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…

Read more
  • 0

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 …

Read more
  • 0

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…

Read more
  • 0

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…

Read more
  • 0

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 …

Read more
  • 0

These 14 medical device inventions are the best, Time magazine says

Clockwise from top left, Osso VR, Phonak’s Audéo Fit, Molli Surgical’s breast cancer localization system, and Esper Bionics’ Esper Hand were among 14 medical device innovations to make it into Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2022. [Images courtesy of the companies]

Fourteen medical devices ranging from patient monitoring to surgical robotics recently made it into Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2022.

For over 20 years, Time magazine has highlighted the 100 most impactful devices and ideas around the world. The list is compiled through nominations from the publication’s editors and global correspondents, with special attention to categories such as medical innovations, green energy and electric vehicles.

Time graded each nominee on a number of key factors that include originality, efficacy, ambition and impact.

There were 14 medical devices honored in this year’s list,…

Read more
  • 0

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…

Read more
  • 0

Researchers develop at-home device to track Parkinson’s progression

An at-home monitoring system could help monitor Parkinson’s progression and response to medication. [Image by N.Fuller/SayoStudio]

Researchers at MIT and the University of Rochester Medical Center have developed a device to monitor a Parkinson’s patient at home.

Collecting data at home could help provide a less subjective measurement than evaluations at the doctor’s office, which can be affected by outside factors. The technology could also help pharmaceutical and biotech companies developing new therapies for Parkinson’s, which is the world’s fastest-growing neurological disease.

In a one-year study with 50 patients, machine learning algorithms analyzed the data to help clinicians track Parkinson’s progression and medication response more effectively than periodic evaluations in a medical facility, MIT said in a news release. The study fund that gait speed declined ne…

Read more
  • 0

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…

Read more
  • 0

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…

Read more
  • 0

New implant design prevents scar tissue without drugs, MIT says

Ellen Roche, MIT School of Engineering associate professor, and a team of researchers developed a new implant design for delaying scar tissue formation. [Photo courtesy of MIT]

Mechanically inflating and deflating an implantable device for 10 minutes a day prevents immune cells from building the scar tissue that has been a major obstacle for artificial pancreas researchers.

That’s according to new findings from a team of MIT engineers who built mechanical deflection into a two-chambered, soft polyurethane device tested on mice. By pumping up and down for five minutes every 12 hours, the device prevented immune cells from accumulating and building scar tissue without immunosuppressants.

The researchers reported fewer neutrophils surrounding the device in the short term. And when scar tissue did eventually form, the researchers described an unusual structure of highly aligned collagen fibers instead …

Read more
  • 0

AI-enabled 3D printer watches and improves material handling on the fly

Two computer vision cameras monitor this 3D printer to detect errors and adjust in real time. [Photo courtesy of MIT]

An AI-enabled additive manufacturing system allowed a 3D printer to monitor and adjust material handling in real time, cutting down the trial-and-error process of learning how to print with new materials.

The technology could make it easier for engineers in medtech and other industries to use new materials in 3D printed products for special electrical or chemical properties, cutting down on the time and materials spent on trial-and-error. It could also help manufacturing equipment adjust to changes in the material or printing environment.

The MIT researchers behind the research project said it could have applications for manufacturing processes beyond 3D printing.

“This project is really the first demonstration of building a manufacturing system that uses machine learning to learn …

Read more
  • 0