April 2024

How Often Were Adults With Down Syndrome Listed as Do-Not-Resuscitate During the COVID-19 Era?

After controlling for other risk factors, a person with a diagnosis of Down syndrome and a diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia had six times the odds of having a DNR status ordered at admission to the hospital compared with those with COVID-19 pneumonia without DS.

Caregiver Perception of Care Integration in a Single Specialty Clinic for Down Syndrome

From February 2019 to June 2023, 62 responses from caregivers of individuals seen in the Massachusetts General Hospital Down Syndrome Program completed the PICS. Responses were scored using the standardized pediatric integrated care survey (PICS) user manual, and descriptive statistics were completed.

Frequency of Discordant Documentation of Patient Race and Ethnicity

In a retrospective study of 42 hospitals from 10 health systems, researchers found significant discordance between ED visits for documentation of race and ethnicity for adults. 

March 2024

Entropy Removal of Medical Diagnosis

This methodology proposes a different approach to clinical decision-making in the emergency department based on the reduction of entropy/uncertainty.

Use of Artificial Intelligence in Improving Outcomes in Heart Disease

This scientific statement outlines the current state-of-the-art on the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and data science in the diagnosis, classification and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Quantitative Analysis of Drug Tablet Aging

Inspired by challenges in the manufacturing and storage of solid oral tablets, our multidisciplinary team developed a new, rapid method of imaging and quantifying the drugs and inactive ingredients within tablets.

February 2024

Evaluating the Implementation of a Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Program in Primary Care Settings

Researchers examined the extent to which our implementation strategies supported the implementation of the Connect for Health pediatric healthy lifestyle program at participating health care organizations.

Benzodiazepines Associated with Worse Disease Progression in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Participants in the study who were prescribed benzodiazepines (at any time) experienced a mean worsening on 17.1 points per year (on the PSP Rating Scale) compared to an average of 9.9 points/year in the other participants.

January 2024

Exploring a New Approach to Manage and Diagnose a Devastating Subset of Alzheimer's Disease

Researchers have learned more about how two vital proteins for brain function are altered in a subset of Alzheimer's disease, which could help to pave the way for new diagnostic and treatment strategies.

A Two-Part Priming Strategy to Increase the Sensitivity of Liquid Biopsies

The approach increased the recovery of cell-free DNA by more than 10-fold, enabled more complete tumor molecular profiling and increased the sensitivity for the detection of small tumors from 10% to 75% in mouse models.

Learning More About the Structure of Viruses Used for Insecticides and Therapeutic Gene Delivery

The findings will help to improve the properties of baculoviruses, which are used to produce vaccines for therapeutic gene delivery in some cancers and as safe biological pesticides.

Modeling Study Shows that Policies to Reduce Wealth Inquality Could Improve Health and Life Expectancy of Americans

Researchers found that proposed wealth redistribution policies such as baby bonds could reduce the racial mortality gap.

Transportation Security and Adverse Health Outcomes Among Adults with Chronic Liver Disease

Health care-related transportation insecurity is a critical social risk factor for U.S. adults with chronic liver disease, and there is an urgent need for feasible and scalable interventions, clinical programs, and policy reform to address transportation barriers and improve their clinical outcomes.

Stigma and HCV Cure Cascade Among Individuals Who Inject Drugs

Researchers studied how feelings of shame affected different parts of the HCV treatment process, like starting treatment, sticking to it, finishing it, and reaching a sustained virologic response (SVR).

Eplerenone May Reduce Arterial Inflammation Among Individuals with HIV

In this 12-month, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of 26 well-treated persons with HIV without known CVD, eplerenone was associated with a significant reduction in arterial inflammation.

Predicting Single Cell Gene Expression from Images Through AI

Researchers have developed a new technology that allows them to query and predict single-cell genomics information from images using AI at low cost, non-destructively and at large scale.

