See what's new with Research Advisory Council and research at Mass General
A novel approach to cancer immunotherapy may provide a cost-effective weapon against some of the most deadly tumors, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. A protein engineered by MGH investigators to combine a molecule targeting a tumor antigen with an immune-function stimuating protein prolonged survival in animal models of both tumors.
02/27/2014: High-calorie feeding may slow progression of ALS
Increasing the number of calories consumed by patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be a relatively simple way of extending their survival. A phase 2 clinical trial led by Massachusetts General Hospital physicians found that ALS patients receiving a high-calorie, high-carbohydrate tube-feeding formula lived longer with fewer adverse events than participants who received a standard formula designed maintain their weight.
02/24/2014: Specialized cognitive behavioral therapy improves blood sugar control in depressed patients with type 2 diabetes
A program of cognitive behavioral therapy that addresses both mood and diabetes self-care led to improved blood sugar control and produced faster relief of depression in patients with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes.
02/20/2014: Survey finds rural primary care physicians as committed to professionalism, quality improvement as their urban counterparts
A new study finds few meaningful differences between rural and urban primary care physicians on key measures of professionalism, including their attitudes about participation in quality care improvement.
02/12/2014: Pregabalin effectively treats restless leg syndrome, less likely than dopamine drugs to worsen symptoms
A year-long study has found that pregabalin – FDA-approved to treat nerve pain and seizures – was effective in reducing symptoms of restless leg syndrome and, with long-term treatment, was less likely than pramipexole – which activates the dopamine neurotransmission system and is FDA approved for RLS treatment – to cause worsening of symptoms.
02/07/2014: First Huntington disease prevention trial shows treatment safety, suggests slowing of presymptomatic progression
The first clinical trial of a drug intended to delay the onset of symptoms of Huntington disease reveals that high-dose treatment with the nutritional supplement creatine was safe and well tolerated by most study participants. In addition, neuroimaging provided evidence that creatine might slow the progression of presymptomatic disease.
A new study has found that patients with malignant astrocytoma – the most common malignant brain tumor – whose tumors carry a specific genetic mutation benefit greatly from surgical removal of the largest possible amount of tumor.
MGH investigators have found that adjusting the length of the the guide RNA component of the gene-editing tools called CRISPR-Cas RNA-guided nucleases can substantially reduce the occurrence of DNA mutations at off-target sites.
MGH investigator Gary Ruvkun, PhD, has been named a co-recipient of the 2014 Wolf Prize in Medicine, along with Victor Ambros, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Nahum Sonenberg, PhD of McGill University. Ruvkun and Ambros are being honored for discovering that tiny molecules of RNA control the activity of other genes that encode proteins in animals.
A new technology developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Systems Biology allows simultaneous analysis of hundreds of cancer-related protein markers from miniscule patient samples gathered through minimally invasive methods.
01/12/2014: MGH/Ragon Institute study identifies population of stem-like cells where HIV persists in spite of treatment
Investigators from MGH and the Ragon Institute may have found where HIV persists in the body in spite of antiviral treatment – in a small group of recently identified T cells with stem-cell-like properties.
A team led by investigators from MGH, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Broad Institute has found that a gene mutation associated with several types of cancer also may be responsible for a rare but debilitating brain tumor called papillary craniopharyngioma.
Making an important step towards greater availability of hand and face transplants, MGH investigators have shown that a procedure developed to induce immune tolerance to organ transplants can induce tolerance to a model limb transplant in miniature swine.
01/07/2014: "Traffic light" food labels, prominent positioning of healthy items produce lasting purchase choice changes
The use of color-coded "traffic light" food labels and changes in the way popular items are displayed appear to have produced a long-term increase in the choice of more healthful food items among customers in a large hospital cafeteria.
01/07/2014: Longer-term varenicline treatment improves tobacco abstinence for people with serious mental illness
Extended treatment with the smoking cessation drug varenicline significantly improved the ability of individuals with serious mental illness to maintain abstinence from tobacco after a standard 12-week course of treatment.
A clinical trial assessing the potential of the nutritional supplement inosine to treat Parkinson disease has found that the studied dosages successfully raised participants' levels of the antioxidant urate without producing serious side effects.
12/16/2013: Physicians who prefer hospice care for themselves more likely to discuss hospice with patients
Although the vast majority of physicians participating in a multiregional study indicated that they would personally enroll in hospice care if they received a terminal cancer diagnosis, less than one-third would discuss hospice care early in the course of treating a terminally ill cancer patient.
12/13/2013: Differences in plaque composition, immune activation may explain elevated cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected women
An MGH research team has discovered a possible mechanism behind the elevated risk of cardiovascular disease in women infected with HIV, a risk even higher than that of HIV-infected men.
A team of researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center and MGH has been awarded $25 million by the National Institutes of Health to conduct a clinical trial comparing traditional bypass surgery with a less invasive treatment alternative for patients with critical limb ischemia.
12/11/2013: Brief laser-light treatment may significantly improve effectiveness of influenza vaccines
Pretreating the site of intradermal vaccination – vaccine delivered into the skin rather than to muscles beneath the skin – with a particular wavelength of laser light may substantially improve vaccine effectiveness without the adverse effects of chemical additives currently used to boost vaccine efficacy.
MGH investigators have developed a microchip-based device that can isolate and identify tumor cells found in ascites – an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen that often occurs in abdominal cancers – potentially simplifying the monitoring of treatment response in ovarian cancer and other malignancies.
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators working to create "protocells" – primitive synthetic cells consisting of a nucleic acid strand encased within a membrane-bound compartment – have accomplished an important step towards their goal, finding a solution to the potential incompatibility between a chemical requirement of RNA copying and the stability of the protocell membrane.
11/24/2013: Study identifies protein essential for innate immune recognition, response to viral infection
An MGH-led research team has identified an immune cell protein that is critical to setting off the body's initial response against viral infection. The report describes finding that a protein called GEF-H1 is essential to the ability of macrophages – major contributors to the innate immune system – to respond to viral infections like influenza.
The current "gold standard" test for measuring vitamin D status may not accurately diagnose vitamin D deficiency in black individuals.
A study led by MGH investigators shows that even low levels of the Alzheimer's-associated APOE4 protein can increase toxic amyloid beta brain plaques and the characteristic neuronal damage in mouse models of the disease. Introducing APOE2, a rare, potentially protective variant, reduced amyloid deposits and associated damage.
A strategy developed by MGH-based investigators to increase levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein has been shown for the first time to be effective in non-human primates.
11/15/2013: Blocking signal-transmitting cellular pores may prevent kidney damage from diabetes, other conditions
A group of MGH investigators has identified a molecule that plays a key role in the breakdown of the kidney filter, presenting a potential therapeutic target for stopping the type of kidney damage associated with diabetes before it becomes irreversible.
MGH investigators have identified a group of genes used by the brain's immune cells – called microglia – to sense pathogenics, toxins or damaged cells that require their response. Identifying these genes should lead to better understanding of the role of microglia in normal brains and in neurodegenerative disorders.
A drug approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis may also turn out to be the first targeted therapy for one of the most common forms of kidney disease, a condition that almost inevitably leads to kidney failure.
The pain caused by a surgical incision may contribute to the risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction, a sometimes transient impairment in learning and memory that affects a small but significant number of patients in the days following a surgical procedure.
The pain caused by a surgical incision may contribute to the risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction, a sometimes transient impairment in learning and memory that affects a small but significant number of patients in the days following a surgical procedure.
Advanced imaging techniques may be able to distinguish which patients' tumors will respond to treatment with anti-angiogenic drugs and which will not.
Putting patients with severe head injuries in induced comas requires constant monitoring of brain activity and manual adjustment of drug dosage. Now a computer-controlled system promises to automate the process, making it more precise and efficient and opening the door to more advanced control of anesthesia.
"Treatment as prevention" – early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected individuals with uninfected sexual partners to prevent viral transmission – appears to make economic sense, along with meeting its clinical goals of helping infected patients stay healthy and reducing transmission.
10/24/2013: Genetic analysis reveals novel insights into the genetic architecture of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette syndrome
An international research consortium led by investigators at MGH and the University of Chicago has answered several questions about the genetic background of obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome, providing the first direct confirmation that both are highly heritable and also revealing major differences between the underlying genetic makeup of the disorders.
10/08/2013: Combination of anemia and high altitudes significantly increases risk of poor outcomes in children with pneumonia
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death of young children around the world, and a new study now finds that the risk of poor outcomes – including persistent pneumonia, secondary infections, organ failure or death – in children who contract pneumonia is four times higher in those who also have anemia and live at high altitudes.
