Overview

Research Highlights (more...)

  • Dna_barcode

    More (proteomic) bang-for-your-buck

    Extracting maximal information from minimal, easily acquired samples is the holy grail for patient monitoring in clinical trials. A new technology developed at the CSB, holds promise for revolutionizing clinical monitoring by allowing vast amounts of proteomic information to be obtained from minute samples.

  • Ascites_1

    Repurposing often discarded ascites

    Buildup of cancer-containing fluid in the abdomen (ascites) is a common occurrence suffered by many patients with advanced malignancies. Researchers have developed and tested a novel microfluidic chip, reported in PNAS, to selectively detect ascites tumor cells and enable further testing. This approach seeks to repurpose ascites for serial pharmacodynamic readouts.

  • Plaque_sm

    Proliferation rules

    According to a recent study by CSB researchers, the primary driver of atherosclerotic plaque growth is local proliferation of plaque-resident inflammatory cells. This finding not only challenges previous assumptions that plaque growth is the exclusive result of cell recruitment from the blood, but now raises hope for the future development of targeted atherosclerotic treatment. Findings are reported in Nature Medicine.

  • Bact

    Cracking bacterial code for quick diagnosis

    Researchers have developed a quick and sensitive method for identifying and characterizing infectious bacteria in patient samples. The genetic test uses specially designed DNA probes that seek out and magnetically label regions of bacterial RNA. Reported in Nature Nanotechnology, this diagnostic technique is powerful enough to detect and differentiate single bacteria in under 2 hours.

  • Device_med

    Faster cheaper TB diagnosis

    A nanotechnology inspired genetic test has been developed to detect tuberculosis (TB) directly in sputum. The method not only distinguishes different forms of TB but also sheds light on drug resistant strains. The innovative device, described in Nature Communications, is also capable of comprehensive diagnosis in two hours and is sensitive enough to detect single bacteria.

  • Exosome3

    The magic of “cell dust”

    A novel diagnostic platform has been shown capable of detecting minuscule particles shed by cells, known as microvesicles, in a drop of blood. In a groundbreaking study, published in Nature Medicine, we demonstrate that by using nanotechnology together with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), microvesicles shed by brain cancer cells can be reliably detected in human blood samples.

  • Beating_heart

    Imaging the beating heart in the living body

    Imaging individual cells in a live beating heart has been nearly impossible. Yet, this would offer unprecedented opportunities to better understand heart diseases. A new imaging method - reported in the October issue of Nature Communications - and developed by researchers at the Center for System Biology now allows single cell resolution imaging in cardiovascular research.

  • Ctcs

    Finding a needle in a haystack

    Researchers have developed a novel microchip that can rapidly scan through the enormous number of cells in a blood sample to find very rare circulating tumor cells. Using a combination of microelectronics, microfluidics, and nanotechnology, this new system, described in the July issue of Science Translational Medicine, now has the potential for rapid and accurate on-the-spot cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring.

  • Athero

    Not just a ‘plumbing’ disease

    New research at the Center for Systems Biology (CSB) has shown that heart attacks are not just a “plumbing” problem in the arteries but a ‘whole system’ condition, resulting in widespread inflammation and a predisposition for a secondary attack.

  • Sicklecells4

    Sickle symptoms linked to cell flow

    The genetic abnormality that causes blood cells to deform and clog vessels in sickle cell disease results in wide symptom variability across patients. Until now, there has been no way to distinguish patients with severe from patients with mild disease. A novel technique, however, has shown promise in differentiating patients based on the rate at which their blood stops flowing under low oxygen.

  • Ira_cell

    A new cell discovered

    Sepsis is a life-threatening condition characterized by whole-body inflammation to overwhelming infection. A newly discovered cell type known as “innate response activator” has been found to protect against sepsis. This discovery will likely provide insight into the development of sepsis and potentially lead to new avenues for therapeutic intervention.

  • Fourescent_small

    Novel therapy turns off navigation system in disease-promoting cells

    By manipulating the molecular navigation system used by inflammatory immune cells to reach sites of tissue damage, researchers at the Center for Systems Biology may have struck upon an effective novel anti-inflammatory treatment. Given that inflammation is an exacerbator of almost all major diseases, this therapy could potentially have wide-spread benefit.

