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Recent News Releases

Patient reports can add to efforts to identify, reduce adverse events in hospitals
July 14, 2008 — A study by a group of Massachusetts researchers finds that surveying patients about their experiences can add important information to hospital efforts to improve patient safety.

Middle Eastern families yield intriguing clues to autism
July 10, 2008 — Research has implicated a half-dozen new genes in autism and strongly supports the idea that autism stems from disruptions in the brain's ability to form new connections in response to experience.

Circulating tumor cells can reveal genetic signature of dangerous lung cancers
July 2, 2008 — An MGH-developed, microchip-based device that detects and analyzes tumor cells in the bloodstream can be used to determine the genetic signature of lung tumors, facilitating targeted therapies and monitoring genetic changes that occur during therapy.

Relaxation response can influence expression of stress-related genes
July 1 , 2008 — A new study finds that eliciting the relaxation response – a physiologic state of deep rest – influences the activation patterns of genes associated with the body’s response to stress.

Depression Ups Risk of Complications Following Heart Attack
July 1, 2008 — People who suffer from severe depression following a heart attack might be more likely to experience cardiac complications while hospitalized, according to a new study.

International team identifies 21 new genetic risk factors for Crohn’s disease
June 29 , 2008 — An international consortium of Crohn’s disease researchers has combined data from three independent studies to identify 21 new genetic variants associated with the inflammatory bowel disorder, bringing the total number of risk factors to 32.

Cardiovascular risk assessment, treatment vital for HIV patients on therapy
June 19, 2008 — Antiretroviral medications have dramatically reduced the overall death rate among patients with the human immunodeficiency virus, but those same patients may now face an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Physician Adoption of Electronic Health Records Still Extremely Low, But Medicine May be at a Tipping Point
June 18, 2008 — Despite the promises it offers health care and quality improvement, only a small minority of U.S. physicians have embraced electronic health records as a routine part of practice.

Hormone Disorder May Contribute to Lack of Menstruation in Teenage Athletes
June 16, 2008 — Researchers have found a way to predict which teenage female athletes will stop menstruating, an important risk factor for bone thinning.

CT Lung Cancer Screening No Cure-All for Smokers
June 10, 2008 — Screening for lung cancer with computed tomography may help reduce lung cancer deaths in smokers, but it won't protect them from other causes of death associated with smoking.

Simple membranes could have allowed nutrients to pass into primitive cells
June 4 , 2008 — When the first cells developed, how could they bring molecules from the environment into their living interior without the specialized structures found on the modern cell membrane?

Report confirms increased risk of smoking, substance abuse in bipolar adolescents
June 2, 2008 — An MGH study - the largest and first controlled such investigation - supports previous reports that adolescents with bipolar disorder are at increased risk for smoking and substance abuse.

Researchers Identify Specific Genes and Family Traits Linked to Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Depression
June 2, 2008 — New findings are providing important clues into how genes work to impair various aspects of attention, memory and perception.

Harvard Medical School receives major NIH grant for galvanizing translational science
May 28, 2008 — HMS has received a five-year Clinical and Translational Science Award to launch a center that will transform patient-oriented medical research at the School and create an unprecedented level of unity and communication across the University’s schools and affiliated medical centers.

Experiment advances understanding of cell reprogramming
May 22, 2008 — Konrad Hochedlinger and colleagues from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and MGH have demonstrated that fully differentiated mouse cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state.

Determining genetic signature of lung tumors can help guide treatment
May 20, 2008 — The first U.S. clinical trial using genetic screening to identify lung tumors likely to respond to targeted therapies supports the use of those drugs as first-line treatment rather than after standard chemotherapy has failed.

MGH study confirms benefit of surgery for gastroesophageal reflux
May 19, 2008 — Despite the growing availability of prescription and over-the-counter medications for gastroesophageal reflux disease, surgical treatment remains a viable alternative for patients whose symptoms persist.

Black men appear less likely to undergo elective aneurysm repair than white men
May 19, 2008 — Black men are less likely than white men to undergo elective surgery to repair abdominal aortic aneurysms, even after accounting for racial differences in rates of developing the disease.

Is the future of surgery painless and scarless?
May 18, 2008 — A sophisticated new surgical technology holds promise for future painless and scarless surgery with shorter recovery times than laparoscopic surgery.