Use of existing, well-established hypertension drugs could improve the outcome of cancer chemotherapy by opening up collapsed blood vessels in solid tumors.
MGH researchers have identified and validated two rare gene mutations that appear to cause the common form of Alzheimer's disease (AD) that strikes after the age of 60. The two mutations occur in a gene called ADAM10, which now becomes the second pathologically-confirmed gene for late-onset AD and the fifth AD gene overall.
09/23/2013: CDC, Mass. General study reveals that preventing malaria in travelers to West Africa reduces health costs
Not only do U.S. travelers to West Africa who consult health providers before they leave and take prescribed preventive medications substantially reduce their risk of contracting malaria, they also reduce costs to their health insurance providers and, in most cases, to themselves.
09/18/2013: Study shows colonoscopy better than sigmoidoscopy in protecting against colorectal cancer
A new study finds that colonoscopy appears to reduce the risk of developing or dying from colorectal cancer more powerfully than does sigmoidoscopy, a similar procedure that examines only a portion of the colon. The investigation also identifies molecular features that may help explain tumors that are diagnosed despite an individual's having recently undergone colonoscopy.
A study by MGH researchers finds that some of the symptoms often seen in middle-aged men – changes in body composition, energy, strength and sexual function – are caused not only by decreases in testosterone production but also by reduced levels of estrogen.
A comparison of three methods of predicting recurrence risk in women treated for estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer finds that only the breast cancer index – a biomarker based on the expression levels of seven tumor-specific genes – accurately identifies patients who continue to be at risk after five years of estrogen-blocking treatment.
A recently completed substudy of a larger clinical trial found that pre-exposure prophylaxis – a new strategy to prevent HIV infection by prescribing a daily antiretroviral drug to at-risk individuals – can be a powerful tool when participants take their medications.
A new study appearing in JAMA Pediatrics describes how a home-based program that helped at-risk families improve household routines was able to slow weight gain in a group of young children.
An assay designed to measure normal and abnormal forms of the huntingtin protein – the mutated form of which causes Huntington's disease – was successful in detecting levels of the mutant protein in a large multicenter study of individuals at risk for the devastating neurological disorder.
Use of the "clot-busting" drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to treat patients with strokes caused by a blockage of blood flow nearly doubled between 2003 and 2011, but not all eligible patients are receiving the potentially life-saving therapy.
A new way of analyzing data acquired in MR imaging appears to be able to identify whether or not tumors are responding to anti-angiogenesis therapy, information that can help physicians determine the most appropriate treatments and discontinue ones that are ineffective.
New insights into the development of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques could lead to better treatment or prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
About half of a small group of patients with fibromyalgia – a common syndrome that causes chronic pain and other symptoms – was found to have damage to nerve fibers in their skin and other evidence of a disease called small-fiber polyneuropathy, a disorder that sometimes can be treated.
MGH researchers and their colleagues have used digital versions of a standard molecular biology tool to detect a common tumor-associated mutation in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with brain tumors.
MGH researchers have used vascular precursor cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells to generate, in an animal model, functional blood vessels that lasted as long as nine months.
An international research team has used a novel approach to identify genetic factors that appear to influence susceptibility to cholera. The findings indicate the importance of pathways involved in regulating water loss in intestinal cells and of the innate immune system in the body's response to the bacteria that causes cholera.
Identification of a protein that appears to play an important role in the immune system's removal of amyloid beta protein from the brain could lead to a new treatment strategy for Alzheimer's disease.
A biomarker reflecting expression levels of two genes in tumor tissue may be able to predict which women treated for estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer should receive a second estrogen-blocking medication after completing tamoxifen treatment.
Finally some good news for parents who smoke: you may now be able to get help quitting from an unlikely source, your child’s doctor. A study in the journal Pediatrics, which has been posted online, shows that it is feasible for pediatric practices to incorporate into their normal routine efforts to inform patients' parents about services available to help them quit smoking.
MGH researchers have found a significant limitation to the use of a new gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas RGNs, production of unwanted DNA mutations at sites other than the desired target. Their findings indicate the need to improve the precision of the technology.
06/19/2013: Restoring appropriate movement to immune cells may save lives of patients with serious burns
A device that measures the movement of key immune cells, developed by MGH investigators, may help determine which patients with serious burns are at risk for septic complications, and a novel treatment that directly addresses the cause of those complications could prevent many associated deaths.
06/17/2013: Rare genomic mutations found in 10 families with early-onset, familial Alzheimer's disease
MGH researchers have discovered a type of mutation known as copy-number variants – deletions, duplications, or rearrangements of human genomic DNA – in affected members of 10 families with early-onset Alzheimer's. These are the first new early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease gene mutations to be reported since 1995.
A 2012 survey of internal medicine residents at Massachusetts General Hospital found that more than half rated the training they had received in addiction and other substance use disorders as fair or poor. In response to the findings the MGH has increased residents' training in addiction medicine.
A new measure of the heterogeneity – the variety of genetic mutations – of cells within a tumor appears to predict treatment outcomes of patients with the most common type of head and neck cancer.
A New England Journal of Medicine study finds that, while primary care physicians and nurse practitioners agree that nurse practitioners "should be able to practice to the full extent of their education and training," they significantly disagree about some proposed changes to the scope of nurse practitioners' responsibilities.
05/14/2013: Treatment with two osteoporosis drugs better at increasing bone density than single-drug therapy
A combination of two FDA-approved osteoporosis drugs with different mechanisms of action was found to increase bone density better than treatment with either drug alone in a small clinical trial.
Researchers from MGH and Duke University have identified genetic mutations that appear to underlie a rare but devastating syndrome combining reproductive failure with cerebellar ataxia – a lack of muscle coordination – and dementia.
05/05/2013: Portable device provides rapid, accurate diagnosis of tuberculosis, other bacterial infections
A handheld diagnostic device that MGH investigators first developed to diagnose cancer has been adapted to rapidly diagnose tuberculosis and other important infectious bacteria.
MGH researchers have identified a gene variant that helps predict how much weight an individual will lose after gastric bypass surgery, a finding with the potential both to guide treatment planning and to facilitate the development of new therapeutic approaches to treating obesity and related conditions like diabetes.
A new study from investigators at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at MGH and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center finds that elicitation of the relaxation response produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.
MGH investigators have determined that one of the recently identified genes contributing to the risk of late-onset Alzheimer's disease regulates the clearance of the toxic amyloid beta (A-beta) protein that accumulates in the brains of patients with the disease.
04/18/2013: Three Mass. General researchers among recipients of Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement awards
Three projects led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators have been named among the Clinical Research Forum's Top 10 Clinical Research Achievements of 2012.
04/15/2013: Gene-expression signature may signify risk for recurrence, metastasis in prostate cancer
A team led by MGH researchers has identified a genetic signature that may reflect the risk of tumor recurrence or spread in men surgically treated for prostate cancer. If confirmed, the genetic risk index also may help distinguish tumors that require aggressive treatment from those that can safely be monitored.
Bioengineered rat kidneys developed by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators successfully produced urine both in a laboratory apparatus and after being transplanted into living animals.
Feeding an intestinal enzyme to mice kept on a high-fat diet appears to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome – a group of symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and fatty liver – and to reduce symptoms in mice that already had the condition.
A new system for isolating rare circulating tumor cells – living solid tumor cells found at low levels in the bloodstream – shows significant improvement over previously developed devices and does not require prior identification of tumor-specific target molecules.
The initial clinical trial of a novel approach to treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – blocking production of a mutant protein that causes an inherited form of the progressive neurodegenerative disease – may be a first step towards a new era in the treatment of such disorders.
Changes in the microbial population of the gastrointestinal tract may underlie some of the benefits of gastric bypass surgery, reports a team of researchers from MGH and Harvard University. The investigators also found that post-bypass alterations in the microbial population of mice can induce weight loss in animals that did not have surgery.
An analysis of data from the Framingham Offspring Study confirms that the health benefits of quitting smoking far exceed any negative effects of weight gained after smoking cessation
A multi-institutional study has revealed that BRAF-positive metastatic malignant melanomas develop resistance to treatment with drugs targeting the BRAF/MEK growth pathway through a major change in metabolism. The findings suggest a strategy to improve the effectiveness of currently available targeted therapies.
