News Archive

 

Three images of human lung cells were infected with influenza A virus.

Tiny alpaca-derived antibodies point to targets preventing viral infection

June 20, 2016

Using tiny, alpaca-derived, single-domain antibody fragments, Whitehead Institute scientists have developed a method to perturb cellular processes in mammalian cells, allowing them to tease apart the roles that individual proteins play in these pathways. With improved knowledge of protein activity, scientists can better understand not only basic biology but also how disease corrupts cellular function and identify potential therapeutics to rectify these aberrations.

Whitehead Institute Members Hidde Ploegh and David Sabatini

Whitehead Members Hidde Ploegh and David Sabatini Elected to National Academy of Sciences

May 3, 2016

The National Academy of Sciences announced today that Whitehead Institute’s Hidde Ploegh and David Sabatini are among 84 new Academy members elected in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Photo of plate showing different strengths of prion activity in yeast

Prion-like protein found in plants

April 29, 2016

Whitehead Institute scientists have determined that a plant protein involved in the timing of flowering could in fact be a prion. This is the first time that a possible prion has been identified in plants, and it may play a role in a plant’s “memory” of cold exposure during winter.

Cartoon of how a mutation in the genome's three-dimensional structure can activate previously silent oncogenes

Identifying a genetic mutation behind sporadic Parkinson’s disease

April 20, 2016

Using a novel method, Whitehead Institute researchers have determined how mutations that are not located within genes are identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and can contribute to sporadic Parkinson’s disease, the most common form of the condition. The approach could be used to analyze GWAS results for other sporadic diseases with genetic causes, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and cancer.

Whitehead Founding Member Robert Weinberg

Salk Institute honors Whitehead’s Weinberg for research excellence

April 14, 2016

Whitehead Founding Member Robert Weinberg is one of two scientists to receive the prestigious Salk Institute Medal for Research Excellence, an honor that Salk has bestowed only twice before in its 55-year history.

Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch

Whitehead’s Rudolf Jaenisch named a Fellow of the AACR Academy

April 5, 2016

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced today that Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch is one of 11 newly elected Fellows of the AACR Academy.

Cartoon of CASTOR1's role in mTORC1 regulation

Scientists identify sensor that modulates key metabolic pathway

March 10, 2016

Whitehead Institute researchers have elucidated how the growth-regulating metabolic pathway known as mTORC1 (for mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1) senses the amino acid arginine. This nutrient sensor may represent a novel therapeutic target for controlling mTORC1, whose activity is often dysregulated in a variety of diseases, including diabetes and cancer. 

Cartoon of how a mutation in the genome's three-dimensional structure can activate previously silent oncogenes

There goes the neighborhood: Changes in chromosome structure activate cancer-causing genes

March 3, 2016

In a finding with enormous implications for cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, Whitehead Institute scientists have discovered that breaches in looping chromosomal structures known as “insulated neighborhoods” can activate oncogenes capable of fueling aggressive tumor growth. 

Drawing of unhealthy food

High-fat diet linked to intestinal stem cell changes, increased risk for cancer

March 2, 2016

Over the past decade, studies have found that obesity and eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet are significant risk factors for many types of cancer. Now, a new study from Whitehead Institute and MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research reveals how a high-fat diet makes the cells of the intestinal lining more likely to become cancerous.

Image of human mammary model

Engineered hydrogel scaffolds enable growth of functioning human breast tissue

March 1, 2016

Whitehead Institute researchers have created a hydrogel scaffold that replicates the environment found within the human breast. The scaffold supports the growth of human mammary tissue from patient-derived cells and can be used to study normal breast development as well as breast cancer initiation and progression.

Image of mouse lymph node showing germinal centers

B-cell diversity in immune system’s germinal centers may hold key to broad-spectrum vaccines

February 18, 2016

The germinal centers that form in the body’s lymph nodes work as a fitness boot camp in which B cells evolve to produce antibodies of increasingly higher affinity to an invading pathogen. This new finding from Whitehead Institute scientists overturns a previously held notion that only a narrow range of B cells can survive this training and go on to secrete high-affinity antibodies. This revised understanding may aid development of effective vaccines against HIV, influenza, and other viruses that mutate rapidly.

Photo of chimera mouse with dark hairs

New mouse-human modeling system enables study of disease development in vivo

January 25, 2016

Whitehead Institute researchers have created a new mouse-human modeling system that could be used to study neural crest development as well as the modeling of a variety of neural crest related diseases, including such cancers as melanoma and neurofibromatosis. 

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