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2006 News Releases

Ability of biomarkers to predict risk of heart disease, stroke appears limited
December 20, 2006
— A study of the use of biomarkers to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in a healthy population has found that their usefulness for assessing individual risk may be limited.

Effective HIV control may depend on viral protein targeted by immune cells
December 17, 2006
— An effective response of the immune system's 'killer' T cells against infection with HIV may depend on exactly which viral protein is targeted, according to an international group of researchers.

MGH study examines impact of infection with both HIV and hepatitis C virus
December 11, 2006
— Beginning antiretroviral therapy earlier than is generally recommended may help those infected with both viruses preserve immune system control of hepatatis C virus.

MGH leading international trial of novel breast cancer drug
December 11, 2006
— A clinical trial of a new targeted breast cancer drug, led by physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, has begun enrolling patients.

Researchers at Mass. General, University of Montreal create model of key immune-system component
December 8, 2006
— Researchers at MGH and the University of Montreal, along with colleagues at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, have made a major breakthrough in understanding an essential aspect of the immune system.

Hospital emergency departments vary greatly across country
December 4, 2006
— A database developed by an MGH-based research team - the first comprehensive list of U.S. emergency departments - shows that one-third of all EDs care for less than one patient each hour, on average.

Many IRB members have financial relationships with companies
November 29, 2006
— More than one-third of the members of Institutional Review Boards at medical research organizations have financial relationships with commercial firms, which could lead to conflicts of interest.

New data from NIH lab confirms protocol to reverse type 1 diabetes in mice
November 23, 2006
— New data provide further support for a protocol to reverse type 1 diabetes in mice and new evidence that adult precursor cells from the spleen can contribute to the regeneration of beta cells.

Mass. General researchers identify master cardiac stem cell
November 22, 2006
— Researchers from the MGH Cardiovascular Research Center have discovered what appears to be a master cardiac stem cell, capable of differentiating into the three major types of cells that make up the mammalian heart.

U.S. physicians support community activity on health-related issues
November 21, 2006
— Most U.S. physicians believe that their responsibilities for matters related to health care extend beyond caring for their individual patients, according to a paper from the MGH Institute for Health Policy.

Proton beam therapy may improve treatment of rare but aggressive tumor
November 20, 2006
— Proton beam radiation therapy, a very precise type of radiation treatment, may be an effective treatment for advanced adenoid cystic carcinoma that has spread to the cranial base, according to an MGH study.

Optical technique provides improved 'virtual biopsies' of internal surfaces
November 19, 2006
— A new optical imaging technique, developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH, can provide three-dimensional microscopic views of the inner surfaces of blood vessels and gastrointestinal organs.

More miles help hearts of people training for marathons
November 14, 2006
— People who want to run a marathon shouldn't train halfway - that's the take-home message from an MGH study of Boston Marathon participants.

Targeted cancer drugs may work by disrupting balance of cellular signals
November 13, 2006
— Targeted cancer therapy drugs like Gleevec and Tarceva may disrupt the balance between critical cellular signals in a way that leads to cell death. Better understanding these drugs could help surmount current limitations on their usefulness.

Early-stage immune system control of HIV may depend on inherited factors
November 3, 2006
— How well an individual's immune system controls HIV during the earliest phases of infection appears to depend on both the specific versions of key immune-system molecules that have been inherited and on the fragments of viral protein those molecules display to the T lymphocytes that usually destroy infected cells.

Growth factor stimulates rapid extension of key motor neurons in brain
November 3, 2006
— A growth factor known to be important for the survival of many types of cells stimulates rapid extension of corticospinal motor neurons, the brain cells that die in motor neuron diseases like ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

Researchers Project Lifetime Cost and Life Expectancy for Current HIV Care in the United States
November 1, 2006
— A study appearing in the November 2006 Medical Care, projects the cost of treatment for HIV-infected adults using current standards of care. The study provides guidance for policy makers so that appropriate funds are allocated for HIV care and prevention.

CT scan identifies chest pain patients who may be discharged from hospital
October 31, 2006
— A 15-second, non-invasive heart scan may help physicians determine which patients with chest pain can be discharged from the hospital because their symptoms are unlikely to be heart related.

