Machine learning and the microscope
MIT News - Genetics
by Austin Chen | MIT News correspondent
1d ago
With recent advances in imaging, genomics and other technologies, the life sciences are awash in data. If a biologist is studying cells taken from the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients, for example, there could be any number of characteristics they want to investigate — a cell’s type, the genes it’s expressing, its location within the tissue, or more. However, while cells can now be probed experimentally using different kinds of measurements simultaneously, when it comes to analyzing the data, scientists usually can only work with one type of measurement at a time. Working with “multim ..read more
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CHARMed collaboration creates a potent therapy candidate for fatal prion diseases
MIT News - Genetics
by Greta Friar | Whitehead Institute
2w ago
Drug development is typically slow: The pipeline from basic research discoveries that provide the basis for a new drug to clinical trials and then production of a widely available medicine can take decades. But decades can feel impossibly far off to someone who currently has a fatal disease. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Senior Group Leader Sonia Vallabh is acutely aware of that race against time, because the topic of her research is a neurodegenerative and ultimately fatal disease — fatal familial insomnia, a type of prion disease — that she will almost certainly develop as she ages.&nbs ..read more
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Professor Emerita Mary-Lou Pardue, pioneering cellular and molecular biologist, dies at 90
MIT News - Genetics
by Lillian Eden | Department of Biology
3w ago
Professor Emerita Mary-Lou Pardue, an influential faculty member in the MIT Department of Biology, died on June 1. She was 90. Early in her career, Pardue developed a technique called in situ hybridization with her PhD advisor, Joseph Gall, which allows researchers to localize genes on chromosomes. This led to many discoveries, including critical advancements in developmental biology, our understanding of embryonic development, and the structure of chromosomes. She also studied the remarkably complex way organisms respond to stress, such as heat shock, and discovered how telomeres, the en ..read more
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Scientists preserve DNA in an amber-like polymer
MIT News - Genetics
by Anne Trafton | MIT News
1M ago
In the movie “Jurassic Park,” scientists extracted DNA that had been preserved in amber for millions of years, and used it to create a population of long-extinct dinosaurs. Inspired partly by that film, MIT researchers have developed a glassy, amber-like polymer that can be used for long-term storage of DNA, whether entire human genomes or digital files such as photos. Most current methods for storing DNA require freezing temperatures, so they consume a great deal of energy and are not feasible in many parts of the world. In contrast, the new amber-like polymer can store DNA at room temperatur ..read more
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New technique reveals how gene transcription is coordinated in cells
MIT News - Genetics
by Anne Trafton | MIT News
1M ago
The human genome contains about 23,000 genes, but only a fraction of those genes are turned on inside a cell at any given time. The complex network of regulatory elements that controls gene expression includes regions of the genome called enhancers, which are often located far from the genes that they regulate. This distance can make it difficult to map the complex interactions between genes and enhancers. To overcome that, MIT researchers have invented a new technique that allows them to observe the timing of gene and enhancer activation in a cell. When a gene is turned on around the same tim ..read more
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The beauty of biology
MIT News - Genetics
by Lillian Eden | Department of Biology
2M ago
When Hanjun Lee arrived at MIT, he was set on becoming a Course 5 chemistry student. Based on his experience in high school, biology was all about rote memorization. That changed when he took course 7.03 (Genetics), taught by then-professor Aviv Regev, now head and executive vice president of research and early development at Genentech, and Peter Reddien, professor of biology and core member and associate director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He notes that friends from other schools don’t cite a single course that changed their major, but he’s not alone in ..read more
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Taking RNAi from interesting science to impactful new treatments
MIT News - Genetics
by Zach Winn | MIT News
2M ago
There are many hurdles to clear before a research discovery becomes a life-changing treatment for patients. That’s especially true when the treatments being developed represent an entirely new class of medicines. But overcoming those obstacles can revolutionize our ability to treat diseases. Few companies exemplify that process better than Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. Alnylam was founded by a group of MIT-affiliated researchers who believed in the promise of a technology — RNA interference, or RNAi. The researchers had done foundational work to understand how RNAi, which is a naturally occurr ..read more
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Study: Movement disorder ALS and cognitive disorder FTLD show strong molecular overlaps
MIT News - Genetics
by David Orenstein | The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
4M ago
On the surface, the movement disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the cognitive disorder frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which underlies frontotemporal dementia, manifest in very different ways. In addition, they are known to primarily affect very different regions of the brain. However, doctors and scientists have noted several similarities over the years, and a new study appearing in the journal Cell reveals that the diseases have remarkable overlaps at the cellular and molecular levels, revealing potential targets that could yi ..read more
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A protein found in human sweat may protect against Lyme disease
MIT News - Genetics
by Anne Trafton | MIT News
4M ago
Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, affects nearly half a million people in the United States every year. In most cases, antibiotics effectively clear the infection, but for some patients, symptoms linger for months or years. Researchers at MIT and the University of Helsinki have now discovered that human sweat contains a protein that can protect against Lyme disease. They also found that about one-third of the population carries a genetic variant of this protein that is associated with Lyme disease in genome-wide association studies. It’s unknown exactly how the protein ..read more
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Scientists develop a rapid gene-editing screen to find effects of cancer mutations
MIT News - Genetics
by Anne Trafton | MIT News
4M ago
Tumors can carry mutations in hundreds of different genes, and each of those genes may be mutated in different ways — some mutations simply replace one DNA nucleotide with another, while others insert or delete larger sections of DNA. Until now, there has been no way to quickly and easily screen each of those mutations in their natural setting to see what role they may play in the development, progression, and treatment response of a tumor. Using a variant of CRISPR genome-editing known as prime editing, MIT researchers have now come up with a way to screen those mutations much more easily. Th ..read more
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