8/6/12: Dr. Hongjun Song in the News
Stem Cells “Eavesdrop” to find out when to act
Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have figured out how stem cells found in a part of the brain responsible for learning, memory and mood regulation decide to remain dormant or create new brain cells.
8/6/12: Dr. Min Li in the News
Drug Shows Promise for Long QT Syndrome
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a new drug that may be useful in treating a heart rhythm condition called long QT syndrome.
7/25/12: Dr. Paul Worley in the News
Discovered Scaffold Supports Turning Pain Off
Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered a "scaffolding" protein that holds together multiple elements in a complex system responsible for regulating pain, mental illnesses and other complex neurological problems.
6/15/12: Dr. Hal Dietz in the News
Hal Dietz Awarded For Excellence in Translational Medicine
The A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan has awarded Harry Dietz, M.D., the inaugural 2012 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research.
5/2/12: Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosain the News
Breakthrough in slowing the spread of deadly brain cancer
The diagnosis of a gioblastoma, one of the most common and deadliest of brain tumors, can be devastating. While the cancer alone is harmful, its most lethal aspect is the speed at which it travels through the brain, infecting healthy tissue.
4/13/12: Dr. Carol Greider in the News
Greider will be part of a committee of 12 engineers and scientists appointed by the president to evaluate nominees for award.
Today President Obama announced his intention to appoint Dr. Carol Greider the Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of Molecular Biology and Genetics in the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, to the Committee on the National Medal of Science..
2/20/12: Dr. Robert D. Siliciano in the News
New Studies Show Which Anti-HIV Drug Combinations Work Better Than Others -- And Why And How They Do It
The study results should help researchers and clinicians develop simpler treatments, using either existing or new drugs, for people who are just starting therapy or people who have already tried and developed resistance to another combination,” says senior study investigator and infectious disease specialist Dr. Robert F. Siliciano
12/27/11: Dr. Zaver Bhujwalla in the News
Cellular-Imaging Center Gets Over $8 Million to Speed Search for Earlier Diagnostic Tests and Treatments for Cancer
A team of cancer imaging expertswith the principal investigator, Dr. Zaver Bhujwalla at Johns Hopkins has embarked on a five-year research initiative to speed development of early diagnostic tests and new treatments for breast, prostate and other common cancers.
11/14/11: Dr. Antony Rosen in the News
Sibley Supports Rheumatoid Research
Sibley Memorial Hospital has awarded Dr. Antony Rosen and his colleagues nearly $1.2 million to fund a research project entitled “Precision Measurement in Rheumatoid Arthritis”
11/9/11: Dr. Charles Rudin in the News
Combination Epigenetic Therapy Clinical Trial Results
A new type of therapy aimed at reversing the gene-silencing that promotes cancer-cell growth has shown promising results in a small clinical trial conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
Rudin led the team of physicians and cancer biologists who conducted the study. The trial was based in part on the results of a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 by a group of Johns Hopkins researchers, including cancer epigenetics experts Dr. Stephen Baylin the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and deputy director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, and Dr. James Herman professor of oncology.
11/8/11: Dr. Gregg Semenza in the News
Johns Hopkins Researchers Discover How Breast Cancer Spreads to Lung
The spread of breast cancer is responsible for more than 90 percent of breast cancer deaths. Now, the process by which it spreads -- or metastasizes -- has been unraveled by researchers at Johns Hopkins.
11/4/11: Dr. Robert A. Casero, Jr. in the News
COMMON BACTERIA CAUSE SOME COLON TUMORS BY ALTERING PEROXIDE-PRODUCING GENE
Johns Hopkins scientists have found that a strain of the common gut pathogen Bacteroides fragilis causes colon inflammation and increases activity of a gene called spermine oxidase (SMO) in the intestine. The effect is to expose the gut to hydrogen peroxide – the caustic, germ-fighting substance found in many medicine cabinets -- and cause DNA damage, contributing to the formation of colon tumors, say the scientists.
10/31/11: Dr. Sara Sukumar in the News
Johns Hopkins Researcher Wins Prize For Breast Cancer Biomarker Studies
A Johns Hopkins breast cancer researcher is the recipient of a $50,000 award designed to encourage rapid translation of her basic research on biomarkers into a commercially available test that could predict the best treatment options for some women with breast cancer.
10/26/11: Dr. Sara Sukumar in the News
Through-the-Nipple Breast Cancer Therapy Shows Promise in Early Tests
Delivering anticancer drugs into breast ducts via the nipple is highly effective in animal models of early breast cancer, and has no major side effects in human patients, according to a report by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers in Science Translational Medicine on Oct. 26. The results of the study are expected to lead to more advanced clinical trials of so-called intraductal treatment for early breast cancer.
