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News / 01.11.19

Research Roundup: January 11, 2019

Lee Rubenstein
Credit : Lee Rubenstein
By Broad Communications

Charting checkpoint blockade's cellular effects, increasing understanding of bacteria's invertons, and probing newborn sequencing's potential. 

Welcome to the January 11, 2019 installment of Research Roundup, a recurring snapshot of recent studies published by scientists at the Broad Institute and their collaborators.

A cell check for immunotherapy

In Immunity, associate members Ana Anderson and Vijay Kuchroo at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), core institute member and Klarman Cell Observatory director Aviv Regev, and colleagues describe their study aimed at the success, and failure, of checkpoint blockade immunotherapy in treating cancer. The researchers examined the response of mouse T cells after checkpoint blockade therapy and found unexpected transcriptional changes in early-phase T cells that do not express checkpoint inhibitors, a cell population that’s often overlooked. The work uncovered a transcription factor, Tcf7, that may help predict response to treatment, and it expands the understanding of how checkpoint blockade therapy exerts its effects on tumors. Read more in this BWH press release.

Flipping DNA fires up antibiotic resistance

Bacteria can fine-tune their use of particular genes or pathways by using invertons: promoters and other regulatory DNA bits that can invert or flip in place to turn downstream genes on or off. Using a new sequence analyzing algorithm called PhaseFinder, Xiaofang Jiang, Brantley Hall, institute member Eric Alm, core institute member Ramnik Xavier (all of the Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program), and colleagues have found that invertons are more widespread in bacterial genomes and species than thought, seem to play active roles in helping bacterial cells adapt to new hosts, and frequently regulate antibiotic resistance genes. Learn more in Science and a Broad news story.

Dispatches from BabySeq

The BabySeq project, led by Program in Medical and Population Genetics associate memeber Robert Green and colleagues from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Baylor College of Medicine, explores the impacts of genome sequencing for newborns. The research team recently reported its latest findings in American Journal of Human Genetics, with data on disease risk for childhood-onset and actionable adult-onset conditions, carrier status, and pharmacogenomics findings from 159 newborns. The results suggest that genome sequencing in newborns can detect risk and carrier status for a range of disorders that are neither detectable by current screening assays nor predictable based on the infant’s known clinical or family history. Learn more in a BWH press release and stories from WBUR, The Washington Post, and NBC.

To learn more about research conducted at the Broad, visit broadinstitute.org/publications, and keep an eye on broadinstitute.org/news.