5 Takeaways: Genetic association studies improve red blood cell production in vitro

Angela Page, October 22nd, 2015

Access to lifesaving blood transfusions can be limited due to supply. And even when matched donor blood is available, it can still be rejected by the patient’s immune system. A more effective means of generating red blood cells (RBCs) from stem cells could be game-changing for a number of different patient groups.

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Five Questions with Chengwei Luo

Angela Page, September 10th, 2015

Our bodies are full of bugs — and as we’re learning, this is great news. These millions of microscopic species, collectively called the microbiome, outnumber our own cells and help keep us healthy and alive. Maintaining (and in some cases restoring) a healthy microbiome requires a solid understanding of what those bugs are and how they function. Complicating this is the fact that, just as there are genetically distinct families of humans, there are also many families, or strains, within a single bacterial, viral, or fungal species.

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Single-cell analysis helps sort out host-pathogen interactions

Veronica Meade-Kelly, September 10th, 2015

What: When bacteria invade the human body, immune cells rush to our defense, initiating a high-stakes tug-of-war in which macrophages – a type of immune cell that engulfs and digests pathogens and cellular debris – attempt to destroy the invaders while the bacteria look to survive and replicate. The outcomes of these cellular death matches vary from cell to cell: some macrophages engulf bacteria while others remain uninfected, and of those infected, some destroy their invaders while others allow bacteria to thrive.

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Zhang lab unlocks crystal structure of new CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tool

Paul Goldsmith, August 27th, 2015

In a paper published today in Cell researchers from the Broad Institute and University of Tokyo revealed the crystal structure of the Staphylococcus aureus Cas9 complex (SaCas9)—a highly efficient enzyme that overcomes one of the primary challenges to in vivo mammalian genome editing.

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New insights on an old virus

Angela Page, August 13th, 2015

Between 2013 and 2015, an outbreak of Ebola virus killed more than 11,000 people. Broad Institute researchers quickly deployed real-time sequencing efforts that confirmed that the virus was primarily spreading through human-to-human contact rather than between animals and humans and that the viral genome was mutating. This work had a profound impact on how public health officials diagnosed the disease and developed strategies to contain it.

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From Barrett’s to cancer

Veronica Meade-Kelly, July 20th, 2015

What: A new study by researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) progresses differently than previously suspected.

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Development in reverse: A better model of human induced pluripotency

Leah Eisenstadt, July 16th, 2015

What: Studying the reprogramming process in human cells is now easier and more reliable, thanks to work by a team of scientists led by Broad Institute researcher Tarjei Mikkelsen. The team designed an improved method for generating human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in the lab that reduces variability. The system enables a high-resolution look at the intermediate cellular and molecular changes taking place as somatic cells are reprogrammed to become iPS cells, something much more difficult to study before this new model.

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Letting the knowledge flow: Firehose, FireBrowse & FireCloud

Raleigh McElvery, July 13th, 2015

It's been said that getting an education from MIT is like taking a drink from a fire hose. At the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard a similar ethos prevails, and is particularly evident in the aptly named cancer analysis pipeline, Firehose.

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Unraveling an age-old antibiotic mystery

Angela Page, July 9th, 2015

In the 1950s, an early clinical study compared the efficacy of a bactericidal antibiotic, which kills bacteria, to a combination with a bacteriostatic antibiotic, which only stops bacterial cell growth. The study revealed that the bactericidal antibiotic was not as effective at killing bacteria when used in combination with the bacteriostatic antibiotic. The bacteriostatic drug seemed to have a dominant effect, but the underlying biological mechanisms of this phenomenon were never unraveled.

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A cancer drug that wears many hats

Leah Eisenstadt, July 1st, 2015

Nearly a decade ago, the FDA approved the drug lenalidomide to treat patients with deletion-5q myelodysplastic syndrome (del(5q) MDS), a cancer of the myeloid cells in the bone marrow that form several types of blood cells. In this condition, some bone marrow cells are missing a portion of chromosome 5 – hence, the “del(5q)” – on one copy of their genome (the human genome has two copies of each chromosome, one from each parent), and this deletion causes malignant cells to grow unchecked.

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