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Category: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Babies can tell who has close relationships based on one clue: saliva | MIT News
January 20, 2022

Learning to navigate social relationships is a skill that is critical for surviving in human societies. For babies and young children, that means learning who they can count on to take care of them. MIT neuroscientists have now identified a specific signal that young children and even babies use to determine whether two people have a strong relationship and a mutual obligation to help each other: whether those two...

In Down syndrome cells, genome-wide disruptions mimic a senescence-like state | MIT News
January 11, 2022

In Down syndrome, the third copy of chromosome 21 causes a reorganization of the 3D configuration of the entire genome in a key cell type of the developing brain, a new study shows. The resulting disruption of gene transcription and cell function are so similar to those seen in cellular aging, or senescence, that the scientists leading the study found they could use anti-senescence drugs to correct them in cell...

Measuring cancer cell state can reveal drug susceptibility | MIT News
December 10, 2021

Over the past few decades, scientists have made great strides in understanding the genetic mutations that can drive cancer. For some types of cancer, these discoveries have led to the development of drugs that target specific mutations. However, there are still many types of cancer for which no such targeted therapies are available. A team of researchers from MIT, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and other institutions is...

A step toward “living biotherapeutics”
December 10, 2021

The human gut is home to thousands of species of bacteria, and some of those bacteria have the potential to treat a variety of gastrointestinal diseases. Some species may help to combat colon cancer, while others could help treat or prevent infections such as C. difficile. One of the obstacles to developing these “living biotherapeutics” is that many of the species that could be beneficial are harmed by oxygen, making it difficult to...

Feast or forage? Study finds circuit that helps a brain decide | MIT News
December 6, 2021

MIT neuroscientists have discovered the elegant architecture of a fundamental decision-making brain circuit that allows a C. elegans worm to either forage for food or stop to feast when it finds a source. Capable of integrating multiple streams of sensory information, the circuit employs just a few key neurons to sustain long-lasting behaviors and yet flexibly switch between them as environmental conditions...

How molecular clusters in the nucleus interact with chromosomes | MIT News
November 24, 2021

A cell stores all of its genetic material in its nucleus, in the form of chromosomes, but that’s not all that’s tucked away in there. The nucleus is also home to small bodies called nucleoli — clusters of proteins and RNA that help build ribosomes. Using computer simulations, MIT chemists have now discovered how these bodies interact with chromosomes in the nucleus, and how those interactions help the nucleoli...

Engineers devise a way to selectively turn on RNA therapies in human cells | MIT News
November 20, 2021

Researchers at MIT and Harvard University have designed a way to selectively turn on gene therapies in target cells, including human cells. Their technology can detect specific messenger RNA sequences in cells, and that detection then triggers production of a specific protein from a transgene, or artificial gene. Because transgenes can have negative and even dangerous effects when expressed in the wrong cells, the...

Study finds the SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect the inner ear | MIT News
November 20, 2021

Many Covid-19 patients have reported symptoms affecting the ears, including hearing loss and tinnitus. Dizziness and balance problems can also occur, suggesting that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may be able to infect the inner ear. A new study from MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear provides evidence that the virus can indeed infect cells of the inner ear, including hair cells, which are critical for both hearing and balance....

Avoiding shortcut solutions in artificial intelligence | MIT News
November 20, 2021

If your Uber driver takes a shortcut, you might get to your destination faster. But if a machine learning model takes a shortcut, it might fail in unexpected ways. In machine learning, a shortcut solution occurs when the model relies on a simple characteristic of a dataset to make a decision, rather than learning the true essence of the data, which can lead to inaccurate predictions. For example, a model might learn to...

A stealthy way to combat tumors | MIT News
November 19, 2021

Under the right circumstances, the body’s T cells can detect and destroy cancer cells. However, in most cancer patients, T cells become disarmed once they enter the environment surrounding a tumor.  Scientists are now trying to find ways to help treat patients by jumpstarting those lackluster T cells. Much of the research in this field, known as cancer immunotherapy, has focused on finding ways to stimulate those T...

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