Microbes can be engineered to produce a variety of useful compounds, including plastics, biofuels, and pharmaceuticals. However, in many cases, these products compete with the metabolic pathways that the cells need to fuel themselves and grow. To help optimize cells’ ability to produce desired compounds but also maintain their own growth, MIT chemical engineers have devised a way to induce…
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A groundswell of evidence connects defects in the function of microglia, the brain’s resident immune cells, to neurodegenerative diseases, yet the tools for studying these cells in the laboratory have been limited. Now, a team of Whitehead Institute scientists has developed a new experimental platform for generating microglia from human stem cells that includes transplantation into newborn mice. As described…
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A Closer Look at Neuronal Rewiring in Brain Development

In many vertebrates, neural circuits undergo substantial reorganization in early postnatal life. This reorganization strengthens some neuron-to-neuron connections, while other neuronal connections are weakened by synapse elimination. It is likely that these changes are related to early electrical activity in the nervous system. Hence, this phenomenon is likely one of the main strategies by which a vertebrate nervous system is…
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Researchers have identified a potential new signaling pathway that may help further the understanding of blood clot formation in cancer patients and ultimately help prevent this complication from occurring. A pulmonary embolism generally occurs when a clot from the deep veins of the extremities also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) becomes dislodged and travels to the lungs. This event…
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Learning to Remember: Memory-Trace Cells

The study of memory is currently at the forefront of neuroscience- how does the brain store memories across our entire lifetime, and recall specific memories based on environment, mood, or attention? Memory is believed to be stored, partially, in an area of the brain called the medial temporal lobe (MTL). Within this area, brain cells have been found in a…
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The cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—a disabling neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and leads to weakened muscles and early death—is not fully understood, but accumulating evidence suggests that inflammatory processes may play a role in the initiation and progression of the condition. In research led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)…
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While aging is not widely considered a disease, there are countless conditions that occur with increasing frequency as we age, such as heart or neurodegenerative disease. A new wave of therapeutics aims to prevent a whole host of age-related diseases by slowing the aging process itself. Decades of research have shed light on the genetics of aging and have pointed…
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Brigham and Women’s Hospital announces a $20.2 million gift from Frank and Barbara Resnek to support the launch of the Resnek Family Center for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) Research, the first research center of its kind in the nation. Under the direction of Joshua Korzenik, MD, the Resnek Center will take a multipronged approach to developing new therapies for PSC,…
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Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a highly aggressive and one of the most difficult-to-treat childhood tumors. It’s the second most common malignant brain tumor, as well as the leading cause of brain tumor death among children. “It’s essentially 100 percent fatal,” says Katherine Warren, MD, clinical director for Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “For years, we have tried…
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Speeding Cell, Gene Therapy Development

An innovative new major private-public partnership led by Harvard and MIT aims to accelerate one of the hottest and most promising areas of medical research: cell and gene therapy. “I just think it’s a huge opportunity,” said Terry McGuire, a founder of the venture capital firm Polaris Partners and a member of Massachusetts Life Sciences Strategies Group, a panel of…
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