The Impact of Synchronizing Phosphenes on Object Binding in Artificial Vision

With this study, researchers wanted to understand the effects of a commonly used design approach for visual prostheses called multiplexing.

Establishing the Validity of a Diagnostic Questionnaire for Childbirth-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Although childbirth is a happy event, a significant portion of American women have complicated and even traumatic deliveries. These experiences can result in developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental disorder which is different from postpartum depression.

Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Following Childbirth Using the Peritraumatic Distress Inventory

The Peritraumatic Distress Inventory is used to assess acute distress in non-postpartum individuals, for example in combat veterans and sexual assault survivors. Is it also suitable for identifying those at risk for maternal childbirth-related PTSD?

Epinephrine Use in the Treatment of Anaphylaxis in Infants and Toddlers

Timely treatment of anaphylaxis—a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction—with epinephrine is critical. But undertreatment, especially in infants and toddlers, remains an unmet need.

December 2023

Research Spotlight: Structural Analysis and Inhibition of Human LINE-1 ORF2 Protein Reveals Novel Adaptations and Functions.

Martin Taylor, MD, PhD, a physician investigator in the Department of Pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in Pathology at Harvard Medical School, is the lead corresponding author of a new study in Nature, Structural Analysis and Inhibition of Human LINE-1 ORF2 Protein Reveals Novel Adaptations and Functions.

Genomic Tumor Correlates of Clinical Outcomes Following Organ-Sparing Chemoradiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer

There is an urgent need for biomarkers of radiation response in organ-sparing therapies. Bladder preservation with trimodality therapy (TMT), consisting of transurethral tumor resection followed by chemoradiation, is an alternative to radical cystectomy (complete bladder removal) for muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC), but molecular determinants of response are poorly understood.

November 2023

How a Protein Called IKAROS Organizes the Genome in Nuclear Space to Control Healthy B Cell Development

In a new study, scientists show how a protein called IKAROS helps "weave" the genome into the correct structure required for B cell differentiation and generation of a life-saving repertoire of antibodies.

Prescribing of Benzodiazepines in a Homeless Veteran Population

Researchers found that although homeless veterans were less likely than their housed peers to receive a benzodiazepine prescription, they were more likely to receive risky and potentially in appropriate prescriptions.

Patient Attendance and Perceived Benefits of Lifestyle Medicine Virtual Group Visits

A survey-based study of participants suggests that regular attendance in virtual group visits focused on lifestyle medicine are a promising approach for promoting healthy behavior changes in primary care.

Creating Microfluidic Transistors that Control the Movement of Fluids to Autonomously Execute Miniature Lab Operations

Researchers were able to build a self-contained microfluidic circuit block that could sense, process, and controllably dispense individual particles in an automated fashion, without the use of electronic computers.

October 2023

Validating an MRI Biomarker for Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease

This study defined a signature MRI biomarker for Early Onset Alzheimer's disease (EOAD) using data from a well-characterized discovery sample and tested the hypothesis in a large validation sample of participants with EOAD.

The American Heart Association's Principles for Health Information Collection, Sharing and Use

A Mass General researcher contributed to a new policy statement from the American Heart Association that discusses how broad data sharing can accelerate progress in cardiac care by providing data to develop, test and benchmark innovative new methods.

Telehealth for Psychiatry and Mental Healthcare Can Improve Access and Patient Outcomes

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a tremendous surge in the deployment and use of telehealth. What are the benefits of this more widespread adaption of telehealth services for psychiatry, and what barriers still need to be addressed?

Learning More About the Distribution and Persistance of mRNA Vaccines in the Body

A Mass General led research team developed a new test to study the factors contributing to how long mRNA vaccines stay in the body, as well as what contributes to mRNA vaccines being detected in the heart.

Generic Daily HIV Prevention Pill for Young Men Who Have Sex With Men Could Save Lives and Money

Compared to annual HIV screening alone, generic daily oral HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with HIV screening every three months would result in fewer HIV acquisitions, longer life expectancy, and fewer HIV-associated costs among young men who have sex with men in the United States.

