This RNA sensor could trigger cells to turn on a synthetic gene

Caption:MIT researchers demonstrated that their RNA sensor could accurately identify cells expressing a mutated version of the p53 gene, which drives cancer development. [Image courtesy of MIT/iStock]

Engineers at MIT designed a new way to trigger cells that could lead to targeted therapies for cancer and other diseases.

Using an RNA sensor for the trigger, the researchers ensure that synthetic genes activate only in specific cells. They demonstrated that the sensor could accurately identify cells expressing a mutated version of the p53 gene, which drives cancer development. Additionally, they found they could turn on a gene encoding a fluorescent protein only within those cells.

With this approach, the engineers feel they can develop sensors to trigger production of cell-killing proteins in cancer cells, sparing healthy cells, too. They see the possibility of developing treatments for other diseases, too…

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This T-cell vaccine could be the future of COVID-19 protection

[Image courtesy of Production Perig/Adobe Stock]

The current mRNA vaccines from Moderna (Nasdaq:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)/BioNTech (Nasdaq:BNTX) stimulate the production of neutralizing antibodies that bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.

But there is a novel mRNA vaccine that activates T cells to attack cells infected with the virus. Developed by researchers at MIT and other institutions, the new vaccine could sidestep the need for updated boosters based on currently circulating variants.

In a preclinical study published in Frontiers in Immunology, the T-cell vaccine successfully attacked cells infected with the virus rather than activating the part of the immune system that releases neutralizing antibodies. In addition, the researchers tested the vaccine in humanized mice and successfully generated both CD8+ (cytotoxic) and CD4+ (helper) T-cell responses.

This new MIT-T-COVID vaccine could …

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MIT engineers say new purification method enable cheaper protein drugs

A microfluidic device was designed to combine protein solution with nanoparticles and then form thousands of tiny, identical droplets. Inside each of these droplets, the proteins interact with the nanoparticles, which help them to form protein crystals. [Courtesy of the researchers, colorized by MIT News]

Engineers at MIT developed a new way to accomplish purification while manufacturing protein drugs, potentially reducing costs of production.

The researchers say the manufacturing process represents one of the most expensive steps in manufacturing protein drugs. These kinds of drugs include antibodies or insulin. Purification involves isolating the protein from the bioreactor used to produce it.

According to an MIT website post, the step can account for up to half the total cost of manufacturing a protein. In order to reduce these costs, the MIT team developed an approach using specialized nanoparticle…

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This 3D-printed heart replica mimics a pumping heart

MIT engineers are hoping to help doctors tailor treatments to patients’ specific heart anatomy and function with a custom robotic heart.[Image courtesy of Melanie Gonick, MIT]

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a 3D-printed heart replica that pumps and looks like a human heart.

MIT engineers designed the soft robotic models to be patient-specific, which could help clinicians determine the best implant for an individual. The soft and flexible replica’s actions can be controlled to mimic a patient’s blood-pumping ability.

To make the device, medical images of a patient’s heart are converted into a three-dimensional computer model. Researchers can then 3D print the model using polymer-based ink. The resulting model is a soft, flexible shell that is the exact shape of a patient’s heart. The researchers can also use the method to print a patient’…

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Researchers say ingestible sensor could help with diagnosing GI disorders

MIT engineers demonstrated that they can use magnetic fields to track the location of this ingestible sensor within the GI tract. [Image courtesy of the researchers]

Engineers at MIT and Caltech have developed an ingestible sensor that could more easily diagnose gastrointestinal motility disorders.

This advance could help with the diagnosis of constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease and gastroparesis.

The engineers designed their tiny sensor to detect a magnetic field produced by an electromagnetic coil located outside of the patient’s body. The strength of the field varies with distance from the coil, which allows for the calculation of the sensor’s position based on its measurement of the magnetic field.

In a new study, the researchers demonstrated the ability to track the sensor as it moved through the digestive tract of large animals. They believe this could offer an alternat…

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MIT researchers develop soft, robotic ventilator implant

[Image courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers]

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a soft, robotic and implantable ventilator that augments the diaphragm’s natural contractions.

The proof-of-concept design has two soft, balloon-like tubes that are implanted to lie over the diaphragm. The tubes act as artificial muscles to push down the diaphragm to help the lungs expand after being inflated with an external pump, which can be inflated at a frequency to match the diaphragm’s natural rhythm.

For many people, the act of breathing comes naturally, according to the researchers. However, the diaphragm’s function can be compromised in people with ALS, muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases, as well as patients with paralysis and damage to the phrenic nerve, which stimulates the diaphragm to contract.

