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Associated Press

Institute Professor Robert Langer has been honored as one of the recipients of this year’s Balzan Prize for his “pioneering research and advances in mRNA vaccines and tissue engineering,” the Associated Press reports. Langer has paved the way “for breakthroughs in the controlled release of macromolecules with many medical applications,” the Balzan Foundation noted in its citation.

News Medical Life Sciences

Doctoral research specialist Morteza Sarmadi speaks with Emily Henderson from News Medical Life Sciences about his work with Prof. Robert Langer and research scientist Ana Jaklenec in developing microparticles that are able to deliver self-boosting vaccines. “We believe this technique can significantly reduce the need to visit a healthcare provider to receive booster shots, a major challenge in remote areas without sophisticated healthcare resources,” says Sarmadi.

Newsweek

Scientists at MIT are developing a self-boosting vaccine that can provide multiple doses of a vaccine via a single injection, reports Darko Manevski for Newsweek. The technology “could be particularly useful for administering childhood vaccinations in regions where people do not have regular access to medical care,” writes Manevski.

The Economist

MIT scientists are developing self-boosting vaccine technology that could allow people to receive all of their vaccine doses in one shot, reports The Economist. This technology “would be a game-changer, not only for future pandemics but also for vaccination programs in remote regions where it is harder to deliver boosters,” The Economist notes.

Los Angeles Times

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Edward Scolnick and La Jolla Institute for Immunology Prof. Erica Ollmann Saphire share their insights on the future and potential challenges in developing a universal Covid-19 vaccine. “Success will require two principles that the world has not yet sufficiently grasped in fighting this virus: a focus on the long term over the short term, and a sustainable structure and support for collaboration,” write Scolnick and Saphire.

The Guardian

Institute Prof. Robert Langer, whose “innovations have helped create more than 100 products from artificial skin to messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines,” speaks with Guardian reporter Zoë Corbyn. “I think it’s important to stress how much engineers can and have changed the world for the better,” says Langer. “It’s a thrill for me to see engineering and biology improving people’s lives; that’s been my dream from the beginning.”

Newsweek

Researchers from MIT and the La Jolla Institute for Immunology have found a vaccine ingredient that may strengthen immune response, reports Natalie Colarossi for Newsweek. This combination-style vaccine ingredient “may boost the effectiveness of inoculations ranging from HIV to Covid-19,” writes Colarossi.

Reuters

A new study co-authored by Prof. Retsef Levi finds vaccine passports “that exempt vaccinated people from regular Covid-19 testing would allow many infections to be missed,” reports Nancy Lapid for Reuters.

Forbes

Forbes reporter Jack Kelly profiles Institute Prof. Robert Langer, spotlighting his career journey and his passion for helping others. “I traded job security and high pay for doing things I was passionate about,” Langer explains. “Out of over 20 job offers I received upon graduation from college, I chose the lowest paying one by far because I thought by doing so, I could potentially improve the health of patients. I dreamed about doing things that I thought would make the world a better place.”

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.”

NPR

Noubar Afeyan ’87, a member of the MIT Corporation, speaks to Guy Raz of NPR’s How I Built This podcast about his journey toward co-founding Moderna and becoming a part of history through the rapid creation and production of vaccines for the Covid-19 pandemic. “The reality is when you have a pandemic and you’re a public company and you have material data, our sense was that we at a high level had to put that [information] out there,” says Afeyan. “One of these things we learned, because none of us had been in this situation before, is that we are going to get criticized no matter what we did. So, we just had to do what we thought was right.”

Nature

Nature reporter Eric Bender spotlights MIT startup Kytopen, which has developed a microfluidic platform to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and other forms of cell therapy. We want to do minimally invasive surgery,” says Kytopen co-founder Prof. Cullen Buie.

GBH

Prof. Jonathan Gruber speaks with Margery Eagan and Jared Bowen on Boston Public Radio about the ethics of offering vaccine booster shots in the U.S. when many nations are struggling with vaccine scarcity. “This is really a moment where, going forward, the world has to figure out a more effective strategy,” said Gruber. “We need to think about how we’re going to set up institutions to deal with these kinds of tradeoffs in the future.” 

National Geographic

National Geographic reporter Roxanne Khamsi spotlights how Prof. Richard Braatz is working on developing continuous manufacturing processes that could help boost global vaccine availability. Khamsi notes that one feature Braatz and his colleagues are testing is using “a filter that attaches to the side of their production tanks to continuously extract vaccine material, rather than harvesting it in bulk.”

CNN

As part of the Vax India Now event on CNN, Profs. Bruce Walker, Peko Hosoi and Parag Pathak, along with senior research scientist Chris Caplice and MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis, participate in a discussion led by Vijay Joshi, Editor-in-Chief of The Press Trust of India, about what India can learn from America’s experience with vaccine distribution. “It is absolutely [in the U.S.’s] interest to make sure that everybody in India gets vaccinated, that everybody in South America get vaccinated,” says Hosoi. “We really are all in this together.”