Research Press Releases

NOVEMBER 2018

Specific CD8 T cell states may indicate response to immune checkpoint therapy for melanoma

A multi-institutional research team, led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, has identified specific states of cytotoxic CD8 T cells that are associated with patient response to checkpoint immunotherapy for melanoma.


OCTOBER 2018

Minimally invasive radical hysterectomy may increase death risk in patients with early-stage cervical cancer

A study by a multi-institutional research team, including Massachusetts General Hospital physicians, has found evidence that patients receiving minimally invasive radical hysterectomy for early-stage cervical cancer have an increased risk of death compared to patients treated with open surgery. 


One more of abstinence from cannabis improves memory in adolescents, young adults

A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that one month of abstaining from cannabis use resulted in measurable improvement in memory functions important for learning among adolescents and young adults who are regular cannabis users.


Combination drug targeting opioid system may help relieve symptoms of major depression

Two clinical trials of an investigational drug that targets the opioid system support its safety and effectiveness in reducing symptoms of major depression, when added to standard antidepressant treatment.


Regulating microglial activity may reduce damaging inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases

A group of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators is proposing that targeting immune checkpoints – molecules that regulate the activity of the immune system – in immune cells called microglia could reduce the inflammatory aspects of important neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS.


Study identifies effective ketamine doses for treatment-resistant depression

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators identifies two subanesthetic dosage levels of the anesthetic drug ketamine that appear to provide significant symptom relief to patients with treatment-resistant depression.


Eczema drug restores hair growth in patient with longstanding alopecia

Massachusetts General Hospital physicians describe how their patient with alopecia totalis - a total lack of scalp hair - along with eczema, experienced significant hair regrowth while being treated with dupilumab.


Mass General-led study supports ability of regular aspirin use to reduce liver cancer risk

The results of a study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators support evidence from previous studies suggesting the regular use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing primary liver cancer – also called hepatocellular carcinoma.


MGHfC researchers selected by European Commission for GEMMA program to identify treatment and prevention targets for autism spectrum disorders

Researchers at MassGeneral Hospital for Children have been selected to receive a grant of $1.5 million from the European Commission as part of an international consortium to study the role of the gut microbiome in autism spectrum disorders.


Massachusetts General Hospital to participate in clinical trial evaluating experimental treatment for Ebola Virus Disease

Mass General to take part in an international multi-center trial evaluating ZMapp™, an experimental treatment consisting of three antibodies to treat Ebola Virus Disease.


Focus on neuroscience, nociception to improve anesthesia, paper says

People sometimes mistakenly think of general anesthesia as just a really deep sleep, but in fact, anesthesia is really four brain states – unconsciousness, amnesia, immobility and suppression of the body’s damage sensing response, or “nociception.”


SEPTEMBER 2018

Alzheimer's-associated Tau Protein Disrupts Molecular Transport Within Neurons
Featuring Bradley Hyman, MD, PhD

A multi-institutional study led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has found how the abnormal form of tau that accumulates in the neurofibrillary tangles that characterize Alzheimer’s disease can disrupt the normal function of brain cells.


Mass General Study Shows How Exercise Generates New Brain Neurons and Improves Cognition in an Alzheimer's Mouse Model
Featuring Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, and Se Hoon Choi, PhD

A study by a Massachusetts General Hospital research team finds that neurogenesis – inducing the production of new neurons – in the brain structure in which memories are encoded can improve cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.


FRESH Program Combines Basic Science with Social Benefits for Women at Risk of HIV
Featuring Krista Dong, MD and Bruce Walker, MD

A program established by investigators from the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT and Harvard is addressing the persistently elevated risk of HIV infection among young women in South Africa from two angles: First, investigating biological factors that modulate infection risk and the early immunologic events following viral exposure; and second, alleviating socioeconomic factors that limit opportunities for young women, the group at greatest risk of infection in the region hardest hit by the HIV epidemic.


Immune Cell Pruning of Dopamine Receptors May Modulate Behavioral Changes in Adolescence
Featuring Staci Bilbo, PhD, and Ashley Kopec, PhD

A study by MassGeneral Hospital for Children researchers finds that the immune cells of the brain called microglia play a crucial role in brain development during adolescence, but that role is different in males and females.


