News & Events


Gut-brain connection signals worms to alter behavior while eating

December 20, 2018

Study may lead to a better understanding of the digestive tract’s nervous system.

When a hungry worm encounters a rich food source, it immediately slows down so it can devour the feast. Once the worm is full, or the food runs out, it will begin roaming again.

A new study from MIT now reveals more detail about how the worm’s digestive tract signals the brain when to linger in a plentiful spot. The researchers found that a type of nerve cell found in the gut of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans is specialized to detect when bacteria are ingested; once that...


Engineering "capture compounds" to probe cell growth

December 17, 2018

Researchers develop a method to investigate how bacteria respond to starvation and to identify which proteins bind to the "magic spot" - ppGpp. 

In 1969, scientist Michael Cashel was analyzing the compounds produced by starved bacteria when he noticed two spots appearing on his chromatogram as if by magic. Today, we know one of these “magic spots,” as researchers call them, as guanosine tetraphosphate, or ppGpp for short. We also understand that it is a signaling molecule present in virtually all bacteria, helping tune cell growth and size based...


Computer model offers more control over protein design

November 5, 2018

New approach generates a wider variety of protein sequences optimized to bind to drug targets.

Designing synthetic proteins that can act as drugs for cancer or other diseases can be a tedious process: It generally involves creating a library of millions of proteins, then screening the library to find proteins that bind the correct target.

MIT biologists have now come up with a more refined approach in which they use computer modeling to predict how different protein sequences will interact with the target. This strategy generates a larger number of candidates and also offers...


CSB Student Seminars

November 1, 2018

Casual research talks on Computational and Systems Biology. Lunch provided!