Genetic Testing Practices, Indications and Results in Patients with Down Syndrome

Down syndrome (DS) and other genetic conditions have been reported to co-occur in the same person. This study sought to examine the genetic evaluation beyond chromosome analysis of individuals with DS at one DS specialty clinic.

The Precision Medicine in Diabetes Initiative: 2nd International Consensus Report on Gaps & Opportunities for the Clinical Translation of Precision Diabetes Medicine

Precision medicine – a practice designed to optimize efficiency and therapeutic benefit for patients –could help address this critical problem by accounting for the complex causes, clinical presentations, and disease progression of common forms of diabetes, as well as the risk of complications and related conditions.

Addressing Crucial Concepts of Mucosal Immunology to Learn More About the Causes of Male Infertility

Researchers discovered that Regulatory T cells (cells that typically keep immune cells from attacking healthy cells) maintain the inflammatory state under control in the male reproductive tract. The loss of this state induced uncontrolled inflammation and the development of antibodies that bind to spermatozoa causing a severe reduction in fertility.

Reported Risky Alcohol Use Among US Adults Prescribed Three Classes of Chronic Alcohol-Interactive Medications

In this nationally representative sample, risky alcohol use was reported by more than one in five adults taking chronic BZRAs, opioids, or antiepileptics. Findings suggest a need to prioritize screening and interventions to reduce risky alcohol use among patients taking these medications who are at high risk for adverse events.

September 2023

Association of Food Insecurity on Body Mass Index Change in a Pediatric Weight Management Intervention

Researchers wanted to understand the association of food security status on changes in body mass index (BMI) in a Healthy Weight Clinic (HWC), a clinically-based multicomponent Pediatric Weight Management Intervention consistent with national clinical practice recommendations.

Population Health Impact, Cost-Effectiveness, and Affordability of Community-Based HIV Treatment and Monitoring in South Africa

In a modeling study, researchers project that by 2060, community-based HIV treatment and monitoring would avert 28% of HIV-related deaths and 28% of new infections.

History of Adverse Childhood Events Linked to Increased Risk of Head or Neck Injury and Concussion

Having a higher overall ACE count was associated with higher odds of experiencing a head or neck injury and concussion, and that likelihood increased when more ACEs were reported.

August 2023

Comparing the Attrition Rates for Male and Female Doctors in Academic Medicine

Physicians practicing in academic hospitals (such as Mass General) are expected to treat patients, conduct research to improve treatments for future patients and train future physicians. A difference in attrition rates from academic practice, therefore, may endanger the quality of medicine in the future.

Crowd-Sourced Fundraising to Help Cover Exorbitant Costs Associated with Neurologocial Diseases

Physicians practicing in academic hospitals (such as Mass General) are expected to treat patients, conduct research to improve treatments for future patients and train future physicians. A difference in attrition rates from academic practice, therefore, may endanger the quality of medicine in the future.

July 2023

Spanish-Speaking Families Encounter Language Barriers, Racism, and Discrimination in Obtaining Medical Care for Loved Ones with Down Syndrome 

Researchers found that limited English proficiency, a lack of health information translated into Spanish, and systemic racism often undermines care of patients with Down syndrome.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Completeness at US Federally Qualified Health Centers, 2020 and 2021

For this study, we sought to assess the performance of US federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) after six years of required sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data reporting and update estimated proportions of sexual and gender minorities cared for at FQHCs.

Lab on a Chip Technologies to Improve Assessment of Stored Red Blood Cells

This perspective article was prompted by issues regarding the quality of stored Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and the lack of good assessment prior to their transfusion. The researchers posit that stored RBCs, under current practices, are not always safe to transfuse due to donor, time, and processing factors. This is especially problematic for critically ill patients, those on chronic transfusion regimens, and surgeries where large volumes of RBCs are transfused.

