Understanding the body’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is key to developing effective treatments and long-lasting vaccines. Of particular interest are neutralizing antibodies, which can block the virus from entering into and infecting human cells, helping the immune system clear the virus and prevent future infections. Ragon scientists, publishing in the journal Cell, show that the potency of…
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Despite the fact that Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, with more than 400,000 new cases every year, there are no consistently accurate tests for Lyme. Known in the medical community as “the great imitator,” Lyme disease can be challenging to diagnose as many of its symptoms, such as fatigue, disrupted sleep, brain fog, and joint and body pain, also occur with other diseases.…
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The nervous and immune systems have long been thought to be separate entities in the body, but new research has uncovered a direct cellular interaction between the two. Scientists from Harvard Medical School, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, MIT, and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard have found that pain-sensing neurons surround lymph nodes in mice,…
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Cancer mutations often incapacitate critically important genes, forcing tumors to depend heavily on other genes for survival. Such genetic dependencies are attractive targets for new cancer therapies. In a study published in Cell Reports, scientists from the Cancer Dependency Map (DepMap) project at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and colleagues report a genetic dependency that could be present…
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One-Step Method to Generate Mice for Vaccine Research

To develop vaccines and investigate human immune responses, scientists rely on a variety of animal models, including mice that can produce human antibodies through genetically engineered B cell receptors, which are specialized antibodies bound to the B cell membrane. These mice, however, often take several years to develop, requiring a complicated process of genetic modification and careful breeding. “The time…
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RNA Molecules Are Masters of Their Own Destiny

At any given moment in the human body, in about 30 trillion cells, DNA is being “read” into molecules of messenger RNA, the intermediary step between DNA and proteins, in a process called transcription. Scientists have a pretty good idea of how transcription gets started: proteins called RNA polymerases are recruited to specific regions of the DNA molecules and begin…
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“Wet” age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of irreversible vision loss in the elderly, and it occurs when abnormal and leaky blood vessels form in the retina, in part due to inflammation. New research by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reveals insights into potential drivers of the disease — which currently has no cure…
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Breast cancer, the second most common cancer in the United States, can result from a number of cellular misregulations, such as deficiencies in the DNA-repairing breast cancer gene, BRCA. Typically, BRCA-associated breast cancer is treated with poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors and, recently, clinical trials have investigated pairing PARP inhibitor therapy with immunotherapy. Based on preclinical data from Dana-Farber/Brigham and…
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A new study by Alejandro Vasquez-Rifo, PhD, and Victor Ambros, PhD, shows that certain strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a rod-shaped bacterial pathogen that causes disease in plants and animals, including humans, have a unique mechanism for disabling and degrading the ribosome in its host cells. The study, published in PLOS Biology, points to a mechanism that may be harnessed by scientists in the…
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Obesity has been linked to increased risk for over a dozen different types of cancer, as well as worse prognosis and survival. Over the years, scientists have identified obesity-related processes that drive tumor growth, such as metabolic changes and chronic inflammation, but a detailed understanding of the interplay between obesity and cancer has remained elusive. In a new study in…
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