03/06/2013: Folate and vitamin B12 supplementation reduces disabling schizophrenia symptoms in patients with specific gene variants
Adding the dietary supplements folate and vitamin B12 to treatment with antipsychotic medication improved a core symptom component of schizophrenia in a study of more than 100 patients.
02/28/2013: Study identifies growth factor essential to the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor
A multi-institutional team led by MGH researchers has identified a molecular pathway that appears to be essential for the growth and spread of medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children.
02/25/2013: Extremely high estrogen levels may underlie serious complications affecting single-birth IVF pregnancies
MGH researchers have identified what may be a major factor behind the increased risk of two adverse outcomes in IVF pregnancies – extremely high estrogen levels at the time of embryo transfer. They describe a protocol that reduced the risk of infants born small for their gestational age and the risk of preeclampsia in a small group of patients.
A search for genes that change their levels of expression in response to starvation has uncovered potential clues to the mechanism behind the health benefits of omega fatty acids. MGH researchers report that omega-6 fatty acids may activate a cellular renewal process called autophagy, which may be deficient in several important diseases of aging.
Existing mouse models do not appear to accurately reproduce the human genomic response to serious traumatic injury, including major burns.
Differences in the physical connections of the brain are at the root of what make people think and behave differently from one another. Researchers reporting in the February 6 issue of Neuron shed new light on the details of this phenomenon, mapping the exact brain regions where individual differences occur.
02/05/2013: European restrictions on working hours have 'profound' effect on medical care and education
In the February 6 issue of JAMA, investigators from MGH and Harvard Medical School describe what is known about the impact on medical care and resident training of the European Working Time Directive and its implications for postgraduate medical education in the U.S.
01/31/2013: Transition in cell type parallels treatment response, disease progression in breast cancer
A process that normally occurs in developing embryos – the changing of one basic cell type into another – has also been suspected of playing a role in cancer metastasis. Now a study from MGH Cancer Center researchers has associated this process, called epithelial-mesenchymal transition, with disease progression and treatment response in breast cancer patients.
01/29/2013: Physicians' brain scans indicate that doctors can feel their patients' pain – and their pain relief
In a novel investigation in which physicians underwent brain scans while they believed they were actually treating patients, researchers have provided the first scientific evidence indicating that doctors truly can feel their patients’ pain – and can also experience their relief following treatment.
An analysis of the medical records of more than 38,000 patients by MGH investigators clarifies the contribution of citalopram and other antidepressants to lengthening of the QT interval, an aspect of the heart's electrical activity that – when prolonged – may increase the risk of dangerous arrhythmias.
Two studies in mice suggest that several factors may combine to induce impairments in learning and memory, accompanied by the inflammation of brain tissue, in young mammals receiving general anesthesia and that the offspring of animals that received general anesthesia during pregnancy may show the same effects.
01/15/2013: Advanced Airway Procedures for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Associated With Poorer Neurological Outcomes
In patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation with advanced airway management was a significant predictor of poor neurological outcome compared with conventional bag-valve-mask ventilation.
01/14/2013: Generic HIV treatment strategy could save nearly $1 billion annually but may be less effective
Replacing the combination of brand-name, antiretroviral drugs currently recommended for control of HIV infection with soon-to-be-available generic medications could save the U.S. health care system almost $1 billion a year but may diminish the effectiveness of HIV treatment.
Investigators from MGH and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program compared rates and causes of death among those served by BHCHP between 2003 to 2008 with data from a 1997 study and found that, while drug overdose had replaced HIV as the leading cause of death, overall mortality rates had not changed.
01/14/2013: Impaired coordination of brain activity in autism involves local, as well as long-range, signaling
A new study finds that local functional connectivity of the brain – the extent to which activity within a small brain region appears to be coordinated – is reduced in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. It had been believed that local connectivity was increased in the brains of autistic individuals while long-range connectivity was reduced.
Researchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed an imaging system enclosed in a capsule about the size of a multivitamin pill that creates detailed, microscopic images of the esophageal wall.
01/07/2013: Many physicians often fulfill patient requests for brand-name drugs instead of equivalent generics
More than a third of U.S. physicians responding to a national survey indicated they often or sometimes prescribed brand-name drugs when appropriate generic substitutes were available simply because patients requested the brand-name drug. Respondents who had marketing relationships with industry were more likely to fulfill such requests.
01/07/2013: Looming Malpractice
The length of time it takes to resolve a malpractice claim places stress on patients, physicians and the legal system. The time spent with open claims may be even more distressing for physicians than the financial costs of the claims.
The lifetime risks of cancer from medical radiation may be overemphasized relative to more immediate health risks, according to a new study.
12/17/2012: Genetic manipulation of urate alters neurodegeneration in mouse model of Parkinson's disease
A study by MGH researchers adds further support to the possibility that increasing levels of urate may protect against Parkinson's disease. The investigators report that mice with a genetic mutation increasing urate levels were protected against Parkinson's-like neurodegeneration, while the damage was worse in animals with abnormally low urate.
12/13/2012: Intestinal immune cells play an unexpected role in immune surveillance of the bloodstream
A type of immune cell found in the small intestine plays a previously unsuspected role in monitoring antigens circulating in the bloodstream. Disruption of the newly discovered regulatory system may lead to the development of autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies.
Patients with terminal cancer who viewed a brief video demonstrating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) were less likely than patients who only listened to a verbal description of the procedure to indicate a preference for receiving CPR in the event of an in-hospital cardiac arrest.
A protein known to regulate how cells process glucose also appears to be a tumor suppressor, adding to the potential that therapies directed at cellular metabolism may help suppress tumor growth.
A new study finds differences in how participation in Alcoholics Anonymous helps men and women maintain sobriety. For men, avoiding companions and situations that encourage drinking had more powerful effects, while increased confidence in the ability to avoid drinking in response to feelings of sadness or depression was more important for women.
Treatment with a novel agent that inhibits the activity of SIRT2, an enzyme that regulates many important cellular functions, reduced neurological damage, slowed the loss of motor function and extended survival in two animal models of Huntington's disease.
A study by MGH researchers finds that many of the primary care physicians likely to be asked to care for patients newly insured under the Affordable Care Act may be not be accepting new patients. Strategies designed to increase and support these "safety-net" physicians could help ensure that newly covered patients have access to primary care.
Researchers using a new approach to identifying genes associated with depression have found that variants in a group of genes involved in transmission of signals by the neurotransmitter glutamate appear to increase the risk of depression.
A new study has found that participating in an 8-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating. The researchers also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.
A novel miniature diagnostic platform using nuclear magnetic resonance technology is capable of detecting minuscule cell particles known as microvesicles in a drop of blood. Detecting microvesicles shed by cancer cells could prove a simple means for diagnosing cancer or monitoring treatment response.
11/09/2012: Daniels named first James Howard Means Chair
Staff, family and friends gathered Oct. 15 to celebrate the new James Howard Means Chair and its first incumbent, Gilbert H. Daniels, MD, co-director of the MGH Thyroid Clinic, at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation.
Understanding who is most susceptible to Alzheimer's disease and developing early detection models, effective therapies and possibly a cure, is the goal of the largest single private scientific grant ever invested in Alzheimer's Whole Genome Sequencing focused on families afflicted with the disease.
Smokers today have many options to help them quit, and those who think they have "tried it all" usually have not.
10/16/2012: Drugs used to immobilize patients during surgery raise risk of respiratory complications
MGH researchers have found that medications currently used to immobilize patients during surgery can increase the risk of postoperative respiratory complications.
A study of sports programs at three major universities finds that the way the injury commonly called concussion is usually diagnosed – largely based on athletes' subjective symptoms – varies greatly and may not be the best way to determine who is at risk for future problems.
Studies associating the use of popular anti-heartburn medications with an increased incidence of pneumonia may not have found a true cause-and-effect relationship. A new report also outlines a strategy for determining when the results of such observational studies may have been distorted by unmeasured factors.
09/30/2012: Phase III trial shows crizotinib superior to single-agent chemotherapy for ALK-positive lung cancer
The results of a new phase III trial show that crizotinib, a targeted therapy, is a more effective treatment than standard chemotherapy for patients with advanced, ALK-positive lung cancer.
Combined treatment with two drugs targeting different points in the same growth-factor pathway delayed the development of treatment resistance in patients with BRAF-positive metastatic malignant melanoma.
Is aging inevitable? What factors make older tissues less able to maintain and repair themselves? A new study from MGH investigators and collaborators at King's College London describes how muscle repair is impaired during aging and a strategy that may rejuvenate aging tissue by manipulating the environment of muscle stem cells.