Extracellular RNA in Urine May Provide Useful Biomarkers for Muscular Dystrophy
Featuring Thurman Wheeler, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have found that extracellular RNA in urine may be a source of biomarkers for the two most common forms of muscular dystrophy, and noninvasively provide information about whether therapeutic drugs are having the desired effects on a molecular level.


Olfactory Cells May Act as "Trojan Horse," Carry Anticancer Therapy to Deadly Brain Tumors
Featuring Bakhos Tannous, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have found that a special type of cell essential to the ability of olfactory neurons to regenerate may be genetically engineered to deliver anticancer therapy to the dangerous brain tumors called glioblastomas.


Research Teams Find Widespread Inflammation in the Brains of Fibromyalgia Patients
Featuring Marco Loggia, PhD

A study by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers – collaborating with a team at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden – has documented for the first-time widespread inflammation in the brains of patients with the poorly understood condition called fibromyalgia.


AUGUST 2018

Researchers Discover New Type of Lung Cell, Critical Insights for Cystic Fibrosis
Featuring Jayaraj Rajagopal, MD

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have identified a rare, previously unknown cell type in airway tissue that appears to play a key role in the biology of cystic fibrosis.


Mass General Team Defines the Mechanisms of Action of Key Genetic Abnormality in Ewing Sarcoma
Featuring Miguel Rivera, MD, and Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD

A Massachusetts General Hospital research team has used epigenome editing tools to investigate how the genetic abnormality that drives Ewing sarcoma – the second most common bone cancer in children and young adults – unleashes tumor growth.


Rapid Diagnostic Coupled with Local Therapy Developed for Brain Tumors
Featuring Daniel Cahill, MD, PhD

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital are designing a new, rapid molecular diagnostic and sustained release therapeutic that could be deployed during brain surgery to treat gliomas and prevent their return.


Better Than Before: Mapping Beneficial Brain Injuries
Featuring Juho Joutsa, PhD

A study of rare cases of improvement after stroke sheds light on potential therapeutic targets in the brain.


Novel Approach Keeps Liquids from Freezing at Very Low Temperatures for Extended Periods
Featuring O. Berk Usta, PhD, Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD, and Haishui Huang, PhD

Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine have developed a simple method to maintain water and water-based solutions in a liquid state at temperatures far below the usual “freezing point” for greatly extended periods of time.


Predicting Risk for Common Deadly Diseases from Millions of Genetic Variants
Featuring Sekar Kathiresan, MD, and Amit Khera, MD

A research team at the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School reports a new kind of genome analysis that could identify large fractions of the population who have a much higher risk of developing serious common diseases, including coronary artery disease, breast cancer or type 2 diabetes.


Harmful Side Effects
Featuring Zirui Song, MD, PhD, and John Goodson, MD

The intent behind a new federal proposal to flatten physician reimbursement for office visits is admirable, but the plan could also have harmful side effects and unintended consequences for many patients and physicians.


"It's All in the Eyes": The Role of the Amygdala in the Experience and Perception of Fear
Featuring Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD

Researchers have long believed that the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the brain, is central to the experience and perception of fear. But a new paper from a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator describes how the role of the amygdala has turned out to be more complex than originally thought.


Mass General Study Defines Mechanisms Behind Focused-Ultrasound-assisted Treatment of Brain Tumors
Featuring Costas Arvanitis, PhD, Vasileios Askoxylakis, MD, PhD, and Rakesh Jain, PhD

A study led by a team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has analyzed, for the first time, the mechanisms underlying the use of focused ultrasound to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs across the blood brain barrier into brain tumors.


Mass General Team Discovers Channels Connecting Skull Bone Marrow to Brain Surface
Featuring Matthias Nahrendorf, MD, PhD, and Fanny Herisson, MD

A new study from a Massachusetts General Hospital research team has made two surprising discoveries – that immune system cells responding to a stroke or other brain injury in an animal model are more likely to come from bone marrow in the skull, and that tiny, previously unknown channels through the skull’s inner layer carry inflammatory cells from the marrow directly to the membranes covering the brain.


Mass General Team Finds How NF-2 Gene Mutations Make Cells Hyper-responsive to Growth Factor Signaling
Featuring Andrea McClatchey, PhD, and Christine Chiasson-MacKenzie, PhD

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center researchers has determined one way that mutations in a gene involved in a rare, hereditary cancer syndrome lead to out-of-control cellular proliferation.


