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Gene-editing technique offers hope for hereditary diseases

LA JOLLA–For thousands of women around the globe carrying a mitochondrial disease, having a healthy child can be a gamble. This set of diseases affect mitochondria, tiny powerhouses that generate energy in the body’s cells and are passed exclusively from mother to child.

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Salk scientists Joseph Ecker and Dennis O'Leary elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

LA JOLLA–Salk Institute Professors Joseph Ecker and Dennis O’Leary have received the prestigious honor of being elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS), one of the nation’s most prominent honorary societies. They are among the 197 accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts accepted to the class of 2015. AAAS members include winners of the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize; MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards.

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How the brain balances risk-taking and learning

LA JOLLA–If you had 10 chances to roll a die, would you rather be guaranteed to receive $5 for every roll ($50 total) or take the risk of winning $100 if you only roll a six?

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Food for thought: Master protein enhances learning and memory

LA JOLLA–Just as some people seem built to run marathons and have an easier time going for miles without tiring, others are born with a knack for memorizing things, from times tables to trivia facts. These two skills–running and memorizing–are not so different as it turns out.

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The Salk Institute opens its doors for 3rd annual Explore Salk, a free community open house

The Salk Institute will open its doors to the community Saturday, April 11, for the third annual Explore Salk, a once-a-year event featuring staff-guided lab tours, self-guided architectural tours, science booths and talks by eminent Salk researchers. Family friendly activities include a Kids’ Discovery Zone, a mobile science lab with hands-on experiments and a virtual lab tour with a Q&A session for preteens interested in pursuing a career in science.

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Immune system-in-a-dish offers hope for "bubble boy" disease

LA JOLLA–For infants with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), something as simple as a common cold or ear infection can be fatal. Born with an incomplete immune system, kids who have SCID–also known as “bubble boy” or “bubble baby” disease–can’t fight off even the mildest of germs. They often have to live in sterile, isolated environments to avoid infections and, even then, most patients don’t live past a year or two. This happens because stem cells in SCID patients’ bone marrow have a genetic mutation that prevents them from developing critical immune cells, called T and Natural Killer (NK) cells.

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Cellular scissors chop up HIV virus

LA JOLLA–Imagine a single drug that could prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, treat patients who have already contracted HIV, and even remove all the dormant copies of the virus from those with the more advanced disease. It sounds like science fiction, but Salk scientists have gotten one step closer to creating such a drug by customizing a powerful defense system used by many bacteria and training this scissor-like machinery to recognize the HIV virus.

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Tony Hunter wins BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine

LA JOLLA–Tony Hunter, professor and director of the Salk Institute Cancer Center, in La Jolla, California, has received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biomedicine category for "carving out the path that led to the development of a new class of successful cancer drugs."

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Walking on ice takes more than brains

LA JOLLA–Walking across an icy parking lot in winter–and remaining upright–takes intense concentration. But a new discovery suggests that much of the balancing act that our bodies perform when faced with such a task happens unconsciously, thanks to a cluster of neurons in our spinal cord that function as a “mini-brain” to integrate sensory information and make the necessary adjustments to our muscles so that we don’t slip and fall.

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"Imaginary meal" tricks the body into losing weight

LA JOLLA–Salk researchers have developed an entirely new type of pill that tricks the body into thinking it has consumed calories, causing it to burn fat. The compound effectively stopped weight gain, lowered cholesterol, controlled blood sugar and minimized inflammation in mice, making it an excellent candidate for a rapid transition into human clinical trials.

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