6/2/11: Dr. Virginia Willour in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS TEAM IDENTIFIES GENETIC LINK TO ATTEMPTED SUICIDE
Findings could lead to new avenues of treatment research
A study of thousands of people with bipolar disorder suggests that genetic risk factors may influence the decision to attempt suicide.
6/2/2011: Dr. Gregg Semenza in the News
UNDERSTANDING CANCER ENERGETICS Johns Hopkins researchers solve mystery of Warburg effect
It's long been known that cancer cells eat a lot of sugar to stay alive. In fact, where normal, noncancerous cells generate energy from using some sugar and a lot of oxygen, cancerous cells use virtually no oxygen and a lot of sugar. Many genes have been implicated in this process and now, reporting in the May 27 issue of Cell, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that this so-called Warburg effect is controlled.
5/23/2011: Dr. Garry Cutting in the News
DOCTOR, HOW SICK WILL I GET? IT'S ALL IN THE GENES
Johns Hopkins researchers identify genes linked to worsening of cystic fibrosis
Johns Hopkins Institute for Genetic Medicine researchers working as part of the North American Cystic Fibrosis Consortium have discovered two regions of the genome that affect the severity of cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that causes scarring throughout the body, affecting most notably the pancreas and lungs. Reporting online this week in Nature Genetics, the team describes the first-ever study to identify genetic variations that are associated with more severe cases of CF.
5/23/2011: Dr. Valina Dawson in the News
WHAT DOESN'T KILL THE BRAIN MAKES IT STRONGERJohns Hopkins team discovers brain defense in mice and a possible new strategy for treating neurologic disorders
Johns Hopkins scientists say that a newly discovered "survival protein" protects the brain against the effects of stroke in rodent brain tissue by interfering with a particular kind of cell death that's also implicated in complications from diabetes and heart attack.
5/16/2011: Dr. Annabelle Rodriguez in the News
GENE VARIATION LINKED TO INFERTILITY IN WOMEN, STUDY FINDS
Altered gene involved in both faulty cholesterol regulation and pregnancy hormone production
A variation in a gene involved in regulating cholesterol in the bloodstream also appears to affect progesterone production in women, making it a likely culprit in a substantial number of cases of their infertility, a new study from Johns Hopkins researchers suggests.
5/11/2011: Dr. Hal Dietz in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS RESEARCHER ELECTED TO NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Harry C. “Hal” Dietz, III, M.D., the Victor A. McKusick Professor of Genetics and Medicine at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is one of 72 new members of the National Academy of Sciences, an honorary society that advises the government on scientific matters.
5/2/2011: Dr. David Kass in the News
ANIMAL STUDIES REVEAL NEW ROUTE TO TREATING HEART DISEASE
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have shown in laboratory experiments in mice that blocking the action of a signaling protein deep inside the heart’s muscle cells blunts the most serious ill effects of high blood pressure on the heart. These include heart muscle enlargement, scar tissue formation and loss of blood vessel growth.
4/21/2011: Dr. Peter Espenshade in the News
SIMPLE FUNGUS REVEALS CLUE TO IMMUNE SYSTEM PROTECTION
A discovery by Johns Hopkins scientists about how a single-celled fungus survives in low-oxygen settings may someday help humans whose immune systems are compromised by organ transplants or AIDS.
4/14/2011: Dr. Hongjun Song in the News
HOPKINS TEAM DISCOVERS HOW DNA CHANGES
Using human kidney cells and brain tissue from adult mice, Johns Hopkins scientists have uncovered the sequence of steps that makes normally stable DNA undergo the crucial chemical changes implicated in cancers, psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. The process may also be involved in learning and memory, the researchers say.
4/6/2011: Dr. Akira Sawa in the News
NEW STUDY SOLIDIFIES ROLE OF DISC1 IN RISK FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA AND OTHER MENTAL ILLNESS
Johns Hopkins researchers report the discovery of a molecular switch that regulates the behavior of a protein that, when altered, is already known to increase human susceptibility to schizophrenia and mood disorders.The findings, published online in the journal Nature, expand the possibility of creating biomarkers that can better diagnose those with mental illnesses and track their treatment.
4/6/2011: Dr. Richard Huganir in the News
GENE LINKED TO SEVERITY OF AUTISM'S SOCIAL DYSFUNCTION
With the help of two sets of brothers with autism, Johns Hopkins scientists have identified a gene associated with autism that appears to be linked very specifically to the severity of social interaction deficits. The gene, GRIP1 (glutamate receptor interacting protein 1), is a blueprint for a traffic-directing protein at synapses — those specialized contact points between brain cells across which chemical signals flow.
3/24/2011: Dr. Mary Armanios in the News
DNA 'END-CAPS' LENGTH LINKED TO DIABETES RISK
--New Role for Short Telomeres
New evidence has emerged from studies in mice that short telomeres or “caps” at the ends of chromosomes may predispose people to age-related diabetes, according to Johns Hopkins scientists.