JULY 2018

Prenatal Exposure to Folic Acid Fortification of Foods May Reduce Mental Illness Risk
Featuring Joshua Roffman, MD, MMSc

A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that fortifying grain-based foods with folic acid – instituted to prevent neural tube defects in infants – may also reduce the incidence of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia that initially appear in young adulthood.


Expanding Primary Care Buprenorphine Treatment Could Curb Opioid Overdose Crisis
Featuring Sarah Wakeman, MD

Expanding the availability of medication treatment for opioid use disorder in primary care settings would be a major step toward reducing overdose deaths, write two physicians specializing in addiction medicine and health care delivery.


Amyloid Beta Protein Protects Brain From Herpes Infection by Binding To, Entrapping Viral Particles
Featuring Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, and Robert Moir, PhD

A Massachusetts General Hospital study has found the mechanism by which amyloid beta – the protein deposited into plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease – protects from the effects of herpes viruses commonly found in the brain.


Study Analyzes Opioid Overdose Risk During Pregnancy, Postpartum Period, Among Mass. Women
Featuring Davida Schiff, MD, MSc

A study from research team consisting of investigators from the Mass. Department of Public Health and several academic medical centers, led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children physician, found that opioid overdose events decreased during pregnancy, reaching their lowest level during the third trimester, but then increased during the postpartum period, becoming significantly higher during the second six months after delivery.


Nitric Oxide Tells Roundworms to Avoid Bad Bacteria
Featuring Yingsong Hao, PhD

Nitric oxide gas produced by a type of harmful bacteria lets roundworms know to stay away from it, says a new study co-authored by a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator.


Limited Restoration of MECP2 Gene Expression May Relieve Symptoms in Rett Syndrome
Featuring Lieselot Carrette, PhD, and Jeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD

A Massachusetts General Hospital research team has developed a new female mouse model for the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett syndrome and in the process found evidence that relieving symptoms of the genetic disorder may require only partial expression of the normal copy of the involved gene.


Protease Inhibitors May Increase Risk of Cardiovascular Death in People with HIV and Heart Failure
Featuring Tomas Neilan, MD, MPH

A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that patients with both HIV infection and heart failure who take a certain class of antiviral drugs may be at greater risk for worsening heart failure and cardiovascular death than patients with HIV who take other antiviral drugs.


Researchers Aim to Catalogue Global Microbiomes -- While There's Still Time
Featuring Ramnik Xavier, MD

As industrialized lifestyles threaten microbial diversity, a new international effort will preserve gut microbes from the world’s remotest regions.


Researchers Discover Region of the Brain Thought to Play Role in Parkinson's Symptoms
Featuring Juho Joutsa, PhD

A team of investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital has identified a little understood sheet of neurons called the claustrum as the likely origin of neurologic symptoms most commonly seen in Parkinson’s disease.


Microfluidic System Incorporates Neuroinflammation into 'Alzheimer's in a Dish' Model
Featuring Rudolph Tanzi, PhD

Building on their development of the first culture system to replicate fully the pathology behind Alzheimer’s disease, a Massachusetts General Hospital research team has now produced a system that includes neuroinflammation, the key biological response that leads to the death of brain cells.


Nano-optic Endoscope Sees Deep into Tissue at High Resolution
Featuring Melissa Suter, PhD, and Hamid Pahlevaninezhad, PhD

A new class of endoscopic imaging catheters developed at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences can overcome many limitations of current systems.


JUNE 2018

Maternal Fatty Acid Balance Affects Offspring Obesity Thorough Gut Microbial Population
Featuring Jing X. Kang, MD, PhD

A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the tissues of female mammals, which previous research has suggested can impact the incidence of obesity in their offspring, may do so through its effect on the microbial population of the infant’s gastrointestinal tract.


Structural Protein Found Essential to X Chromosome Inactivation
Featuring Chen-Yu Wang, MD, and Jeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD

A Massachusetts General Hospital research team has identified the essential role of a structural protein in the silencing of the inactive X chromosome, a process that prevents both copies of the same gene from being expressed in female mammals, which carry two copies of the X chromosome.


Study Identifies Protein's Role in Mediating Brain's Response to Stress
Featuring Amar Sahay, PhD

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified a critical role for a protein called Kruppel-like factor 9 in the brain’s response to stress, which has implications for protecting against the effects of stress in conditions like major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation Response Have Different Effects on Brain Function
Featuring Sara Lazar, PhD, and Gunes Sevinc, PhD

A team led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified specific effects that relaxation response training and mindfulness meditation have within the brain.


