Imagine you have 20 new compounds that have shown some effectiveness in treating a disease like tuberculosis (TB), which affects 10 million people worldwide and kills 1.5 million each year. You know that to treat the disease effectively, patients will need a combination of three or four drugs because TB bacteria behave differently in different environments—and in some cases, evolve…
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Germ Cells Move like Tiny Bulldozers

Copied to clipboard During fruit fly embryo formation, primordial germ cells — the stem cells that will later form eggs and sperm — must travel from the far end of the embryo to their final location in the gonads. Part of the primordial germ cell migration is passive; the cells are simply pushed into place by the movements of other…
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David Avigan, MD, has been named director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Cancer Center and senior vice president of Cancer Services at Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH). In his new role, Avigan will be responsible for setting the vision and strategic direction for cancer care, research and education for the BIDMC Cancer Center and the BILH network.…
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In the fall of 2018, cancer researcher Corrie Painter began presenting some intriguing early results from a new study on a rare and deadly cancer known as angiosarcoma. She and her fellow scientists hoped that by sharing their findings publicly before publishing them in a scientific journal, they could help other researchers more quickly make discoveries that might help patients.
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Advancing Discovery

The road to illuminating the biological mysteries of the human body is filled with hurdles, not the least of which is the daunting task of obtaining funding to support early-stage discoveries. At Harvard Medical School, the Dean’s Innovation Awards addressed that challenge by providing catalytic early support for research projects probing some of the most confounding questions in biomedicine, such…
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About 70 percent of all human proteins include at least one sequence consisting of a single amino acid repeated many times, with a few other amino acids sprinkled in. These “low-complexity regions” are also found in most other organisms. The proteins that contain these sequences have many different functions, but MIT biologists have now come up with a way to…
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Of all the mutated, blundering, havoc-wreaking genes in cancer cells, few are more ubiquitous than TP53. The gene, which in its normal, capable form is nicknamed the “guardian of the genome,” is found in a flawed form in almost every type of cancer, including up to half of all lung, ovarian, and colorectal cancers and a small percentage of leukemias,…
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What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?

The cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown and is a central focus of Boston College Assistant Professor of Biology Emrah Altindis and others in his field hoping to find new ways to help 1.6 million Americans living with the chronic autoimmune disease, a group that is expected to increase to 5 million people by 2050. While genetics studies have…
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The treatment of blood cancers has dramatically improved in the last five years, thanks to a new class of cancer immunotherapies called CAR-T cell therapy. This therapy — which involves engineering a patient’s own T cells in the lab to kill cancer cells and then infusing them back into the patient — cures about 40 percent of people with otherwise…
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The billions of immune cells that help protect us from diseases do amazing things, but sometimes they need a little boost. For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out ways to engineer living immune cells to better combat aggressive diseases, like cancer. One big, relatively recent advancement in the fight against cancer is CAR T-cell therapy, a treatment that involves modifying immune…
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