3/17/2011: Dr. Russ Margolis in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS TEAM CREATES STEM CELLS FROM SCHIZOPHRENIA PATIENTS
Scientists use new technique to reprogram cells with risk gene for major mental illness
Using skin cells from adult siblings with schizophrenia and a genetic mutation linked to major mental illnesses, Johns Hopkins researchers have created induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) using a new and improved "clean" technique.
4/16/10: Dr. Andrew Feinberg in the News
TWO HOPKINS SCIENTISTS AWARDED EUROPEAN HONORARY DOCTORATES
Andrew Feinberg, MD, MPH is one of two genetics researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that have been awarded prestigious honorary Doctor of Medicine degrees by European scientific institutions.
4/6/10: Dr. Gregg Semenza in the News
GREGG SEMENZA NAMED CANADA GAIRDNER INTERNATIONAL AWARDEE
- Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Pediatrics, director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, is one of seven recipients of the 2010 Canada Gairdner Awards. Canada’s only international science prizes, they are among the world’s most prestigious medical research awards.
3/30/10: Dr. David Yue in the News
UNDERSTANDING NIGHT BLINDNESS AND CALCIUM
Congenital stationary night blindness, an inherited condition that affects one’s ability to see in the dark, is caused by a mutation in a calcium channel protein that shuttles calcium into and out of cells. Now, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have teased apart the molecular mechanism behind this mutation, uncovering a more general principle of how cells control calcium levels. The discovery, published in the Feb. 18 issue of Nature, could have implications for several other conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.
10/5/09: Dr. Carol Greider in the News
WINS 2009 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE
Carol Greider, Ph.D., 48, one of the worlds pioneering researchers on the structure of chromosome ends known as telomeres, today was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Academy recognized her for her 1984 discovery of telomerase an enzyme that maintains the length and integrity of chromosome ends and is critical for the health and survival of all living cells and organism.
9/30/09: Dr. Stephen Baylin in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS AND USC WIN $10.4 MILLION TO STUDY CANCER EPIGENOME The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded $10.4 million to Johns Hopkins and The University of Southern Califonia (USC) to decipher epigenetic marks in the cancer genome. The joint five-year grant is expected to help scientists develop drugs and tests that target epigenetic changes in cancer cells. Scientists at Johns Hopkins’ and USC’s Epigenome Center will focus on all major cancers, including breast, colon, and lung cancer. The data will be collected as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a program funded by the NCI and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to develop a molecular map of alterations in cancer.
“We’ve learned that in addition to the DNA damage that happens at the genetic level, cancers can arise because of abnormal changes that occur in the way DNA is packaged,” says Stephen Baylin, M.D., deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and co-principal investigator with Peter W. Laird, Ph.D. of USC.
9/28/09: Dr. Andrew Feinberg in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS EPIGENETIC CENTER RECEIVES $16.8 MILLION NIH GRANT
Johns Hopkins’ Center for the Epigenetics of Common Human Disease has been chosen as one of four recipients of a $45 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for Centers of Excellence to advance genomics research. The Hopkins Center will receive $16.8 million over five years.
“We’re grateful for such generous support to continue our work in understanding how epigenetic control affects disease,” says the center’s director, Andrew Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H.
9/21/09: Dr. Landon King in the News
HEALING BADLY DAMAGED LUNGS: DISTINCT SET OF WHITE BLOOD CELLS FOUND TO SET THE PACE OF WOUND REPAIR After more than 50 experiments in mice, medical scientists at Johns Hopkins have mapped out the basic steps taken by a particular set of white blood cells in setting the pace of recovery after serious lung injury.
The white blood cells are called regulatory T cells, or Tregs for short, and their best known function is to keep the body’s immune system from attacking its own healthy tissues.
“Our study results are the critical first leads in finding treatments for a clinical condition that until now has had none, despite its high mortality,” says study senior investigator and pulmonologist Landon King, M.D. “When a patient develops acute lung injury, we want the critical care medicine team to be able to do more than just stabilize the patient on a ventilator,” adds King, director of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
9/17/09: Dr. Shanthini Sockanathan in the News
ANTIOXIDANT CONTROLS SPINAL CORD DEVELOPMENT
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered how one antioxidant protein controls the activity of another protein, critical for the development of spinal cord neurons. The research, publishing this week in Cell, describes a never-before known mechanism of protein control.
“This is the first time we’ve seen this type of chemical reaction control neuronal differentiation,” says Shanthini Sockanathan, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience. “And it’s probably not specific for motor neurons that we study, but also for development of a wide variety of neurons.”
