News Archive

 

Image of iPipet

Innovative scientists update old-school pipetting with new-age technology

July 30, 2014

A team of Whitehead Institute researchers is bringing new levels of efficiency and accuracy to one of the most essential albeit tedious tasks of bench science: pipetting.

Phase and fluorescence images of conventional (primed) human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and naïve human ESCs

Whitehead Institute researchers create “naïve” pluripotent human embryonic stem cells

July 24, 2014

Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research has been hampered by the inability to transfer research and tools from mouse ESC studies to their human counterparts, in part because human ESCs are “primed” and slightly less plastic than the mouse cells. Now researchers in the lab of Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch have discovered how to manipulate and maintain human ESCs into a “naïve” or base pluripotent state similar to that of mouse ESCs without the use of any reprogramming factors.

Implanting beads coated with Bradykinin peptides prevents the abnormal facial phenotypes seen after loss of function in kininogen, part of the Kinin-Kallikreien pathway.

A region and pathway found crucial for facial development in vertebrate embryos

July 17, 2014

A signaling pathway once thought to have little if any role during embryogenesis is a key player in the formation of the front-most portion of developing vertebrate embryos. Moreover, signals emanating from this region—referred to as the “extreme anterior domain” (EAD)—orchestrate the complex choreography that gives rise to proper facial structure.

Images of cells with normal and abnormal CENP-A deposition

Faithful cell division requires tightly controlled protein placement at the centromeres

July 17, 2014

The protein CENP-A, which is integrated into human DNA at the centromere on each chromosome, has a vital role in cell division. Work from Whitehead Institute Member Iain Cheeseman’s lab describes how the vital and tightly controlled replenishment of CENP-A progresses.

Human red blood cells supported on a glass slide.

Engineered red blood cells could carry precious therapeutic cargo

June 30, 2014

Whitehead Institute scientists have genetically and enzymatically modified red blood cells to carry a range of valuable payloads—from drugs, to vaccines, to imaging agents—for delivery to specific sites throughout the body.

Whitehead Institute Member Jing-Ke Weng

Whitehead Member Jing-Ke Weng named a Pew Scholar

June 24, 2014

The Pew Charitable Trusts has named Whitehead Institute Member Jing-Ke Weng a 2014 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.

Images of mouse lung cells untreated and treated with a PERK inhibitor

Seemingly invincible cancer stem cells reveal a weakness

June 5, 2014

Metastatic cancer cells, which can migrate from primary tumors to seed new malignancies, have thus far been resistant to the current arsenal of anticancer drugs. Now, however, researchers at Whitehead Institute have identified a critical weakness that actually exploits one of these cells’ apparent strengths—their ability to move and invade tissues. Their research could inform novel approaches to screening tumors for personalized therapy or to drugs that specifically target these cells.

Graphic summary

Lost in translation? Not when it comes to control of gene expression during Drosophila development

May 29, 2014

The lab of Whitehead Member Terry Orr-Weaver has conducted perhaps the most comprehensive look yet at changes in translation and protein synthesis during a developmental change, using the oocyte-to-embryo transition in Drosophila as a model system. One of the insights from this research is that a surprisingly large number of mRNAs that are translationally regulated.

Image of cells affected and unaffected by NPC gene mutation

Combination therapy a potential strategy for treating Niemann-Pick disease

May 15, 2014

Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a potential dual-pronged approach to treating Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease, a rare but devastating genetic disorder. By studying nerve and liver cells grown from NPC patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the scientists determined that although cholesterol does accumulate abnormally in the cells of NPC patients, a more significant problem may be defective autophagy—a basic cellular function that degrades and recycles unneeded or faulty molecules, components, or organelles in a cell. Here, the scientists propose two drugs, one to reduce cholesterol buildup and the other to induce autophagy, as a strategy for treating NPC.

Photo of girl with hemifacial microsomia (HFM)

Scientists find gene behind a highly prevalent facial anomaly

May 9, 2014

Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a genetic cause of a facial disorder known as hemifacial microsomia (HFM). The researchers find that duplication of the gene OTX2 induces HFM, the second-most common facial anomaly after cleft lip and palate.

Photo: Three-banded panther worm

Three-banded panther worm debuts as a new model in the study of regeneration

April 24, 2014

The lab of Whitehead Institute Member Peter Reddien is introducing the scientific community to the three-banded panther worm (Hofstenia miamia), a small organism with the ability to regenerate any missing body part. As a model, Hofstenia could help further our understanding of regeneration, how its mechanisms have evolved over millennia, and what limits regeneration in other animals, including humans. 

From liability to viability: Genes on the Y chromosome prove essential for male survival

April 23, 2014

The human Y chromosome has over the course of millions of years of evolution managed to preserve a small set of genes that has ensured not only its own survival but also the survival of men. Moreover, the vast majority of these tenacious genes appear to have little if any role in sex determination or sperm production. Taken together, these remarkable finding suggest that because these Y-linked genes are active across the body, they may actually be contributing to differences in disease susceptibility and severity observed between men and women.

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