Both Quantity and Quality of Sleep Affect Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Adolescents
Featuring Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH

A study from a research team led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children physician finds that both the quantity and quality of sleep – the amount of time spent sleeping and the percentage of sleep that is undisturbed – in young adolescents have significant effects on cardiovascular health.


BCG Vaccine Leads to Long-term Improvement in Blood Sugar Levels in Type 1 Diabetes Patients
Featuring Denise Faustman, MD, PhD

Long-term follow-up of participants in Massachusetts General Hospital clinical trials of a generic vaccine to reverse advanced type 1 diabetes finds significant clinical benefits, including restoration of near-normal blood sugar levels.


Mass General Co-led Study Identifies the Genetic Roots and Transfer of Cholera in South Asia
Featuring Edward T. Ryan, MD

Study finds multiple strains of cholera exist simultaneously in Dhaka and frequently, one individual may have several at a given time which may lead to genetic transfers and the formation of new strains.


Patients Believed to be Allergic to Penicillin Have Significantly Increased Risks of MRSA and C. Difficile
Featuring Kimberly Blumenthal, MD, MSc

Analysis by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators of a large group of outpatient reveals that patients believed to be allergic to penicillin have significantly increased risks of contracting the dangerous infections MRSA and C. difficile.


MAY 2018

Artificial Intelligence Better Than Most Human Experts at Detecting Cause of Preemie Blindness
Featuring Jayashree Kalpathy-Cramer, PhD

An algorithm that uses artificial intelligence can automatically and more accurately diagnose a potentially devastating cause of childhood blindness than most expert physicians, suggests a study by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and Oregon Health & Science University.


Artificial Intelligence Detects Patterns of Gut Microbes that Indicate Cholera Risk
Featuring Regina C. LaRocque, MD, MPH

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Duke University used artificial intelligence to spot patterns within the communities of bacteria living in the human gut that could indicate who among the approximately one billion people around the globe at risk of cholera infection will get sick with the diarrheal disease.


Cellular Reprogramming Approach Promotes Muscle Regeneration in Injured Mice
Featuring Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have developed a simple and robust approach for directly reprogramming mature skin cells into immature muscle cells.


Neuroinflammation Seen in Spinal Cord, Nerve Roots of Patients with Chronic Sciatica
Featuring Yi Zhang, MD, PhD, and Marco Loggia, PhD

A study by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has found, for the first time in humans, that patients with chronic sciatica – back pain that shoots down the leg – have evidence of inflammation in key areas of the nervous system.


Automated System Significantly Improves Identification of Patients at Risk for Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia
Featuring Brandon Westover, MD, PhD, and Erica Shenoy, MD, PhD

An automated system developed at Massachusetts General Hospital for identifying patients at risk for complications associated with the use of mechanical ventilators provided significantly more accurate results than did traditional surveillance methods, which rely on manual recording and interpretation of individual patient data.


MR Spectroscopy Imaging Reveals Effects of Targeted Treatment of Mutant IDH1 Gliomas
Featuring Ovidiu Andronesi, MD, PhD

Using a novel imaging method, a Massachusetts General Hospital research team is investigating the mechanisms behind a potential targeted treatment for a subtype of deadly brain tumors called gliomas.


Vascular Risk Factors Interact with Amyloid-beta Levels to Increase Age-related Cognitive Decline
Featuring Jennifer Rabin, PhD, Jasmeer Chhatwal, MD, PhD, and Reisa Sperling, MD

A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that risk factors for heart disease and stroke appear to hasten the risk of cognitive decline in normal older individuals with evidence of very early Alzheimer’s-disease-associated changes in the brain.


Virtual Primary Care Visits for Follow-up Hypertension Care Have Outcomes Similar to Office Visits
Featuring Ronald Dixon, MD

A study conducted among patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that virtual follow-up visits for patients with hypertension appeared just as effective as in-person office visits in helping maintain blood pressure control.


Screening Resident Physicians Entering Training Misses Many at Risk for Significant Sleep Impairment
Featuring Lori Berkowitz, MD, and Jonathan Zebrowski, MD

A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that pre-existing sleep disorders are not the only risk factor for significant sleep impairment disorders in resident physicians.