9/15/09: Dr. Charles Rudin in the News
Guide on Lung Cancer in "Never-Smokers": Different Disease, Different Treatments
A committee of scientists led by Johns Hopkins investigators has published a new guide to the biology, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer in never-smokers, fortifying measures for what physicians have long known is a very different disease than in smokers.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that the genetic, cellular, and molecular nature of lung cancer in many never-smokers is different from that of smoking-related lung cancers, and there is good evidence now that the best treatment and prevention strategies for never-smokers may be different as well," says Charles M. Rudin, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Lung cancer in never-smokers is the sixth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.
9/3/09: Dr. Charles Rudin in the News
ANTICANCER DRUG YIELDS POSITIVE RESPONSE IN PEOPLE WITH ADVANCED OR RECURRING SKIN AND BRAIN CANCER The Hedgehog signaling pathway is involved in a preliminary study and case report describing positive responses to an experimental anticancer drug in a majority of people with advanced or metastatic basal cell skin cancers. One patient with the most common type of pediatric brain cancer, medulloblastoma, also showed tumor shrinkage.
Initial results of the drug trial, conducted at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore), the Karmanos Cancer Center (Detroit) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (Scottsdale, Ariz.) are published online Sept. 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The publication also details side effects of the drug, including muscle cramping, hair loss, fatigue and low blood sodium.
"We know that both of these cancer types have mutations in Hedgehog pathway genes, and our results with Hedgehog inhibitors could be the starting point for developing a new type of therapy for these intractable cancers," says Charles Rudin, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for Clinical Research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
8/6/09: Dr. David Berman in the News
HOPKINS SCIENTISTS FIND CELLS RESPONSIBLE FOR BLADDER CANCER'S SPREAD
Johns Hopkins scientists have tracked down a powerful set of cells in bladder tumors that seem to be primarily responsible for the cancer’s growth and spread using a technique that takes advantage of similarities between tumor and organ growth. The findings, reported in the July Stem Cells, could help scientists develop new ways of finding and attacking similar cells in other types of cancer.
These same properties are the ones that make cancer particularly dangerous, says David Berman, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, oncology, and urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. If researchers had a way to identify and specifically target cancer cells with these properties, they could wipe out the population that sustains tumors and makes them grow.
7/10/09: Dr. Chris Zink in the News
HOPKINS SCIENTIST IS 2009’S OUTSTANDING WOMAN VETERINARIAN
A Johns Hopkins veterinarian whose vocation is HIV research and avocation is the care of dog “athletes” has been named the 2009 Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year by the Association for Women Veterinarians Foundation.
M. Christine Zink, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor and director of the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Hopkins faculty member for 21 years will be recognized for wide-ranging professional achievements with an award presented Tuesday, July 14, at the American Veterinary Medical Association convention in Seattle
6/29/09: Dr. William Bishai in the News
FIGHTING TUBERCULOSIS WITH ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS SHOWN POSSIBLE IN ANIMAL STUDIES
Tuberculosis (TB) experts at Johns Hopkins have evidence from a four-year series of experiments in mice that anti-inflammatory drugs could eventually prove effective in treating the highly contagious lung disease, adding to current antibiotic therapies.
The Johns Hopkins scientists are planning further experiments in animals infected with TB to find out if any of the already-approved anti-inflammatory drugs -- phosphodiesterase (PDE5A) inhibitors, such as sildenafil citrate (Viagra) and adenylate cyclase (AC) inhibitors – would work.
The new study results, to be reported in the July 2 issue of Nature, not only offer promise of a complementary or alternative therapy to antibiotics, but also open the door to vaccines designed to block the TB bacterium’s inflammatory chemical pathways, the researchers say. The disease, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, each year infects nearly 9 million people worldwide, and kills 1.7 million.
6/18/09: Dr. Linzhao Cheng in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS RESEARCHERS EDIT GENES IN HUMAN STEM CELLS
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have successfully edited the genome of human- induced pluripotent stem cells, making possible the future development of patient-specific stem cell therapies. Reporting this week in Cell Stem Cell, the team altered a gene responsible for causing the rare blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, or PNH, establishing for the first time a useful system to learn more about the disease.
“To date, only about six genes have been successfully targeted or edited in human stem cells out of countless people and attempts—that’s just not efficient enough if we want to move disease research and therapy forward,” says Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D., an associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics and member of the Johns Hopkins Institute of Cell Engineering. “We’ve been able to improve gene targeting and editing in human embryonic stem cells more than 200 fold.”
6/10/09: Dr. Richard Huganir in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS NEUROSCIENTISTS WATCH MEMORIES FORM IN REAL TIME Our ability to form long-term memories depends on cells in the brain making strong connections with each other. Yet while it’s not well understood how those connections are made, lost or changed, the process is known to involve the movement of the AMPA receptor protein to and from those neuronal connections. Reporting this week in Nature Neuroscience, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered by watching live neurons that the AMPA receptor goes where it needs to be with the help of the 4.1N protein, without which long term memories are not formed.
