Molecular Technology for Improved Treatment of Disease

Colloquium | February 14 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Tan Hall

 Hadley Sikes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 Department of Chemical Engineering

Our understanding of disease states, both communicable and non-communicable, progresses at a remarkable pace in this age of data-rich biology. Unfortunately, our current ability to make use of this knowledge on a routine basis in clinical settings is limited. The focus of this presentation will be to present examples of how chemical engineering design and biomolecular engineering can be used to further the goals of improved access to the benefits of knowledge of disease at the molecular level and precision medicine.

Different clinical settings and different diseases present differing needs, resources and challenges. For example, infectious diseases worldwide are either undiagnosed or incorrectly diagnosed at a staggering rate because diagnostic techniques that are feasible in the US are not feasible worldwide. An analysis of this problem will be presented along with two molecular technologies that my lab has developed for the detection of proteins in blood. Engineered binding proteins for sample capture and photo-redox catalyzed polymerization reactions for colorimetric signal amplification will be demonstrated to simultaneously meet performance metrics while also meeting practical constraints set forth by the World Health Organization. A second example relates to the treatment of cancers in the US. The utility of engineered proteins and reaction-diffusion models will be demonstrated in making measurements of epigenetic modifications of particular genes and redox metabolism in individual tumors in order to match patients with effective therapies.