A brain with a scale, to convey concept of a link between BMI and the brain

BMI and the adolescent brain: A concerning connection

We all know that obesity is a growing epidemic in children and adults. A large national study now finds that preteens carrying excess weight have notable differences in cognitive performance, brain structures, and brain circuitry when compared to preteens with normal body-mass index (BMI). Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Harnessing the Data Revolution initiative, ... Read More
A vacuum cleaner trying to vacuum up RNA molecules.

A new cancer mechanism: Failed cellular housekeeping

Cancer can stem from mutations in many different genes. New research from Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute pinpoints a gene that, when mutated, causes cancer through a mechanism not before seen: Inability of cells to dispose of their trash, namely defective strands of RNA. This mechanism appears to cut across many different malignancies, ... Read More
Clinical Care
A cerebral arachnoid cyst with abstract genes.

Rethinking cerebral arachnoid cysts through genomics

Cerebral arachnoid cysts are the most common mass-occupying brain lesion in humans. Some cause no noticeable symptoms and may just be incidental findings. Others are quite severe, causing hydrocephalus and potentially nerve damage; these clearly require surgery to drain the cyst fluid and relieve pressure on the brain. But a middle ground sits between these ... Read More
Natural killer cells attacking a tumor.

An unexpected journey reveals a potent way to attack tumors

Research on the effects of prenatal exposure to the Zika virus has yielded an unexpected dividend: a potentially promising way to trigger natural killer (NK) cells to fight cancer. NK cells are first-responder immune cells. When enough of their activating receptors are triggered, they mobilize to kill infected, stressed, or cancerous cells at an early ... Read More
An illustration shows the anatomy of a heart after a reverse double-switch procedure.

Experience and innovation create a safer type of heart surgery

The Eureka moment came the day before heart surgery. Easton Schlein wasn’t an ideal candidate for a full-scale surgical repair of an underdeveloped left ventricle. But his cardiac surgeons weren’t satisfied that they instead had to use the Fontan procedure, the only other option for that condition, but one associated with long-term liver complications.  Reviewing ... Read More
Tubes of blood spinning on a centrifuge.

Deep plasma proteomics: Back to the future

Blood plasma is collected from people routinely during clinical care and for research. It is potentially a rich source of protein biomarkers for diagnostic and prognostic purposes, for measuring response to treatment, and for revealing disease biology. Yet identifying such biomarkers in plasma with proteomics, our best available tool, has been a challenge: Ninety-nine percent ... Read More
Sam and his family pose at a formal event about SSADH deficiency.

Conquering a rare metabolic condition: A family, a pediatrician, and two labs join forces

As a newborn, Sam Hoffman never cried or made a sound. His mother, Carolyn, often had to wake him up to feed him. He missed many of his infant milestones. At one visit, his pediatrician tapped his leg and couldn’t get a reflex. A urine test found extremely high levels of 4-hydrobutyric acid or GHB ... Read More
Dr. Hedequist looks at a model of a spine after spinal fusion surgery.

Robotics, spinal fusion, and the quest for 100 percent accuracy

In any spinal fusion surgery, accurate screw placement is a top priority, and for good reason. Incorrectly positioned screws are the number one cause of surgical complications and revision surgeries according to the Scoliosis Research Society. While the vast majority of malpositioned screws — between four and 15 percent of all screws placed — do not ... Read More