MGH participates in first-of-its-kind Healthcare Equality Index
May 13, 2008 — The MGH was one of 88 U.S. hospitals nationwide and the only in Massachusetts to participate in an industry-changing nationwide report about patient care for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

MGH dermatologists first in New England to offer new laser treatment
May 8, 2008 — Dermatologists at Massachusetts General Hospital are using a powerful new type of laser to evaporate patients' wrinkles and sun damage with fewer treatments.

MGH researchers report successful new laser treatment for vocal-cord cancer
May 6, 2008 — An innovative laser treatment for early vocal-cord cancer, developed at MGH, successfully restores patients’ voices without radiotherapy or traditional surgery, which can permanently damage vocal quality.

Exhaustion of HIV-specific T cells may be caused by chronic exposure to virus
May 5, 2008 — The "exhaustion" of immune cells that target HIV appears to result from chronic exposure of pathogen-killing HIV-specific CD8 T cells to viral peptides.

Remote monitoring improves heart failure patients’ health, may reduce hospital readmissions
May 1, 2008 — A remote monitoring program can improve the condition of heart failure patients who are mobile and may reduce hospital readmissions, according to an MGH pilot study.

The truth about violent video games and children
April 28, 2008 — A new book by MGH researchers may give parents the help they need for setting limits for children's use of video games.

H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics awarded to Jack Szostak
April 24, 2008 — The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has awarded the 2008 H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics to Jack W. Szostak, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology.

MGH study shows how exercise changes structure and function of heart
April 22, 2008 — For the first time researchers are beginning to understand exactly how various forms of exercise impact the heart.

Patients arriving at hospitals in off hours get slower, less care
April 21, 2008 — Patients hospitalized with heart attacks tend to get faster and more comprehensive care if they arrive during daytime hours, according to a report in the journal Circulation.

MGH joins consortium pursuing innovative healing for war wounded
April 17, 2008 — The MGH is participating in one of two academic groups that will form the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

MGH recognized for continued nursing excellence
April 15, 2008 — The American Nurses Credentialing Center today formally designated MGH as a "Magnet" hospital through 2012. Magnet designation represents the highest available honor for nursing excellence.

Drugs in the pipeline: new therapies that could change treatment strategies
April 15, 2008 — Studies presented at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research show promise and progress against brain, colorectal, rectal and ovarian cancers and lymphoma.

Elevated urate levels may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease
April 14, 2008 — Naturally elevated levels of the antioxidant urate may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in men.

Sunitinib may slow growth and spread of liver cancer
April 14, 2008 —Treatment with sunitinib slows tumor growth and reduces the risk of metastasis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, an aggressive cancer of the liver, researchers report.

Study identifies mechanism underlying multidrug resistance in fungi
April 2, 2008 —A team of researchers has identified a mechanism controlling multidrug resistance in fungi, a discovery that could advance treatments for opportunistic infections that frequently plague individuals with compromised immunity.

Relaxation training may improve control of hard-to-treat systolic hypertension
March 27, 2008 —Adding the relaxation response, a stress-management approach, to other lifestyle interventions may significantly improve treatment of the type of hypertension most common in the elderly.

Increasing access to antiretroviral drugs would drastically cut AIDS deaths in South Africa
March 26, 2008 —More that 1.2 million AIDS deaths could be prevented in South Africa over the next five years by accelerating efforts to provide access to antiretroviral therapy.

Sewer-gas-induced suspended animation is rapid and reversible
March 25, 2008 —Low doses of the toxic gas responsible for the unpleasant odor of rotten eggs can safely and reversibly depress both metabolism and aspects of cardiovascular function in mice, producing a suspended-animation-like state.

Study verifies that cholesterol-associated gene variants can predict cardiovascular events
March 19, 2008 —An MGH-led study confirms that a combination of gene variants previously associated with cholesterol levels does reflect patients' HDL and LDL levels and can signify increased risk of heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac death.

Brain's blood supply guides its own development
March 16, 2008 —A new study from MGH investigators describes how blood vessels in the brain grow according to their own agenda and not just to meet the needs of neural tissue.

MGH initiates phase I diabetes trial
March 13, 2008 — MGH scientists have initiated a phase 1 clinical trial to explore whether the promising results from the laboratory of Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, can be applied in human diabetes.