“This has been a long-standing challenge in the field, trying to see a process that involves a handful of molecules and occurs so quickly, on the order of one-tenth of a second,” says Richard Huganir, Ph.D., professor and director of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. “We just haven’t had the right tools.” Huganir’s research team spent a year building a new microscope to do the experiments.
6/4/09: Dr. Solomon Snyder in the News
MYSTERY SOLVED: JOHNS HOPKINS SCIENTISTS SAY TINY PROTEIN-ACTIVATOR RESPONSIBLE FOR BRAIN CELL DAMAGE IN HUNTINGTON DISEASE
June 4, 2009- Johns Hopkins brain scientists have figured out why a faulty protein accumulates in cells everywhere in the bodies of people with Huntington’s disease (HD), but only kills cells in the part of the brain that controls movement, causing negligible damage to tissues elsewhere. The answer, reported this week in Science, lies in one tiny protein called “Rhes” that’s found only in the part of the brain that controls movement. The findings, according to the Hopkins scientists, explain the unique pattern of brain damage in HD and its symptoms, as well as offer a strategy for new therapy.
HD itself is caused by a genetic defect that produces a mutant version of the protein “huntingtin” that gathers in all cells of the body, but only seems to affect the brain. Passed from parent to child through an alteration of a normal gene, HD over time causes irreversible uncontrolled movement, loss of intellectual function, emotional disturbances and death.
“It’s always been a mystery why, if the protein made by the HD gene is seen in all cells of the body, only the brain, and only a particular part of the brain, the corpus striatum, deteriorates,” says Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. “By finding the basic culprit, the potential is there to develop drugs that target it and either prevent symptoms or slow them down.”
4/8/09: Dr. Jeffrey D. Rothstein in the News
NEW COMMON PATHWAY IN NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASE IS A POSSIBLE DOOR TO A POINT OF NO RETURN
A just-out study suggests that what keeps chronic nervous system diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and ALS going — until they overcome the internal protective mechanisms a body can throw at them — may largely come down to poor conversational skills.
In the current issue of the journal Neuron, a team of Johns Hopkins scientists reports uncovering a much-sought molecular path that nerve cells (neurons) use to communicate with their neighboring cells, the astrocytes.
The team also shows how failure of this system could leave the brain and spinal cord vulnerable in disease.
Astrocytes are the most plentiful central nervous system cells. And while scientists have known for some time that they’re critical for neurons’ normal activity and even for their survival, precisely how the two cell types communicate hasn’t been clear.
“This new work shows that neurons dynamically direct astroglia,” says team leader Jeffrey Rothstein, M.D., Ph.D., “but more important to medicine, it defines how neurological disease may spread throughout the nervous system.”
2/15/09: Dr. Chi Dang in the News
WHAT’S FEEDING CANCER CELLS?
Cancer cells need a lot of nutrients to multiply and survive. While much is understood about how cancer cells use blood sugar to make energy, not much is known about how they get other nutrients. Now, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered how the Myc cancer-promoting gene uses microRNAs to control the use of glutamine, a major energy source. The results, which shed light on a new angle of cancer that might help scientists figure out a way to stop the disease, appear Feb. 15 online at Nature.
“While we were looking for how Myc promotes cancer growth, it was unexpected to find that Myc can increase use of glutamine by cancer cells,” says Chi V. Dang, M.D., Ph.D., the Johns Hopkins Family Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins. “This surprising discovery only came about after scientists from several disciplines came together across Hopkins to collaborate — it was a real team effort.”
2/2/09: Dr. Gordon Tomaselli in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF CARDIOLOGY
Physician-scientist Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., an expert on sudden cardiac death and heart rhythm disturbances, has been named the new director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Division of Cardiology and co-director of the School’s Heart and Vascular Institute.
Tomaselli, who has been at Johns Hopkins since 1986, succeeds Eduardo Marbán, M.D., Ph.D., who led the division since 2002 and will remain active as adjunct faculty. He also succeeds Marbán as the Michel Mirowski, M.D., Professor of Cardiology.
Tomaselli, 53, a cardiac electrophysiologist, has focused most of his research efforts on arrhythmias, and especially on new therapies aimed at warding off the potentially fatal heart condition. More than 300,000 Americans suddenly die each year when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood, triggered by an electrical disturbance in the heart.
In addition to his new roles, Tomaselli will continue as co-director of the Donald W. Reynolds Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at Hopkins, funded in 2003 to carry out research into the causes of sudden cardiac death.
1/18/09: Dr. Andrew Feinberg in the News
GENE SWITCH SITES FOUND MAINLY ON “SHORES,” NOT JUST “ISLANDS” OF THE HUMAN GENOME
Study vastly expands prospects for understanding disease and new treatments against colon cancer
Scientists who study how human chemistry can permanently turn off genes have typically focused on small islands of DNA believed to contain most of the chemical alterations involved in those switches. But after an epic tour of so-called DNA methylation sites across the human genome in normal and cancer cells, Johns Hopkins scientists have found that the vast majority of the sites aren’t grouped in those islands at all, but on nearby regions that they’ve named “shores.”
