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Research at Mass General
Updates about recent collaborative efforts between researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and members of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.
In December 2018, Massachusetts General Hospital entered a collaboration with MediBloc, a Korean company, to research blockchain’s use for patient data. Blockchain is a rapidly emerging system for storing blocks of digital information through a chain of computers that serve as a decentralized public database. The technology allows information to be recorded and distributed but not edited, which could improve information sharing, ensure the integrity of data and increase protection against hacks or breaches.
The Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Computation, a joint venture of Mass General and Harvard Medical School, will lead the involvement with research on medical imaging analysis, storage and data exchange. A blockchain prototype will go live this winter.
In December 2018, Innovate Biopharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel medicines for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, announced a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital. Jay Luther, MD, and Raymond T. Chung, MD, in the Gastroenterology Unit at Mass General will lead the collaboration to investigate ethanol-induced toxin uptake and sequelae in a model of alcohol-related liver disease. The goal is to understand how toxins within the intestine are crossing the gut vascular barrier and entering the circulatory system, a process that leads to inflammation and liver disease. Dr. Chung is a Kevin and Polly Maroni MGH Research Scholar 2013-2018.
A team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Clinical Data Science, the Mayo Clinic, and Nvidia have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model to generate synthetic MRIs on which they can train future AI systems. For the study, the researchers used a system and deep learning framework from Nvidia to train a generative adversarial network on data from two publicly available datasets of brain MRIs. They then used the network to create synthetic abnormal MRIs with brain tumors.
Kamada Ltd. extends collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital for a proof-of-concept study evaluating the potential benefit of the company’s liquid alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) on liver preservation and transplant rejection prevention. The purpose of the ongoing study is to assess the effect of AAT on liver graft quality and viability and to evaluate the liver graft for markers of ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) and tissue damage.
Massachusetts General Hospital and ideas42, a nonprofit behavioral design lab, announced a research collaboration aimed at supporting patients in emergency care seeking treatment for opioid use disorder. With funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Mass General and ideas42 will use behavioral insights to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of a series of new interventions for this growing population.
Massachusetts General Hospital and electroCore, a New Jersey-based medical device company, announce a four-year research project looking at concussive brain injuries and Alzheimer’s disease. The company is providing Mass General with $1 million over four years as seed funding for multiple preclinical studies on its non-invasive electric nerve stimulation device. The device is already on the market for migraines, but they hope to expand the market to other conditions.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced the winners of the sixth annual Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation, an award designed to recognize, reward and foster talented early-career biomedical scientists. Lauren Orefice, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, won an award for her research studying the function of peripheral sensory neurons in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders.
In this WCVB interview, Rox Anderson, MD, a dermatologist at Mass General, researcher, and inventor of cool sculpting—the procedure that freezes unwanted body fat—discusses how he thought of the idea while looking for a new way to remove fat without surgery.
GigaMune and Massachusetts General Hospital entered a research collaboration to test GigaMune's T cell receptor (TCR) discovery technology to identify therapeutic TCRs in healthy donor samples. The TCRs will be directed against tumor antigens that are expressed by solid tumors. The project will be led by Mark Cobbold, MRCP, PhD, a translational immunologist at Mass General, and Dr. David Johnson, founder of GigaMune and expert in immune genomics.
Chembio Diagnostics recently announced they have entered a memorandum of understanding with Massachusetts General Hospital to jointly develop a point of care diagnostic test for individuals with fever symptoms. The project would combine Chembio’s DPP technology with Mass General’s proprietary biomarkers to develop tests for typhoid and other febrile illnesses.
"We are quite excited about the targeted collaboration between Mass General, Chembio, and our international colleagues,” said Edward Ryan, MD, Director of Global Infectious Diseases at Mass General. “All of us are committed to developing clinically needed and accurate diagnostic assays to correctly distinguish patients who would benefit from potentially lifesaving antimicrobial therapy and those who can be safely managed with supportive care."
The tests may also lead to the early diagnosis of hard to detect diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, dengue, leptospirosis, Zika and typhus.
Royal Phillips announced a partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to implement Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution, a digital pathology solution to aid pathologists in viewing and diagnosing digital images of surgical pathology slides. The solution will be used to accelerate research, education and collaboration across the institutions and to help develop best practices for implementing in other U.S. medical centers.
Beam Therapeutics, a startup cofounded by Mass General’s J. Keith Joung, PhD, and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School and MIT, was recently launched with Series A funding of $87M (led by F-Prime Capital Partners and ARCH Venture Partners). Beam is the first company to pursue development of new therapies using CRISPR base editing technology, which targets one base within the genome without cutting the DNA or RNA. This technology may reduce genetic side effects associated with current CRISPR strategies. The company’s goal is to use this innovation to develop transformative treatments for a wide range of human diseases.
Glutenostics LLC, today announced plans for two important clinical studies involving "Gluten Detective" technology, the first at-home product designed to monitor gluten consumption, to help people on a gluten-free diet maintain compliance. Two organizations from the Harvard Medical School Celiac Research Program—Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital—are conducting the research in collaboration with Glutenostics.
Shire Plc plans to file for regulatory approval of its drug lanadelumab for the rare genetic disorder hereditary angioedema (HAE) on the back of new phase 3 data. The trials showed that the drug reduces monthly swelling attacks when taken as a preventative treatment.
HAE is a rare inherited blood disorder that can cause dangerous episodes of swelling in the face, extremities, gastrointestinal track, airway and/or genitals. The swelling is often highly painful and can be life-threatening if it obstructs the airway. HAE affects approximately 6,000 people in the United States.
Massachusetts General Hospital was one of the trial sites for the new therapy. Clinical trial investigator Aleena Banerji, MD, of Mass General said: “If approved, lanadelumab may offer patients a long-acting treatment option that significantly reduces HAE attacks when administered subcutaneously as infrequently as every four weeks.”
Boston-based Partners HealthCare on Wednesday said it plans to integrate deep learning technology from GE Healthcare across its network.
The 10-year collaboration will involve Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Clinical Data Science.
The initiative will feature co-located, multidisciplinary teams with broad access to data, computational infrastructure and clinical expertise. The initial focus will be on the development of applications aimed at improving clinician productivity and patient outcomes in diagnostic imaging.
A multiplexed nanoplasmonic assay designed specifically to fit into clinical workflows is taking aim at high-throughput detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), an aggressive and often inoperable form of pancreatic cancer. Developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, the assay employs a liquid biopsy approach, leveraging low blood volumes and the clinical potential of exosomes — tiny vesicles shed by all kinds of cells, including tumor cells.
The researchers said that Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Exosome Diagnostics has licensed the technology and is exploring integrating the test with its own portfolio of exosome tests to explore the potential for "doing concurrent testing of exosome-based proteins and mRNA."
Have you ever received laser hair removal or CoolSculpting, a new treatment to combat cellulite bulges? If so, you’ve been touched by technology and research from Mass General. Meet Dr. Richard Rox Anderson, the Mass General entrepreneur-researcher behind these innovations, in this recent Boston Globe article.
Doctors at Mass General are collaborating with 1Drop Diagnostics to evaluate a point of care diagnostic device for cardiovascular diseases. The device, comprising a disposable microfluidic chip and reusable reader, could replace time-consuming and expensive lab blood tests with a simple pinprick test that is completed during a primary care visit. If successful, the diagnostic may allow clinicians to make quick decisions in an emergency while reducing costs.
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