David R. Walt, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2008
For development of optical sensors and arrays useful in the fields of bioanalytical chemistry, biochemical technology, and industry.

Novel test holds promise for detecting Parkinson’s disease early

Via EurekAlert | January 8, 2024

In the development of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the changes that will lead to neurodegeneration take place in the brain long before patients show any symptoms. But without a test that can detect these changes, it’s difficult to intervene early to more effectively slow disease progression.

To address this need, researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of Mass General Brigham, and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed a molecular assay platform that they successfully applied to patient samples to detect and quantify single ⍺-synuclein fibrils, the pathogenic aggregates of ⍺-synuclein that are a hallmark of PD and other neurodegenerative disorders collectively known as ⍺-synucleinopathies. Their results are published in PNAS… Continue reading.

Researchers Hunt Biomarkers – Potential Keys to Long COVID

Via WebMD | January 6, 2023

Even if the causes of long COVID remain confusing, researchers are zeroing in on biomarkers – compounds that can be detected and measured – that can help them better diagnose and treat the condition. The eventual goal: a simple test to help determine who has long COVID and whether treatments are helping.

“The hope is that the specific markers that are discovered will inform how individual clusters (of disease) should be treated and managed to either reduce or eliminate symptoms,” says David Walt, PhD, co-director of the Mass General Brigham Center for COVID Innovation in Boston… Continue reading.

Young Adults Develop Rare Complication After COVID Vaccine: Study

Via Mirage News | January 4, 2023

Myocarditis, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed, is a rare complication that can occur after mRNA COVID vaccination. It’s estimated that roughly 18 cases occur in every 1 million vaccine doses administered, making it so rare that it is challenging to find cases to investigate. In a new study by researchers from Mass General Brigham‘s founding members, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, a team extensively investigated the immune response of 16 adolescents and young adults who developed myocarditis after receipt of the COVID mRNA vaccine. The researchers found no differences in antibody production, auto-antibodies, T cell profiles, or prior viral exposures, but found elevated levels of spike protein along with increased cytokines (consistent with innate inflammation) and increased troponin (indicating cardiac injury). Their results are published in Circulation… Continue reading.

Researchers in Boston Find COVID-19 Spike Protein Lingers in Long COVID-19 Patients

Via Dark Daily | August 31, 2022

Viral reservoir could be behind persistence, says study, which also suggests a blood biomarker could be found for clinical laboratory testing

Microbiologists and virologists working closely with physicians treating long COVID-19 patients will gain new insights in a study that found coronavirus spike protein in COVID-19 patients’ blood up to 12 months after diagnosis. The researchers believe their findings could be used to develop a clinical laboratory biomarker for long COVID-19.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital said medical experts are not sure why some people have unwelcome symptoms weeks and months after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, while others clear the infection without lingering effects… Continue reading.

Researchers identify a promising drug for treating serious COVID-19 complication in children

Via EurekAlert | February 23, 2022

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have identified a promising drug candidate for the treatment of multi-inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), they report in Clinical Care Explorations. MIS-C is a rare but severe and potentially life-threatening condition that usually develops in children weeks to months after they have experienced a mild or even asymptomatic case of COVID-19.

MIS-C occurs mainly in children and leads to high fevers and a hyperinflammatory response that can affect multiple organs, including the heart, brain and gastrointestinal organs. Symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and rash. Fifty-five of the 6,431 children diagnosed with MIS-C have died since May 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… Continue reading.

Study sounds note of caution on effectiveness of Covid vaccines for patients with lymphoid malignancies

Via Mirage News | August 24, 2021

Patients with lymphoma or other lymphoid cancers should continue to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19 even if they have been vaccinated against the disease, a new study led by investigators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reports. The study, published online by the journal Blood Advances, found that patients who had received anti-CD20 antibody therapy within the previous 12 months did not develop protective antibodies for COVID-19 after being vaccinated.

“Our findings suggest that patients with lymphoid cancers who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 should not assume they have immunity against the disease… Continue reading.

This COVID-19 super antibody test could provide new insights into immunity

Via Fast Company | July 21, 2020

COVID-19 antibody tests have been the subject of scrutiny since their arrival, but they still represent an important tool in understanding population health. Molecular tests have become the top method of identifying cases of COVID-19. One scientist thinks we should be looking at using a combination of antibody tests, antigen tests, and molecular RNA tests to better understand who has COVID-19 and whether or not they’re actively recovering.

Dr. David Walt is one of the cofounders of genetic sequencing technology giant Illumina and Quanterix, a company that makes technology for detecting biomarkers. He is also co-director of the MGB Center for COVID Innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. When COVID-19 struck, he had to close his lab at Harvard University due to the pandemic. He petitioned to reopen, so he and a team could work on a super antibody test that would enable him to better understand immune response in COVID-19 patients. The request was approved… Continue reading.