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Feng Yao, PhD
Senior Scientist, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Surgery
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

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Research Narrative:
Feng Yao is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Louisiana State University Medical Center and did his post.doc training in the Laboratory of Tumor Virus Genetics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. He joined the Department of Surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1995. He is the sole inventor of 6 issued U.S. or National Patents and 2 pending U.S. Patent Applications. The tetracycline gene switch technology that he invented, trademarked as T-REx by Invitrogen/Life Technologies is the most powerful repression-based transcription switch discovered in mammalian cells. The T-REx technology has been used and cited in more than 3500 publications and hundreds of patent applications covering various fields, including therapeutic protein and antibody productions in mammalian cells and drug screening. Using this gene switch technology, Dr. Yao has established several unique approaches for genetic engineering novel recombinant viruses for clinical applications in the fields of infectious diseases, cancers, and neural regeneration.
Dr. Yao’s lab is currently focusing on developing and testing:
  1. Non-replicating dominant-negative HSV-2 recombinant virus-based vaccines against herpes simplex virus type 2 genital infections and disease.
  2. Regulatable oncolytic HSV-1-based therapeutic approaches against human cancer.
  3. Live-attenuated and regulatable HSV-1 vector technology for immunization and cancer immunotherapy.

T-REx TECHNOLOGY T-RExTM is the tetracycline-regulatable gene switch technology developed by Dr. Feng Yao at BWH (U.S. Patent 5,972,650, National Patent). T-REx is the most powerful repression-based transcription switches discovered in mammalian cells to date. The technology uses the tetracycline repressor, tetR, itself, (rather than the previously used tetR-mammalian cell transcription factor fusion derivatives) to function as a potent repressor of gene expression from the tet operator–containing human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) major immediate-early promoter, while preserving its natural promoter activity. Because the ability of tetR to associate with its operator is abolished in the presence of tetracycline, this tetR-mediated repression of gene expression is de-repressed in the presence of tetracycline (Tet-On). Therefore, T-REx can be used to regulate gene expression in cell biology, molecular virology, and gene therapy. The applications of this technology includes drug screening, therapeutic protein and antibody production, therapeutic vector production, and development of a novel class of dominant-negative and replication-defective recombinant viruses as viral vaccine against infectious disease, regulatable oncolytic viruses for tumor therapy, and various types of viral vectors for cancer vaccine.


Publications (Pulled from Harvard Catalyst Profiles):

1. Akhrameyeva NV, Zhang P, Sugiyama N, Behar SM, Yao F. Development of a glycoprotein D-expressing dominant-negative and replication-defective herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) recombinant viral vaccine against HSV-2 infection in mice. J Virol. 2011 May; 85(10):5036-47.

2. Koyama T, Hackl F, Aflaki P, Bergmann J, Zuhaili B, Waisbren E, Govindarajulu U, Yao F, Eriksson E. A new technique of ex vivo gene delivery of VEGF to wounds using genetically modified skin particles promotes wound angiogenesis. J Am Coll Surg. 2011 Mar; 212(3):340-8.

3. Xu XM, Wang YS, Chen RY, Feng CL, Yao F, Tong SS, Wang L, Yamashita F, Yu JN. Formulation and pharmacokinetic evaluation of tetracycline-loaded solid lipid nanoparticles for subcutaneous injection in mice. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2011; 59(2):260-5.

4. Brans R, Yao F. Immunization with a dominant-negative recombinant Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) type 1 protects against HSV-2 genital disease in guinea pigs. BMC Microbiol. 2010 Jun 03; 10:163.

5. Yao F, Murakami N, Bleiziffer O, Zhang P, Akhrameyeva NV, Xu X, Brans R. Development of a regulatable oncolytic herpes simplex virus type 1 recombinant virus for tumor therapy. J Virol. 2010 Aug; 84(16):8163-71.

6. Reish RG, Zuhaili B, Bergmann J, Aflaki P, Koyama T, Hackl F, Waisbren E, Canseco JA, Verma KD, Eriksson E, Yao F. Modulation of scarring in a liquid environment in the Yorkshire pig. Wound Repair Regen. 2009 Nov-Dec; 17(6):806-16.

7. Brans R, Akhrameyeva NV, Yao F. Prevention of genital herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 disease in mice immunized with a gD-expressing dominant-negative recombinant HSV-1. J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Oct; 129(10):2470-9.

8. Hirsch T, Spielmann M, Zuhaili B, Fossum M, Metzig M, Koehler T, Steinau HU, Yao F, Onderdonk AB, Steinstraesser L, Eriksson E. Human beta-defensin-3 promotes wound healing in infected diabetic wounds. J Gene Med. 2009 Mar; 11(3):220-8.

9. Lu Z, Brans R, Akhrameyeva NV, Murakami N, Xu X, Yao F. High-level expression of glycoprotein D by a dominant-negative HSV-1 virus augments its efficacy as a vaccine against HSV-1 infection. J Invest Dermatol. 2009 May; 129(5):1174-84.

10. Hirsch T, Spielmann M, Velander P, Zuhaili B, Bleiziffer O, Fossum M, Steinstraesser L, Yao F, Eriksson E. Insulin-like growth factor-1 gene therapy and cell transplantation in diabetic wounds. J Gene Med. 2008 Nov; 10(11):1247-52.