For all animals, eliminating some cells is a necessary part of embryonic development. Living cells are also naturally sloughed off in mature tissues; for example, the lining of the intestine turns over every few days. One way that organisms get rid of unneeded cells is through a process called extrusion, which allows cells to be squeezed out of a layer…
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Histones are rapidly loaded on the HSV genome upon entry into the nucleus of human fibroblasts, but the effects of histone loading on viral replication have not been fully defined. We showed recently that ATRX is dispensable for de novo deposition of H3 to HSV genomes after nuclear entry but restricted infection through maintenance of viral heterochromatin. To further investigate the roles…
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Improving the Efficacy of Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines

Over the past several decades, researchers have worked to develop vaccines that support the treatment of cancer. There are currently two FDA-approved vaccines that prevent cancer: the HPV vaccine and the Hepatitis B vaccine. However, only one dendritic cell-based vaccine (Sipuleucel-T) has been approved by the FDA to treat existing cancer (others are still in clinical trials) and the overall…
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The human immune system doesn’t just protect our health, it reflects it. Each encounter with a potential disease-causing agent causes the body to produce specific immune agents — proteins known as antibodies and T-cell receptors — tailor-made to recognize and destroy the invader. Tasked with preventing re-infection, antibodies and T-cell receptors (TCR) from your previous encounters circulate throughout the body…
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Immunity often calls to mind the adaptive immune response, made up of antibodies and T cells that learn to fight specific pathogens after infection or vaccination. But the immune system also has an innate immune response, which uses a set number of techniques to provide a swift, non-specialized response against pathogens or support the adaptive immune response. In the past…
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After patients with cancer undergo surgery to remove a tumor and sometimes additional chemotherapy, tools are used to identify patients at highest risk of recurrence. Non-invasive tools to detect microscopic disease are of especially high value. In a new study published in Clinical Cancer Research, a team led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has evaluated the first “tumor-uninformed” test…
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A Wyss Institute-led collaboration spanning four research labs and hundreds of miles has used the institute’s organ-on-a-chip (Organ Chip) technology to identify the antimalarial drug amodiaquine as a potent inhibitor of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Organ Chip-based drug testing ecosystem established by the collaboration greatly streamlines the process of evaluating the safety and efficacy of…
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Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have identified the protein “signature” of severe COVID-19, which they describe in a new study published in Cell Reports Medicine. “We were interested in asking whether we could identify mechanisms that might be contributing to death in COVID-19,” said MGH infectious disease expert and Broad associate member…
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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a collagen-rich dense extracellular matrix (ECM) that promotes malignancy of cancer cells and presents a barrier for drug delivery. Data analysis of our published mass spectrometry (MS)-based studies on enriched ECM from samples of progressive PDAC stages reveal that the C-terminal prodomains of fibrillar collagens are partially uncleaved in PDAC ECM, suggesting reduced procollagen C-proteinase…
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Melissa Pamula is a postdoc in Whitehead Institute Director Ruth Lehmann’s lab studying the cells that make and become eggs and sperm. We sat down with Melissa to learn more about her and her experiences in and out of the lab. Everyone in Ruth’s lab studies some aspect of germ cell biology, which is the study of cells that become…
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