A surprising new link between inflammation and mental illness — and a potential drug to protect the brain

Up to 75 percent of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, an incurable autoimmune disease commonly known as “lupus”, experience neuropsychiatric symptoms. Michael Carroll's lab set out to uncover the mechanisms underlying lupus’ effects on the brain and made a surprising finding that points to a potential new drug for protecting the brain from the neuropsychiatric effects of lupus.

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On Friday, March 17th, Dr. Xuetao Cao delivered the 2017 Edwin J. Cohn lecture, titled "Innate Immune Molecules in Inflammation and Cancer." Hosted by PCMM, the event was held in the Armenise Amphitheater.

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Transfusing engineered red blood cells to protect against autoimmune disease

Scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital, MIT and the Whitehead Institute think they may have found a targeted way to protect the body from autoimmune disease. Their approach, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses transfusions of engineered red blood cells to re-train the immune system.

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Seeking a way to keep organs young

A study by Dr. Denisa Wagner and her team, published recently by the Journal of Experimental Medicine, pinpoints a gene responsible for fibrosis and identifies some possible therapeutic solutions.

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UTX makes NKT

Published this week in Nature Immunology, the Winau lab in collaboration with Stuart Orkin’s group revealed how the histone demethylase UTX regulates the development of natural killer T cells through multiple epigenetic mechanisms.

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Modulation of Scramblase: a novel paradigm to fight chronic infection and cancer

Reporting this week in JEM, the Winau lab identified a new pathway involving scramblase TMEM16F that preserves efficient T cell responses to control viral infection. These findings provide a novel target for therapy against chronic diseases, such as cancer, HIV and hep B virus infections.

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Keeping up with HIV mutations: Building a nimble vaccine test system

A group led by Frederick Alt, developed a technology to greatly speed up HIV development in mice. The group’s method generates mouse models with built-in human immune systems. The model rapidly recapitulates what the human immune system does, enabling researchers to continuously test and tweak potential HIV vaccines.

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CD1a molecule as a potential therapeutic target in inflammatory skin diseases

The Winau Lab has discovered a new mechanism for skin inflammation. This work, recently published in Nature Immunology, forms the basis for future therapeutic strategies against inflammatory skin diseases, such as poison ivy dermatitis and psoriasis.

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When antibiotics fail: A potential new angle on severe bacterial infection and sepsis

Reporting this week in Nature, scientists in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine (PCMM) describe new potential avenues for controlling both sepsis and the runaway bacterial infections that provoke it.

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Democratizing high-throughput single molecule force analysis

Now, a research team led by Wesley Wong has made a major advance by developing an inexpensive method that permits analysis of the force responses of thousands of similar molecules simultaneously.

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DNA breaks in nerve cells' ancestors cluster in specific genes

Study reveals new avenue for thinking about brain development, brain tumors and neurodevelopmental/psychiatric diseases

Microptosis: Programmed death for microbes?

Over the last couple of years Judy Lieberman’s lab has uncovered evidence for what could be an evolutionarily ancient form of immune defense directed against intracellular pathogens. In a 2014 Cell paper, her lab revealed that the immune system’s T-cells can kill intracellular bacteria directly by pummeling infected cells with three proteins: perforin, granulysin and granzymes

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Putting structure around the genetic basis of some immune diseases

In a recent Cell paper, a team led by Hao Wu, PhD, used electronic microscopy to reveal how RAG1 and 2 interact at a structural level, both with each other and with DNA.

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Sequence-Intrinsic Mechanisms that Target AID Mutational Outcomes on Antibody Genes

Researchers in Dr. Fred Alt's laboratory used a novel in vivo mouse model system to resolve longstanding questions regarding the influence of DNA sequences on AID targeting and mutational outcomes during antibody diversification.

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Improved cell cloning technique makes the jump from mice to humans

In a new paper in Cell Stem Cell, Dr. Yi Zhang's team report that they’ve extended their work to improve the efficiency of SCNT in human cells.

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Featured News Story

A surprising new link between inflammation and mental illness — and a potential drug to protect the brain

A surprising new link between inflammation and mental illness — and a potential drug to protect the brain

Up to 75 percent of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus — an incurable autoimmune disease commonly known as “lupus” —  experience neuropsychiatric symptoms.  But so far, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying lupus’ effects on the brain has remained murky.

“In general, lupus patients commonly have a broad range of neuropsychiatric symptoms, including anxiety, depression, headaches, seizures, even psychosis,” says Allison Bialas, PhD, a research fellow working in the lab of Michael Carroll, PhD, of… Read More »

Announcements

Yang Li awarded Career Development Fellowship by Boston Children's Hospital

Yang Li awarded Career Development Fellowship by Boston…

NLRP3 inflammasome is a multiprotein assembly responsible for activation of inflammatory process through the recognition of a broad spectrum of signals. Autosomal dominant mutations in the NLRP3 expressing… Read More »

Congratulations to Jessica Kim

Congratulations to Jessica Kim

Congratulations to Jessica Kim, a graduate student in the Winau lab for a successful defense of her Ph.D. thesis entitled "Mechanisms of Endogenous Alpha-glycosylceramide Generation for Development… Read More »

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