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.
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...

Five-minute marijuana test

Smoking marijuana impairs cognitive/motor functions and increases the risk of vehicular accidents. Quantifying recent marijuana use remains difficult due to the low sensitivity (binary results) of rapid kits, and long turn-around of laboratory-based tests. In the paper published in Science Translational Medicine, CSB investigators describe a new sensor, EPOCH (express probe for on-site cannabis inhalation), for on-site marijuana testing. EPOCH integrates novel engineering features such as a radial membrane for molecular capture and transmission optics-based signal processing, all contained in a compact cartridge. The sensor quantifies tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main psychoactive substance, at the level below the regulatory guideline within 5 minutes. In a pilot field testing, EPOCH identified recent (<12 hours) marijuana users by detecting THC in saliva samples. Learn more...