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. A new study published in Nature Genetics and Nature Communications suggests that a high-fat diet could play a major role in promoting metastasis of prostate cancer. Researchers initially discovered that the absence of two specific genes, PTEN and PML, was linked with the metastatic progression of prostate tumors in mouse models– but not enough to completely drive metastasis. Researchers then found that the metastatic prostate tumors being studied were producing incredible amounts of lipids, or fats. “It was as though we'd found the tumors' lipogenic, or fat production, switch,” said Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC. “The implication is, if there's a switch, maybe there's a drug with which we can block this switch and maybe we can prevent metastasis or even cure metastatic prostate cancer.”
. Immunotherapy has made an incredible impact on the treatment of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC), and is now beginning to make waves in other settings of the disease. However, though certain drugs have proven their worth as both a single agent and in combination, immunotherapy is not ideal for every patient with RCC, according to David F. McDermott, MD, Co-Director of the Kidney Tumor Program and Director of the Biologic Therapy Program in the Cancer Center at BIDMC. “We need to do a much better job of identifying predictive biomarkers—not just looking at immunohistochemistry, but RNA sequencing, and whole-exome sequencing,” said McDermott.
. In many laboratories, from clinical to pharmaceutical, there is a shortage of microbiologists trained in identification, the process of determining one genus or species of bacterium or fungus from another. In a new study, researchers have experimented with microscopes enhanced with artificial intelligence designed to assist microbiologists diagnose microorganisms to address this shortfall. “This marks the first demonstration of machine learning in the diagnostic area,” said senior author James Kirby, MD, Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at BIDMC. “With further development, we believe this technology could form the basis of a future diagnostic platform that augments the capabilities of clinical laboratories, ultimately speeding the delivery of patient care.” The findings – published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology – showed how an automated artificial intelligence-enhanced microscope system was “highly adept” at identifying images of bacteria quickly and accurately.
. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that lesions to brain areas in individuals exhibiting criminal behavior all fall within a particular brain network involved in moral decision-making. “Our lab has developed a new technique for understanding neuropsychiatric symptoms based on focal brain lesions and a wiring diagram of the human brain,” said senior author Michael Fox, MD, PhD, Associate Director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at BIDMC. To investigate the issue, Fox and colleagues systematically mapped brain lesions in 17 patients who exhibited criminal behavior after – but not before – the lesions occurred. Analyses revealed that the lesions were located in diverse brain regions, but all mapped to a common network. “We found that this network was involved in moral decision-making in normal people, perhaps giving a reason for why brain lesions in these locations would make patients more likely to behave criminally,” said lead author Richard Darby, MD, formerly of BIDMC and now assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University and director of the frontotemporal dementia clinic at Vanderbilt.