“Our study suggests that the real jackpot for methylation isn’t where we have all been looking, but in these shores located just nearby,” says Andrew Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
1/8/09: Dr. Hongjun Song in the News
HOPE GROWTH OF NEW BRAIN CELLS REQUIRES ‘EPIGENETIC’ SWITCH
New cells are born every day in the brain’s hippocampus, but what controls this birth has remained a mystery. Reporting in the January 1 issue of Science, neuroscientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that the birth of new cells, which depends on brain activity, also depends on a protein that is involved in changing epigenetic marks in the cell’s genetic material.
“How is it that when you see someone you met ten years ago, you still recognize them? How do these transient events become long lasting in the brain, and what potential role does the birth of new neurons play in making these memories?” says Hongjun Song, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology and member of the Johns Hopkins Institute of Cell Engineering’s NeuroICE. “We really want to understand how daily life experiences trigger the birth and growth of new neurons, and make long-lasting changes in the brain.”
1/5/09: Dr. Gregg Semenza in the News
NEW HOPE FOR CANCER COMES STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
Digitalis-based drugs like digoxin have been used for centuries to treat patients with irregular heart rhythms and heart failure and are still in use today. In the Dec. 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine now report that this same class of drugs may hold new promise as a treatment for cancer. This finding emerged through a search for existing drugs that might slow or stop cancer progression.
“This is really exciting, to find that a drug already deemed safe by the FDA also can inhibit a protein crucial for cancer cell survival,” says Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine.
1/5/09: Dr. David Kass in the News
VIAGRA’S OTHER TALENTS: TO HELP A ‘SIGNALING’ PROTEIN SHIELD THE HEART FROM HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE DAMAGE Johns Hopkins and other researchers report what is believed to be the first direct evidence in lab animals that the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil amplifies the effects of a heart-protective protein.
The team’s findings, to be published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation online Jan. 5, helps explain why sildenafil, more widely known as Viagra, has already been shown to improve heart function and may one day have value in either treating or preventing heart damage due to chronic high blood pressure.
7/31/08: Dr. David Yue in the News
LIKE EAVESDROPPING AT A PARTY. Cells rely on calcium as a universal means of communication. For example, a sudden rush of calcium can trigger nerve cells to convey thoughts in the brain or cause a heart cell to beat. A longstanding mystery has been how cells and molecules manage to appropriately sense and respond to the variety of calcium fluctuations within cells. Reporting in the June 27 issue of Cell, a team of biomedical engineers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has discovered how the calcium sensor protein calmodulin can gauge both the local flow of calcium, in through the closest channel, as well as the global calcium flow entering the many channels across the entire cell."It's like being at a cocktail party where the easiest person to listen to is the one closest to you, but we all have the ability to keep an ear out for other interesting conversations going on throughout the room," says David Yue, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering at Hopkins.
7/14/08: Dr. Stephen Baylin in the News
Releases&action=showthisitem “SMOTHERED” GENES COMBINE WITH MUTATIONS TO YIELD POOR OUTCOME IN CANCER PATIENTS. Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers have identified a set of genes in breast and colon cancers with a deadly combination of traditional mutations and “smothered” gene activity that may result in poor outcomes for patients. “Until studies like ours, it was easy to think that if we didn’t find gene mutations in certain biochemical pathways linked to breast or colon cancer, then those pathways were normal in such patients,” says Stephen Baylin, M.D., the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and deputy director of the Kimmel Cancer Center. “Now we know that, in some patients, the pathways involved with newly discovered mutated genes are often more frequently disrupted by epigenetic mechanisms rather than genetic ones.” A report on this work appeared May 27 in PLoS Medicine.
6/25/08: Dr. Harry Dietz in the News
Drug Treatment for Marfan Syndrome Looks Promising, Johns Hopkins Researchers Say. A small study in 18 pattients assessing the effectiveness of the drug losartan for treating Marfan syndrome in children has yielded encouraging results. Reporting in the June 26 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, Johns Hopkins researchers showed that losartan-a compound used for years to treat high blood pressure-slowed the enlargement of the aorta, the most life-threatening defect associated with Marfan syndrome “This experience increases my belief that losartan holds great promise for treating Marfan syndrome,” says Harry Dietz, M.D., a professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine and director of the William S. Smilow Center for Marfan Syndrome Research at Hopkins. “This would be the first therapy generated by basic research that revealed the molecular mechanism of this genetic disease.”