An MGH research team has identified factors that contribute to solid stress within tumors, suggesting possible ways to alleviate it, and has developed a simple way to measure such pressures.
A study conducted in Mongolian schoolchildren, all of whom had low blood levels of vitamin D at the start of the study, found that vitamin D supplementation cut the risk of respiratory infections in half.
08/14/2012: First genome-wide association studies of obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome published
Two papers that will appear in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, both receiving advance online release, may help identify gene variants that contribute to the risks of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder or Tourette syndrome.
For the past 20 years, some of the best and brightest young college and medical students from diverse backgrounds have participated in the annual Summer Research Trainee Program (SRTP) at the MGH.
A phase I clinical trial has confirmed that use of a generic vaccine to raise levels of an immune system modulator can cause the death of autoimmune cells targeting the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas and temporarily restore insulin secretion in human patients with type 1 diabetes.
A program designed to encourage more healthful food choices through simple color-coded labels and the positioning of items in display cases was equally successful across all categories of employees in the MGH cafeteria.
Specially designed comprehensive behavioral therapy is more effective than sessions offering patient support and education in helping adults with Tourette syndrome manage their tics – sudden, repetitive motions or vocalizations – according to a new study.
A new study has discovered one more way that HIV exploits the immune system. Not only does the virus infect and destroy CD4 T cells – which normally direct and support the infection-fighting activities of other immune cells – the virus also appears to use those cells to travel through the body and infect other CD4 T cells.
Incorporating coronary CT angiography into the initial evaluation of low-risk patients coming to hospital emergency departments with chest pain appears to reduce the time patients spend in the hospital without incurring additional costs or exposing patients to significant risks.
07/23/2012: Aspirin protects against Barrett's esophagus
Aspirin use appears to reduce the risk of Barrett's esophagus, the largest known risk factor for esophageal cancer.
07/22/2012: Increased cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected patients may relate to arterial inflammation
The elevated risk of cardiovascular disease seen in patients infected with HIV appears to be associated with increased inflammation within the arteries, according to a study in a special issue of JAMA published in conjunction with the International AIDS Conference.
Researchers from the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard report that a mouse model with a human immune system accurately reflects the human immune response to HIV infection and has the potential to reduce significantly the time and costs required to test candidate vaccines.
A new study finds that the use of drug-eluting stents after angioplasty bears little relationship to patients' predicted risk of restenosis (reblockage) of the treated coronary artery, the situation the devices are designed to prevent.
Detailed analysis of genes expressed in circulating tumor cells – cells that break off from solid tumors and travel through the bloodstream – has identified a potential treatment target in metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Cardiology Division staff members, grateful patients, family members and friends gathered to celebrate the inaugural Herman K. “Chip” Gold, MD, MGH Young Investigator Award during a June 19 reception and ceremony in the East Garden Room.
06/29/2012: In General: 06.29.12
In General awards and honors
A heart attack doesn't just damage heart muscle tissue by cutting off its blood supply, it also sets off an inflammatory cascade that worsens underlying atherosclerosis, actively increasing the risk for a future heart attack, a new study finds.
Magnetic fields generated by microscopic devices implanted into the brain may be able to modulate brain-cell activity and reduce symptoms of several neurological disorders.
A study from MGH researchers finds that a structure deep within the brain, believed to play an important role in regulating conscious control of goal-directed behavior, helps to optimize responses to changing conditions by predicting how difficult upcoming tasks will be.
According to a new study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, MGH and Cambridge Health Alliance, certain noises in a common hospital setting can disrupt sleep and negatively affect brain activity and cardiovascular function.
Researchers at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a portion of the brain responsible for determining how far away a sound originates, a process not relying solely on how loud the sound is.
The rare ability of some individuals to control HIV infection with their immune system alone appears to depend – at least partially – on specific qualities of the immune system's killer T cells and not on how many of those cells are produced.
05/25/2012: 2012 Research Scholars announced
The second group of MGH Research Scholars – recipients of unrestricted five-year grants to support innovative investigations – was announced at the hospital’s Research Advisory Council (RAC) annual meeting on May 11.
05/24/2012: New clues about cancer cell metabolism emerge
Researchers from the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital have produced the first large-scale atlas of cancer metabolism, which points to a key role for the smallest amino acid, glycine, in cancer cell proliferation.
Use of the antioxidant urate to protect against the neurodegeneration caused by Parkinson's disease appears to rely on more than urate's ability to protect against oxidative damage.
MGH surgeons have developed a new technique for reconstructing the larynx after surgery for advanced cancer. The approach uses cryopreserved aortas from deceased donors to replace removed larynx tissue and allows some patients to avoid a permanent tracheotomy and maintain voice and swallowing function.
05/21/2012: Study finds surgical residents often fatigued
A study involving 27 orthopedic surgery residents suggests that surgical residents are often fatigued during their awake time, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Surgery, a JAMA Network publication.
A new study in Nature reports that two people with tetraplegia were able to reach for and grasp objects in three-dimensional space using robotic arms that they controlled directly with brain activity.
A new paper published online in The Lancet challenges the assumption that raising a person’s HDL — the so-called “good cholesterol” — will necessarily lower the risk of a heart attack.
04/20/2012: Consortium aims to accelerate vaccine creation
A newly created consortium plans to change the future of vaccine research.
04/19/2012: Researchers discover new genes contributing to autism, genetic links between neurodevelopment and psychiatric disorders
A new approach to investigating hard-to-find chromosomal abnormalities has identified 33 genes associated with autism and related disorders, 22 for the first time. Several of these genes also appear to be altered in different ways in individuals with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
The keynote speaker at the 2012 Celebration of Science, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the MGH Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), will be Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
04/12/2012: Research teams discover cellular system for detecting and responding to poisons and pathogens
Two MGH-based research teams, along with a group from the University of California at San Diego, have discovered that animals have a previously unknown system for detecting and responding to pathogens and toxins.
Combining two strategies designed to improve the results of cancer treatment – antiangiogenesis drugs and nanomedicines – may only be successful if the smallest nanomedicines are used.
Development of a new way to make a powerful tool for altering gene sequences should greatly increase the ability of researchers to knock out or otherwise alter the expression of any gene they are studying.
04/05/2012: Big advance against cystic fibrosis
MGH researchers have taken a critical step in making possible the discovery in the relatively near future of a drug to control cystic fibrosis, a fatal lung disease that claims about 500 lives each year, with 1,000 new cases diagnosed annually.
A consortium led by researchers from the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and six other organizations has taken a step toward addressing the genetic component of autism by searching for mutations in the fraction of the human genome that codes for proteins.
A small study from MGH researchers found that online virtual communities may be an effective way to train patients in meditation and other mind/body techniques. The ability to learn and practice approaches that elicit the relaxation response in a virtual environment could help surmount several barriers that can restrict participation.
Mutations in HIV that develop during the first few weeks of infection may play a critical role in undermining a successful early immune response, a finding that reveals the importance of vaccines targeting regions of the virus that are less likely to mutate.
A new investigational drug significantly reduced urinary cortisol levels and improved symptoms of Cushing's disease in the largest clinical study of this endocrine disorder ever conducted.
Treatment with the common diabetes drug metformin appears to prevent progression of coronary atherosclerosis in patients infected with HIV.
A subpopulation of the immune cells targeted by HIV may play an important role in controlling viral loads after initial infection, potentially helping to determine how quickly infection will progress.
Massachusetts General Hospital research has found that insulin production may persist for decades after the onset of type 1 diabetes. Beta cell functioning also appears to be preserved in some patients years after apparent loss of pancreatic function.
02/16/2012: MGH Cancer Center team identifies potential treatment target for KRAS-mutated colon cancer
Researchers from the MGH Cancer Center have identified a new potential strategy for treating colon tumors driven by mutations in the KRAS gene, which usually resist both conventional and targeted treatments.
02/14/2012: Vitamin D treatment not found to reduce cardiovascular abnormalities in kidney disease patients
Almost a year's treatment with a vitamin D compound did not alleviate key structural and functional cardiovascular abnormalities in patients with kidney disease and cardiac enlargement.
A distinctive pattern of brain activity associated with conditions including deep anesthesia, coma and congenital brain disorders appears to represent the brain's shift into a protective, low-activity state in response to reduced metabolic energy.
A significant minority of physicians responding to a national survey disagreed with or admitted not upholding accepted standards of professionalism for open and honest communication with patients.