Race-Based Differences in ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Process Metrics

In this large registry study including over 175,000 patients presenting acutely with heart attacks, authors demonstrated that individuals of Hispanic & Black race/ethnicity were less likely that those of white race/ethnicity to receive treatment according to well established and nationally used quality metrics for care. These patterns were observed in both men and women and have lasting implications for the design and implementation of systems of cardiovascular care in the future.

High Accuracy Liver View Classification In Ultrasound Imaging Using Minimal Labeled Data

The findings of the study indicate that the SimCLR+LR method exhibited high classification accuracy even with a limited number of labeled images.

Leveraging Self-Supervised Learning and Physics-Inspired Augmentations for Enhanced Liver Segmentation in Ultrasound Imaging

Improved accuracy in liver segmentation can lead to more accurate measurements of liver stiffness, which is a key biomarker for liver fibrosis.

Signaling Between Cancer and Mesothelial Cells Promotes Ovarian Cancer Tumorigenesis and Immune Evasion

Currently there are no therapeutic strategies targeting cancer-associated mesothelial cells. This work supports the notion that they may represent a new therapeutic target in ovarian cancer.

Vulvovaginal Discomfort Symptoms in Women Enrolled in a Randomized Trial Evaluating Treatment for Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause

Close to half of postmenopausal women have symptoms of genitourinary discomfort, also known as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), which includes symptoms such as dryness, decreased lubrication with sex, pain with sex, or irritation/burning/itching of the vulva or vagina.

Timing of Referrals to a Down Syndrome Parent Group by Race

The study found that 78% of white families recieved an early recommendation to a parent support group for Down Syndrome in Ohio compared to 9% of minority families.

New Research Suggests PET Test for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Has Limited Value

The results call into question whether this PET tracer can be used to diagnose or study CTE in living players and may spare many men from undergoing a test that appears to be of limited value.

Treating Severe Community-Acquired Pneumonia with Steriods

A recent trial indicates a strong mortality reduction for patients with severe community acquired pneumonia (CAP) who received steroids in addition to antibiotics.

A Call for Creating Compassionate and Comprehensive Care for Patients Experiencing Homelessness and Mental Illness

In this viewpoint, a Mass General research team led by Katherine Koh, MD, MSc, explores how to create a more compassionate and comprehensive continuum of care for patients experiencing homelessness and mental illness.

Providing Patients with Food and Housing Resources Through Medicaid

To evaluate the implementation of the Flexible Services program in the Medicaid Accountable Care Organization during the first 17 months of the program (March 2020-July 2021), Mass General researchers assessed the program’s reach, perceived efficacy, adoption, and implementation, as well as the external and internal contextual factors that influenced the roll-out and uptake of the program at Mass General Brigham.

Health Surveillance in a Down Syndrome Specialty Clinic: Implementation of Electronic Health Record Integrations During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic influenced adherence to components of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Health Supervision for Children with Down Syndrome, but improvements in adherence coincided with implementation of our intervention and reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enhancing Communication in Healthcare with Emoji

The use of emoji in medical charts is a relatively new and emerging topic, and there is a lack of research and understanding around its potential benefits and drawbacks. In this commentary, Mass General's Shuhan He, MD, discusses the potential for emoji to improve communication, patient outcomes and patient-provider relationships.

Estimated Reductions in Opioid Overdose Deaths with Sustainment of Public Health Interventions in Four US States

The study found that compared with the status quo, a multipronged approach to interventions that includes elements of prevention, harm reduction and treatment does have the ability to reduce opioid overdose deaths in four US  states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio).

Systemic Immune Modulation by Stereotactic Radiotherapy in Early-Stage Lung Cancer

Researchers examined the effect of ablative hypofractionated radiotherapy for lung cancer on effector lymphocyte subsets in patients' blood and the impact of using different doses per fraction of radiotherapy.

