Once viewed merely as a producer of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) bathing the brain and spinal cord, the choroid plexus is now known to be a key player in brain development and immunity. These fronds of brain tissue, located in the CSF-filled brain cavities known as ventricles, secrete instructive cues into the CSF to regulate brain development. They also function…
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On Earth right now, there are about 10 trillion gigabytes of digital data, and every day, humans produce emails, photos, tweets, and other digital files that add up to another 2.5 million gigabytes of data. Much of this data is stored in enormous facilities known as exabyte data centers (an exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes), which can be the size…
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a severe, fatal neurodegenerative disorder causing loss of motor neurons and voluntary muscle action. While mouse studies have identified potential treatments, these drugs have typically done very poorly in human trials. “One of the most difficult challenges in drug discovery is identifying a target that has a key role in the disease process,” says Clifford Woolf,…
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As early as high school, Ritu Singh was fascinated by the idea of doing research at the intersection of chemistry and biology. She loved how the subjects were interconnected and, together, how they could explain biochemical pathways in the body.  To pursue her dream of becoming a researcher, Singh studied pharmaceutical sciences as an undergraduate at the Shreemati Nathibai Damodar…
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Exploring the Unknown

McGovern Investigator Ed Boyden says his lab’s vision is clear. “We want to understand how our brains take our sensory inputs, generate emotions and memories and decisions, and ultimately result in motor outputs. We want to be able to see the building blocks of life, and how they go into disarray in brain diseases. We want to be able to control…
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Sepsis is a dreaded, life-threatening condition that can occur when an infection spins out of control. Like a tsunami after an earthquake, sepsis occurs when an infection triggers a dysregulation of the immune system, which leads to widespread organ damage and even death. The condition can result from nearly any kind of infection and afflicts tens of millions each year…
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Scientists are beginning to make inroads into treating cholangiocarcinoma, a rare, lethal cancer of the bile ducts, with precision drugs. Last year, the first targeted drug for some patients with the disease was approved. Now, Dana-Farber scientists say they have identified another genetic alteration in a small percentage of cholangiocarcinoma patients that can be attacked with new and experimental targeted drugs. All three…
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A person’s risk of severe infections increases dramatically as they grow older, but scientists do not yet understand how age might be linked to weakened immunity. Now, research shows that certain age-related changes in blood cells are associated with a higher risk of a range of severe infections including severe COVID-19, other pneumonias, and sepsis. Researchers analyzed genetic and clinical…
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What Drives Severe Lung Inflammation in COVID-19?

A main feature of COVID-19 is lung inflammation and respiratory failure caused by an overexuberant immune response known as the cytokine storm. But why does the body produce such an excess of cytokine immune cells? New research from Talal Chatila, MD, of the Division of Immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital and colleagues provides some insights, particularly regarding the mechanisms involved in severe lung inflammation in…
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