Hakho Lee, Ph.D.
Center for Systems Biology, Mass General Research Institute
Associate Professor of Radiology
Harvard Medical School
Hostetter MGH Research Scholar
Massachusetts General Hospital
|PhD Harvard University 2005|
Sensitive, fast and cost-effective diagnostic systems can have far-reaching implications in medicine and life sciences.
My laboratory specializes in developing such sensors by bringing together ideas and techniques embodied in physics, engineering, and computation.
Our research is guided by core principles — thorough understanding of underlying sensing mechanisms and providing robust energy solutions.
We further apply developed sensors to quantitatively analyze living systems. These efforts are key requisite for finding new biomarkers for early intervention as well as for developing targeted therapies.
We have developed new types of magnetic sensors for clinical diagnostics. Magnetic detection can be highly selective even in complex biological media because of the inherently negligible magnetic background of biological objects. As such, the need for extensive sample purification is obviated, which not only minimizes sample loss, but also simplifies assay procedure.
EXOSOME ANALYSIS PLATFORM
Exosomes have emerged as a novel biomarker for clinical diagnostics. Exosomes are membrane-bound phospholipid nanovesicles (<200 nm in diameter) released into the circulation by cells. Exosomes present molecular markers, including those also expressed by their parental cells, and thus can serve as surrogates of parental cells. Quantifying exosomes from a specific cell type has been shown to have clinical importance; changes in subtypes of exosomes have been observed in patients with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, infectious diseases, and cancer. Sensitive and selective exosome detection, however, still remains a challenging task, mainly due to the small size of these vesicles. Over the past years, my research has focused on developing new sensing technologies for quantitative exosome analyses. These efforts lead to new platforms that can 1) efficiently enrich exosomes from native specimen and 2) molecularly profile exosomes. Applying these platform, we unraveled a correlation between exosomal molecular profiles and disease progression, which validated the diagnostic potential of exosomes.
POINT OF CARE DIAGNOSTICS
We are committed to develop robust, easy-to-use diagnostic tools, with applications in resource-limited settings. Some of the developed systems include a smartphone-based imaging system for point-of-care cancer detection, a fluorescence-polarization device to diagnose infection, and a magneto-electrochemical sensor for food-safety. We envision that these efforts will create new opportunities for inexpensive point-of-care diagnostics and prompt care delivery, addressing global health problems and bringing forth societal benefits.