Late treatment with letrozole can reduce breast cancer recurrence risk
March 10, 2008 —Treatment with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence even when initiated one to seven years after a course of tamoxifen therapy.

Creating HAPPY Hearts in Chelsea and Revere
March 5, 2008 — Last month MGH cardiologist Malissa Wood, MD launched a program designed to improve the heart health of women served by the MGH-Revere and Chelsea HealthCare Centers.

Mass. General Hospital receives Gates Foundation grant to expand HIV controllers study
March 4, 2008 — The MGH has received a five-year, $20.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand an international program investigating the biological factors underlying immune system control of HIV.

Gene variants may increase risk of anxiety disorders
March 3, 2008 —MGH researchers have discovered perhaps the strongest evidence yet linking variation in a particular gene with anxiety-related traits.

Stimulant treatment for ADHD has no effect on risk of future substance abuse
March 1, 2008 —A new study finds that the use of stimulant drugs to treat children with ADHD has no effect on their future risk of substance abuse.

Stem cell trial offers hope for patients with severe ischemic heart disease
February 26, 2008 —A clinical trial at the MGH Heart Center is using patients' own stem cells to improve circulation in hearts damaged by inadequate blood flow, by promoting the growth of new, microscopic blood vessels.

Study identifies another strategy for normalizing tumor blood supply
February 20, 2008 —Manipulating levels of nitric oxide, a gas involved in many biological processes, may improve the disorganized network of blood vessels supplying tumors, potentially improving the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy.

MGH study identifies enzyme that protects against intestinal bacterial toxin
February 18, 2008 —How the lining of the small intestine, through which nutrients are absorbed, also prevents bacteria from entering the bloodstream has been a mystery. Now researchers have found that an intestinal enzyme may block the action of a key bacterial toxin.

Major step forward in understanding cell reprogramming
February 14, 2008 — Harvard Stem Cell Institute and MGH researchers have taken a major step toward being able to reprogram adult cells to an embryonic stem cell-like state without the use of viruses or cancer-causing genes.

More attention needed to conflicts presented by institutional relationships
February 12, 2008 — A new study indicates that many U.S. medical schools do not have policies that govern conflicts of interest related to financial relationships the institutions have with public or private companies.

Gene research may help explain autistic savants
February 12, 2008 — Mice lacking a certain brain protein learn some tasks better but also forget faster, according to new research from that may explain the phenomenon of autistic savants in humans.

Imaging study reveals rapid formation of Alzheimer's-associated plaques
February 6, 2008 — The amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients may form much more rapidly than previously expected.

Grapefruit compound may help combat hepatitis C infection
February 4, 2008 — A compound that naturally occurs in grapefruit may be able to block the secretion of hepatitis C virus from infected cells, a process required to maintain chronic infection.

Drug based on MGH discovery may significantly improve treatment of dangerous blood disorder
January 31, 2008 — Two clinical trials of the novel drug romiplostim show that it significantly improved platelet levels in patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a hematologic disorder that can cause uncontrolled bleeding

Turning on adult stem cells may help repair bone
January 25, 2008 — The use of a drug to activate stem cells that differentiate into bone appears to cause regeneration of bone tissue and be may be a potential treatment strategy for osteoporosis.

Experimental procedure induces tolerance to mismatched kidney transplants
January 23, 2008 — Four of five patients participating in a trial of a protocol designed to induce immune tolerance to HLA-mismatched kidney transplants have been able to discontinue immunosuppressive drugs.

Study finds significant differences in protocols hospitals use to determine brain death
January 17, 2008 — A survey of some of the top hospitals in the country has found that protocols followed to determine brain death differ significantly among those institutions.

Scientists associate six new genetic variants with heart disease risk factor
January 15, 2008 — Using new techniques for rapidly scanning the human genome, researchers have associated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides to 18 genetic variants, six of which represent new DNA regions never before associated with the traits.

Novel chromosome abnormality appears to increase risk of autism
January 9, 2008 — A multi-institutional study involving MGH researchers has identified a chromosomal abnormality that appears to increase susceptibility to autism.

Gene variation may elevate risk of liver tumor in patients with cirrhosis
January 1, 2008 — A particular gene variation appears to significantly increase the risk that individuals with cirrhosis will go on to develop hepatocellular carcinoma, the third leading cause of cancer death.