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In the News

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Steele Labs researchers discover new methods to measure solid stress
Researchers in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories have developed new methods to measure solid stress - a force exerted by solid and elastic components - within solid tumors, which could lead to improved understanding of these forces and novel treatment strategies. In a paper recently published in the inaugural issue of Nature Biomedical Engineering, researchers outline three unique methods to spatially map and quantify solid stress independently from tissue stiffness - which has long been known to be linked to tumorigenesis. Check out the press release from MGH here, and coverage of this article in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.
Dr. Jain named 2016 Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters
For the third year in a row, Dr. Rakesh K. Jain, director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology, has been named a 2016 Highly Cited Researcher! Check out the full list here.
Dr. Dai Fukumura Elected to 2017 AIMBE Class of the College of Fellows
Congratulations to Dr. Dai Fukumura for being elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) 2017 Class of the College of Fellows! Dr. Fukumura will be inducted during AIMBE's 2017 Annual Event, March 19-20, 2017, in Washington D.C.
Steele Labs researchers discover potential mechanism of resistance to antiangiogenic treatment in cancer
Researchers in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories have discovered a new mechanism of resistance that may explain why antiangiogenic therapy has failed in some cancers. In a paper recently published in and featured on the cover of Science Translational Medicine, researchers found that treating metastatic colorectal cancer with Avastin (an anti-VEGF agent) significantly increases extracellular matrix components and stiffness in colorectal cancer liver metastases from patients and mouse models. Not only did antiangiogenic therapy lead to an increase in matrix molecules such as hyaluronan and sulfated glycosaminoglycans - contributing to increased compressive forces and tissue stiffness in liver metastases - but it also caused an influx of immune suppressor cells that would contribute to poor response. The preclinical and clinical findings featured in this study will offer new insights into how treatment resistance arises, and suggest new methods to overcome it. Check out the press release from MGH here, coverage of this article in Cancer Discovery Research Watch, and click on the following links to the Science Translational Medicine website for the abstract, reprint, and full text of the article.
Drs. Rakesh Jain, Robert Langer, and Joan Brugge co-chair first ever AACR on Engineering and Physical Sciences
The AACR hosted its first ever Special Conference on Engineering and Physical Sciences in Oncology from June 25-28 in Boston. Dr. Jain was one of three co-chairs of the conference, which focused on the current and future impact of engineering and physical sciences on improving cancer research. Check out AACR's interview with Dr. Jain here.
Steele labs research team finds how obesity contributes to and blocks treatment of pancreatic cancer
Researchers in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories have discovered a new mechanism by which obesity increases inflammation and connective tissue in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. In their Cancer Discovery study, they found that interactions between fat, immune, and connective tissue cells in obesity contribute to tumor progression and chemotherapeutic resistance. By blocking the angiotensin II type-1 receptor signaling pathway, they were able to suppress the tumor-promoting microenvironment. Check out the press release from MGH, here and an interview with MedicalResearch.com here
Dr. Jain honored at tribute event, highlights by NFCR
On June 24th, Dr. Jain was honored by collaborators, colleagues, friends, and family for his groundbreaking achievements in tumor biology and the honorary award of the National Medical of Science, at a tribute event held in Cambridge, MA. The event was highlighted in a blog by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), featuring photography by Mr. Keith Spiro, Business Strategist and Community Builder at NFCR. Check out the blog and slideshow from NFCR here.
New ways to measure solid stress in tumors could lead to improved understanding, therapies
Low-dose chemotherapy protocol relies on normalization of tumor blood supply
Steele Labs Technician wins Partners in Excellence Award
Congratulations to Sylvie Roberge for winning 2015 Partners in Excellence Teamwork Award for her exemplary performance and commitment to the MGH research community. In the Steele Labs, Sylvie is an extremely gifted small animal technician and surgeon, and has collaborated with dozens of students and fellows during her time in the lab.

Steele Labs Fellow wins Poster of Distinction at Annual MGH ECOR SAC Meeting
At the 69th Annual Meeting of the MGH Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) on April 6-7, 2016, sponsored by the Executive Committee on Research (ECOR), Joao Incio, a research fellow in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories, won an award for Poster of Distinction.
Targeting two angiogenesis pathways to improve glioblastoma treatment
Check out these press releases from MGH and MedicalResearch about two recent papers from the Steele Labs in PNAS Early Edition. These studies show that targeting two pathways of angiogenesis - specifically, vascular endothelial growth factor and angiopoietin-2 - could potentially improve treatment of glioblastoma. Patients treated with anti-VEGF therapy were previously shown to have a increase in Ang-2 as tumor progression resumed, suggesting this pathway as a resistance mechanism to anti-VEGF therapy. By targeting both pathways, researchers showed that you could not only normalize the tumor vasculature, but also reprogram the immune microenvironment to an anti-tumor phenotype.
Cancer Phylogenetics - Steele Labs work featured in Sparrho blog
Check out this Sparrho blog perspective on a recent paper from the Steele Labs about tracing a cancer's phylogenetic tree, here.
A new mechanism by which obesity promotes pancreatic and breast cancer
Researchers in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories have discovered a new mechanism by which obesity is able to promote cancer progression in pancreatic and breast cancer. In their Clinical Cancer Research study, they found that obesity increased infiltration of tumor-promoting immune cells, as well as tumor growth and metastasis. By blocking the placental growth factor (over expressed in obesity) and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 pathway, they were able to suppress this metastatic-promoting microenvironment. Check out the press release from MGH, here.
Lance Munn awarded the Rice University Bioengineering Distinguished Alumnus Award
Lance Munn, Associate Professor in the Steele Laboratories, was recently awarded a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Rice University. The award was created to “honor alumni for their excellence in research, teaching, service, or significant contributions to academia, society, or the bioengineering industry.” Lance received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Rice before joining Radiation Oncology in 1993. He will be returning to his alma mater in the spring to give a lecture in their bioengineering seminar series.
Rakesh Jain receives the United States National Medal of Science
Rakesh Jain, PhD, director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at the MGH and the Andrew Werk Cook Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), has won the National Medal of Science. This prestigious honor is awarded by the president of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. This is the first time an MGH investigator has been recognized with the National Medal of Science and also marks the first time in 26 years that an HMS faculty member has received the award.
Rakesh Jain named one of most highly cited scientists according to Thomson Reuters
Rakesh Jain has been named a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in recognition of excellence in the scholarly community. The list of highly cited researchers is based on citation data over an 11-year period using Thomson Reuters Web of Science and InCites.
Ph.D. Candidate Meenal Datta receives NIH F31 fellowship
Meenal Datta, a graduate student in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology, received the NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award. Under mentorship from Dr. Rakesh Jain, Meenal received this award in support of her research on improving treatment outcome in tuberculosis.
Improving treatment of pancreatic cancer patients using a generic drug - metformin
Researchers in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories have recently published a report in PLOS One that describes how metformin decreases inflammation and fibrosis associated with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of pancreatic cancer. Many patients with PDAC are diabetic and take metformin – a common generic medication for type 2 diabetes. The researchers discovered a novel mechanism by which metformin affects extracellular matrix molecules and immune cells in PDAC. Check out the press release from MGH, here.