Breast cancer patients may benefit from new accelerated treatment
October 31, 2006
— Women with early-stage breast cancer may benefit from a new, accelerated approach to radiation therapy making their course of treatment shorter.

MSPCA and MGH team up to help people and pets in need
October 23, 2006
— To meet the ever-increasing demand for safe blood supplies for both human and canine patients, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston and the MGH are hosting the Human and Hound community blood drive on November 4.

Molecule discovered to be key to pain sensitivity
October 22, 2006
— Sensitivity to pain and the risk of developing chronic pain appear to be influenced by levels of a molecule known to be required for the production of major neurotransmitters.

Martha's Vineyard Hospital and Nantucket Cottage Hospital Explore Possible Affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare
October 19, 2006
— The boards of trustees of Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Martha's Vineyard Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital are scheduled to vote this week on agreements that may pave the way for the two island hospitals to become affiliates of The Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare System.

Three-dimensional, miniature endoscope opens new diagnostic possibilities
October 18, 2006
— MGH researchers have developed a new type of miniature endoscope that produces three-dimensional, high-definition images, which may greatly expand the application of minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

'Sewer gas' induces suspended animation without decreasing blood pressure
October 9, 2006
— Hydrogen sulfide gas can induce a state of suspended animation in mice while maintaining normal blood pressure, a finding that researchers hope will one day help treat critically-ill patients.

Early Results Indicate Radiofrequency Ablation Useful In Treating Ovarian Cancer Metastasis
October 8, 2006
— Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that uses a high frequency electric current to kill tumor cells, is effective in achieving local control in selected patients with metastasis from ovarian cancer.

Study identifies possible mechanism for brain damage in Huntington's disease
October 5, 2006
— Researchers from the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease have identified a possible mechanism underlying how the gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease leads to the degeneration and death of brain cells.

Physicians slow to integrate information technology into patient practice
October 2, 2006
— A survey of physicians across the U.S. has found that fewer than half of them incorporate e-mail and other Internet-based and computerized information resources into routine patient practice.

MGH named a 2006 Working Mother 100 Best Company
September 25, 2006
— Working Mother magazine today announced that Massachusetts General Hospital is a 2006 Working Mother 100 Best Company.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Increases Risk of Diabetes and Heart Disease
September 20, 2006
— A treatment mainstay for prostate cancer puts men at increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a large observational study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mass. General researcher Szostak shares Lasker Award for Basic Science
September 17, 2006
— Jack W. Szostak, Ph.D., of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology and Harvard Medical School is a co-recipient of the 2006 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

Study identifies potential new marker for heart failure diagnosis, prognosis
September 15, 2006
— A collaborative study by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University Hospital of Maastricht, The Netherlands, has identified a new candidate biomarker for heart failure.

MRI can track survival of pancreatic islets after transplantation
September 12, 2006
— Magnetic resonance imaging with an approved contrast agent may provide a practical way of monitoring the survival of transplanted pancreatic islets.

Researchers reduce impact of aging on blood stem cells
September 6, 2006 — A multi-institutional team of researchers may have advanced our understanding of physiological aging with a new study in which they greatly reduced the impact of aging on blood stem cells.

Many resident physicians not trained in the use of medical interpreters
September 5, 2006
—A significant number of resident physicians receiving training in U.S. hospitals report they have not received instruction in key aspects of communicating with patients who do not speak English.

Pediatricians not doing enough to stop parental smoking
August 31, 2006
— Parental smoking is a pediatrician's business, experts say, yet many are reluctant to tell parents to stop smoking and offer little support for efforts to quit, a new study suggests.

AARP Names MIT, Mass. General 2006 Best Employers for Workers Over 50
August 30, 2006
— The two Bay State employers join a list of 50 companies and organizations from across the country that demonstrate significant commitment to the aging workforce.

Molecular switch may turn off immune cells that target HIV
August 20, 2006
— One of the primary mysteries of the AIDS epidemic - why the immune system is unable to control HIV infection - may have been solved. A molecular pathway involved in the immune cell "exhaustion" that characterizes several chronic viral infections could play a similar role in AIDS.

