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Broad’s landmark study discovers new cancer genes

A landmark study across many cancer types reveals that the universe of cancer mutations is much bigger than previously thought. By analyzing the genomes of thousands of patients’ tumors, a Broad Institute-led research team has discovered enough new cancer genes to expand the list by 25 percent. The team’s work, which lays a critical foundation for future cancer drug development, also shows that creating a comprehensive catalog of cancer gene Read more...

Some secrets of longevity

The average life expectancy in the United States has fallen behind that of other industrialized nations as the American income gap has widened. In addition, better health habits, including those involving weight control, nutrition, and exercise, clearly influence the effects of aging among segments of the U.S. population. “Widening inequalities in the U.S. are growing over time, not decreasing,” said Lisa Berkman, the Thomas D. Cabot Profess Read more...

A splash with the spleen

Who knew the spleen was so funny? And popular? A parody video by a group of Harvard Medical School students went viral in December, garnering a million YouTube hits in just five days and surpassing 1.7 million since. The video’s creators were astounded at its popularity, according to Ben Rome, a second-year student who filmed and edited the video. Rather than just basking in their 15 minutes of fame, however, the students are trying leverage t Read more...

‘Junk?’ Not so fast

Ever since the Human Genome Project decoded the genome, the prevailing scientific view has been that only the 2 percent that makes proteins — the building blocks of cells — was important. The rest was deemed not functional, or “junk.” But from his days in graduate school, through his postdoctoral fellowship, and now as a Harvard Stem Cell scientist, John Rinn has been digging through the genome, challenging that prevailing belief. Now, R Read more...

‘Beige’ cells key to healthy fat

“Beige fat” cells found in healthy subcutaneous fat in mice play a critical role in protecting the body from the disease risks of obesity, report researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who say their study findings may have implications for therapy of obesity-related illness in humans. A report in the journal Cell suggests that the presence of beige fat, a type of fat cell that can burn energy to release heat, is what makes subcutaneous Read more...

Inconsistent? Good

Anyone who has ever stepped on a tennis court understands all too well the frustration that comes with trying to master the serve, and instead seeing ball after ball go sailing out of bounds in different directions. Rather than cursing these double-faults, Harvard researchers say errors resulting from variability in motor function can play a critical role in learning. Though variability is often portrayed as a flaw to be overcome, a new study co Read more...

Discovering where HIV persists in spite of treatment

HIV antiviral therapy lets infected people live relatively healthy lives for many years, but the virus doesn’t go away completely. If treatment stops, the virus multiplies again from hidden reservoirs in the body. Now, investigators from the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard may have found HIV’s viral hiding place — in a small group of recently identified T cells with s Read more...

Ludwig Cancer Research awards HMS $90M

Ludwig Cancer Research, on behalf of its founder, Daniel K. Ludwig, has given Harvard Medical School (HMS) million to spur innovative scientific inquiry and discovery. This grant reflects a portion of a 0 million gift divided equally among Ludwig Centers at six academic institutions throughout the United States. According to the Ludwig announcement, this new financial support is among the largest private gifts ever for cancer research. Massachu Read more...

Bio-inspired glue keeps hearts securely sealed

Surgeries which demand that devices be quickly and safely secured inside the heart have long presented challenges to doctors working on children born with defects such as a hole in the heart. Sutures take too long to stitch and can stress the fragile tissue, and clinical adhesives can be toxic or lose their sticking power in blood or under dynamic conditions, such as within a beating heart. “About 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart d Read more...

Fighting disease on a global scale

The idea that the wave of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer breaking over the world is largely the result of wealth and inactivity is not only wrong, it’s counterproductive, says a Harvard research fellow who recently founded a nonprofit organization to fight disease. In the past, such noncommunicable diseases have been attributed to lifestyle because of their links to high-calorie diets in wealthy, increasingly sedentary industrialized nati Read more...