News Archive

 

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.

Schematic of how interrupting ATPIF1 rescues cells with mitochondrial dysfunction

Scientists find potential target for treating mitochondrial disorders

March 27, 2014

Mitochondria, long known as “cellular power plants” for their generation of the key energy source adenosine triphosphate (ATP), are essential for proper cellular functions. Mitochondrial defects are often observed in a variety of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, and are the hallmarks of a number of untreatable genetic mitochondrial disorders whose manifestations range from muscle weakness to organ failure. Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a protein whose inhibition could hold the key to alleviating suffering caused by such disorders.

Whitehead Institute and Biogen Idec logos

Whitehead Institute and Biogen Idec Initiate Discovery Research Collaboration

March 25, 2014

Whitehead Institute today announced it has entered into a scientific research collaboration with Biogen Idec aimed at driving early stage research that may lead to the development of novel therapies across a broad range of disease areas.

Diagram of the Nutrostat machine

How diabetes drugs may work against cancer

March 16, 2014

Scientists at Whitehead Institute have pinpointed a major mitochondrial pathway that imbues cancer cells with the ability to survive in low-glucose environments. By identifying cancer cells with defects in this pathway or with impaired glucose utilization, the scientists can predict which tumors will be sensitive to these anti-diabetic drugs known to inhibit this pathway.

Photo: Rudolf Jaenisch

Whitehead’s Jaenisch to receive prestigious Otto Warburg Medal

March 10, 2014

The German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) will present this year’s Otto Warburg Medal to Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch later this month.

Graph of growth curves of wild type and amyloid-beta strains treated with clioquinol

Yeast model reveals Alzheimer’s drug candidate and its mechanism of action

March 3, 2014

Whitehead Institute scientists have used a yeast cell-based drug screen to identify a class of molecules that target the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide involved in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  

Diagram of  high-throughput sequencing-based method that measures the poly(A) tails of individual messenger RNA molecules

A protein-production tale of the tape: separating poly(A)-tail length from translational efficiency

January 29, 2014

Whitehead Institute researchers have determined that poly(A) tails on messenger RNAs (mRNAs) shift their role in the regulation of protein production during early embryogenesis. This finding about the regulation of mRNA translation also provides insight into how microRNAs control protein production. 

Microscope images showing different cellular phenotypes associated with cholesterol accumulation and autophagy impairment

Restarting stalled autophagy a potential approach to treating Niemann-Pick disease

January 8, 2014

Whitehead Institute researchers have determined that the lipid storage disorder Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1) disease is caused not only by defects in cholesterol processing but also in autophagy—a key cellular degradation pathway that malfunctions in many neurodegenerative diseases.

Image of scissors cutting DNA

New gene-editing system enables large-scale studies of gene function

December 12, 2013

Since the completion of the Human Genome Project, which identified nearly 20,000 protein-coding genes, scientists have been trying to decipher the roles of those genes. A new approach developed at MIT, the Broad Institute, and the Whitehead Institute should speed up the process by allowing researchers to study the entire genome at once.

Image comparing a surface form and cave form of the fish Astyanax mexicanus

Rapid evolution of novel forms: Environmental change triggers inborn capacity for adaptation

December 12, 2013

A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and Whitehead Institute report that, at least in the case of one variety of cavefish, one agent of evolutionary change is the heat shock protein known as HSP90.

Image of a eraser erasing part of a neuron

Genetic mutation increases risk of Parkinson’s disease from pesticides

November 27, 2013

A team of researchers from Whitehead Institute and Sanford-Burnham Research Institute has brought new clarity to the picture of how gene-environmental interactions can kill nerve cells that make dopamine. The study uses patient-derived stem cells to show that a mutation in the α-synuclein gene causes increased vulnerability to pesticides, leading to Parkinson’s disease.

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