02/06/2012: Mass. General, Jackson Laboratory researchers find clues to common birth defect in gene expression data
Researchers at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, The Jackson Laboratory and other institutes have uncovered 27 new candidate genes for congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a common and often deadly birth defect.
The initial assessment of a blood test to help diagnose major depressive disorder indicates it may become a useful clinical tool. A team including MGH researchers reports that analyzing levels of nine biomarkers accurately distinguished patients diagnosed with depression from control participants without significant false-positive results.
MGH Cancer Center investigators have defined the role of a recently identified gene abnormality – rearrangements in the ROS1 gene – in non-small-cell lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. They also show that these tumors can be treated with crizotinib and describe the remarkable response of one patient to such treatment.
01/27/2012: Go with green
“CHOOSE WELL, EAT WELL,” a simple, inexpensive nutrition program launched at the MGH in 2010, has proven successful in encouraging healthier choices at the hospital’s largest cafeteria, the Eat Street Café.
01/27/2012: Child health pilot grants available
The Harvard Catalyst Child Health Pilot Grant Program is awarding up to 10 pilot grants of $25,000 to $50,000 for one year.
A simple program involving color-coded food labeling and adjusting the way food items are positioned in display cases was successful in encouraging more healthful food choices in a large hospital cafeteria.
Investigators at the MGH Cancer Center have identified a new genetic signature associated with bile duct cancer, a usually deadly tumor for which effective treatment currently is limited.
Using two drugs that inhibit the growth factor HER2 for preoperative treatment of early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer appears to have better results than treatment with a single agent.
MGH investigators have developed a novel strategy to protect the liver from drug-induced injury and improve associated drug safety. The team reports that inhibition of a type of cell-to-cell communication can protect against the damage caused by liver-toxic drugs such as acetaminophen.
Investigators in the MGH Center for Systems Biology have discovered a previously unknown type of immune cell, a B cell that can produce the important growth factor GM-CSF, which stimulates many other immune cells. They also found that these novel cells may help protect against the overwhelming, life-threatening immune reaction known as sepsis.
A new study finds that participating in these races actually is associated with a relatively low risk of cardiac arrest, compared to other forms of athletics. The study also identifies bystander-initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation as a key factor in patient survival.
01/10/2012: How can pediatric HIV be eliminated in Zimbabwe?
Eliminating new infant HIV infections in Zimbabwe will require not only improved access to antiretroviral medications but also support to help HIV-infected mothers continue taking their medication and safely reduce or eliminate breastfeeding, according to study led by MGH investigators.
12/19/2011: Commentary calls for greater awareness of Internet pharmacies' role in prescription drug abuse
In a commentary in the December 20 Annals of Internal Medicine, investigators from MGH, the University of Southern California, and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University describe the probable contribution of Internet pharmacies to prescription drug abuse and outline potential strategies for addressing the problem.
Being able to define and measure patient complexity has important implications for how care is organized, how physicians and health care systems are paid, and how resources are allocated. A study by MGH researchers finds that primary care physicians define patient complexity using more factors than are used in common approaches.
12/18/2011: Increased expression of regulatory enzyme may protect against neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease
Treatment that increases brain levels of an important regulatory enzyme may slow the loss of brain cells that characterizes Huntington's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
12/16/2011: Advancing Alzheimer’s research
Representatives of the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter visited the Charlestown Navy Yard Dec. 8 to present four investigators with $680,000 on behalf of the national organization.
On Dec. 5, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray spent time a few blocks away from the State House to learn about the latest in MGH research and the work being done through the Red Sox Foundation and MGH Home Base Program.
Serious traumatic injuries, including major burns, set off a "genomic storm" in human immune cells, altering around 80 percent of the cells' normal gene expression patterns.
12/01/2011: Mass. General study finds amplification of multiple cell-growth genes in some brain tumors
A small percentage of the deadly brain tumors called glioblastomas, which usually resist treatment with drugs targeting mutations in cell-growth genes, appears to contain extra copies of two or three of these genes at the same time. The surprising discovery has major implications for the understanding of tumor biology and for targeted cancer therapies.
In a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, growth hormone replacement for six months was found to increase bone formation in abdominally obese women.
11/24/2011: Rebuilding the Brain’s Circuitry
Neuron transplants have repaired brain circuitry and substantially normalized function in mice with a brain disorder, an advance indicating that key areas of the mammalian brain are more reparable than was widely believed.
Treatment with dexpramipexole – a novel drug believed to prevent dysfunction of mitochondria, the subcellular structures that provide most of a cell's energy – appears to slow symptom progression in the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease.
An international clinical trial has found that treatment with a drug that suppresses the normal breakdown of bone can delay the development of bone metastases in men with prostate cancer.
Adding regular testing for blood levels of a biomarker of cardiac distress to standard care for the most common form of heart failure may significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular complications, a new MGH study finds.
MGH researchers – along with collaborators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals – have found a way to block, in an animal model, the damaging inflammation that contributes to many disease conditions.
Investigators at the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have found that Sox2 – one of the transcription factors used in the conversion of adult stem cells into induced pluripotent stem cells – is expressed in many adult tissues where it had not been previously observed.
10/05/2011: Health Affairs article focuses on health care disparities facing people with disabilities
In the October issue of Health Affairs, Lisa Iezzoni, MD, director of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at MGH, analyzes available information on disparities affecting people with disabilities and highlights barriers that continue to restrict their access to health services.
10/03/2011: Biomarker for Huntington's disease identified
In a new research paper BWH and MGH researchers identify a transcriptional biomarker that may assist in the monitoring of Huntington's disease activity and in the evaluation of new medications.
Long-term administration of the dietary supplement saw palmetto, even at three times the usual dose, did not reduce symptoms of prostate enlargement significantly better than placebo in a large group of middle-aged men.
Administration of the commonly used stimulant drug methylphenidate was able to speed recovery from general anesthesia in an animal study conducted at MGH. The report is the first demonstration in mammals of what could be a safe and effective way to induce arousal from general anesthesia.
Gerstner Family Foundation gives collaborative team from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute $4.6M for program devoted to genomic studies of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
09/12/2011: Social contacts, self-confidence crucial to successful recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous
Among the many ways that participation in Alcoholics Anonymous helps its members stay sober, two appear to be most important – spending more time with individuals who support efforts towards sobriety and increased confidence in the ability to maintain abstinence in social situations.
A new report from MGH scientists and colleagues around the world finds that common variants in 28 regions of DNA are associated with blood pressure in human patients. Most of the identified regions were completely unsuspected, and several may lead to a totally new class of hypertension drugs.
Children who live in households where they are exposed to tobacco smoke miss more days of school than do children living in smoke-free homes. A report from MGH investigators also finds such children have higher rates of respiratory illnesses caused by second-hand smoke and details the probable economic costs of increased their school absences.
A novel imaging probe developed by MGH investigators may make it possible to diagnose accurately a dangerous infection of the heart valves
While most U.S. physicians will face a malpractice lawsuit at some time in their careers, a new study finds, the vast majority of those suits will not result in payment to a plaintiff. The report provides the most comprehensive analysis of the risk of malpractice claims by specialty in more than two decades.
A new study shows for the first time that natural killer cells, which are part of the body's first-line defence against infection, can contribute to the immune response against HIV. The findings may help develop new preventive or treatment strategies.
A novel therapy that reduces elevated blood levels of a potentially toxic protein in women with preeclampsia, a dangerous complication of pregnancy, may someday address the therapeutic dilemma posed by the condition – balancing life-threatening risks to the mother with the dangers that early delivery poses to an immature fetus.
07/15/2011: Claflin Awards fund innovation
Designed to sustain productivity of women scientists at the MGH who are balancing their research careers with the responsibilities of raising a family, the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards annually are presented to junior faculty members at the MGH.
07/13/2011: Taking out a cancer’s co-dependency
Scientists at the Broad Institute and MGH have discovered a novel compound that selectively blocks the ability of cancer cells to block the oxidative stress produced by rapid tumor growth, killing cancer cells more effectively than a currently used chemotherapy drug.
A multi-institutional research team has found that details of a family history of cancer – which can affect recommendations for screening examinations such as colonoscopies and mammograms – frequently change in adults aged 30 to 50.
A strategy that has been shown to reduce age-related health problems in several animal studies may also combat a major cause of age-associated infertility and birth defects.
MGH researchers have discovered the first of an entirely new class of antiangiogenesis drugs – agents that interfere with the development of blood vessels. The compound, derived from a South American tree, uses a novel mechanism to block blood vessel formation.
