Receptors found on cell surfaces bind to hormones, proteins, and other molecules, helping cells respond to their environment. MIT chemists have now discovered how one of these receptors changes its shape when it binds to its target, and how those changes trigger cells to grow and proliferate.   This receptor, known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), is overexpressed in…
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Even as science has removed all doubt about the link between environmental factors like tobacco smoke and lung cancer, the role of genetics in people’s risk of the disease has been much harder to pin down. A study by Dana-Farber investigators provides new evidence that, in people with lung cancer, genetic ancestry can influence the molecular signature of their cancer — the mix…
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The human liver has amazing regeneration capabilities: Even if up to 70 percent of it is removed, the remaining tissue can regrow a full-sized liver within months. Taking advantage of this regenerative capability could give doctors many more options for treating chronic liver disease. MIT engineers have now taken a step toward that goal, by creating a new liver tissue…
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Boot Camp for the Immune System

The human immune system is a nearly perfect defense mechanism. It protects the body from disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. It detects nascent tumors and eradicates them. It cleans up cellular debris at the site of injury or infection. To perform its myriad functions, the immune system must, above all, differentiate between self and non-self—a remarkable selective ability that…
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Two months is evidently all it took for the FDA to investigate Vertex’s phase 1/2 trial for its Type 1 diabetes med, lifting a clinical hold that was placed in early May. Vertex said Tuesday that the planned 17-person trial for VX-880 is back in business after the agency lifted a clinical hold that was originally placed “due to a determination that there is…
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A new paper from Whitehead Institute researchers reveals how mice sense an essential amino acid called leucine, which many people get from eating fish, eggs, or nuts. Down the line, the work could inform research into creating drugs that target specific parts of a key metabolic and growth-regulating pathway called the mTOR pathway to treat some cancers or other metabolic…
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Why do we sleep? Scientists have debated this question for millennia, but a new study adds fresh clues for solving this mystery. The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, may help explain how humans form memories and learn, and could eventually aid the development of assistive tools for people affected by neurologic disease or injury. The study was conducted by Massachusetts…
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Although pregnant individuals and newborns may face elevated risks of developing more severe cases of COVID-19 following SARS-CoV-2 infection, data indicate that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy can help to protect both the mother and child. New research collaboratively led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and published in Nature Communications examined how different COVID-19 vaccines…
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Uchida Lab Connects Machine Learning Theory to Biological Brains

In our new study published in Nature Neuroscience, we found evidence that rodent brains use a specific form of learning called temporal difference (TD) learning. TD learning has been widely used in both animal learning models and artificial intelligence. In each case, an agent learns from an unexpected reward to repeat the actions that lead to reward.  Our results help bring…
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With more than 35 million people worldwide living with the virus and nearly 2 million new cases each year, HIV remains a major global epidemic. While anti-retroviral therapy (ART) can control the infection, dormant HIV-infected immune cells persist in certain tissues throughout the body and can spring back into action if ART is interrupted. This latent viral reservoir is a…
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