MGH researchers report successful new laser treatment for injured singers
August 17, 2006
— A new type of laser for voice surgery, utilized for the first time at MGH, has allowed Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler to resume performing after a tour-ending vocal injury.

Researchers seek to solve mystery of natural HIV control
August 16, 2006
— An international, multi-institutional research consortium is seeking to discover how a few HIV-infected individuals are naturally able to suppress replication of the virus.

Researchers uncover how a molecular switch regulates fat and cholesterol metabolism pathway
August 2, 2006
— Researchers at Harvard Medical School and MGH have identified how a molecular switch regulates fat and cholesterol production, a step that may help advance treatments for metabolic syndrome.

Study identifies potential drug target for Huntington's disease
July 28, 2006
— An enzyme known to be critical for the repair of damaged cells and the maintenance of cellular energy may be a useful target for new strategies to treat Huntington's disease and other disorders characterized by low cellular energy levels.

David N. Louis, MD, To Lead Pathology Service at Massachusetts General Hospital
July 26, 2006
— David N. Louis, MD, a neuropathologist and a pioneer in deciphering the complex molecular structure of tumors, has been named chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Pathology Service, effective Sept. 1.

Obesity An Increasing Obstacle To Medical Diagnosis
July 25, 2006
— The increase of obesity in the United States doubled the number of inconclusive diagnostic imaging exams over a 15-year period, according to a study featured in the August issue of Radiology.

Believers, Skeptics Benefit Equally From 12-Step Programs
July 24, 2006
— New research suggests that addiction recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous help people stay away from booze even if they’re skeptical of spirituality or suffer from mental illness.

Mass. General study finds potential ovarian cancer stem cells
July 21, 2006
— MGH researchers have identified potential ovarian cancer stem cells, which may be behind the difficulty of treating these tumors with standard chemotherapy.

Percentage of women leading medical research studies rises, but still lags behind men
July 19, 2006
— The number of women with leadership roles in research studies published in major medical journals has increased significantly over the past three decades, but women remain under-represented among medical science investigators.

Gene Variant Increases Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
July 19, 2006
— Researchers have confirmed that a gene variant confers susceptibility to type 2 diabetes in participants of the Diabetes Prevention Program, a large clinical trial in adults at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Brain-computer link allows paralyzed patient to manipulate devices by thought
July 12, 2006
— A patient with a spinal cord injury was able to produce brain signals associated with intending to move his paralyzed limbs, signals translated into electronic impulses that allowed him to control a computer cursor and manipulate mechanical devices.

New cardiac MRI pinpoints closed arteries without surgery
June 27, 2006
— A new cardiac magnetic resonance imaging technique can noninvasively demonstrate blockage of the coronary arteries with high diagnostic accuracy.

HHMI Helps Physicians Launch Careers in Research
June 27, 2006
— Two MGH researchers are among the first 13 recipients of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Physician-Scientist Early Career Awards.

MGH stem cell researcher receives funding from Stowers Medical Institute
June 23, 2006
— Chad Cowan, PhD, a member of the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, has been named an assistant investigator by the Stowers Medical Institute.

Older Women Have Far Fewer Mammograms Than They Report
June 20, 2006
— What older American women say about receiving regular mammograms and what they actually do are two different things, suggests a new study.

Single copy of Parkinson's-risk gene mutation may lead to earlier symptom onset
June 12, 2006
— Mutations in a gene already known to play a role in causing an inherited form of Parkinson disease may also influence the age at which symptoms of the neurological disorder appear.

Under-diagnosed Rage Disorder More Prevalent than Previously Thought
June 5, 2006
— A seldom-studied mental illness called Intermittent Explosive Disorder, characterized by recurrent episodes of angry and potentially violent outbursts has been found to be much more common than previously thought.

AIDS Drugs Have Saved 3 Million Years of Life in the United States
June 2, 2006
— Increasingly effective HIV therapy—including a decade of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—has provided 3 million years of extended life to Americans with AIDS since 1989.