A Parathyroid Hormone/Salt-Inducible Kinase Signaling Axis Controls Renal Vitamin D Activation and Organismal Calcium Homeostasis

Researchers identified a key role for salt-inducible kinases in regulating vitamin D activation downstream of parathyroid hormone (PTH) action. We also defined the subset of cells within the proximal tubule where PTH triggers vitamin D activation.

Dispartities in the Initiation of Guideline-Recommended Diabetes Medications

Researchers wanted to know if the current guidelines recommending the use of these drugs in patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular or renal indications were being followed, and if there were sex, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status-based disparities in their use.

Elucidating the Pathogenesis of Cerebral Arachnoid Cysts (ACs)

Researchers performed an integrated analysis of patient-parent exomes and other data and found damaging de novo variants were highly enriched in patients with ACs compared to healthy individuals.

Using Extracellular Vesicles for Earlier Detection of Bile Duct Cancer

Researchers found that molecular analysis of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in human bile samples could accurately detect patients with cholangiocarcinoma from patients with other benign or inflammatory conditions.

Nicotine E-Cigarettes as a Tool for Smoking Cessation

Nancy Rigotti, MD, Director of the Tobacco Research and reviews evidence that vaping increases smoking cessation and evidence about the health consequences of e-cigarette use. It concludes by summarizing what this evidence implies for clinical care.

Trends in Oncological Imaging During the COVID-19 Pandemic Through the Vaccination Era

This study examines the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on computed tomography (CT)-based oncologic imaging utilization. The researchers observed significant declines in cancer screening CTs through the end of 2021

Potential for AI-assisted Medical Education Using Large Language Models

Researchers fed questions from the June 2022 United States Medical Licensing Exam to ChatGPT, which performed at or near the passing threshold of 60% accuracy. The study suggests that large language models such as ChatGPT may potentially assist human learners in medical education and could be a prelude to further integration of AI in clinical settings.

Research Opportunities in the Treatment of Mitral Valve Prolapse

The article summarizes the findings of an interdisciplinary workshop hosted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to discuss the current data on arrhythmic mitral valve prolapse and other aspects of this complex disease of valve and ventricle.

Tackling Prediction Uncertainty in Machine Learning for Healthcare

Unsafe prediction failure occurs when a ML system produces an erroneous prediction, and either fails to convey a lack of confidence in the prediction or deceitfully conveys a high level of confidence in the correctness of the prediction. How can we develop "zero error" ML systems that do not make these mistakes?

Predicting Health Crises From Early Warning Signs in Patient Medical Records

In this study, researchers aimed to investigate whether changes in routine population health metrics may serve as early warnings of future crises.

Identifying a Promising New Target for Immune-Oncology

The findings of a new research study by investigators from Mass General and colleagues strongly suggest that IRG1, the enzyme that makes itaconate, is a promising target for immuno-oncology.

Investigating Radation-Induced DNA Damage Using Monte Carlo Techniques

Computational simulations using well-known physics and the Monte Carlo method offer an ideal platform to study the differences in the damage induced to the DNA by different radiation types. This study provides a thorough revision of the methods employed to perform these simulations,

Neutrophils Will Overcome Their Inability to Swarm by Cooperatively Generating LTB4 Through Transcellular Biosynthesis

Researchers found that if you mix two neutrophil populations, each with a different LTB4 synthetic enzyme deleted, cells within the mixture will overcome their inability to swarm by cooperatively generating LTB4 through transcellular biosynthesis.

Investigating Radation-Induced DNA Damage Using Monte Carlo Techniques

Computational simulations using well-known physics and the Monte Carlo method offer an ideal platform to study the differences in the damage induced to the DNA by different radiation types. This study provides a thorough revision of the methods employed to perform these simulations,

Learning More About Neutrophil Involvement in Severe COVID-19

Researchers identified the relationships between neutrophil states and patient outcome, and find that specific granulocyte subsets, especially G-MDSCs, were associated with severe disease while others (e.g., neutrophil progenitors) with mild disease.

