop, September 20, 2012

Engineering the Immune System

Research animation, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
The Irvine lab uses nanomaterials-based "cell backpacks" to boost the immune response to cancer.

Inside the Lab: Darrell Irvine

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Learn more about the work going on in the Irvine lab, which focuses on development of drug delivery tools and new methods for analyzing cellular immune responses.

Nano-sized vaccines

MIT News Office, February 22, 2011
MIT engineers have designed a new type of nanoparticle that could safely and effectively deliver vaccines for diseases such as HIV and malaria. The new particles consist of concentric fatty spheres that can carry synthetic versions of proteins normally produced by viruses. These synthetic particles elicit a strong immune response — comparable to that produced by live virus vaccines — but should be much safer, says KI's Darrell Irvine.

A pharmacy on the back of a cell

MIT News Office, August 16, 2010
Clinical trials using patients' own immune cells to target tumors have yielded promising results. However, this approach usually works only if the patients also receive large doses of drugs designed to help immune cells multiply rapidly, and those drugs have life-threatening side effects. Now a team of MIT engineers has devised a way to deliver the necessary drugs by smuggling them on the backs of the cells sent in to fight the tumor. That way, the drugs reach only their intended targets, greatly reducing the risk to the patient.

Use of Nanotechnology in Cancer

Oncology Solutions Forum, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, November 6, 2009