Nicotine vaccine to be tested at Mass. General Hospital
May 30, 2006
— A novel approach to helping smokers kick the habit - a vaccine - will be tested at Massachusetts General Hospital. The nicotine vaccine NicVax is designed to keep nicotine from reaching the brain where it produces its rewarding effects.

Researchers learn more about ways to regenerate the ear's hearing cells
April 28, 2006
— MGH researchers have made important progress in their ongoing effort to regenerate the inner ear's hair cells, which convert sound vibrations to nerve impulses.

Blocking key protein reduces inflammatory markers in metabolic sundrome
April 24, 2006
— Blocking the action of a critical protein can improve multiple inflammatory pathways in patients with the metabolic syndrome - a cluster of symptoms associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Stroke-associated damage to brain structure may lead to heart attack
April 24, 2006
— MGH researchers using a new method of analyzing brain images have identified an area of the brain that, when affected by a stroke, may also cause damage to the heart muscle.

Novel molecular "signature" marks DNA of embryonic stem cells
April 20, 2006
— Scientists have discovered unique molecular imprints coupled to DNA in mouse embryonic stem cells that help explain the cells' rare ability to form almost any body cell type and suggest ways to understand why ordinary cells are so limited in their abilities to repair or replace damaged cells.

Free-Electron Laser Targets Fat
April 10, 2006
— Fat may have finally met its match: laser light. Researchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH and the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have shown for the first time that a laser can heat lipid-rich tissues in the body without harming the overlying skin.

Study examines risk for misuse of ADHD stimulant medications
March 30, 2006
— MGH researchers have found that a small percentage of young people with ADHD are likely to abuse or to sell prescribed stimulants and have identified factors that may characterize those most likely to misuse their medications.

Researchers create pigs that produce heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
March 26, 2006
— Researchers report they have created pigs that produce omega-3 fatty acids, representing the first cloned transgenic livestock in the world that can make the beneficial compound.

"Bad" Enzymes May Wear White Hats After Stroke
March 26, 2006
— Enzymes that can harm the brain immediately after a stroke may actually be beneficial days later, according to new research.

New RNAi tools enable systematic studies of gene function
March 23, 2006
— An international public-private research team announced today the construction and availability of an extensive library of molecular reagents to silence most human and mouse genes.

Delayed-release stimulant used to treat ADHD may be less subject to abuse
March 1, 2006
— A team led by MGH researchers has found that a delayed-release stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may be less likely to be abused than other stimulant drugs.

Blood test can predict long-term risk of death in patients with shortness of breath
February 13, 2006 — A blood test previously found useful for diagnosing heart failure and determining prognosis in several cardiovascular conditions can also predict the risk of death among patients coming to hospital emergency departments with shortness of breath.

Mad-cow protein aids creation of brain cells
February 13, 2006 — Researchers from Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and MGH have discovered that the normal form of the protein ultimately responsible for mad cow disease may actually help the brain create neurons.

Stopping antidepressants during pregnancy may lead to symptom recurrence
January 31, 2006 — Women who stop taking antidepressant medications during pregnancy are at a five times greater risk for recurrence of depression than are women who continue taking their medication throughout their pregnancies, according to a new study.

Study finds nerve damage in previously mysterious chronic pain syndrome
January 30, 2006 — MGH researchers have found the first evidence of a physical abnormality underlying the chronic pain condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy or complex regional pain syndrome-I.

Studies examine withholding of scientific data among researchers, trainees
January 25, 2006 — Researchers from the MGH Institute for Health Policy examine a broad range of data withholding behaviors among life scientists and describe how withholding affects researchers in several fields during their training years.

Aspirin therapy may be safe for some survivors of brain hemorrhage
January 23, 2006 — A study from the MGH Stroke Service has found that some patients who have survived an intracerebral hemorrhage may be safely treated with aspirin to prevent future heart attacks or strokes caused by blood clots.

Study identifies molecule essential for proper localization of blood stem cells
January 13, 2006 — Scientists at the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have defined a molecule that dictates how blood stem cells travel to the bone marrow and establish blood and immune cell production.