06/24/2011: Mass. General Hospital, Iacocca Foundation announce promising results of Phase I diabetes trial
Promising results of a Phase I clinical trial of the generic drug BCG to treat advanced type I diabetes are being announced today at the American Diabetes Association scientific sessions. An MGH research team is describing the apparent reproduction in human patients of a mechanism that reversed type 1 diabetes in a mouse model.
MGH investigators may have found the mechanism behind a previously reported link between the rare genetic condition Gaucher disease and the common neurodegenerative disorder Parkinson's disease.
06/21/2011: Scientists reveal HIV weakness
In a new finding that may allow vaccine designers to sidestep HIV's rapid mutation rate, researchers at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard have identified sections of an HIV protein where mutations would actually undermine the virus’ fitness – its ability to survive and reproduce.
Two investigators at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a living laser, in which a single cell genetically engineered to express green fluorescent protein is used to amplify photons into nanosecond-long pulses of laser light
New research shows that PCR testing for Borrelia burgdorferi DNA—the spirochetal bacteria transmitted by deer ticks—in joint fluid may confirm the diagnosis of Lyme arthritis, but is not a reliable indicator for active joint infection in patients whose arthritis persists.
Increasing access to rogue online pharmacies that dispense medications without a doctor's prescription may be an important factor behind the rapid increase in the abuse of prescription drugs.
Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be an exception to the rule that being overweight is a health hazard. In a retrospective study of over 400 ALS patients, MGH researchers found that those who were mildly obese survived longer than patients who were normal weight, underweight or even overweight.
05/09/2011: Important step in breakdown of HIV proteins is critical to immune system recognition, destruction of infected cells
Researchers at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard have found that – as HIV proteins are broken down within cells, a process that should help label infected cells for destruction – the stability of resulting protein segments varies greatly, variations that may change how well cells are recognized by the immune system.
A subgroup of adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also exhibit excessive emotional reactions to everyday occurrences, and this combination of ADHD and emotional reactivity appears to run in families, an MGH study finds.
04/22/2011: Celebrating prize-winning MGH research
The presentation of the MGH's top research prizes was a highlight of the April 13 Celebration of Science, held in conjunction with the annual Scientific Advisory Committee meeting.
04/22/2011: SAC meeting
The 64th meeting of the MGH Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) on April 14 celebrated key accomplishments of MGH investigators, past and present, and examined strategies for meeting the challenges currently facing the academic biomedical research community.
The positive effects of mindfulness meditation on pain and working memory may result from an improved ability to regulate a crucial brain wave called the alpha rhythm, which is thought to "turn down the volume" on distracting information.
Subtle differences in brain anatomy among older individuals with normal cognitive skills may be able to predict both the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in the following decade and how quickly symptoms of dementia would develop.
Researchers using two brain-imaging technologies have found that apparently normal older individuals with brain deposits of amyloid beta – the primary constituent of the plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients – also had changes in brain structure similar to those seen in Alzheimer's patients.
The first study to examine the activity of hundreds of individual human brain cells during seizures has found that seizures begin with extremely diverse neuronal activity, contrary to the classic view that they are characterized by massively synchronized activity.
A detailed analysis of lung tumors that became resistant to targeted therapy drugs has revealed two previously unreported resistance mechanisms. The report also describes how the cellular nature of some tumors can change in response to treatment and finds how resistance-conferring mutations can disappear after treatment is discontinued.
03/23/2011: Epigenomic findings illuminate veiled variants
Genes make up only a tiny percentage of the human genome, but the rest may hold vital clues about the genetic origins of disease. Using a new mapping strategy, a research team has begun to assign meaning to the regions beyond our genes and has revealed how minute changes in these regions might be connected to common diseases.
Measuring the levels of small molecules in the blood may be able to identify individuals at elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes as much as a decade before symptoms of the disorder appear.
A new mathematical model of the Haitian cholera epidemic, based on current knowledge about the transmission and course of the disease, finds that current projections regarding the size and extent of the epidemic may greatly underestimate the eventual number of cases.
Elevated levels of p21, a protein best known as a cancer fighter, may be involved in the ability of a few individuals to control HIV infection with their immune system alone.
03/07/2011: Increased, mandatory screenings help identify more kids with emotional/behavioral problems
An MGHfC study published in the March 2011 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that Massachusetts' new court-ordered mental health screening and intervention program led to more children being identified as behaviorally and emotionally at risk.
03/03/2011: Brain rhythm predicts real-time sleep stability, may lead to more precise sleep medications
A new study finds that a brain rhythm considered the hallmark of wakefulness not only persists inconspicuously during sleep but also signifies an individual's vulnerability to disturbance by the outside world.
A strategy developed by MGH researchers to shield the ovaries of female mammals from the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy has passed an important milestone with the report that brief pretreatment with an FDA-approved drug preserved the fertility of female rhesus monkeys exposed to potentially lethal doses of radiation.
The MGH research team that previously discovered tumor-associated RNA in tiny membrane-enclosed sacs released into the bloodstream by cancer cells has now found that these microvesicles also contain segments of tumor DNA, including so-called "jumping genes" that copy and insert themselves into other areas of the genome.
Homeless people who do not get enough to eat use hospitals and emergency rooms at very high rates, according to a new study from MGH and Boston Health Care for the Homeless.
Low doses of an inexpensive, FDA-approved hypertension medication may improve the results of nanotherapeutic approaches to cancer treatment.
Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have developed a novel system for delivery of growth factors to chronic wounds such as pressure sores and diabetic foot ulcers.
Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.
The use of CT scanning to evaluate abdominal pain in emergency departments can help physicians arrive at a diagnosis quickly and decisively.
MGH Cancer Center researchers have discovered a previously unknown feature of common tumor cells – massive overexpression of satellite repeats, which are DNA sequences that do not code for proteins. The findings may improve understanding of tumor development and provide a new cancer biomarker.
A computer decision model suggests that for patients with a history of bleeding within the brain, the risk of recurrence associated with statin treatment may outweigh the benefit of the drug in preventing cardiovascular disease, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the May print issue of Archives of Neurology.
01/03/2011: Mass. General Hospital enters collaboration to develop new approach to capturing circulating tumor cells
MGH has entered into a collaborative agreement with Veridex LLC to establish a center of excellence in research on circulating tumor cell technologies.
A comparative analysis found wide disparities in the results of four common measures of hospital-wide mortality rates, with competing methods yielding both higher- and lower-than-expected rates for the same hospitals during the same year.
12/16/2010: Mass. General Hospital's Warren Triennial Prize to honor pioneers of cellular reprogramming
The 2011 Warren Triennial Prize – the top scientific award presented by the MGH – will be awarded to Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, and Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, pioneers in developing methods to reprogram adult cells into pluripotent cells with the developmental potential of embryonic stem cells.
A new study shows that, as attendance at AA meetings increases, so do the participants' spiritual beliefs, especially in those individuals who had low spirituality at the beginning of the study.
A team led by MGH researchers has developed a faster way to engineer synthetic enzymes that target specific DNA sequences for inactivation, repair or alteration.
A team of researchers has determined that the strain of cholera erupting in Haiti matches bacterial samples from South Asia and not those from Latin America. The scientists conclude that the bacteria introduced into Haiti most likely came from an infected human, contaminated food or other item from outside of Latin America.
Among patients with depression, the presence of symptoms associated with bipolar disorder does not appear to be associated with treatment resistance, according to a study from MGH investigators. However, many patients with depression also report psychotic-like symptoms, such as hearing voices or believing they are being spied on or plotted against, and those patients are less likely to respond to treatment.
A new study from MGH Cancer Center researchers finds that circulating tumor cells bring along from the original tumor site noncancerous cells that facilitate the development of metastases.
11/30/2010: Belly Fat Puts Women at Risk for Osteoporosis
A study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America found that having too much internal abdominal fat may have a damaging effect on bone health.
11/18/2010: Culturally sensitive treatment model helps bring depressed Chinese immigrants into treatment
A treatment model designed to accommodate the beliefs and concerns of Chinese immigrants increased the percentage of depressed patients entering treatment nearly sevenfold.
By combining optical and x-ray imaging, radiologists may be better able to distinguish cancer from benign lesions in the breast, according to an MGH study.
A new survey finds that, while the number of physicians who report having relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers or other industrial companies has dropped in recent years, the vast majority of them still maintain such relationships.
President Obama today named 85 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.
Tiny variants in a protein that alerts the immune system to the presence of infection may underlie the rare ability of some individuals to control HIV infection without the need for medications.
