News from the Broad

The Broad Institute is committed to open sharing not only of its scientific data and tools, but also information and news about our progress towards achieving our mission. Below are just a few highlights from the Broad scientific community.
  • AMY1-copy number may not be key

    June 30th, 2015

    The number of copies of the AMY1 gene has been reported to influence metabolic response to diet, although this locus has been difficult to study. In a recent study published in Nature Genetics, Steve McCarroll and Joel Hirschhorn of the Broad Institute and Harvard Medical School and their colleagues show that eight common sets of genetic variants, or haplotypes, almost entirely explain the number of amylase gene copies in an individual. Yet to their surprise, there was no discernible relationship between obesity and copy number. The findings offer insights that could guide future investigations of other structurally complex loci in the genome.

  • Study suggests efficacy of antibiotics may be linked to bacterial cellular respiration

    June 29th, 2015

    Antibiotic resistance is a pressing concern worldwide. In order to prevent this bacterial insensitivity, it is critical to fully understand the antibiotics we currently use. A study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from the Broad Institute, MIT, Harvard University, and Massachusetts General Hospital focused on the ways in which antibiotics upset bacterial metabolism, as well as the effects of bacterial metabolism on antibiotics. Some antibiotics directly kill bacteria while others simply hinder growth — and not only can these two drug types interact, but they also impact cellular respiration differently. These findings suggest that susceptibility to antibiotics may be linked to bacterial metabolism.

  • Broad Institute, Google Genomics combine bioinformatics and computing expertise to expand access to research tools

    June 23rd, 2015
    Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard is teaming up with Google Genomics to explore how to break down major technical barriers that increasingly hinder biomedical research by addressing the need for computing infrastructure to store and process enormous datasets, and by creating tools to analyze such data and unravel long-standing mysteries about human health.
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  • Study identifies small-molecule compound that protects cells against ER stress

    June 23rd, 2015

    The cellular organelle known as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is critical for metabolism, and a stressed ER, as occurs during obesity, can lead to type 2 diabetes. A team led by Gökhan Hotamisligil, of the Broad Institute and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, developed novel high-throughput assay systems to monitor ER function in cells in culture, and used it to identify a novel compound, azoramide, that improves ER function and protects cells during ER stress. In addition, azoramide improved insulin action and reduced blood glucose levels in animals, suggesting potential translational possibilities and warranting testing in human clinical trials. Read more in Science Translational Medicine or this Harvard press release.

  • TCGA papers chart genomic landscape of melanoma, low grade glioma

    June 22nd, 2015

    Researchers from the The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), including scientists from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, recently published two papers documenting the genomic landscapes of two cancers: melanoma and low grade glioma. The papers establish a framework for genomic classification for the two forms of cancer, dividing them into genetic subcategories and providing a more accurate diagnostic strategy than traditional approaches, which rely on subjective examinations of tissue under a microscope. The glioma study (published in the New England Journal of Medicine and covered in the New York Times) reveals a pattern of molecular alterations that is associated with better clinical outcomes. The melanoma study (which appeared in Cell and was covered by GenomeWeb) is the largest of its kind to date, with data from 331 patient tumor samples.