JULY 2016

Low-level laser therapy may improve treatment of dangerous bleeding disorder

A low-intensity type of laser treatment may offer a non-invasive, drug-free treatment for thrombocytopenia – a potentially life-threatening shortage of platelets, which are essential to blood clotting.


Mass General physicians outline ways to avoid contracting Zika virus, other mosquito-borne illnesses

In a recent article two Massachusetts General Hospital physicians describe the best ways to prevent mosquito bites and the illnesses—including Zika virus— that might be contracted from them.


Mass General study reveals how the body disposes of red blood cells, recycles iron

What happens when red blood cells become damaged or reach the end of their normal life span, and how is the iron required for carrying oxygen recycled? A new study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators contradicts previous thinking about where and how worn-out red blood cells are disposed of and their iron retained for use in new cells.


Liver tissue model accurately replicates hepatocyte metabolism, response to toxins

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine have created a "liver on a chip," a model of liver tissue that replicates the metabolic variations found throughout the organ and more accurately reflects the distinctive patterns of liver damage caused by exposure to toxins.


Novel compound has promise for treatment of Huntington's disease

A major, multi-institutional study based at Massachusetts General Hospital has identified a promising treatment strategy for Huntington’s disease (HD). The novel compound identified by the research team appears to protect against neurodegeneration in cellular and animal models of HD by two separate mechanisms.


Mass General study links developmental and lipid handling pathways in C. elegans

A Massachusetts General Hospital research team reports finding that a previously unknown interaction between metabolic pathways in two different tissues within the C.elegans roundworm triggers a key step in maturation.


Lack of paternal information on birth certificate may increase a child's obesity risk

A new study by a Massachusetts General Hospital-led research team finds an association between the lack of paternal information on infants’ birth certificates and increases in several risk factors for childhood obesity.


Female physicians at public medical schools paid an average of 8 percent less than males

In what may be the largest study of salary differences between male and female medical school faculty members, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School find that – even after adjusting for factors likely to influence income – women physicians earn an average of $20,000 per year less than men.


Genetics of type 2 diabetes revealed in unprecedented detail

The largest study of its kind into type 2 diabetes has produced the most detailed picture to date of the genetics underlying the condition.


Mass General team finds how obesity contributes to, blocks treatment of pancreatic cancer

Investigators have discovered the mechanism by which obesity increases inflammation and desmoplasia—an accumulation of connective tissue—in the most common form of pancreatic cancer. They have also identified a treatment strategy that may inhibit the process.


JUNE 2016

Video may help heart failure patients choose level of end-of-life care

Patients with advanced heart failure who watched a short video depicting different levels of end-of-life care were more likely to choose comfort care over invasive care that could prolong their life, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.


Study finds patient navigators improve comprehensive cancer screening rates

A clinical trial conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has found that the use of patient navigators may improve comprehensive cancer screening rates among patient populations not likely to receive recommended screenings.


New procedure allows long-term culturing of adult stem cells

A new procedure developed at Massachusetts General Hospital may revolutionize the culturing of adult stem cells and allow their generation from cells collected in some routine clinical procedures.


Potential therapy target could reduce dangerous post-heart-attack inflammation

A new study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified a mechanism behind the surge in cardiovascular inflammation that takes place after a heart attack and describes a potential strategy for suppressing inflammation within atherosclerotic plaques.


Faulty assumptions lie behind the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities in behavioral health care

Racial and ethnic disparities in the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders may result from key faulty assumptions about the best ways of addressing the needs of minority patients. Those assumptions are detailed, along with recommendations for potential improvement strategies, in an article in the June issue of Health Affairs.


Shackleton expedition surgeons completed hazardous procedure 100 years ago

In a paper entitled “Of Penguins, Pinnipeds, and Poisons,” published online in the journal Anesthesiology, Paul Firth, MBChB, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, describes how surgeons Alexander Macklin and James McIlroy treated crew members for the problems and injuries inflicted by the extreme environment, including a June 15, 1916, surgical operation that posed hazards—some that were then unknown—to both the patient and the surgical team.


Nanoprobe enables measurement of protein dynamics in living cells

A team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Rowland Institute at Harvard University have used a specialized nanoprobe developed by the Harvard/Rowland investigators to directly measure levels of key proteins within living, cultured cells.


Study reveals impact of antibiotic treatment, other factors on the infant gut microbiome

A comprehensive analysis of changes in the intestinal microbial population during the first three years of life has revealed some of the impacts of factors such as mode of birth – vaginal versus cesarean section – and antibiotic exposure, including the effects of multiple antibiotic treatments.


