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The Boston Globe

Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung spotlights how the development of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine demonstrates the success of the Massachusetts life sciences sector. “For more than half a century, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been the epicenter of that curiosity, with a focus on molecular biology — initially to find a cure for cancer,” writes Leung. “There have been Nobel laureates collaborating on cancer, genetics, and immunology, along with future laureates making discoveries in how RNA, a molecule that is as fundamental as DNA to cell function, can be used in medicine.”


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.

Boston Globe

A new study by MIT researchers provides evidence that life on Earth may have begun in shallow bodies of water, reports Martin Finucane for The Boston Globe. The researchers found that ponds “could have held high concentrations of a key ingredient, nitrogen, while that would have been less likely in the ocean,” Finucane explains.


A new study by MIT researchers provides evidence that the first life on Earth likely came from shallow ponds, not oceans, reports the Xinhua news agency. The researchers found that primitive ponds that were about “10 centimeters deep had higher concentrations of nitrogen, a key ingredient for life on Earth.”

Scientific American

MIT researchers have developed an inhalable form of messenger RNA that could be used to help treat patients with lung disease, reports Christopher Intagliata for Scientific American. Intagliata explains that researchers hope to one day “use this technique to help cystic fibrosis patients.”


Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have programmed CRISPR to “in essence, make edits when significant cellular events occur,” writes Kristin Brown for Gizmodo. “All this adds up to the potential of CRISPR as not just a gene-editing powerhouse, but a multifunctional tool that also works as a biosensor, a medical detective, and an invaluable instrument for basic research.”


Originally created by the Zhang Lab in 2017, CRISPR tool SHERLOCK has been improved upon to be three times more sensitive for detecting viruses and infections using an inexpensive test strip. Sharon Begley writes for STAT News, “A paper strip, like in a pregnancy test, is dipped into a sample, and if a line appears, the target molecule was detected — no instruments required.”

The Verge

A gene-editing tool called SHERLOCK, developed in Prof. Feng Zhang’s lab, allows for faster detection of infections and viruses, such as Zika and Dengue fever. “It does this by combining different types of CRISPR enzymes, which are unleashed together to target distinct bits of DNA and RNA, another of the major biological molecules found in all forms of life,” writes Alessandra Potenza for The Verge

Los Angeles Times

MIT scientists have developed a technique that could potentially be used one day to treat diseases of the brain, muscles, liver and kidneys by using CRISPR to edit RNA, writes Melissa Healy for The Los Angeles Times. Making edits to the chemical message of RNA, “doesn’t effect a permanent change in a cell’s architectural plan; rather, it essentially alters the implementation of that plan,” explains Healy. 

The Wall Street Journal

Prof. Feng Zhang and his colleagues have created a CRISPR-based system that can edit RNA in human cells, reports Amy Dockser Marcus for The Wall Street Journal. “The new RNA-editing system, which the scientists have dubbed Repair, allows the editing of individual RNA letters, correcting a common mutation known to play a role in a number of diseases.”

Financial Times

Financial Times reporter Clive Cookson writes that Prof. Feng Zhang and his colleagues have engineered CRISPR so that it can edit single RNA letters in human cells. Cookson explains that the researchers believe that, “RNA editing offers a safer and more flexible way to make corrections than the permanent changes involved in DNA editing.”


TIME reporter Alice Park writes that MIT researchers have modified the CRISPR gene-editing system so that it could be used to diagnose disease. Park explains that the researchers, “used CRISPR to recognize specific substances that bacteria and viruses make. Picking up even the slightest whisper of these products can alert doctors that an infection is active.”

The Washington Post

MIT researchers have developed a new technique that uses the CRISPR gene-editing system to diagnose diseases, reports Joel Achenbach for The Washington Post. Achenbach explains that the tool could potentially be used to “detect not only viral and bacterial diseases but also potentially for finding cancer-causing mutations.”

Straits Times

Straits Times reporter Nadia Chevroulet writes that researchers from MIT and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) have uncovered how certain bacteria evade the body’s defenses. The findings could provide “new ways to counter tuberculosis, and possibly a new generation of drugs to battle antibiotic resistance.”


MIT researchers have developed a programmable vaccine that could be used to respond to disease outbreaks, reports Ben Gruber for Reuters. The vaccine harnesses “messenger RNA, a genetic material that can be programmed to fight any viral, bacterial or parasitic disease by provoking an amplified immune response.”