Molecular machines underlie the vast diversity of the living world and are the result of millions of years of selection to optimize them for particular biochemical tasks. If an ancestral gene for a protein is duplicated and the two copies evolve along different paths, they can acquire related but different functions. For some particularly successful families of proteins, this process…
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Physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, are now enrolling patients in a clinical trial to evaluate a potential treatment of patients with COVID-19. Part of a multi-site investigation, the trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of sarilumab, a biologic medication already approved for adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis,…
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Through the Storm

On experiment days in the age of physical distancing, postdoctoral fellow Conor McMahon walks an hour each way to the Harvard Medical School Quadrangle. When he arrives at the lab, he is the only occupant of a space once bustling with the activity of students, technicians and postdocs under the guidance of his mentor, Andrew Kruse, associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular…
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Abnormal levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are linked to a variety of mental health disorders, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MIT researchers have now devised a way to remotely control the release of these hormones from the adrenal gland, using magnetic nanoparticles. This approach could help scientists to learn more about how hormone release…
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Even early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, it quickly became clear that some people, like the elderly or those with underlying health issues, were getting more severely ill than others. But other reasons why some people end up in intensive care while many others escape with mild or even no symptoms remain baffling. In early March, Mark Daly, Andrea Ganna, and…
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Fumasoni and Murray show how evolution can quickly and reproducibly change conserved features involved in the maintenance of genomes in response to constitutive problems affecting DNA replication. Four billion years of evolution have produced the remarkable variety of processes that we observe in living organisms. Behind the enormous diversity of cellular structures and functions that natural selection has produced, the…
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Making Headway on COVID-19 Research

First things first: in order to take out an enemy, you’ve got to be able to see the enemy. But how do you “see” a seemingly invisible invader like SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for more than a million COVID-19 infections around the world? Scientists at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) have found a way to light…
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The burgeoning coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has already killed thousands of people worldwide and is threatening the lives of many more. In an effort to limit the virus from spreading, Harvard University was among the first organizations to promote social distancing by requiring all but the most essential personnel to work remotely. However, labs that perform vital COVID-19-related research are…
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Scientists Map Human Protein Interactions

The human body is composed of billions of cells, each of which is made and maintained through countless interactions among its molecular parts. But which interactions sustain health and which ones can cause disease when they go awry? The human genome project has provided us with a “parts list” for the cell, but only if we can understand how these…
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As scientists race to develop and test new treatments for COVID-19, Dana-Farber’s Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD, and his lab team are bringing one of the world’s most formidable resources to the effort: a “library” of 27 billion human antibodies against viruses, bacteria, and other bodily invaders. The collection, created by Marasco and his associates in 1997 using blood samples from more…
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