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The iconic MIT home page Spotlight features a daily-changing image and design that focuses on advances in research, technology and education taking place at the Institute. Though some Spotlights do run multiple days - for example Friday's spot usually runs through the weekend, we work very hard to maintain the daily-changing tradition. We've combed our servers and have compiled a digital archive of the Institute home page through the years - well over 2000 images. Enjoy!
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Forced mutations doom HIVToday’s Spotlight features an animation by Christine Daniloff/MIT with figures courtesy of the researchers.

Fifteen years ago, MIT professor John Essigmann and colleagues from the University of Washington had a novel idea for an HIV drug. They thought if they could induce the virus to mutate uncontrollably, they could force it to weaken and eventually die out — a strategy that our immune system uses against many viruses.

The researchers developed such a drug, which caused HIV to mutate at an enhanced rate, as expected. But it did not eliminate the virus from patients in a small clinical trial reported in 2011. In a new study, however, Essigmann and colleagues have determined the mechanism behind the drug’s action, which they believe could help them develop better versions that would destroy the virus more quickly.

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The MIT home page Spotlight showcases the research, technology and education advances taking place at the Institute every day.

What makes it as a Spotlight image is an editorial decision by the MIT News Office based on factors that include timeliness, promotion of MIT's mission, the balance of interest to both internal and external audiences, and appropriateness.

We do welcome ideas and submissions for spotlights from community members, but please note we are not able to accommodate all requests. We are unable to run event previews or promotions as spotlights; for those looking to promote an event, we are happy to include your listing as an event headline on the homepage (when space is available) and you are free to submit an Of Note to the MIT News office. For more information, e-mail the spotlight team.

Request a Spotlight, Of Note or Event Headline, here.
Hitting the mark

Hitting the mark

Today’s Spotlight image, by Aude Thiriot/Harvard, shows

MIT engineers designed RNA-carrying nanoparticles (red) that can be taken up by endothelial cells (stained blue).

RNA interference (RNAi), a technique that can turn off specific genes inside living cells, holds great potential for treating many diseases caused by malfunctioning genes. However, it has been difficult for scientists to find safe and effective ways to deliver gene-blocking RNA to the correct targets.

Up to this point, researchers have gotten the best results with RNAi targeted to diseases of the liver, because it filters the blood. But now, in a study appearing in the May 11 issue of Nature Nanotechnology, an MIT-led team reports achieving the most powerful RNAi gene silencing to date in nonliver tissues.

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