  • Probing_the_heart_for_infection

    Probing the heart for infection

    A new imaging probe developed by researchers at the Center for Systems Biology can detect acute endocarditis, a rapidly progressing infection of the heart valves. This imaging agent binds tightly to a product released by the most deadly cause of the infection-Staphylococcus aureus-rendering it visible by both optical and PET imaging. Ultimately, the agent could be used to rapidly diagnose, and thus treat, this potentially fatal condition.

  • Spleen

    The spleen's newly discovered function

    While the spleen has long held a reputation for redundancy, recent research has now shown that quite the opposite is true. The spleen, in fact, appears to play an important role in the repair of tissue. Mikael Pittet, one of the four lead investigators responsible for this finding, discusses this work and its possible implications.

  • Glow

    Glow-in-the-dark plaques

    Finding new uses for already FDA approved drugs is a speedy way of translating new biological discoveries into patient benefit. Using a novel catheter-based imaging system, the fluorescent dye Indocyanine green has been shown capable of highlighting the culprits responsible for strokes and heart attacks, namely inflamed arterial plaques.

  • Cell_gray

    When small meets speedy...

    In today's fast paced world, waiting for anything is often frustrating and stressful. But few delays can be worse than that following a diagnostic blood test or biopsy, where results can take days to come back. Recently, a new portable device, known as DMR has been shown capable of on the spot cancer diagnosis.

Upcoming Events (more...)

The MGH Center for Systems Biology (CSB) was established as one of the five thematic interdisciplinary Centers at MGH. It is home to over 200 researchers in 12 PI groups. The mission of the Center is to analyze at a systems level how biological molecules, proteins and cells interact in both healthy and diseased states.

Through a multidisciplinary approach that combines clinical insight with powerful technologies, CSB faculty pursue systems-level research that is at once fundamental, and yet immediately linked to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. While these approaches are generalizable to many diseases, the Center has particular strengths in complex human conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and renal disease. This goal is enabled by particular faculty expertise in genomics, chemical biology, physiology, bioimaging, and nanotechnology.

The Center has close links with the HMS Department of Systems Biology, clinical departments at MGH, other MGH thematic centers, MIT, and the Broad Institute.

Recent Publications (more...)

Suvà ML, Rheinbay E, Gillespie SM, Patel AP, Wakimoto H, Rabkin SD, Riggi N, Chi AS, Cahill DP, Nahed BV, Curry WT, Martuza RL, Rivera MN, Rossetti N, Kasif S, Beik S, Kadri S, Tirosh I, Wortman I, Shalek AK, Rozenblatt-Rosen O, Regev A, Louis DN, Bernstein BE
Reconstructing and Reprogramming the Tumor-Propagating Potential of Glioblastoma Stem-like Cells.
Cell. 2014;:ePub - PMID: 24726434
Hilgendorf I, Gerhardt L, Tan TC, Winter C, Holderried TA, Chousterman BG, Iwamoto Y, Liao R, Zirlik A, Scherrer-Crosbie M, Hedrick CC, Libby P, Nahrendorf M, Weissleder R, Swirski FK
Ly-6Chigh Monocytes Depend on Nr4a1 to Balance both Inflammatory and Reparative Phases in the Infarcted Myocardium.
Circ Res. 2014;:ePub - PMID: 24625784
Spencer JA, Ferraro F, Roussakis E, Klein A, Wu J, Runnels JM, Zaher W, Mortensen LJ, Alt C, Turcotte R, Yusuf R, Côté D, Vinogradov SA, Scadden DT, Lin CP
Direct measurement of local oxygen concentration in the bone marrow of live animals.
Nature. 2014;508(7495):269-73 - PMID: 24590072 - PMCID: PMC3984353
Zeglis BM, Emmetiere F, Pillarsetty N, Weissleder R, Lewis JS,Reiner T
Building Blocks for the Construction of Bioorthogonally Reactive Peptides via Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis
ChemistryOpen. 2014;:ePub

Recent News (more...)

2014-04-03: Matthias Nahrendorf, MD, PhD received the MGH Research Scholar award
2014-04-01: Aaron Aguirre, MD, PhD has been awarded a John S. LaDue Memorial Fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Congratulations, Aaron!
2014-03-26: Filip Swirski, PhD, is the recipient of the 2014 MGH Howard Goodman Fellowship. This highly competitive $300,000 award is intended "to support the pursuit of excellence by young scientists of uncommon passion and ability". Congratulations Fil!
2014-03-07: Aaron Aguirre, MD, PhD has been awarded the Eugene Braunwald Fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine and Science. Congratulations, Aaron!
2014-02-21: NIH Director's Blog features CSB work on DNA Barcoding (pdf)

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