Study reveals how interactions between neural networks change during working memory

How does the cross-talk between brain networks change when working memory—the mental assembly of information needed to carry out a particular task—is engaged? Investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that dopamine signaling within the cerebral cortex can predict changes in the extent of communication between key brain networks during working memory.


Use of neighborhood environment can help overweight adolescents increase physical activity

A program encouraging overweight or obese adolescents to increase their physical activity through use of their everyday environment, rather than organized classes or sports programs, produced significant increases in participants’ daily physical activity that were sustained for at least three to four months. A report on a pilot study conducted at the Mass General Health Center in Revere is being published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.


MAY 2016

New UN treatment targets for HIV/AIDS would be "expensive but worth every penny"

A new study finds that implementing the United Nations targets for HIV testing and treatment would be an expensive but ultimately very cost-effective way to increase survival, reduce the number of children orphaned by HIV, and contain the global AIDS epidemic. That is the conclusion of researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the University of Cape Town and the Yale School of Public Health, who estimated the likely impact of the so-called “90-90-90” program.


Antiretroviral therapy may not be enough to reduce HIV-associated arterial inflammation

A Massachusetts General Hospital-based study finds that initiating antiretroviral therapy soon after diagnosis of an HIV infection did not prevent the progression of significant arterial inflammation in a small group of previously untreated patients.


Human amyloid-beta acts as natural antibiotic in the brains of animal models

A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital investigators provides additional evidence that amyloid-beta protein – which is deposited in the form of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease – is a normal part of the innate immune system, the body’s first-line defense against infection.


Pilot study shows that use of video decision aids increases advance care planning

A program encouraging physicians and other providers to discuss with patients their preferences regarding end-of-life care significantly increased the documented incidence of such conversations and the number of patients with late-stage disease who were discharged to hospice.


Ragon Institute study identifies unexpected mutation in commonly used research mice

A strain of inbred mice commonly used for the creation of so-called knockout animals has been found to carry a previously undetected mutation that could affect the results of immune system research studies.


First genitourinary vascularized composite allograft (penile) transplant in the nation performed at Massachusetts General Hospital

A team of surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), led by Curtis L. Cetrulo, Jr., MD, and Dicken S.C. Ko, MD, announced today that they have performed the nation’s first genitourinary reconstructive (penile) transplant. The 15-hour operation, which took place earlier this month, involved surgically grafting the complex microscopic vascular and neural structures of a donor organ onto the comparable structures of the recipient.

Called a genitourinary vascularized composite allograft (GUVCA) transplant, this month’s landmark procedure represents the culmination of more than 3½ years of research and collaboration across multiple departments and divisions within the MGH – including Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Urology, Psychiatry, Infectious Disease, Nursing, and Social Work – all of which are part of the MGH Transplant Center.


MassGeneral Hospital for Children named supporter of Microbiome Initiative announced by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

In a major push by President Obama’s administration to advance the understanding of the microbiome – the population of microorganisms that lives within and around the human body – and enable the protection and restoration of healthy microbiome function, MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) is being recognized as a collaborative partner with Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) in the National Microbiome Initiative.


Mass General study identifies potential treatment target for pancreatic cancer

Investigators have identified the first potential molecular treatment target for the most common form of pancreatic cancer, which kills more than 90 percent of patients.


Intravenous ketamine may rapidly reduce suicidal thinking in depressed patients

Repeat intravenous treatment with low doses of the anesthetic drug ketamine quickly reduced suicidal thoughts in a small group of patients with treatment-resistant depression.


New material temporarily tightens skin

Scientists at MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs have developed a new material that can temporarily protect and tighten skin, and smooth wrinkles.


Deciphering chromatin: Many marks, millions of histories at a time

A new high-resolution technique for reading combinations of chemical flags in the epigenome could help uncover new rules underlying cell fate and provide important clues for understanding diseases like cancer. The technique was developed by the Bernstein Lab of the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. Brad, Bernstein, MD, PhD, is the inaugural Bernard and Mildred Kayden Endowed MGH Research Institute Chair.


Mass General-developed device may provide rapid diagnosis of bacterial infections

A team of investigators has developed a device with the potential of shortening the time required to rapidly diagnose pathogens responsible for health-care-associated infections from a couple of days to a matter of hours.


New method could offer more precise treatment for corneal disease

Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have developed a new light-based technique that selectively stiffens tissue in the cornea and might one day offer improved treatment for eye problems caused by weakened corneal tissue.


Sparing livers

Recently developed treatments that cure hepatitis C virus will create new opportunities for people with other liver diseases to receive transplanted livers.

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