Autism spectrum disorders affect one in 59 American children by age eight. With no known quantitative biological features, autism diagnoses are currently based on expert assessments of behavioral symptoms, including impaired social skills and communication, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. In a paper published in Annals of Neurology, Matthew P. Anderson, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center…
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Inside a living cell, many important messages are communicated via interactions between proteins. For these signals to be accurately relayed, each protein must interact only with its specific partner, avoiding unwanted crosstalk with any similar proteins. A new MIT study sheds light on how cells are able to prevent crosstalk between these proteins, and also shows that there remains a…
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A New Strategy for Treating High Blood Pressure

The key to treating blood pressure might lie in people who are “resistant” to developing high blood pressure even when they eat high salt diets, shows new research published today in Experimental Physiology.  Over 1.1 billion people across the globe suffer from high blood pressure and it is the leading cause of other diseases, including chronic kidney disease, stroke and heart…
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No one expected this. In March, Biogen and its collaboration partner, Tokyo-based Eisai, announced they were discontinuing the global Phase III clinical trials, ENGAGE and EMERGE, of aducanumab in patients with mild cognitive impairment from Alzheimer’s and mild Alzheimer’s dementia. Biogen was also discontinuing the EVOLVE Phase II trial and the long-term extension PRIME Phase Ib trial of the drug. An independent data monitoring committee…
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Smash the Ratriarchy

For centuries, women have been dismissed as emotional and, thus, unreliable. The “scientific” proof? Hormones. This stereotype even extends to female rats, which have been excluded from biomedical research because their hormones supposedly make the results “messy.” But a Northeastern professor has found that these dreaded chemicals could actually cure certain mental health disorders. Now that’s something to get emotional about. In…
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Scientists from the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, led by Dr. Aaron Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, have partnered with the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) on a nation-wide, multidisciplinary program to develop a more universally protective influenza vaccine.   The Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) program, driven and supported by the National Institute of Allergy and…
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Real Texture for Lab-Grown Meat

Lab-grown or cultured meat could revolutionize food production, providing a greener, more sustainable, more ethical alternative to large-scale meat production. But getting lab-grown meat from the petri dish to the dinner plate requires solving several major problems, including how to make large amounts of it and how to make it feel and taste more like real meat. Now, researchers at…
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People with autism often experience hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory input. MIT neuroscientists have now identified two brain circuits that help tune out distracting sensory information, and they have found a way to reverse noise hypersensitivity in mice by boosting the activity of those circuits. One of the circuits the researchers identified is involved in filtering noise, while the…
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Synthetic biologists have taken evolution of proteins into their own hands by changing some that occur in nature or even by synthesizing them from scratch. Such engineered proteins are used as highly efficacious drugs, components of synthetic gene circuits that sense biological signals, or in the production of high-value chemicals in ways that are more effective and sustainable than petroleum-based…
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A team from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has developed a new CRISPR genome-editing approach by combining two of the most important proteins in molecular biology — CRISPR-Cas9 and a reverse transcriptase — into a single machine. The system, called “prime editing,” is capable of directly editing human cells in a precise, efficient, and highly versatile fashion. The…
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