Issue 23 September 2017

In This Issue

Cancer | Neurology | Epigenetics | Sleep Medicine | Nephrology | Cardiology | Biomedical Engineering | Dermatology | Orphan Diseases


Protein Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer

Ken Zaret, PhD, director of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, published in Science Translational Medicine. A newly identified biomarker panel could detect cancer earlier.

News ReleaseHealthDay News via Philadelphia InquirerThe ScientistCBS NewsCBS New YorkThe SunConsumer AffairsVOA NewsGenome WebAJMCHealio (login required)

Tailoring Melanoma Drug to Tumor Size & Immune Response

E. John Wherry, PhD, a professor of Microbiology, published in Nature. Findings draw road map to earlier insights to boost chances of effective treatment.

News ReleasePhiladelphia InquirerSTAT NewsTechCrunchDaily Pennsylvanian

New Target to Fight Prostate, Lung Cancer

Marcelo Kazanietz, PhD, a professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, published in Cell Reports. A newly identified molecular chain of events in a mouse model of prostate cancer points to new treatment targets.

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DNA Damage Turns Immune Cells Against Cancer

Roger Greenberg, MD, PhD, a professor of Cancer Biology and director of Basic Science for the Basser Center for BRCA, published in Nature. Modifying the cell replication cycle could make combo therapies more successful.

News ReleaseGEN News

Cancer Cells Force Virus Mimicking for Tumor Spread

Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology, published in Cell. Cracking the code of how mimicry works opens up the possibility of targeting this mechanism for treatment.

News ReleaseTrend In Tech


Sons of Cocaine-using (Mouse) Fathers Have Bad Memories

R. Christopher Pierce, PhD, a professor of Neuroscience in Psychiatry, and postdoctoral fellow Mathieu Wimmer, PhD, published in Molecular Psychiatry. Drug abuse by fathers – separate from the well-established effects of cocaine use in mothers – may negatively impact cognitive development in male offspring.

News ReleasePhillyVoiceDaily MailHindustan Times

Common Brain Disease and Gut Microbiome

Mark Kahn, MD, a professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, published in Nature. Bacteria in the gut microbiome drive the formation of cerebral cavernous malformations – clusters of dilated, thin-walled blood vessels in the brain that can cause stroke and seizures.

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Breaking Up Protein Tangles One Ratchet at a Time

James Shorter, PhD, an associate professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, published in Science. A high-resolution view of the structure of a natural yeast protein nanomachine shows how misfolded proteins are dismantled.

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Gene Variants Link Innate Immunity and Alzheimer’s Disease

Gerard Schellenberg, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and director of the Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium, published in Nature Genetics. Findings give neurologists fresh ideas for enlisting immune system to fight Alzheimer’s.

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Gene-Editing-Induced Changes in Ant Social Communication

Shelley Berger, PhD, a University Professor in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Roberto Bonasio, PhD, an assistant professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, published two papers in Cell (1 and 2). Ants are useful for biomedical research, and mutations made using CRISPR and other manipulations revealed the molecular basis of social behavior in ants.

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Sleep Medicine

Social Isolation Can Mean Sleep Loss, More Illness

Nirinjini Naidoo, PhD, a research associate professor of Sleep Medicine, published in SLEEP. Isolating animals leads to sleep loss, eventually cell stress, and activation of a defense mechanism called the unfolded protein response.

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Common Gene Variants in Minority Populations Cause Kidney Disease

Katalin Susztak, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Medicine and Genetics, published in Nature Medicine. The study established that these mutations are definitely causing disease in African-Americans.

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Human Knockout

Danish Saleheen, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, published in Nature. Genetic sequencing in families with first-cousin marriages illuminates basic biology and therapeutics for heart disease and other disorders.

News ReleasePhiladelphia Inquirer

Smoking Weakens Gene that Protects Arteries

Danish Saleheen, PhD, an assistant professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, published in Circulation. People who smoke cigarettes may boost their risk of clogged heart arteries by weakening a gene that is otherwise protective.

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Biomedical Engineering

Genetics Underlying the Powers of Spider Silks

Benjamin F. Voight, PhD, an associate professor in the departments of Genetics and Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, published in Nature Genetics Knowing spider silk genes could help make better surgical and medical devices.

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Inherited, Rare Skin Disease Informs Common Hair Disorders

Sarah Millar, PhD, vice chair for Basic Research in the department of Dermatology, published in Nature Communications. Lower levels of specific genes in rare skin disorders may contribute to male pattern baldness.

News ReleaseGenetic Engineering News

Orphan Diseases

New Biomarker Found for Group of Rare Metabolic Diseases

James Wilson, MD, PhD, a professor of Medicine and director of the Orphan Disease Center, published in Human Molecular Genetics. Developing biomarker may facilitate better diagnosis and identification of new drugs for clinical trials for the disease.

News ReleaseRare Disease Report

Header Graphic Credit: Matthew Emmett, Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Brown fat cells in mice. Study in the laboratory of Mitchell Lazar, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, identifies new player in burning sugar and fat to boost metabolism.

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