There are millions of mutations and other genetic variations in cancer. Understanding which of these mutations is an impactful tumor “driver” compared to an innocuous “passenger”, and what each of the drivers does to the cancer cell, however, has been a challenging undertaking. Many studies rely on bespoke, time-consuming, gene-specific approaches that provide one-dimensional views into a given mutation’s broader…
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Investigators led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, have discovered that knocking out a protein regulator in Ewing sarcoma cells causes the tumor cells to die from an overdose of a cancer-promoting protein. The regulator, a protein known as TRIM8, is critical to the survival of Ewing sarcoma cells because it controls the levels of EWS/FLI, a cancer protein or oncoprotein, which drives…
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Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which strengthen the immune response against tumor cells, have become standard of care for many patients with advanced cancers; however, the medications can often cause side effects, most commonly affecting the skin. A new study led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and published in JAMA Dermatology indicates that these side effects may actually be an indicator that the medications…
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UMass Chan Medical School researchers are embarking on a clinical trial of an mRNA vaccine by Moderna against the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a common cause of infectious mononucleosis. EBV has also been associated with several autoimmune disorders and has been implicated in the development of several cancers, including Burkitt and Hodgkin’s lymphomas. The study, called the Eclipse Trial, is a…
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Preparing for Tomorrow’s Outbreaks

A new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School has identified a set of cellular receptors for at least three related alphaviruses shared across mosquitoes, humans, and animals that host these viruses. Going a step further, the researchers tested a “decoy” molecule that successfully prevented infection and slowed disease progression in a series of experiments in cells and animal…
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The glory of tissue expansion technologies is that when structures, such as proteins that build nerve cell connections, are too small for a microscope to resolve, clever chemistry can make everything bigger and easier to see. But sometimes the chemical bonds involved form right where fluorescent antibody labels must attach to proteins to make them visible. Now a team of…
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The human immune system, that marvel of complexity, subtlety, and sophistication, includes a billion-year-old family of proteins used by bacteria to defend themselves against viruses, scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and in Israel have discovered. The findings, published online today by the journal Science, are the latest in a growing body of evidence that components of our immune system – as advanced a…
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For most cells within the body, identity is non-negotiable. A bladder cell cannot impersonate a blood cell. A liver cell remains a liver cell. One of the rare exceptions has been thought to be a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, in which the lining of the esophagus comes to resemble the lining of the small intestine. Though not harmful in…
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Delta Danger in Pregnancy Scrutinized

A growing body of evidence has linked the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with an increased risk for pregnancy complications, including stillbirths. Now, for the first time, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have detected the Delta variant in the blood and placentas of women who had stillbirths and serious pregnancy complications,…
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Predicting the Future of COVID

Efforts to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 may benefit from a new analytical tool developed by a team led by biologists at Boston College, who report their computer simulation of molecular interactions can predict mutations of the virus and help develop insights into future variants of concern before they emerge. “We computationally predict what mutations allow better binding to host…
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