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Cellular “Backpacks” to Slow Tumor Growth
Macrophages are the body’s multipurpose defense agents, patrolling for pathogens and engulfing cellular debris, foreign substances, microbes, and even cancer cells. But cancerous tumors have evolved an insidious defense mechanism: they can switch arriving macrophages from an anti-cancer state to a pro-cancer state, in which they help promote the tumor’s growth. As a result, attempts...
FcMBL: Broad-Spectrum Pathogen Capture for Infectious Diseases
Microbial infection is the cause of life-threatening cases of sepsis, meningitis and multiple other diseases that are major causes of death world-wide. Equally prevalent are pathogenic contaminants in our environment, food, and manufacturing processes. In each case, the presence of dangerous microbes must be confirmed, and when they are found, they need to be removed,...
Biomaterial Scaffolds for T Cell Expansion
Immunotherapy, or tweaking the body’s own immune system to treat disease, is attracting significant attention in the medical field for its potential to offer long-lasting cures with fewer side effects than chemotherapy or other drugs. One type of immunotherapy involves isolating T cells (a type of white blood cell) from a patient’s body, sometimes modifying...
Implantable Cancer Vaccine
The implantable cancer vaccine is an aspirin-sized disc that is implanted under the skin and serves as an artificial lymph node, recruiting and training a patient's own immune cells to find and kill their cancer cells. It was validated in a Phase I clinical trial at the Wyss Institute, and is currently being developed by Novartis to treat melanoma.
Microfluidic Drug Encapsulation
Because of their large molecular sizes and properties, biologic drugs, be it in the form of monoclonal antibodies that target disease-associated molecules or active proteins and enzymes that may correct deficiencies in the human body, have proven difficult to deploy in many cases. Their therapeutic effects on target cells and tissues often require high and...
T Cell Traps
T cells, a subtype of white blood cells, play key roles in cell-mediated immunity, be it to fight infections and cancer or, when corrupted, to react against the body’s own cells in more than 80 autoimmune diseases, including type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. However, isolating disease-related T cells from the body...
Fusion Proteins for Reduced Drug Toxicity
Therapeutic variants of the natural hormone erythropoietin (EPO) which is produced in the kidney to boost the production of red blood cells are commonly used to treat anemias stemming from kidney disease, chemotherapy and other complications. However, many drugs that are based on therapeutic proteins, including EPO, often cause unwanted side effects because they not...
FISSEQ: Fluorescent In Situ Sequencing
Working copies of active genes — called messenger RNAs or mRNAs —translate the genetic information present in DNA into proteins within the cells’ multiple compartments. They are often positioned strategically within cells in ways that contribute critically to how cells and tissues grow, develop and function, and their mislocation can lead to disease development. To...
NanoRx: Mechanically-Activated Drug Targeting
The Wyss team has developed a novel drug targeting nanotechnology that is activated locally by mechanical forces, either endogenous high shear stresses in blood created by vascular occlusion or mechanical energy applied locally using low-energy ultrasound radiation. Today, vascular blockage is the leading cause of death and disability in United States and Europe. Current therapies...
Organ Chips are microfluidic devices lined with living human cells for drug development, disease modeling, and personalized medicine. Launched in 2014, Wyss startup Emulate, Inc., is leveraging the Wyss Institute’s Organ Chip technology to mimic human organs in vitro, enabling faster, better, and cheaper drug development and insights into human health.