6/24/08: Dr. Andrew Feinberg in the News
MENDEL DIDN’T HAVE THE WHOLE PICTURE: OUR GENOME CHANGES OVER LIFETIME, JOHNS HOPKINS EXPERTS SAY. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that while the overall health of our genomes is indeed inherited from our parents, chemical marks on our genomes’ DNA sequences actually change as we age, driving increased risk of disease susceptibility for us and similarly for our close family members. Summarizing results of an international collaborative research project, Andrew Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., concluded that “we’re beginning to see that changes wrought by these epigenetic marks may help explain why susceptibility to many diseases such as diabetes and cancer increases with age.”
6/15/08: Dr. Robert Siliciano in the News
NEW INDEX EXPLAINS WHY SOME DRUGS WORK BETTER THAN OTHERS AGAINST HIV. A team of AIDS experts at Johns Hopkins has found a simple mathematical equation that accurately explains how well each of 25 anti-HIV drugs in five commonly used drug groups suppresses the virus and keeps the disease in check. The team’s findings are set to appear online June 15 in the journal Medicine.
“It has become clear that after more than a decade of using drug combinations to fight HIV, we need a better tool than the IC50 to let us compare drugs in a way that reflects their ability to suppress the virus,” says senior study investigator and infectious disease specialist Robert Siliciano, M.D., Ph.D.
5/29/08: Dr. Linzhao Cheng in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS RESEARCHERS DEVELOP HUMAN STEM CELL LINE CONTAINING SICKLE CELL ANEMIA MUTATION. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have established a human cell-based system for studying sickle cell anemia by reprogramming somatic cells to an embryonic stem cell like state. Publishing online in Cellson May 29, the team describes a faster and more efficient method of reprogramming cells that might speed the development of stem cell therapies.“We hope our new cell lines can open the doors for researchers who study diseases like sickle cell anemia that are limited by the lack of good experimental models,” says Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D., an associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics, medicine and oncology and a member of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering
4/30/08: Dr. Gregg Semenza in the News
JOHNS HOPKINS PROFESSORS ELECTED TO NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Jane I. Guyer, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology at The Johns Hopkins University were elected as members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for their excellence in original scientific research. Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Semenza and Guyer will be inducted into the Academy next April during its 146th annual meeting in Washington, D.C..
4/9/08: Dr. Linzhao Cheng in the News
HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH REVEALS EARLIEST STEP IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have uncovered the molecular underpinnings of one of the earliest steps in human development using human embryonic stem cells. Their identification of a critical signal mediated by the protein BMP-4 that drives the differentiation of stem cells into what will become the placenta, will be published in the April issue of Cell Stem Cell. “The finding was serendipitous and at the same time a very important addition to our understanding of early human development,” says Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D., an associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics and co-director of the stem cell program of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.
3/11/08: Dr. Maura Gillison in the News
RESEARCHERS ID BEHAVIORAL RISK FACTORS FOR HEAD AND NECK CANCERS. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have teased out two distinct sets of risk factors for head and neck cancers, suggesting that there are two completely different kinds of the disease. “Our results indicate that HPV-positive and HPV-negative head and neck cancers have different risk-factor profiles and should be considered two distinct diseases,” says Maura L. Gillison, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of oncology and epidemiology at Hopkins. “They just happen to occur in the same place.”
1/29/08: Dr. Garry Cutting in the News
SECONDHAND SMOKE EXPOSURE WORSENS CYSTIC FIBROSIS. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered the first genetic evidence that secondhand smoke can worsen lung disease. The report in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association describes one gene variation that can weaken lung function as well as shorten the lifespan of those affected by cystic fibrosis and also are exposed to secondhand smoke. “We’re really surprised that such a small genetic change can double the negative effects of secondhand smoke on lung function in these patients,” says Garry Cutting, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and medicine.
1/22/08: Dr. Solomon Snyder in the News
PROTEIN CLASS DISPLAYS STRONG ANTICANCER ACTION. “A major hang-up in cancer chemotherapy is the toxicity caused by DNA disruption of cell division throughout the body. Our research suggests that drugs like cisplatin and novobiocin kill cells as much from this newly discovered mechanism as any other mechanism of cell death,” says Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., a professor of neuroscience at Hopkins. “Targeting this new mechanism in drug design might make for therapies with fewer side effects.” The results appear in last week’s Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
1/17/08: Dr. Gregory Germino in the News
KIDNEY CYSTS: NOT ALL CREATED EQUAL Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered a window in kidney growth that affects the onset of polycystic kidney disease and can mean, in mice, the difference between developing severe cystic disease early in adolescence or late in adulthood. In the December issue of Nature Medicine, the team reports that genetic mutations acquired before this window result in immediate disease onset whereas those acquired after don’t give rise to disease until late adulthood.
1/4/08: Dr. Victor Velculescu in the News
WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS: HOPKINS RESEARCHERS PAINT PICTURE OF CANCER-PROMOTING CULPRIT. They say that a picture can be worth a thousand words. This especially is true for describing the structures of molecules that function to promote cancer. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have built a three-dimensional picture of an enzyme often mutated in many types of cancers. The results, published Dec. 14 in Science , suggest how the most common mutations in this enzyme might lead to cancer progression.
