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CRISPR Gene Cuts May Offer New Way to Chart Human Genome


A nanopore sequencer Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine   In search of new ways to sequence human genomes and read critical alterations in DNA, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have successfully used the gene cutting tool CRISPR to make cuts in DNA around lengthy tumor genes, which can be used to collect sequence information. A report on the proof-of-principle experiments using genomes from human breast cancer cells and tissue appears in the Feb. 10 issue of Nature Biotechnology. The researchers say that pairing CRISPR with tools that sequence the DNA components of human cancer tissue is a technique that could, […]

Nanosize Device ‘Uncloaks’ Cancer Cells in Mice And Reveals Them to The Immune System


Scientists at Johns Hopkins report they have designed and successfully tested an experimental, super small package able to deliver molecular signals that tag implanted human cancer cells in mice and make them visible for destruction by the animals’ immune systems. The new method was developed, say the researchers, to deliver an immune system “uncloaking” device directly to cancer cells. Conventional immune therapies generally focus on manipulating patients’ immune system cells to boost their cancer-killing properties or injecting drugs that do the same but often have toxic side effects. Results of the proof-of-concept experiments were published online Feb. 7 in the […]

Practical Uses for Artificial Intelligence in Health Care


Research symposium at Johns Hopkins explores how clinicians can get the most out of advancements in digital health. Researchers with Johns Hopkins Medicine and computer scientists from Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering are analyzing thousands of abdominal scans in an effort to catch pancreatic tumors while they are still operable. Another computer scientist developed an algorithm used at Johns Hopkins hospitals to help diagnosis sepsis before it becomes fatal. Yet as artificial intelligence – and digital health in general – become more common in health care, the words of Johns Hopkins Hospital founder William Osler carry more weight, according to Daniel Ford, director of […]

New Tool for an Old Disease: Use of PET and CT Scans May Help Develop Shorter TB Treatment


Experts believe that tuberculosis, or TB, has been a scourge for humans for some 15,000 years, with the first medical documentation of the disease coming out of India around 1000 B.C.E. Today, the World Health Organization reports that TB is still the leading cause of death worldwide from a single infectious agent, responsible for some 1.5 million fatalities annually. Primary treatment for TB for the past 50 years has remained unchanged and still requires patients to take multiple drugs daily for at least six months. Successful treatment with these anti-TB drugs — taken orally or injected into the bloodstream — […]

Fetal Balloon Treatment for Lung-Damaging Birth Defect Works Best When Fetal and Maternal Care Are Highly Coordinated


Researchers from The Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy report new evidence that fetuses with severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a rare but life-threatening, lung-damaging condition, experience a significantly high rate of success for the fetal treatment known as FETO, if they and their mothers receive coordinated and highly experienced care in the same expert setting. A report on the findings was published online, on Feb. 6, in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. FETO — fetoscopic tracheal balloon occlusion — is a minimally invasive procedure in which a fetoscope is inserted through the abdominal wall into the uterus and then into the mouth […]

Combination Drug Therapy For Childhood Brain Tumors Shows Promise In Laboratory Models


Researchers say findings support use in clinical trials   In experiments with human cells and mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report evidence that combining the experimental cancer medication TAK228 (also called sapanisertib) with an existing anti-cancer drug called trametinib may be more effective than either drug alone in decreasing the growth of pediatric low-grade gliomas. These cancers are the most common childhood brain cancer, accounting for up to one-third of all cases. Low grade pediatric gliomas arise in brain cells (glia) that support and nourish neurons, and current standard chemotherapies with decades-old drugs, while generally effective in lengthening […]

Schizophrenia Is A Disease, Not An Extreme of Normal Variation


Researchers say the current NIMH approach for study of many types of major mental illness is misdirected and must be improved “Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and many other types of mental illness, are diseases of the brain and should be treated and studied as such,” say Johns Hopkins researchers. Does this statement seem a bit obvious and not exactly rocket science? Although it may, this isn’t how the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) — the psychiatry wing of the National Institutes of Health — currently views severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder and dementia. The NIMH […]

Johns Hopkins Researchers: Climate Change Threatens to Unlock New Microbes and Increase Heat-Related Illness and Death


Bloomberg Distinguished Professors Ahima and Casadevall warn of new infectious diseases and problems related to thermoregulation The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) recently published “Viewpoint” articles by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professors who warn that global climate change is likely to unlock dangerous new microbes, as well as threaten humans’ ability to regulate body temperature. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished Professors Rexford Ahima, M.D., Ph.D., and Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., along with William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the George Washington University’s Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, and Susan Pacheco, M.D., associate professor in […]

Multimodal Genomic Analyses Predict Response to Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer Patients


Researchers at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have developed an integrated genomic approach that potentially could help physicians predict which patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer will respond to therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are transforming the field of cancer therapeutics. However, these successes are limited by the lack of biomarkers that identify patients most likely to respond. Tumor mutational burden (TMB), which is a measure of the number of mutations carried by tumor cells, is considered an emerging biomarker of response, but […]

Register for the Spring 2020 NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration April 20-22


The National Institutes of Health is proud to be hosting the Spring 2020 NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration in Baltimore, Maryland.  The NIH Regional Seminar serves the NIH mission of providing education and training for the next generation of biomedical and behavioral scientists. This seminar is intended to: Demystify the application and review process Clarify federal regulations and policies Highlight current areas of special interest or concern There will be a pre-seminar workshop, Monday, April 20th designed especially for early-stage investigators, and anyone new to IRB review and administration. The workshop, “Human Subjects Protections for NIH-Funded Research” […]

Nanoparticles Deliver ‘Suicide Gene’ Therapy to Pediatric Brain Tumors Growing in Mice


Credit: iStock Johns Hopkins researchers report that a type of biodegradable, lab-engineered nanoparticle they fashioned can successfully deliver a “suicide gene” to pediatric brain tumor cells implanted in the brains of mice. The poly(beta-amino ester) nanoparticles, known as PBAEs, were part of a treatment that also used a drug to kill the cells and prolong the test animals’ survival. In their study, described in a report published January 2020 in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, the researchers caution that for safety and biological reasons, it is unlikely that the suicide gene herpes simplex virus type I thymidine kinase (HSVtk) […]