By using a technique known as DNA origami to fold DNA into a virus-like structure, MIT researchers have designed HIV-like particles coated with HIV antigens in precise patterns, which may eventually be used as an HIV vaccine. In vitro studies showed that the DNA origami particles, which mimic the size and shape of viruses, provoked a strong immune response from human immune cells. The researchers anticipate that the same approach could be used to design DNA origami vaccines for a wide variety of viral diseases, and they are now working on adapting the technology to develop a potential vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.
“The rough design rules that are starting to come out of this work should be generically applicable across disease antigens and diseases,” said Darrell Irvine, PhD, who is the Underwood-Prescott professor with appointments in the departments of biological engineering and materials science and engineering; an associate director of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research; and a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. “Our platform technology allows you to easily swap out different subunit antigens and peptides from different types of viruses to test whether they may potentially be functional as vaccines,” added Mark Bathe, PhD, an MIT professor of biological engineering and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard… Continue reading.
A promising new way to treat some types of cancer is to program the patient’s own T cells to destroy the cancerous cells. This approach, termed CAR-T cell therapy, is now used to combat some types of leukemia, but so far it has not worked well against solid tumors such as lung or breast tumors.
MIT researchers have now devised a way to super-charge this therapy so that it could be used as a weapon against nearly any type of cancer. The research team developed a vaccine that dramatically boosts the antitumor T cell population and allows the cells to vigorously invade solid tumors… Continue reading.
Programming the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells has had promising results for treating blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. This tactic has proven more challenging for solid tumors such as breast or lung cancers, but MIT researchers have now devised a novel way to boost the immune response against solid tumors.
By developing nanoparticle “backpacks” that hold immune-stimulating drugs, and attaching them directly to T cells, the MIT engineers showed in a study of mice that they could enhance those T cells’ activity without harmful side effects. In more than half of the treated animals, tumors disappeared completely.
“We found you could greatly improve the efficacy of the T cell therapy with backpacked drugs that help the donor T cells survive and function more effectively. Even more importantly, we achieved that without any of the toxicity that you see with systemic injection of the drugs,” says Darrell Irvine, a professor of biological engineering and of materials science and engineering, an associate director of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and the senior author of the study… Continue reading.
Torque, an immuno-oncology company developing Deep Primed™ cell therapies that direct and evoke immune responses in the tumor microenvironment, today announced the launch of its technology platform to create a new class of immune cell therapeutics to treat cancer, financed with $25 million in Series A capital by Flagship Pioneering. The Torque platform makes it possible to anchor powerful stimulatory cytokines, antibodies, and small molecules directly to immune cells to direct their activity and increase their efficacy and durability in the “hostile” tumor microenvironment, without systemic exposure.
“By arming immune cells to function robustly deep in the tumor microenvironment, this approach has the potential to create a new class of cellular immunotherapeutics, substantially expanding the efficacy of conventional cell-based methods,” said Darrell Irvine, PhD, co-founder of Torque, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Torque’s approach has the potential to significantly expand the proportion of patients that respond to cellular immunotherapy and to take us closer to curing cancer, rather than just slowing its progression… Continue reading.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the pending induction of Darrell J. Irvine, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science, Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Irvine was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows For outstanding contributions to immune engineering, through a marriage of immunobiology-driven science with the tools and techniques of bioengineering.