SARS-CoV-2 Placentitis and How Maternal COVID-19 Vaccination Could Prevent Stillbirth

Pregnant women with COVID-19 have an increased risk for stillbirth compared to uninfected women, and those who vaccinate can more effectively prevent adverse conditions such as SARS-CoV-2 placentitis, infant death, preterm birth, and stillbirth.

The Potential for Comorbid Autoimmune Disorders in Patients with MOGAD

Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease (MOGAD) has various similarities with Aquaporine4-IgG positive Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (AQP4-IgG+NMOSD), in terms of clinical presentations and MRI findings. However, AQP4-IgG+NMOSD is known to coexist with various autoimmune diseases and cancers, but we do not know if the same thing is true for MOGAD.

Making the Case for Tenecteplase as a Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke

A growing body of literature supports the use of tenecteplase (TNK) for intravenous thrombolysis to restore perfusion for patients with acute ischemic stroke.

Comparing Proton Beam Therapy and Plaque Brachytherapy in Ocular Melanoma

Researchers found that although protons in a typical treatment could completely spare the center of the eye lens, the dose delivered at the periphery of the lens was more effectively reduced with plaques in most cases.

Coating Exogenous Mitochondria Prior to Transplantation Improves Uptake and Reduces Toxicity

The findings indicate that mitochondrial surface coating with artificial lipid membrane is feasible and may improve the therapeutic efficacy of mitochondria allograft.

Microbial Bile Acid Metabolism Regulates Gut Barrier Integrity and Liver Injury and Could Be a New Treatment Target

Researchers identified a signaling-independent, physicochemical mechanism for conjugated bile acid (BA) mediated protection of epithelial barrier function and suggests that rational manipulation of microbial BA metabolism could be leveraged to regulate gut barrier integrity.

Successful Treatment of Delayed Localized Necrotizing Inflammatory Myositis after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 (“Moderna”) Vaccine: A Case Report

Mass General clinicians describe the presentation and successful treatment of delayed localized necrotizing inflammatory myositis following the third dose of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine (Moderna, Inc.; Spikevax®).

Riboflavin Depletion Leads to a 30% Extension in Lifespan in C. Elegans

Researchers identified a new paradigm for lifespan extension that promotes a favorable energetic state and mimics dietary restriction. This is the first work to show that active depletion rather than supplementation of vitamins provides a health benefit to the animal.

Environmental Influences Account for More Differences in Child Emotional and Behaviorial Symptoms Than Genetic Factors

The environment may play at least two key roles in children’s mental health: it affects their mental health directly and through its interplay with genetic factors.

Lower Hydroxychloroquine Dosing is Less Effective in Preventing Lupus Flares

When patients with lupus received lower dosing of hydroxychloroquine—in accordance with current ophthalmology guidelines—they had a higher risk of lupus flares than when they were taking a higher dose of the medication.

Racial and Sex Disparities in the Prevalence of Gout Among US Adults

In this nationally representative race- and sex-specific cross-sectional study of US adults, gout was more prevalent in adults self-reporting Black race during a recent 10-year period compared with their White counterparts.

Understanding Infant Mortality Rate and Risk Factors in Nigeria

An increasing rate of infant mortality in Nigeria indicates that Nigeria is not on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of reducing child mortality by 2030.

Could a Blood Pressure Hormone Work as a Treatment for Immune Dysregulation in Sepsis?

Angiotensin-II substantially increased bacterial clearance and enhanced immune function without worsening organ injury in a mouse model of sepsis, whereas norepinephrine, the current first line treatment for septic shock, did not.

Learning More About Treatment Resistance in A Highly Fatal Form of Pancreatic Cancer

A high-resolution molecular framework sheds light on the inter- and intratumoral diversity of pancreatic cancer, spatial organization into discrete communities, treatment-associated remodeling and clinically relevant prognostication.