Personalized Gene Delivery to the Gut
A team of researchers, led by Dr. Harris Wang, has engineered bacteria to benefit and improve the overall health of our gut microbiome. In a proof-of-concept paper published in Nature Methods, the researchers demonstrate MAGIC, a gene delivery system that ‘hacks’ the gut microbiome to perform any desired genetic function, from harvesting energy from food and protecting against pathogen invasion to bolstering anti-inflammatory properties and regulating immune responses.
Designer Proteins Come with Built-In Safeguards
By merging two genes into a single DNA sequence, Columbia University synthetic biologists have created a method that could prevent human-engineered proteins from spreading into the wild, as well as stabilize synthetic proteins so they don’t change over time. The work, recently published in Science, was developed by Harris Wang, PhD, assistant professor of systems biology, with graduate student, Tomasz Blazejewski and postdoctoral scientist, Hsing-I Ho, PhD. Read more about their new technique, CAMEOS, which creates a single DNA sequence containing two genes that encode two separate proteins.
Sampling Neighborhoods of the Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome–composed of hundreds of different species of bacteria–is a complex community and a challenge for scientists to unravel. One specific challenge is the spatial distribution of different microbes, which are not evenly distributed throughout the gut. A new method developed by the lab of Dr. Harris Wang should help scientists locate and characterize these neighborhoods, which could shed light on how microbes influence the health of their hosts.
The Wang Lab Wins DARPA Grant to Boost the Body’s Resilience to Radiation
Harris Wang, PhD, assistant professor of systems biology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, is leading a team of experts in radiation research, CRISPR-Cas technologies, and drug delivery on an innovative new project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The up to $9.5M project focuses on pursuing a therapy to protect the body from the effects of high-dose ionizing radiation, and is part of DARPA's initiative to fund research into new strategies to combat public health and national security threats.
The Gates Foundation Funds the Wang Lab’s Efforts in Global Health Study
Dr. Harris Wang and systems biology graduate student, Ravi Sheth, have been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help advance a global health project aimed at reducing childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. The project incorporates Dr. Wang’s innovative microbiome research techniques to study the antibiotic, Azithromycin, and understanding its role as an intervention for improving childhood survival rates in low-resource settings.