New Heart Failure Therapy May Increase Life Expectancy

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 26, 2016

New Brigham and Women’s Hospital research suggests that certain heart failure patients may extend their life by switching medications.

BWH research suggests that certain heart failure patients may extend their life by switching medications.

Contributor: Scott D. Solomon, MD is Director of Noninvasive Cardiology and Edward D. Frohlich Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Pathophysiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His interests include cardiovascular disease and heart failure.

New Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) research suggests that certain heart failure patients may extend their life by switching medications. The BWH-led study finds that patients with reduced ejection fraction (reduced ability to pump blood from the heart) can expect to live one-and-a-half to two years longer when treated with sacubitril-valsartan instead of enalapril, the current standard of care in heart failure.

Heart failure, the leading cause of hospitalization for Americans over the age of 65, accounts for more than one million hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. About half of the nearly six million Americans living with heart failure have the reduced ejection fraction form of the disease, which bears a significantly increased risk for future cardiac events and death.

Read More »

What Is the DNA Damage Response?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 27, 2015

Stephen J. Elledge, PhD

Stephen J. Elledge, PhD

Stephen J. Elledge, PhD, is a co-recipient of the 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for discoveries that have illuminated the DNA damage response. Learn more about DNA damage response and Dr. Elledge’s contributions to this area of study.

Our DNA is under constant threat of damage from a variety of physical and chemical sources. From the natural byproducts created when we digest food to ultraviolet light from the sun, a multitude of factors can react with our DNA and cause chemical changes. Some risk factors for DNA damage – such as smoking cigarettes – can be eliminated, but others cannot.

If left unchecked, chemical changes to DNA can have severe health consequences, leading to cancer and other diseases related to cell growth. If detected, damaged DNA can be repaired by molecular tools within cells that can remove or restore the damaged portion of DNA. The DNA damage response (DDR) refers to the pathway that senses DNA damage and sets in motion the needed steps to repair and protect DNA.

Read More »

Improve Glucose Tolerance by Eating and Working Earlier in the Day

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 24, 2015

Eating late at night and working overnight both increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Contributor: Frank A. J. L. Scheer, PhD, is a neuroscientist and Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Research shows that eating later in the day lowers the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, also known as low glucose tolerance. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March 2015, also found that night shift workers who sleep during the day and work overnight had lower glucose tolerance than those who are awake during the day and sleep at night. This, in turn, can impact health issues such as weight gain, insulin resistance, and the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

The study compared circadian rhythms, sleep/wake cycles, and mealtimes to blood glucose levels in 14 healthy participants. All subjects participated in two protocols. In one protocol, the individuals were awake during the day, had their first meal at 8 a.m., their last meal at 8 p.m., and slept at night. In the second, they slept during the day, had their first meal at 8 p.m., stayed up all night, and had their last meal at 8 a.m.

Read More »

New Biodegradable Gel Helps Heal Wounds

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 15, 2015

A hydrogel developed by the BWH Biomedical Engineering Division team is strong, flexible, and biocompatible.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) bioengineers have a developed a unique hydrogel whose properties could provide significant benefits in wound healing. The BWH Biomedical Engineering Division team, led by biomedical engineer Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, MASc, and chemical engineer Nasim Annabi, PhD, reported their findings in the July 1, 2015, online edition of Advanced Functional Materials.

“Hydrogels are widely used in biomedicine, but currently available materials have limitations,” says Khademhosseini, study senior author and Director of the BWH Biomaterials Innovation Research Center. “Some synthetic gels degrade into toxic chemicals over time, and some natural gels are not strong enough to withstand the flow of arterial blood through them.”

Preclinical testing by the BWH Biomedical Engineering Division researchers, however, shows that their hydrogel is strong, flexible, and biocompatible (harmless to living tissue).

Read More »

VirScan Reveals Viral History from a Single Drop of Blood

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 14, 2015

A patient’s viral history can be found in a single drop of blood.

Contributor: Stephen Elledge, PhD, is a principal investigator in the Division of Genetics at and Women’s Hospital (BWH).  Dr. Elledge has won international awards in past 2 yrs – on our home page now.

Researchers have developed a test that uses a single drop of blood to determine which of more than 1,000 different viruses currently infects or previously infected a person.

Using the new method, known as VirScan, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School detected an average of 10 viral species per person during their study. The findings, published in Science (June 5, 2015), shed light on the relationship between the vast array of viruses that can infect humans (the human virome) and a person’s immunity. This insight, in turn, has significant implications for our understanding of immunology and patient care.

The research team found the sensitivity and precision of VirScan to be very similar to that of today’s standard blood tests. However, today’s standard blood tests can detect only one pathogen at a time and have not been developed to detect all viruses.

Read More »