Research Focus

Imagine, if we understood what the 30 trillions of cells in our body do at any given moment...

Now compare these 30 trillions of cells (not counting the microbiome!) to the earth population of 8B people (3,750 times more!). This creates a massive undertaking...

At CSB we develop innovative technologies to enable the discovery of new biology, drug targets and diagnostics.

Approach: we develop new integrated systems for subcellular analysis and use innovative imaging tools to decipher dynamic networks. This allows us to interrogate networks at multiple scales from populations to molecules.
Visualizing living cells & tissues in many colors

Tracking the dynamic interactions of living cells and tissues is central to our understanding of biological function, yet hard to do, because microscopic molecular machinery is intrinsically difficult to visualize while in operation. We can observe living cells/tissues by labeling key molecules with distinct fluorescent colors, but usually just one or two at a time— akin to taking photographs of a brilliant garden, but only in black and white. Other existing technologies can map the intricate spatial distribution of biomolecules and cell types within tissues (i.e., seeing the garden in all its colors), but not in specimens that remain alive and intact. Therefore, a key goal has been to achieve many-colored longitudinal readouts of living systems. Publishing in Nature Biotechnology, a CSB team introduces scission-accelerated fluorophore exchange (SAFE): imaging tools that enable living cells and tissues to be deeply and serially profiled, revealing their many-colored complexity across both space and time. Learn more...

Liquid biopsy for pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancers are often hard to detect until it is too late. One of the reasons is that there are no sensitive or specific blood tests for early pancreatic cancer. Researchers from the Weissleder lab describe a new liquid biopsy method (sEVA) in Science Advances. The technique accurately tests for tumor shed vesicles by analyzing every vesicle in a blood sample. Preliminary feasibility studies showed that sEVA detected 15/16 stage 1 pancreatic cancer at MGH. The single vesicle detection method has the potential to transform early pancreatic cancer research and clinical practice. Learn more...

ZiPPy

Minimizing nonspecific adsorption of proteins is crucial to biosensing for accurate diagnostics. In a recent paper published in Advanced Materials, the biomedical engineering team at CSB describes a new zwitterionic (‘oppositely charged’) molecule, ZiPPy (zwitterionic polypyrrole), as a superior coating material for biosensors. ZiPPy can be easily deposited onto a sensor surface through electroplating, rendering the sensor highly resistant to nonspecific protein binding. In the current study, the CSB. investigators used the ZiPPy-coated sensors to detect neutralizing antibodies against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from saliva samples collected from vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The approach enabled antibody detection without need for sample purification or additional labeling. ZiPPy would be of great interest for the broad biosensing community. Learn more...