Tag: Cancer

New methodology tracks changes in DNA methylation in real time at single-cell resolution

September 24, 2015

Whitehead Institute researchers have developed a tool that allows scientists to monitor changes in DNA methylation over time in individual cells. Certain diseases, including cancer, cause changes in DNA methylation patterns, and the ability to document these alterations could aid in the development of novel therapies.

Diagram of RAB35's role in oncogenesis

New role for an old protein: Cancer causer

September 3, 2015

A protein known to play a role in transporting the molecular contents of normal cells into and out of various intracellular compartments can also turn such cells cancerous by stimulating a key growth-control pathway.

Diagram of cancer versus normal stem cells

Variations in cell programs control cancer and normal stem cells

September 3, 2015

In the breast, cancer stem cells and normal stem cells can arise from different cell types and tap into distinct yet related stem cell programs, according to Whitehead Institute researchers. The differences between these stem cell programs may be significant enough to be exploited by future therapeutics.

Slides of tagged cells

Cellular recycling complexes may hold key to chemotherapy resistance

September 2, 2015

Upsetting the balance between protein synthesis, misfolding, and degradation drives cancer and neurodegeneration. Recent cancer treatments take advantage of this knowledge with a class of drugs that block protein degradation, known as proteasome inhibitors. Widespread resistance to these drugs limits their success, but Whitehead researchers have discovered a potential Achilles heel in resistance. With such understandings researchers may be able to target malignancy broadly, and more effectively.

Image of cells with and without RUNX1 turned on

Scientists identify gene required for differentiation of breast stem cells

May 6, 2015

Scientists have applied a new method of analyzing cell states to identify a gene required for breast stem cells to differentiate. This gene, RUNX1, is deregulated or mutated in some leukemias and breast cancers. The novel approach, known as PEACS, could also be used to screen for drugs that activate or inhibit the expression regulators of stem cell differentiation.

Image showing tumors

Imaging immunity: Noninvasive imaging of immune system detects tumors, could monitor therapeutic response

April 20, 2015

A novel approach that allows real-time imaging of the immune system’s response to the presence of tumors—without the need for blood draws or invasive biopsies—offers a potential breakthrough both in diagnostics and in the ability to monitor efficacy of cancer therapies.

Image of brain samples showing gene activity in ischemic areas

Biologists identify brain tumor weakness

April 8, 2015

Biologists at Whitehead Institute and MIT have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors.

Family of neural-associated RNA-binding proteins found to regulate cell state in breast cancer

December 15, 2014

A widely conserved family of RNA-binding proteins known to be expressed in neural stem cells and other stem cell types has now been shown to play a role in controlling both the state and behavior of breast cancer cells.

Heat-shock protein enables tumor evolution and drug resistance in breast cancer

December 8, 2014

Long known for its ability to help organisms successfully adapt to environmentally stressful conditions, the highly conserved molecular chaperone heat-shock protein 90 (HSP90) also enables estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancers to develop resistance to hormonal therapy.  

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.

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.

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.


© Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research              455 Main Street          Cambridge, MA 02142