FEBRUARY 2017

Study confirms vitamin D protection against cold and flu

A new global collaborative study has confirmed that vitamin D supplementation can help protect against acute respiratory infections.


Gene variants associated with body shape increase risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes

A study from Massachusetts General Hospital researchers has found that a pattern of gene variants associated with a body type in which weight is deposited around the abdomen increases the risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, as well as the incidence of several cardiovascular risk factors.


Women in academic cardiology are significantly less likely to be full professors

The first study to evaluate sex differences in academic ranking among academic cardiologists has found that women were significantly less likely than men to be full professors, even when adjusting for factors such as age, years of experience and research productivity that are traditionally associated with academic rank.


How humans bond: the brain chemistry revealed

Northeastern psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that the neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in human bonding, bringing the brain’s reward system into our understanding of how we form human attachments.


Daylight savings time impacts miscarriage rates among select IVF patients, study finds

Daylight savings time contributes to higher miscarriage rates among women undergoing in vitro fertilization who had had a prior pregnancy loss, according to a new study.


Advanced EEG analysis reveals the complex beauty of the sleeping brain

Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have developed a novel approach to analyze brainwaves during sleep, which promises to give a more detailed and accurate depiction of neurophysiological changes than provided by a traditional sleep study.


Low-dose chemotherapy protocol relies on normalization of tumor blood supply

The effects of a promising new approach to chemotherapy that involves frequent administration of dosage levels much lower than traditionally used appears to rely on the “normalization” of blood vessels within and around a tumor.


Old drug may provide new hope to melanoma patients

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital will be conducting a clinical trial to investigate the ability of phenformin – a drug once used to treat diabetes – to improve the results of melanoma treatment.


Academic medical leaders call travel restrictions "a step backward" for U.S. medical education, research and healthcare

The executive order restricting individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. is “a step backward” for medical education, patient care and biomedical research in this country, write medical department leaders from Massachusetts General Hospital and six other major academic medical centers.


Adding antiandrogen therapy to radiation therapy improves survival in recurrent prostate cancer

A nearly two-decades-long clinical trial has demonstrated that adding antiandrogen therapy to radiation therapy can improve the survival of prostate cancer patients who have evidence of disease recurrence after radical prostatectomy.


JANUARY 2017

Hormone may offer new contraceptive that protects ovaries from chemotherapy

Massachusetts General Hospital investigators report a naturally occurring hormone that plays an important role in fetal development may be the basis for a new type of reversible contraceptive that can protect ovaries from the damage caused by chemotherapy drugs.


Model assessment may predict obstructive sleep apnea in children with Down syndrome

A team led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children physician has developed an assessment that may reduce the need for sleep studies in ruling out the presence of obstructive sleep apnea in people with Down syndrome.


A better carrier for gene therapy in hearing loss?

Using a better form of gene therapy, scientists from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have managed to restore partial hearing and balance in mice born with a genetic condition that affects both.


Novel radiotracer measures olfactory neurons in animal models

Using a novel PET radiotracer, a team of Massachusetts General Hospital researchers has found a way to quantify olfactory sensory neurons and thus improve measurements of olfactory health, a reliable marker of the health of the brain.


Tracking movements of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

Using a novel approach for imaging the movement of immune cells in living animals, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases have identified what appear to be the initial steps leading to joint inflammation in a model of inflammatory arthritis.


RNA-based digital assay of circulating tumor cells may improve diagnosis, monitoring of liver cancer

Massachusetts General Hospital investigators describe how use of an advanced form of the commonly used polymerase chain reaction method to analyze circulating tumor cells may greatly increase the ability to diagnose early-stage cancer, increasing the likelihood of successful treatment.


Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing

Public health experts from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health applaud the efforts of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect public housing residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure and discuss both implementation challenges and possible solutions to ease the burden of transition.


Study finds alterations in both blood-brain barrier and intestinal permeability in individuals with autism

A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds reduced expression of genes involved in the integrity of the blood-brain barrier and the intestinal barrier in those with autism spectrum disorder.


Mass General researchers identify a new target for cancer immunotherapy

Investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital have found new evidence that the tumor necrosis factor receptor type II may be a major target for immuno-oncology treatments, which induce a patient's immune system to fight cancer.


Protein identified by Mass General team may protect tumor-initiating cells in breast cancer

Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have identified a protein that may play an essential role in maintaining a population of tumor-initiating cells (TICs)—treatment-resistant cells responsible for cancer recurrence and metastasis—in breast cancer, as well as a compound that appears to reduce the molecule’s ability to protect TICs from the effects of chemotherapy. Results of the team’s study are being published online in PNAS.


Many of those insured under the Affordable Care Act miss opportunities for financial assistance

A survey conducted by investigators at the Mongan Institute Health Policy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that almost one-third of Californians enrolling in individual insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014 potentially missed opportunities to receive financial assistance with either premium payments, out-of-pocket costs or both. In their report published in the journal Health Affairs, the researchers note that enrollees who received assistance from certified enrollment counselors were less likely to choose plans that made them ineligible for assistance.


Mass General/Mount Sinai-led study connects stress-associated brain activity with cardiovascular risk

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai investigators has linked, for the first time in humans, activity in a stress-sensitive structure within the brain to risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease.


Goldilocks drug prevents chronic kidney disease in primates

A Massachusetts General Hospital research team, using the kidney as an example, has developed a way to avoid ischemia/reperfusion injury with a new monoclonal antibody that binds its target in a way that is "just right."


Bacterial communities of the female genital tract impact HIV infection risk

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard has found that the most common bacterial community in the genital tract of healthy South African women is associated with a more than four-fold increase in the risk of acquiring HIV.


Mass General led team identifies gene mutations behind lack of a nose

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital led a team that has identified gene mutations associated with a rare congenital condition involving the absence of a nose. Mutations in the same gene have previously been associated with a form of muscular dystrophy.

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