The 2005 ethics rules that govern relationships between researchers within the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other industrial companies have significantly reduced the prevalence of such collaborations without affecting standard measures of research productivity.
Millions of Medicare recipients have been forcibly reassigned to different prescription drug plans because Part D reimbursements to insurance companies covering low-income patients are lower than the actual costs incurred, according to a study from the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at MGH.
A clinical trial of a potential new targeted treatment drug has provided powerful evidence that it can halt or reverse the growth of lung tumors characterized by alterations in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene.
An enzyme that keeps intestinal bacteria out of the bloodstream may also play an important role in maintaining the normal microbial population of the gastrointestinal system.
10/15/2010: MGH researchers elected to Institute of Medicine
MGH Hotline 10.15.10 Two MGH physician-researchers were elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) during its 40th annual meeting on Oct. 11.
Discovery of a molecular switch that turns off the natural process of skin pigmentation may lead to a novel way of protecting the skin – activating the tanning process without exposure to cancer-causing UV radiation.
A redesigned version of the CTC-Chip – a microchip-based device for capturing rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) – appears to be more effective and should be easier to manufacture than the original. Called the HB-(herringbone) Chip, the new device also may provide more comprehensive and easily accessible data from captured tumor cells.
An international consortium has made significant inroads into uncovering the genetic basis of obesity by identifying 18 new gene sites associated with overall obesity and 13 that affect fat distribution. The studies include data from nearly a quarter of a million participants, the largest genetic investigation of human traits to date.
09/30/2010: ICER Completes Comprehensive Appraisal of Common Strategies for Atrial Fibrillation Management
A comprehensive appraisal of the management options for the irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, prepared by the MGH-based Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, details the comparative clinical effectiveness and value of several strategies for restoring rhythm control and preventing stroke.
The well-documented disparities in cardiac care may begin almost as soon as patients arrive at hospital emergency rooms, Mass. General investigators find.
The National Institutes of Health has awarded grants totaling $40 million to map the human brain's connections in high resolution. Better understanding of such connectivity promises improved diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders.
Evaluating the quality of care delivered by individual physicians without accounting for such factors as their patients' socioeconomic status or insurance coverage risks undervaluing the work of those caring for a higher proportion of vulnerable patients.
09/03/2010: Joung receives prestigious NIH Pioneer Award
MGH Hotline 09.03.10 J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD, of MGH Pathology, the MGH Center for Cancer Research and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, is one of 17 investigators nationwide to receive a 2010 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Pioneer Award.
A team led by MGH scientists has developed a new microfluidic tool for quickly and accurately isolating neutrophils – the most abundant type of white blood cell – from small blood samples, an accomplishment that could provide information essential to better understanding the immune system's response to traumatic injury.
08/27/2010: Palliative care
MGH Hotline 08.27.10 Integrating palliative care early in the treatment of advanced lung cancer not only improved patients' mood and quality of life, but also extended their lives.
MGH Hotline 08.27.10 Administering the correct dosage of insulin to hospitalized patients with type 2 diabetes is a top issue in quality and safety for many hospitals.
08/25/2010: Targeted drug leads to rapid regression of metastatic melanoma in patients with mutated BRAF gene
Use of an experimental targeted drug to treat metastatic melanoma tumors with a specific genetic signature was successful in more than 80 percent of patients in a phase 1 clinical trial.
A team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Massachusetts General Hospital report that the antioxident naringenin seems to mimic the actions of other drugs including the anti-diabetic rosiglitazone.
Adding cognitive behavioral therapy – an approach that teaches skills for handling life challenges and revising negative thought patterns – to pharmaceutical treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder significantly improved symptom control in adult patients.
A protein known to be involved in a rare hereditary cancer syndrome may have a role in the regulation of liver stem cells and the development of liver cancer.
People who have trouble sleeping in noisy environments often resort to strategies like earplugs or noise-canceling headphones that muffle the sound, but a new study from MGH investigators may lead to ways to block disturbing sounds within the brain.
08/04/2010: MicroRNA molecule increases number of blood stem cells, may help improve cancer treatment
MGH investigators have identified a new mechanism that controls the number of the stem cells that give rise to all blood and immune system cells, an advance that may improve treatment of blood system cancers.
08/04/2010: Sorting out the genetic and biological links between cholesterol and coronary heart disease
Two papers in the current issue of Nature describe 95 gene variations that contribute to cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reveal the unexpected role of a metabolic pathway in lipid metabolism.
A recent study from researchers at Mass. General and University of Michigan provides the first direct evidence of linkage between elevated intrinsic (resting-state) brain connectivity and spontaneous pain intensity in patients with fibromyalgia.
07/27/2010: CTC screening for colorectal cancer not cost-effective when reimbursed at same rate as colonoscopy
Computed tomographic colonography, also known as virtual colonoscopy, is not cost-effective if reimbursed at the same rate as colonoscopy, according to a study from the Institute for Technology Assessment at MGH.
Investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine have confirmed that induced pluripotent stem cells retain some characteristics of the cells from which they were derived, something that could both assist and impede potential clinical and research uses.
The largest study to correlate genetics with response to cancer drugs releases its first results today. The researchers behind the study, based at the MGH Cancer Center and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, describe the responses of 350 cancer samples to 18 anticancer therapeutics.
Investigators have made a major advance in treating people with a rare but devastating disease of blood vessels.
More than one-third of surveyed U.S. physicians did not agree that physicians should always report colleagues who are incompetent or impaired by conditions such as substance abuse or mental health disorders. Many also felt unprepared to report or otherwise deal with impaired or incompetent colleagues.
An analysis of insurance records of more than 1.4 million U.S. men over 40 found that those who used ED drugs were more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases than were non-users.
MGH investigators have found that an enzyme with several important roles in energy metabolism also helps to turn off the body's generation of fats and cholesterol under conditions of fasting. The findings could lead to new approaches to treating conditions involving elevated cholesterol and lipid levels.
06/28/2010: Mass. General Hospital, Iacocca Foundation announce completion of Phase I diabetes trial
MGH and the Iacocca Foundation announce today the completion of the Phase I BCG clinical trial in type 1 diabetes, as well as the submission of all safety reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the MGH data safety monitoring boards.
MGH Hotline 06.18.10 Named for Jane D. Claflin, an honorary trustee who has championed women in academic medicine at the MGH, the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards are presented each year to outstanding women researchers who have the dual responsibility of caring for children.
A multi-institutional research team has found that rare variants in the gene coding an enzyme that controls the activity of a key immune cell occur more frequently in individuals with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
In an effort to protect children from harmful tobacco smoke exposure, health and medical professionals are pushing for a ban on smoking in public housing in a report appearing in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.
Combined targeted therapy against the BRAF/MAPK pathway with immunotherapy shows promise as a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of melanoma, according to results of a preclinical study by MGH researchers.
A team led by researchers from the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital has developed a technique that someday may allow growth of transplantable replacement livers.
An international research consortium has identified four common gene variants that are associated with blood levels of vitamin D and with an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Heart attacks declined by 24 percent within a large, ethnically diverse, community-based population since 2000, and the relative incidence of serious heart attacks that do permanent damage declined by 62 percent, according to a study in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine and Harvard Stem Cell Institute have a developed a new type of human pluripotent stem cell that can be manipulated more readily than currently available stem cells. The new cells could be used as better disease models and eventually to repair disease-associated mutations.
06/03/2010: Study finds epigenetic similarities between Wilms tumor cells and normal kidney stem cells
A detailed analysis of the epigenetics – factors controlling when and where genes are expressed – of Wilms tumor reveals striking similarities to stem cells normally found in fetal kidneys. These findings by MGH Cancer Center researchers reveal new cellular pathways critical for Wilms tumor development that may apply to other pediatric cancers.
Using a system that analyzes blood samples with unprecedented detail, a team led by MGH researchers has developed the first "chemical snapshot" of the metabolic effects of exercise.
In a study appearing in the journal PLoS ONE, MGH scientists describe finding mathematical patterns underlying the way individuals unconsciously distribute their preferences regarding approaching or avoiding objects in their environment.
05/17/2010: New study characterizes cognitive and anatomic differences in Alzheimer’s disease gene carriers
In the most comprehensive study to date, neurologists have clearly identified significant differences in the ways that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects patients with and without the apolipoprotein E ε4 gene, a known genetic risk factor for the neurodegenerative disease.
05/17/2010: Proto on ReachMD
Proto, a quarterly national magazine that the MGH produces with Time Inc. Content Solutions, is now expanding onto satellite radio.
