Research Highlight

Summary of the D3 Platform. (A) Assay process for cellular detection and immunolabeling (B) Schematic for D3 device (C) Rendering of the D3 smartphone model utilizing the embedded phone camera to record diffraction images. Images are sent via an encrypted cloud service to a server for real-time diffraction analysis and diagnostic information is sent back. Source: Im, Hyungsoon, Cesar M. Castro, Huilin Shao, Monty Liong, Jun Song, Divya Pathania, Lioubov Fexon, Changwook Min, Maria Avila-Wallace, Omar Zurkiya, Junsung Rho, Brady Magaoay, Rosemary H. Tambouret, Misha Pivovarov, Ralph Weissleder, and Hakho Lee. “Digital Diffraction Analysis Enables Low-cost Molecular Diagnostics on a Smartphone.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112.18 (2015): 5613-5618. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

Digital diffraction diagnostics for lymphoma and HPV

Much of the developing world currently has limited availability of pathology services resulting in numerous cases of undetected and untreated diseases that, if caught earlier on in their progression, would be much easier and less expensive to treat. A group of researchers at the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital has developed a device called the D3 (digital diffraction diagnostic) system that can be used to diagnose various physiological conditions including lymphoma, cervical cancer, and HPV in point-of-care settings using a smartphone. This device, which attaches itself to the lens of a smartphone, consists of a battery-powered LED light, circuit board, sample insert, pinhole, and mounting clip and utilizes the smartphone camera to take an image of a manually-inserted blood or tissue sample. Before the image is taken, the sample is labeled using microbeads coated with ligands (e.g. antibodies or nucleotides) that bind to specific biomarkers indicative of cancer or HPV. In order to detect lymphoma, cells from a fine-needle aspirate (FNA) of a lymph node are captured by primary antibody CD20 coated on a glass coverslip, then microbeads coated with either kappa or lambda antibody are added to bind to the cells and interrogate their polarization. A similar process is carried out for diagnosing HPV. However, the viral DNA is targeted by microbeads rather than the cancer cells containing the CD20 antigen. Once the image is taken, it is uploaded via a secure, encrypted cloud network to a database at MGH where the image is analyzed using an algorithm that detects the presence of cancer or HPV by identifying the unique diffraction patterns of the bound beads as well as their proximity to the analyte of interest. Based on the number of microbeads bound to target cells, a patient can be quickly, inexpensively, and accurately diagnosed. The D3 device has detected the presence of tumor proteins in cancer cell lines as accurately as the gold standard of microscopy and flow cytometry and allows for an analysis of up to 100,000 cells at a time. The goal of this project is to refine and optimize the D3 assay in order to create an efficient diagnostic device capable of revolutionizing pathology services related to cancer and other diseases in developing countries.



Trainee Research

CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine.   Projects performed by current and past participants include:

Development of PSMA-targeting nanoparticles for positron emitting tomography imaging in prostate cancer using animal models

Quantification of SPION accumulation in tumors using positive-contrast MRI

Localized chemo- and chemo-radiation for the treatment of prostate cancer

Protein-encapsulated nanoparticles for oral delivery of anti-mitotic agents in prostate cancer

Radiation enhancement in cancer cells using gold and gadolinium nanoparticles

Identifying genomic and compound dependencies in undifferentiated sarcomas

Small T Antigen Effect on Mitotic Proteins B-Myb and FOXM1

Nano-plasmonic exosome (nPLEX) assays for exosome analysis and antibody validation

Identification of novel therapeutic targets of the Notch1 signaling pathway

Biological mechanisms of gold nanoparticle-enhanced radiation therapy of prostate cancer

The Assessment and Comparison of Ferumoxtran as Contrast Imaging Agent in Patients with Pancreatic Cancers.

T1-weighted imaging of primary pancreatic adenocarcinoma using magnetic ferumoxytol nanoparticles

miRNA analysis in mouse model of metastatic breast cancer. (Proj 2) The inhibition of PD-L1 on a Pan02 cell line w/ siRNA-nanodrug & gemcitabine treatment

In vivo imaging of targeted drug delivery to HER2 positive cancer cells

Clinical immunotherapy application in metastatic glioblastoma

Development of a Point of Care Assay for Detecting High Risk HPV in Resource Limited Settings

Analysis of DREAM and E2F1 Competition for Cell Cycle Promoters during G1.

Investigating the use of iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO)-bearing PEG-like nanoprobes as a multifunctional agent for cancer therapy and PET imaging

Development of Smart INCeRT Brachytherapy Spacers via PLGA and Docetaxel for Combined Chemo-Radiation Therapies in Prostate Cancer

Tracking pancreatic adenocarcinoma response to treatment using targeted, multi-modal nanoparticles

Radiotherapeutic synergism of thermogelling cisplatin-loaded polymers for cervical cancer treatment

Development of a novel nanogel for non-invasive transdermal delivery of cancer vaccines using hyaluronic acid

Co-delivery of antibiotics and topoisomerase inhibitors to overcome chemoresistance

Assessment of Atherosclerotic Changes using Ferumoxytol as MRI Contrast Agent

Optimization of macrophage-targeted nanoparticles for positron emission tomography imaging in cancer

Soleil Doggett (Biology, '16) talks to her fellow peers about her research on oxygenating tumors to stimulate the anti-tumor immune response.


Trainee e-portfolios

Photo credit: Tom Kates Photography

While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio.  This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine.  These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles.  The complete collection may be found here.

Check out this month’s featured e-portfolios by Rachel Fontana and Jordan Harris!


Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day

At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience.  In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards.  Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!

Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!

Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award