1/3/08: Dr. Roger Reeves in the News
GENE DOSE AFFECTS TUMOR GROWTH. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Ohio State University have found that the number of copies of a particular gene can affect the severity of colon cancer in a mouse model. Publishing in the Jan. 3 issue of Nature, the research team describes how trisomy 21, or Down syndrome in humans, can repress tumor growth.
12/10/07: Dr. Andrew Feinberg in the News
KEEPING AT-RISK CELLS FROM DEVELOPING CANCER. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that cancers arising from epigenetic changes - in this case the inappropriate activation of a normally silent gene - develop by becoming addicted to certain growth factors. Reporting online in next week’s Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, the team shows that blocking this “addiction” can greatly prevent cancer growth. “If this is translatable to people, it could be really exciting,” says Andrew Feinberg, M.D., professor of medicine, oncology and molecular biology and genetics and director of the Epigenetics Center at Hopkins. “It means we might be able to do something about at-risk cells before cancer develops, and treat these cells biochemically and specifically, rather than using current drugs that are nonspecific and kill everything in their path.”
11/19/07: Dr. Jeff Rothstein in the News
$1.5 MILLION CINQUE FOUNDATION GRANT GOES TO ALS DRUG RESEARCH AT JOHNS HOPKINS PACKARD CENTER. The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins announced today that it has received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Cinque Foundation. The money will support the screening of thousands of drugs already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and on the market for their potential value in treating people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
10/31/07: Dr. Roger Reeves in the News
HOPKINS RESEARCHER AWARDED GRANT TO PURSUE POTENTIAL DOWN SYNDROME TREATMENT. The Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant to Roger H. Reeves, Ph.D., a professor of physiology and member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Reeves and his research team will extend their current studies on a potential drug to see if its positive effects can improve brain development in mouse models of Down syndrome
One year after completing the first large-scale report sequencing breast and colon cancer genes, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists, Bert Vogelstein, Ken Kinzler, Victor Velculescu, have studied the vast majority of protein-coding genes which now suggest a landscape dominated by genes that each are mutated in relatively few cancers.
10/5/07: Dr. Carol Greider in the News
Carol Greider Awarded 2007 Luisa Gross Horwitz Prise for Oustantding Contributions Understanding Telomeres. The awardees, who were recognized by the Lasker Foundation last year, are again honored for their work contributing to the understanding of telomeres and their role in cancer and stem cell failure.
10/4/07: Dr. Richard Huganir in the News
What Emotional Memories are Made Of. Both extensive psychological research and personal experiences confirm that events that happen during heightened states of emotion such as fear, anger and joy are far more memorable than less dramatic occurrences. In a report this week in Cell, Johns Hopkins researchers and their collaborators at Cold Spring Harbor and New York University have identified the likely biological basis for this.
10/1/07: Dr. David Berman in the News
Standard Treatment for Prostate Cancer may encourage spread of Disease. A popular prostate cancer treatment called androgen deprivation therapy may encourage prostate cancer cells to produce a protein that makes them more likely to spread throughout the body, a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests.
9/27/07: New CMM Website Launched
Welcome to the new CMM website. This new site was designed and deployed by two second-year CMM students, ChangHee Lee and John Poirier, and Academic Program Administrator Leslie Lichter. The new website is based on the Mediawiki wiki engine. This system will allow easy content management and administration to keep student, faculty, and program information current.
9/10/07: Dr. Christopher Ross in the News
Mouse Model for Schizophrenia has Genetic ON-OFF Switch. Scientists at Johns Hopkins have developed a mouse model for schizophrenia in which a mutated gene linked to schizophrenia can be turned on or off at will.
9/7/07: Drs. Hongjun Song and Guo-li Ming in the News
NORMAL ROLE FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA RISK GENE IDENTIFIED.
How the gene that has been pegged as a major risk factor for schizophrenia and other mood disorders that affect millions of Americans contributes to these diseases remains unclear.
8/23/07: Dr. Pierre Coulombe in the News
Natural Chemical Found in Broccoli helps combat skin blistering disease. Johns Hopkins scientists have found yet another reason why you should listen to your mother when she tells you to eat your vegetables. Sulforaphane, a chemical present at high levels in a precursor form in broccoli and related veggies (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.), helps prevent the severe blistering and skin breakage brought on by the rare and potentially fatal genetic disease epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS).
8/2/07: Dr. Akira Sawa in the News
Hopkins Team Develops First Mouse Model of Schizophrenia.
Johns Hopkins researchers have genetically engineered the first mouse that models both the anatomical and behavioral defects of schizophrenia, a complex and debilitating brain disorder that affects over 2 million Americans.