More than 330,000 children worldwide are born with a heart valve defect, and millions of others develop rheumatic heart disease requiring early valve replacement. Current prosthetic heart valves are fixed in size, so typically need to be replaced every few years as a child grows. For children receiving their first replacement before age 2, that means as many as five…
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Clues to Autism’s Origins

A neuroimaging study by Harvard Medical School researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital has shown that the brains of young men with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have low levels of a protein that appears to play a role in inflammation and metabolism. This surprising discovery, published online in Molecular Psychiatry, provides an important new insight into the possible origins of ASD, which…
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Host-associated microbiomes, the microorganisms occurring inside and on host surfaces, influence evolutionary, immunological, and ecological processes. Interactions between host and microbiome affect metabolism and contribute to host adaptation to changing environments. Meta-analyses of host-associated bacterial communities have the potential to elucidate global-scale patterns of microbial community structure and function. It is possible that host surface-associated (external) microbiomes respond more strongly…
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The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) has announced that its 2020 HFSP Nakasone Award will be awarded to Angelika Amon of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA ‘for her discovery of aneuploidy-induced cellular changes and their contribution to tumorigenesis’ which paved the way for exploiting aneuploidy as a therapeutic target in cancer…
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New Hope for a Neglected Disease

It’s a disease that’s hard to pronounce and even harder to eradicate, but schistosomiasis is worth the effort. Caused by parasitic worms carried by freshwater snails, schistosomiasis leads to about 280,000 deaths each year, with more than 200 million people infected—mostly in Africa, but also in parts of Asia and South America. Schistosome worms—also called blood flukes because they travel through the…
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Alum for the Ride

Darrell Irvine, PhD, Ragon Steering Committee Member and MIT Professor of Materials Science and Biological Engineering, has just published a paper in Nature Medicine showing a way to engineer an increased immune response to the vaccine adjuvant aluminum hydroxide, also known as alum, in an HIV vaccine given to animals.   Adjuvants like alum are used to heighten the body’s response to…
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Cambridge Biotech Delivers Coronavirus Vaccine

Government researchers are set to begin testing the first potential coronavirus vaccine, thanks to an emerging Cambridge biotech. Moderna Inc. (Nasdaq: MRNA) reported after markets closed Monday it has delivered the first batch of its vaccine for COVID-19 over to a branch of the National Institutes of Health for clinical testing. The NIH’s allergy and infectious disease institute will lead the next leg of…
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MPM Capital (MPM) and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have entered into a unique, first-of-its-kind, impact investing collaboration. The initiative combines fundraising for biotech venture capital investing with philanthropic fundraising for cancer research. This collaboration has successfully raised two funds: the MPM Oncology Innovations Fund (INV) with $100M in capital for creating and investing in early-stage biotech companies developing oncology therapeutic technologies;…
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Christopher Andry, MPhil, PhD, Professor and Chair, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, and Gerald Denis, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine (HemOnc) and Pharmacology, are the recipients of the 2020 Shipley Prostate Cancer Pilot Grant Awards. Dr. Andry and co-investigator Elizabeth Duffy, MA, Assistant Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, will use their $50,000 award to develop and apply standard operating procedures…
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