APRIL 2018

Combination Immunotherapy Improves Survival in Mouse Models of Mesothelioma
Featuring Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, Jeffrey Gelfand, MD, and Huabiao Chen, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have found that combined treatment with two cancer immunotherapy drugs significantly prolonged survival in mouse models of the aggressive cancer malignant mesothelioma.


Relaxation Response Therapy May Reduce Blood Pressure by Altering Expression of a Distinct Set of Genes
Featuring Randall Zusman, MD, Herbert Benson, MD, and John Denninger, MD, PhD

A study by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine identified genes associated with the body’s response to relaxation techniques and sheds light on the molecular mechanisms by which these interventions may work to lower blood pressure.


Party Lines
Featuring Anupam Jena, MD

The divide that separates conservative and liberal values may be as wide now as it has ever been in our country. This divide shows itself in areas of everyday life, and health care is no exception. But do doctors’ political beliefs influence the way they practice medicine, choose therapies and treat patients?


RB1 Gene Mutations Underlie Clinical Resistance to CDK 4/6 Inhibitor Therapy for Breast Cancer
Featuring Aditya Bardia, MD, MPH

A multi-institutional research team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator has identified what may be a novel mechanism underlying acquired resistance to CDK 4/6 inhibitor treatment for breast cancer.


Mass General-led Study May Reveal How Chronic Stress in Early Life Increases Vulnerability to PTSD
Featuring Ki Goosens, PhD

A collaboration between investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and Khyber Medical University in Pakistan may have discovered how chronic stress experienced early in life increases vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder later in life.


Study Identifies Overdose Risk Factors in Youth with Substance Use Disorders
Featuring Amy Yule, MD, and Timothy Wilens, MD

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified factors that may increase the risk of drug overdose in adolescents and young adults.


Imaging May Allow Safe tPA Treatment of Patients with Unwitnessed Strokes
Featuring Lee Schwamm, MD, and Ona Wu, PhD

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators may lead to a significant expansion in the number of stroke patients who can safely be treated with intravenous tPA, the "clot busting" drug that has greatly reduced stroke-related disability and deaths in eligible patients.


Exercise May Help Make Heart Younger
Featuring Carolin Lerchenmüller, MD, and Anthony Rosenzweig, MD

In a new study in mice, researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital uncovered one reason why exercise is good for the heart: It stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, both under normal conditions and after a heart attack.


Glioma Subtypes Determine How Dangerous Brain Tumors Spread, Evade Anti-Angiogenic Treatment
Featuring Rakesh Jain, PhD

A multi-institutional research team led by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital and University of California San Francisco has identified a new mechanism by which the dangerous brain tumors called gliomas develop resistance to anti-angiogenic treatment.


State-of-the-art HIV Drug Could Curb HIV Transmission, Improve Survival in India
Featuring Amy Zheng and Kenneth A. Freedberg, MD, MSc

As study led by a Massachusetts General Hospital research team finds that an HIV treatment regimen widely used in North America and Europe would likely increase the life expectancy of people living with HIV in India and reduce the number of new HIV infections with minimal impact on the country’s HIV/AIDS budget.


MARCH 2018

How Does Resolving Cannabis Problems Differ from Resolving Problems with Alcohol or Other Drugs?
Featuring John Kelly, PhD

Individuals who report having resolved a problem with cannabis use appear to have done so at younger ages and with less assistance than those who resolved problems with alcohol or other drugs, report investigators from the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines May Lead to Delayed Diagnosis in Nonwhite Women
Featuring David Chang, PhD, MBA, MPH

The current guidelines for mammographic breast cancer screening, which are based on data from primarily white populations, may lead to delayed diagnosis in nonwhite women, according to a report from Massachusetts General Hospital investigators.


Mass General Investigators Identify Neural Circuit, Genetic 'Switch' that Maintain Memory Precision
Featuring Amar Sahay, PhD

Investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have identified a neural circuit involved in preserving the specificity of memories and a genetic 'switch' that can slow down memory generalization – the loss of specific details that occurs in both age-related memory impairment and in PTSD.


Obesity May Promote Resistance to Antiangiogenic Therapy for Breast Cancer
Featuring Joao Incio, MD, PhD, and Dai Fukumura, MD, PhD

A research team led by Massachusetts General Hospital has found, for the first time, that obesity and obesity-related molecular factors appear to induce resistance to antiangiogenic therapy in breast cancer patients and in mouse models of the disease.


