Monthly Archives: June 2010

June 20, 2010

Researchers seek to put the squeeze on cancer

Cancer researchers have been studying angiogenesis — the growth of new blood vessels — since the early 1970s, when Judah Folkman first theorized that tumors could be destroyed by cutting off their blood supply. For most of that time, scientists have focused on the biochemical signals that promote angiogenesis, in hopes of finding drugs that can starve tumors by blocking their ability to release the proteins that promote vessel growth. More recently, a few scientists have taken a new approach: studying how contractions in nearby cells can stimulate angiogenesis.

In a paper published in April in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, Van Vliet, Herman and MIT students Sunyoung Lee (former Hugh Hampton Young fellow), Adam Zeiger and John Maloney and Tufts research associate Maciej Kotecki reported measuring and imaging the force of pericyte contractions using an atomic force microscope — the first time that had ever been done. Atomic force microscopy generates very high-resolution images (about 5-nanometer resolution) by “feeling” the surface of a sample with a tiny probe tip.

Continue reading the article on MIT News.

June 15, 2010

IDG Alum Elisabeth Stock’s NGO Awarded $23 Million to Improve Home Learning Environments

MIT International Development Group Alum Elisabeth Stock, former Hugh Hampton Young Fellow and named one of Crain’s 40 Under Forty for professional success, received an award of $23 million to improve the home learning environment of families in New York City and Los Angeles. For some years, Stock has headed a small NGO in New York, which she founded, called Computers for Youth (CFY). In February 2010, the U.S. Department of Education asked CFY to submit a letter to the department about their ideas on family involvement in children’s education. CFY urged the Department  to increase the percentage of Title I dollars set aside for family involvement, and the result was an award to CFY of $23 million. Read more to see Stock’s TEDxUSC talk titled “Can You Change a Child’s Education?” Read more

June 7, 2010

Matthew Angel and Mehmet Fatih Yanik Discover Sustainable RNA Transfection

MIT scientists Matthew Angel (former Hugh Hampton Young fellow) and Mehmet Fatih Yanik have discovered a method for transfecting mRNA into fibroblasts without triggering the immune response that normally defends cells against exogenous RNA infection. Cells are usually able to differentiate between endogenous and exogenous RNA through activation of pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) that initiate a subsequent immune response. While this immune response is important for defending cells against unwanted viral RNA invasion, it also serves as a barrier for scientists interested in delivering protein-encoding mRNA into cells for a variety of purposes.

Why the need to deliver mRNA into cells? Why not just deliver DNA as is normally done utilizing traditional transfection techniques? Or, better yet, why not just skip the translational step altogether and deliver protein directly to the cells? Read the rest of the article in American Biotechnologist.