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Biological engineering

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New York Times

Writing for The New York Times, visiting scientist Mark Trusheim and Peter Bach of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explore how to lower the cost of biologic drugs. “Prices of new drugs will continue to make headlines, as well they should,” they write. “But we must fix the problem that older biologic drugs have perpetually high prices, and do so by passing a law that ensures that at the appropriate time their prices fall fast, and they fall far.”

NIH

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, spotlights Prof. Ed Boyden’s work developing a new technology that “enables researchers for the first time to study an intact tissue sample and track genetic activity on the spot within a cell’s tiniest recesses, or microenvironments—areas that have been largely out of reach until now.”

Wired

Wired reporter Will Knight spotlights how MIT researchers built a machine learning system that can help predict which patients are most likely to develop breast cancer. “What the AI tools are doing is they're extracting information that my eye and my brain can't,” says Constance Lehman, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and division chief of breast imaging at MGH.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Jon Chesto writes that MIT, Harvard, several research hospitals and life-sciences companies have selected a site for a new biologics manufacturing and innovation center. The project is aimed at expediting “discoveries for biotech treatments in university labs by allowing researchers to bypass the long waits that are common at contract manufacturers,” writesChesto. 

The New York Times

A new study by MIT researchers finds that “changes in coronavirus levels in wastewater preceded rises and falls in positive test results by four to 10 days,” reports Kim Tingley for The New York Times. The findings suggest that “sewage surveillance could play an important role in helping contain the pandemic.”

New York Times

Prof. Eric Alm speaks with New York Times Magazine reporter Kim Tingley about how studying wastewater can provide public health officials with advance warning of an uptick in coronavirus cases. “If you want to really understand what’s going on in a city on a basic chemical, biological level, you should be looking at the wastewater," says Alm.

WCVB

Reporting for WCVB-TV, Katie Thompson highlights a new study by MIT researchers that examines the role of super-spreading events in the Covid-19 pandemic. "The main idea is that most people generate zero or one cases, but it's the people generating hundreds of cases that we should perhaps be worried about," says postdoc Felix Wong said.

Boston 25 News

Prof. James Collins speaks with Boston 25 reporter Julianne Lima about the growing issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria and his work using AI to identify new antibiotics. Collins explains that a new platform he developed with Prof. Regina Barzilay uncovered “a host of new antibiotics including one that we call halicin that has remarkable activity against multi drug-resistant pathogens.”

WBUR

A new study by MIT researchers finds that super-spreading events are larger drivers of the Covid-19 pandemic than originally thought, reports Carey Goldberg for WBUR. “We found in our study that super-spreading events can indeed be a major driver of the current pandemic,” says postdoc Felix Wong. “Most people generate zero or one cases, but it's the people generating hundreds of cases that we really should be worried about.”

WBUR

A CRISPR-based diagnostic test for Covid-19 developed by researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute could produce results within an hour, reports Deborah Becker for WBUR. "Using these technologies will really allow for much more rapid testing — down from days to sometimes less than an hour," said McGovern fellow Jonathan Gootenberg. "That would enable a drastic change in how the tracing and handling of the pandemic is done."

Marketplace

Prof. James Collins speaks with Molly Wood of Marketplace about his work developing a faster, cheaper and more accurate Covid-19 diagnostic. Collins explains that his research group is “using synthetic biology to create highly sensitive, low-cost diagnostics, some that are now approved for use in clinical diagnostics labs, and now we’re moving towards point-of-care diagnostics, as well as at-home diagnostics.”

Forbes

Forbes reporter Amy Feldman spotlights MIT startup Ginkgo Bioworks, which aims to “design, modify and manufacture organisms to make existing industrial processes cheaper and entirely new processes possible.” Feldman notes that the promise of synthetic biology is “not just a proliferation of new products, but also a reduction of the environmental harm that comes from our heavy reliance on petrochemicals.”

Straits Times

The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) has launched an initiative aimed at advancing cell therapy research, reports Shabana Begum for The Straits Times. “Imagine providing the right living cells…to each patient as quickly and safely as possible,” explains Prof. Krystyn Van Vliet. "Delivering on that promise requires exciting changes in the way we understand, engineer, measure and select cells."

WBUR

Reporting for WBUR, Carey Goldberg highlights how MIT researchers have developed a new RNA editing tool that could be used to tweak a gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As the effects of RNA editing are not permanent, “it's almost like a small, pill-like version of gene therapy,” explains research scientist and McGovern Fellow Omar Abudayyeh.

Financial Times

Writing for the Financial Times about how technology is advancing the field of health care, John Browne spotlights Prof. Bob Langer’s work developing new methods of delivering drugs with improved precision. Browne explains that Langer is working on “a device smaller than a grain of rice that he can inject into a tumour to test the efficacy of dozens of chemotherapy agents in parallel.”