Measuring Neutrophil Motility Could Lead to Accurate Sepsis Diagnosis
Featuring Felix Ellett, PhD, Daniel Irimia, MD, PhD, and Jarone Lee, MD

A microfluidic device developed by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators may help solve a significant and persistent challenge in medicine – diagnosing the life-threatening complication of sepsis.


Vaginal Estrogen Tablets, Moisturizers and Placebo Gel All Can Improve Vaginal Discomfort
Featuring Caroline Mitchell, MD

A clinical trial comparing two treatments for postmenopausal vaginal discomfort – low-dose vaginal estrogen and a vaginal moisturizer – to placebo treatments found that both produced symptom improvements similar to those associated with the placebos after 12 weeks of treatment.


Learning to See: New Artificial Intelligence Technique Dramatically Improves the Quality of Medical Imaging
Featuring Bo Zhu, PhD, and Matt Rosen, PhD

Researchers with the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a new technique based on artificial intelligence and machine learning that should enable clinicians to acquire high-quality images from limited data.


Study Supports Biomarker Assay for Emergency Department Diagnosis of Acute Heart Failure
Featuring James Januzzi Jr., MD

A multi-institutional study led by a Massachusetts General Hospital physician supports the value of a biomarker to accurately diagnose or rule out acute heart failure in patients seen for shortness of breath at hospital emergency departments.


Metastatic Lymph Nodes Can Be the Source of Distant Metastases in Mouse Models of Cancer
Featuring Timothy Padera, PhD

A study by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators finds that, in mouse models, cancer cells from metastatic lymph nodes can escape into the circulation by invading nodal blood vessels, leading to the development of metastases in other parts of the body.


Metabolic Profiling May Determine Aggressiveness, Prognosis of Prostate Cancer
Featuring Leo L. Cheng, PhD

A new approach to analyzing prostate gland tissue developed by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers may help address a major challenge in treating prostate cancer – determining which tumors are unlikely to progress and which could be life threatening and require treatment.


Machine Learning Model Provides Rapid Prediction of C. Difficile Infection Risk
Featuring Erica Shenoy, MD, PhD

Investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed investigational "machine learning" models that can predict a patient’s risk of developing C. difficile much earlier than it would be diagnosed with current methods.


Study Suggests Uncertainty in E-cigarettes' Usefulness for Quitting Smoking
Featuring Nancy Rigotti, MD

An analysis of data from a previous study of more than 1,350 smokers intending to quit after a hospitalization found that those who reported using electronic cigarettes during the study period were less likely to have successfully quit smoking 6 months after entering the study.


FEBRUARY 2018

A Circuitous Route to Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Featuring Ramnik Xavier, MD, PhD

Just because a gene is linked to a disease does not mean it plays a direct role, a point highlighted by one gene's connection to IBD.


Adding Crizotinib to Radiation Therapy May Help Preserve Hearing in Patients with NF2
Featuring Lei Xu, MD, PhD, Scott Plotkin, MD, PhD, Anat Stemmer-Rachamimov, MD, and Rakesh Jain, PhD

Adding the targeted cancer therapy drug crizotinib to radiation therapy for tumors associated with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis 2 may reduce hearing damage that can be exacerbated by radiotherapy.


Cellular Models of Fetal Intestinal Tissue May Help Combat Deadly Neonatal Disease
Featuring Alessio Fasano, MD, and Stefania Senger, PhD

Cellular models of fetal and adult intestinal tissues generated by investigators from MassGeneral Hospital for Children have identified differences in the immune response to natural intestinal bacteria at different developmental ages.


Apalutamide Delays Progression of Nonmetastatic, Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Featuring Matthew Smith, MD, PhD

A clinical trial led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco found that treatment with an investigational androgen receptor inhibitor significantly delayed the development of metastasis in patients with prostate cancer that had become resistant to standard androgen-deprivation therapy.


Balancing the Benefits and Risks of Electronic Cigarettes
Featuring Nancy Rigotti, MD

What should physicians say to their patients who ask them about the safety of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and whether the devices can help them quit smoking? Massachusetts General Hospital physician Nancy Rigotti outlines what is and is not known about the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes in a commentary published in the February 13 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.


Before-School Physical Activity Program Helps Improve Body Weight and Overall Wellness
Featuring Rachel Whooten, MD, and Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH

A MassGeneral Hospital for Children study finds that children participating in a 12-week, before-school physical activity program experienced improvement in body weight and social/emotional wellness, compared with their classmates who did not participate.