The vast majority of homeless adults surveyed in a national study had trouble accessing at least one type of needed health care service in the preceding year, according to what may be the first broad-based national study of factors related to unmet health needs among homeless people.
MGH Hotline 05.14.10 Researchers from the Center for Regenerative Medicine gathered with Cheryl Chagnon, Heather Reid and their families April 6 to celebrate the donation of an important piece of research equipment -- the Nexelcom Cellometer Vision automatic cell analyzer.
MGH researchers have identified tiny segments of RNA that may play an important role in the body's regulation of cholesterol and lipids.
05/11/2010: Many pregnant women not getting enough Vitamin D
Seven out of every ten pregnant women in the United States are not getting enough Vitamin D according to a study from researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and MGH.
Researchers from the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard discover how a genetic factor increases the immune system's ability to control HIV.
A lack of attention to workspace ergonomics could be to blame for radiologists' musculoskeletal symptoms, including lower back pain, wrist pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches, according to a study to be presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society 2010 Annual Meeting.
Long-term anabolic steroid use may weaken the heart more than previously thought and may increase the risk of heart failure, according to a study led by MGH investigator Aaron Baggish, MD.
Investigators from the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have found that an important cluster of genes is inactivated in induced pluripotent stem cells — cells generated from adult tissue that have many characteristics of embryonic stem cells — that do not have the full development potential of embryonic stem cells.
Follow-up visits conducted via a secure Web site may result in similar clinical outcomes as in-person visits among patients with acne, according to a report from investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health.
Cancer is a multifaceted disease that requires multiple approaches to diagnosis and management. At the American Association for Cancer Research 101st Annual Meeting 2010, scientists and clinicians will present more than 6,300 abstracts dealing with innovative aspects of biology, technology and emerging therapies.
An artificial pancreas system that closely mimics the body's blood sugar control mechanism was able to maintain near-normal glucose levels without causing hypoglycemia in a small group of patients.
MGH Hotline 04.09.10 Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an intravascular imaging technology that offers the promise of revealing the microscopic characteristics of a vulnerable coronary plaque.
04/06/2010: Electronic health record alone may have limited ability to improve quality, costs of care
The implementation of electronic health record systems may not be enough to significantly improve health quality and reduce costs.
04/02/2010: Martin Research Award honorees
MGH Hotline 4.2.10 STUDIES REVEALING NETWORKS underlying key aspects of the immune system and describing a novel application of an antiangiogenesis drug were recognized with the second annual Joseph B. Martin Research Awards at the Feb. 24 Celebration of Science, held in conjunction with the Scientific Advisory Committee meeting.
The ability of cancer cells to resist treatment with either targeted drug therapies or traditional chemotherapy may, in some cases, result from a transient state of reversible drug "tolerance."
Women conducting research in the life sciences continue to receive lower levels of compensation than their male counterparts, even at the upper levels of academic and professional accomplishment, according to a study conducted by the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Technical improvements to a microchip-based device for detecting and analyzing tumor cells in the bloodstream are revealing cellular differences that may reflect a tumor's aggressiveness and long-term response to treatment.
Blacks hospitalized with the most common type of stroke are less likely than white or Hispanic patients to receive evidence-based stroke care, according to a new study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
A new study by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital indicates that “good” cells can become cancerous because of exposure to a “bad” environment within the body — similarly to the way a “good boy” may turn to crime when exposed to the pressures of life in a crime-ridden neighborhood.
03/16/2010: Increased radiation dose does not increase long-term side effects for prostate cancer patients
Boosting the radiation dose given to prostate cancer patients to a level that cut recurrence in half did not increase the severity of side effects reported by patients up to a decade later. Patients also found the impact of continuing side effects on their quality of life to be less bothersome than would be expected, based on earlier studies.
Amyloid-beta protein – the primary constituent of the plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients – may be part of the body's first-line system to defend against infection. In their report in the March 3 issue of PLoS One, a team led by MGH researchers describe their evidence that amyloid-beta protein is an antimicrobial peptide.
A new study by researchers at the MGH Heart Center found the addition of electrocardiogram testing to the standard medical history and physical examination for young athletes may better identify key cardiovascular abnormalities responsible for sports-related sudden death.
According to a new study accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, obese teenage girls with a greater ratio of visceral fat (fat around internal organs) to subcutaneous fat (fat found just beneath the skin) are likely to have lower bone density than peers with a lower ratio of visceral to subcutaneous fat.
02/25/2010: Proton beam therapy shows encouraging long-term outcome for patients with locally advanced sinonasal cancers
Proton beam radiation therapy shows encouraging results for patients with locally advanced sinonasal malignancies, according to a study led by Annie Chan, MD, a radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Annual breast cancer screening with both mammography and magnetic resonance imaging is likely to be a cost-effective way to improve life expectancy in women with an increased risk of breast cancer.
A study published in the March 2010 issue of the journal Anesthesiology gives researchers new insights in how to better understand and control a severe side effect of hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers, often referred to as "artificial blood."
An international research team has identified a common gene variant associated with a form of the irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation that is seen in younger individuals with no other heart disease.
02/16/2010: Rates of childhood obesity, chronic health problems increase, but conditions may not persist
A new study confirms that rates of obesity and other chronic health problems have risen in American children in recent years, but it also shows that many children's conditions will improve or resolve over time.
Drugs that target the way cells convert nutrients into energy could offer new approaches to treating a range of conditions including heart attack and stroke. Using a new way to screen for potential drugs, a team of researchers has identified several FDA-approved agents that can shift cellular energy metabolism processes in animals.
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, researchers will unveil findings that show it is not cost effective to screen for spinal muscular atrophy, the most common genetic cause of infant mortality and the second most common inherited autosomal recessive disorder.
Whether or not children receive regular dental care is strongly associated with their parents' history of seeking dental care. A new report to appear in the journal Pediatrics, which has been released online, is the first to analyze the relationship between parents' and childrens' dental visits in a nationally represntative sample.
One of many reasons that attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings helps people with alcohol use disorders stay sober appears to be alleviation of depression. A team of researchers has found that study participants who attended AA meetings more frequently had fewer symptoms of depression – along with less drinking – than did those with less AA participation.
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy – which analyzes the biochemistry rather than the structure of tissues – may someday be able both to pinpoint the precise location of prostate cancer and to determine the tumor's aggressiveness, information that could help guide treatment planning.
Surgery provides better results than nonsurgical treatment for most patients with back pain related to a herniated disk - but not for those receiving workers' compensation for work-related injuries, according to a study in the journal Spine.
A major international study with leadership from MGH researchers has identified 10 new gene variants associated with blood sugar or insulin levels. Two of these novel variants and three that earlier studies associated with glucose levels were also found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Changing the words used to describe someone struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction may significantly alter the attitudes of health care professionals, even those who specialize in addiction treatment.
A Massachusetts General Hospital study has found that relatively young men with longstanding HIV infection and minimal cardiac risk factors had significantly more coronary atherosclerotic plaques - some involving serious arterial blockage - than did uninfected men with similar cardiovascular risk.
MGH Hotline 12.18.09 With all the pomp of one of the world’s greatest honors, the Nobel Prizes were awarded Dec. 10 in Stockholm, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway.
Wondering how you can avoid this winter’s cold or flu? You might want to try a vitamin D supplement. A new study found that vitamin D may be an important way to boost your immune system.
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Ralph Weissleder, MD, PhD presents “Transforming Medicine Through Technological Innovation” at New Frontiers: Research at Mass General, Breakfast and Conversation on March 11, 2011.
Emery N. Brown, MD, PhD presents “Anesthesiology for the Twenty-First Century” at New Frontiers: Research at Mass General, Breakfast and Conversation on September 14, 2011.
Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD, presents “Breakthroughs in Stem Cell Science: Making Sick Cells Well” at New Frontiers: Research at Mass General, Breakfast and Conversation on November 2, 2011.
New Frontiers: Research at Mass General, Breakfast and Conversation Randall T. Peterson, PhD Charles and Ann Sanders MGH Research Scholar presents “Drug Discovery for Cardiovascular & Nervous System Disorders" on March 7, 2012.
P. Roy Vagelos, MD, former Chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. Inc., returns to Massachusetts General Hospital to present "Optimizing Drug Discovery" on May 22, 2012.
Sylvie Breton, PhD, Charles and Ann Sanders MGH Research Scholar, presents on her innovative research into male reproductive challenges and how it leads to new means of understanding asthma and other breathing disorders.