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Reuters

Prof. Timothy Lu, Prof. Jim Collins and Philip Lee ’03 co-founded Senti Bio, a biotechnology company that uses gene circuit technology to create cell and gene therapies that can sense and respond to ailments inside the body, reports Sohini Podder for Reuters. “The way I like to think about it – just like you can program a computer with different programs or different maps, we can do the same thing with medicines,” says Lu.

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT scientists have discovered a way to watch and record the development of butterfly scales from the inside of a butterfly’s chrysalis, reports Elizabeth Gamillo for Smithsonian Magazine. “The team plans on further exploring the structure of butterfly wings and the reasoning behind the ridged design,” writes Gamillo.

CNET

CNET science writer Monisha Ravisetti spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the scale formation of butterfly wings during its transformation. “Understanding their schematics could ultimately benefit constructed materials like windows and thermal systems and even bring an ethereal quality to textiles,” writes Ravisetti.

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Hannah Seo writes that MIT researchers have developed a way to watch and record how the microscopic scales on a butterfly’s wings grow and tile themselves as the butterfly develops inside its chrysalis. The researchers hope to “use butterfly scales as inspiration for the design of new materials,” writes Seo. “Butterfly scales have other fascinating properties such as water repellency and the ability to regulate temperature.”

Ars Technica

ARS Technica senior writer Jennifer Ouellette spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the structural growth of butterfly wings inside its chrysalis for the first time. “A lot of these stages were understood and seen before, but now we can stitch them all together and watch continuously what’s happening, which gives us more information on the detail of how scales form,” says research assistant Anthony McDougal. 

Stat

Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins, who has made “significant strides in molecular biology and a tireless advocate for gender equity in science,” has been named the recipient of STAT’s 2021 Biomedical Innovation Award, reports Isabella Cueto for STAT. “It’s very easy to forget how much progress there has been because we haven’t arrived where we’d like to be,” said Hopkins at the 2021 STAT Summit, where she was honored. “So we see the problems that still lie ahead. But you periodically have to pause and say, ‘Oh, my gosh, look how far we came.’”

NIH

Writing for the NIH Director’s Blog, Dr. Francis Collins highlights how Prof. Tyler Jacks and research scientist Megan Burger’s work exploring T cell exhaustion led to the creation of a “strategy for developing cancer vaccines that can ‘awaken’ T cells and reinvigorate the body’s natural cancer-fighting abilities.” Collins writes that “the researchers hope to learn if this approach to cancer vaccines might work even better when used in combination with immunotherapy drugs, which unleash the immune system against cancer in other ways.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Castellanos spotlights Prof. Markus Buehler’s work combining virtual reality with sound waves to help detect subtle changes in molecular motions. Castellanos notes that Buehler and his team recently found, “coronaviruses can be more lethal or infectious depending on the vibrations within the spike proteins that are found on the surface of the virus.”

Boston Herald

Boston Herald reporter Rick Sobey writes that a new drug combination has shown potential in treating pancreatic cancer. “The trio drug combination is a CD40 agonist antibody, a PD-1 inhibitor and a TIGIT inhibitor. The researchers found that this combination led to pancreatic tumors shrinking in about 50% of the animals that were given this treatment,” writes Sobey.

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brian Dunleavy writes that MIT researchers have developed a new way to potentially expand sources of biofuel to include straw and woody plants. "Our goal is to extend this technology to other organisms that are better suited for the production of these heavy fuels, like oils, diesel and jet fuel," explains Prof. Gregory Stephanopoulos.

The Washington Post

Prof. Eric Lander will be sworn into his new post as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on a 500-year-old Jewish text, reports Jack Jenkins for The Washington Post. The question of what book to use for the swearing-in ceremony made him think of the choice as “a statement of what’s in my mind and what’s in my heart.”

7 News

Prof. Troy Littleton and graduate student Karen Cunningham speak with 7 News about how Littleton placed a crib in his lab for Cunningham’s young daughter to help create a safe place for her if she needs to accompany her mother to work. Cunningham says Littleton “has a long history of supporting parents and just generally has a history of supporting parents in the lab with whatever their needs are.”

Good Morning America

Reporting for Good Morning America, Kate Kindelan spotlights how Prof. Troy Littleton has placed a travel crib in one of his lab’s offices so his graduate student, Karen Cunningham, can bring her 10-month-old child to work with her when needed. “These sort of local ways that people in positions of power can protect parents against the systemic things, like what Troy's been doing in creating a really supportive and inclusive lab, I think that does make a really big difference and it's great to have an example of that,” says Cunningham.

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that a new tool developed by researchers from MIT and other institutions can precisely control gene expression without altering the underlying gene sequence. “Scientists hope this new ability to silence any part of the human genome will lead to powerful insights into functionality of the human genome, as well as inspire new therapies for a variety of diseases and genetic disorders,” writes Hays.

Stat

Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins speaks with Rebecca Sohn of STAT about the Boston Biotech Working Group’s goal of increasing the number of women leaders and entrepreneurs in biotech and her hopes for the future of women in biotech and the sciences. “You want people to feel that they are free to participate in all the things wherever it leads them,” says Hopkins. “So I think the goal is just that people who really want to do this [pursue biotech] don’t face any greater barrier than anybody else. That everybody has equal access and education to do as they want to.”