Cardiac Macrophages Found to Contribute to a Currently Untreatable Type of Heart Failure
Featuring Maarten Hulsmans, PhD, and Matthias Nahrendorf, MD, PhD

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has discovered, for the first time, that the immune cells called macrophages contribute to a type of heart failure for which there is no effective treatment.


Safe-Sleep Recommendations for Infants Have Not Reduced Sudden Deaths in Newborns
Featuring Ronald Kleinman, MD

An analysis by investigators from MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Newton-Wellesley Hospital of trends in sudden unexpected infant death over the past two decades finds that the drop in such deaths that took place following release of the 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics “back to sleep” recommendations did not occur in infants in the first month of life.


Expanding Hepatitis C Testing to All Adults is Cost-Effective and Improves Outcomes
Featuring Joshua Barocas, MD

According to a new study by researchers from Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University, screening all adults for hepatitis C is a cost-effective way to improve clinical outcomes of HCV and identify more infected people, compared to current recommendations.


Housing Problems Found to be Common at Safety-Net Community Health Centers
Featuring Travis Baggett, MD, MPH

A new study by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, finds that more than 40 percent of patients treated at U.S. community health centers have a history of housing problems.


Scientific Statement Reviews Current Knowledge, Best Practices for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection
Featuring Malissa Wood, MD, and Mark Lindsay, MD

Many patients who experience a type of heart attack known as spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) may benefit most from a conservative approach to treatment, rather than more invasive procedures. A scientific statement reviewing current knowledge and best practices for SCAD treatment – put together by a collaborative working group from multiple institutions including Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) – was published today in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal, Circulation.


Mass General-Led Team Identifies Genetic Defect that May Cause Rare Movement Disorder
Featuring Michael Talkowski, PhD, and Cristopher Bragg, PhD

A Massachusetts General Hospital-led research team has found that a defect in transcription of the TAF1 gene may be the cause of X-linked dystonia parkinsonism, a rare and severe neurodegenerative disease.


Microfluidic Device Captures, Allows Analysis of Tumor-Specific Extracellular Vesicles
Featuring Shannon Stott, PhD

A new microfluidic device developed by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital may help realize the potential of tumor-derived extracellular vesicles – tiny lipid particles that carry molecules through the bloodstream – as biomarkers that could monitor a tumor’s response to therapy and provide detailed information to guide treatment choice.


A Surprising Safety Benefit
Featuring Anupam Jena, MD

Thousands of firearm injuries occur in the United States each year, but the likelihood of such injuries appears to drop substantially when gun enthusiasts hold large national meetings, according to research led by Harvard Medical School. The results, published March 1 in The New England Journal of Medicine, show a 20 percent decline in gun injuries nationwide during the dates of the National Rifle Association’s annual convention.


JANUARY 2018

X Chromosome Reactivation Could Treat Rett Syndrome, Other X-Linked Disorders
Featuring Lieselot Carrette, PhD, and Jeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD

A study from a team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators points toward a potential strategy for treating X-linked disorders – those caused by mutations in the X chromosome – in females.


Improved Blood Stabilization Should Expand Use of Circulating Tumor Cell Profiling
Featuring Keith Wong, PhD, and Shannon Tessier, PhD

A new blood stabilization method, developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine, significantly prolongs the lifespan of blood samples for microfluidic sorting and transcriptome profiling of rare circulating tumor cells, living cancer cells carried in the bloodstream.


Mass. General Study Reveals How MRSA Infection Compromises Lymphatic Function
Featuring Timothy Padera, PhD

MGH investigators describe have found in mouse models that MRSA infection impairs the ability of lymphatic vessels to pump lymphatic fluid to lymph nodes, which may contribute to the frequent recurrences of MRSA infection experienced by patients.


Combination Chemotherapy May Significantly Improve Treatment for Deadly Brain Tumor
Featuring Bakhos Tannous, PhD

A team led by MGH investigators has found that adding the drug hydroxyurea to the current chemotherapy protocol for glioblastoma significantly increased survival in animal models.


People with Tetraplegia Gain Rapid Use of Brain-Computer Interface
Featuring Leigh Hochberg, MD, PhD

A new approach to calibrating the pioneering BrainGate brain-computer interface allowed three clinical trial participants with tetraplegia to gain control of a computer cursor after just one simple calibration step.


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