“This is a …

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MIT researchers seek to ‘see’ inside the body during rehab

[Image from MIT]

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed an unsupervised physical rehabilitation system.

MuscleRehab came from researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Together, they combined three ingredients: motion tracking, imaging and virtual reality (VR). The motion tracking captures motion activity. The electrical impedance tomography (EIT) imaging technique measures what muscles are doing. Finally, a VR headset and tracking suit lets users watch themselves perform alongside a physical therapist.

In a news release, MIT described its all-black tracking suit as “sleek” and “ninja-esque.” The VR captures 3D movement data. The user performs various exercises that measure the activity of their quadriceps, sartorius, hamstring…

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This robotic capsule could deliver large-protein drugs like insulin

A new drug capsule developed at MIT can help large proteins such as insulin and small-molecule drugs be absorbed in the digestive tract.[Image from Felice Frankel/MIT]Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a new drug capsule with a robotic cap for improved drug delivery.

Large-protein drugs generally can’t pass through the mucus barrier that lines the digestive tract. Insulin and most other “biologic drugs” with proteins or nucleic acids thus must be injected or administered in a hospital, according to MIT’s news website.

The researchers believe the new drug capsule developed at MIT could one day replace those injections. It features a robotic cap that spins. This helps it tunnel through the mucus barrier when it reaches the small intestine. Thus, drugs carried by the capsule can pass into the cells lining the intestine.

Get the full story at our sister site, Drug Delivery…

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7 innovative digital health offerings to treat diabetes

MIT engineers are working on an app that that identifies and quantifies food content, which can aid in carbohydrate counting for people with diabetes. [Image from MIT News] From using your smartphone to track data to reversing your diabetes altogether, these digital health technologies stand out.

Advances in treatments for diabetes never stop coming. Whether that be in the form of insulin pumps or continuous glucose monitors, we’ve seen plenty.

Moving away from the physical device, innovations in the digital diabetes space continue to impress. Digital therapeutics, artificial intelligence- and cloud-based offerings and more comprise an intriguing list of technologies.

Here are seven digital offerings aimed at treating diabetes that you might want to keep an eye on:

1. Digital therapeutics for diabetes

Digital therapeutics is an ever-growing space capable of treating a range of diseases and conditions. That reach extends to diabetes, as shown by companies…

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How AI could detect Parkinson’s using breathing patterns

[Image courtesy of MIT]

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently developed an artificial intelligence model that can detect Parkinson’s from breathing patterns.

The diagnostic algorithm uses a series of connected algorithms that mimic how a human brain works to analyze whether a patient has Parkinson’s from their sleep breathing patterns. MIT PhD student Yuzhe Yang and postdoc Yuan Yuan also trained the neural network to discern the severity of someone’s Parkinson’s disease (PD) and track the progression of the disease.

In the past, researchers have studied the potential of using cerebrospinal fluid and neuroimaging to detect PD. Still, that method can be invasive, costly and require specialized medical centers, according to the researchers.

MIT’s research team developed a device that looks like a home Wi-Fi router that emits radio signals, an…

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MIT engineers fabricate chip-free, wireless e-skin

An e-skin film developed at MIT could be the first step toward chip-free, wireless sensors. [Image courtesy of MIT]

MIT engineers have developed a new wireless, wearable sensor without semiconductors or batteries in what they say is a first step toward chip-free wireless sensors.

This electronic skin — or e-skin — is a flexible, semiconducting film that MIT describes as a sort of electronic Scotch tape.

The device has an ultrathin gallium nitride film that can respond to mechanical strain with an electrical signal and vibrate in response to an electrical impulse. The researchers made pure, single-crystalline samples of gallium nitride and paired it with a conductive layer of gold to boost the income and outgoing electrical signals, MIT said.

RELATED: MIT engineers develop wearable, stamp-sized ultrasound stickers for continuous imaging

That allows the e-skin to not only detect vital signs l…

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COVID-19 immunity test developers at MIT seek diagnostic manufacturer

A COVID-19 immunity detection test developed by MIT could help people determine their risk of infection. [Image courtesy of MIT]

MIT researchers have developed a device for predicting an individual’s COVID-19 immunity and are looking for a diagnostic company to get it manufactured in large numbers and approved by the FDA.

The lateral flow test uses the same technology as at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 tests to measure neutralizing antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 in a blood sample, the researchers said in a study published in Cell Reports Methods.

The researchers have filed for a patent on the technology, which could help people weigh their COVID-19 immunity against risk and determine necessary precautions such as boosters.

RELATED: Harvard researchers plan to sell at-home, PCR-grade COVID testing system

The development comes more than two years into the pandemic as the latest virus mutation…

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