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Natural plant compound prevents Alzheimer's disease in mice

LA JOLLA—A chemical that's found in fruits and vegetables from strawberries to cucumbers appears to stop memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer's disease in mice, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered. In experiments on mice that normally develop Alzheimer's symptoms less than a year after birth, a daily dose of the compound—a flavonol called fisetin—prevented the progressive memory and learning impairments. The drug, however, did not alter the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, accumulations of proteins which are commonly blamed for Alzheimer's disease. The new finding suggests a way to treat Alzheimer's symptoms independently of targeting amyloid plaques.

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Salk scientists identify factors that trigger ALT-ernative cancer cell growth

LA JOLLA, CA—Highly diverse cancers share one trait: the capacity for endless cell division. Unregulated growth is due in large part to the fact that tumor cells can rebuild protective ends of their chromosomes, which are made of repeated DNA sequences and proteins. Normally, cell division halts once these structures, called telomeres, wear down. But cancer cells keep on going by deploying one of two strategies to reconstruct telomeres.

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Salk scientist Fred Gage named to National Academy of Inventors

LA JOLLA—Fred H. Gage, professor in the Salk Institute's Laboratory of Genetics and holder of the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease, has been elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

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Missing molecule in chemical production line discovered

LA JOLLA, CA—It takes dozens of chemical reactions for a cell to make isoprenoids, a diverse class of molecules found in every type of living organism. Cholesterol, for example, an important component of the membranes of cells, is a large isoprenoid chemical. The molecule that gives oranges their citrusy smell and taste is an isoprenoid, as is the natural antimalarial drug artemisinin.

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Salk Institute Board of Trustees elects two visionary business leaders

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute is pleased to announce that Alan D. Gold and David F. Hale have been elected to its Board of Trustees.

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Salk scientists crack riddle of important drug target

LA JOLLA, CA—A new approach to mapping how proteins interact with each other, developed at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, could aid in the design of new drugs for diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis. By reengineering proteins using artificial amino acids, the Salk scientists determine the detailed molecular structure of a cellular switch and its ligand, the molecule that turns it on. The switch—corticotrophin releasing factor type 1 (CRF1R)—belongs to a class of cellular receptors whose structures are notoriously hard to determine. These receptors regulate processes throughout the body and are involved in many diseases.

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Study connects dots between genes and human behavior

LA JOLLA, CA—Establishing links between genes, the brain and human behavior is a central issue in cognitive neuroscience research, but studying how genes influence cognitive abilities and behavior as the brain develops from childhood to adulthood has proven difficult.

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Salk scientists for the first time generate "mini-kidney" structures from human stem cells

LA JOLLA, CA—Diseases affecting the kidneys represent a major and unsolved health issue worldwide. The kidneys rarely recover function once they are damaged by disease, highlighting the urgent need for better knowledge of kidney development and physiology.

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Study finds a patchwork of genetic variation in the brain

LA JOLLA, CA—It was once thought that each cell in a person's body possesses the same DNA code and that the particular way the genome is read imparts cell function and defines the individual. For many cell types in our bodies, however, that is an oversimplification. Studies of neuronal genomes published in the past decade have turned up extra or missing chromosomes, or pieces of DNA that can copy and paste themselves throughout the genomes.

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Induced pluripotent stem cells reveal differences between humans and great apes

LA JOLLA, CA—Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have, for the first time, taken chimpanzee and bonobo skin cells and turned them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a type of cell that has the ability to form any other cell or tissue in the body.

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