An MGH-based research team shows for the first time that gene therapy may be able to reverse heart failure. The researchers showed that delivering additional copies of a gene called SERCA2a to muscle cells from failing human hearts restored the cells to normal functioning. A follow-up study early in 2000 shows that delivering the same gene to the hearts of rats that are aged but not in heart failure can improve their cardiac function.
An MGH research study identifies a gene malfunction that appears to be central to the development of type 1 diabetes. The study in a classic animal model of type 1 diabetes found that a gene required to help teach the immune system to recognize so-called "self" proteins is somehow inactivated, even though its sequence is not mutated.
A MGH-based research team finds that elevated cholesterol appears to be a risk factor for preeclampsia, a condition of pregnancy that can have dangerous consequences for both mother and child. The discovery may lead to ways to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, something that is currently not possible.
Members of the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmachology Unit show that medical treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (AHDH) – usually involving stimulant drugs like Ritalin – actually reduces the risk of substance abuse among teenage boys with ADHD.
Researchers from the MGH Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory report that mitral valve prolapse, an abnormality of a heart valve, does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of stroke among young people. The discovery based on improved understanding of the valve’s shape and function that was developed at the MGH.
MGH researchers are the first to induced the growth of severed adult mammalian spinal cord fibers across the site of the injury without the use of implanted cells or tissues to bridge the severed fibers.
A team from the MGH Bone Marrow Transplant Center and the Transplantation Biology Research Center develop a new, less toxic preparative regimen allowing use of bone marrow transplantation from mismatched donors to treat certain blood-cell cancers. The technique is subsequently used to help induce immune tolerance in an organ transplant recipient. Simultaneous kidney and bone marrow transplantation treated the patient’s multiple myeloma and allowed discontinuation of immunosuppressive drugs without rejection of the kidney.
Investigators from the MGH Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology show that inactivation of a cell-death gene in female mice can sustain ovarian function into advanced age. The discovery may eventually lead to new techniques for reducing the health risks associated with menopause.
Amid national discourse on the need to reduce errors in medicine, BWH researchers report that the hospital’s own computerized drug-order entry system reduces the incidence of serious medication-related errors by 55 percent, setting a new benchmark for the country.