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When the going gets tough, slime molds start synthesizing

La Jolla, CA – In times of plenty, the uni-cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum leads a solitary life munching on bacteria littering the forest floor. But these simple creatures can perform heroic developmental acts: when the bacterial food supply dries up, Dictyostelium amebas band together with their neighbors and form a multi-cellular tower designed to save the children.


Neuroscientists create technique to rapidly switch neurons off and on to study function

La Jolla, CA – Using molecules involved in insect molting, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have created a laboratory method that can quickly turn off neurons in the brain and spinal cord of live animals - and can just as rapidly switch them back on.


Life and death in the hippocampus: what young neurons need to survive

La Jolla, CA – Whether newborn nerve cells in adult brains live or die depends on whether they can muscle their way into networks occupied by mature neurons. Neuroscientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies pin-pointed the molecular survival gear required for a young neuron to successfully jump into the fray and hook up with other cells.


Computational analysis shows that plant hormones often go it alone

La Jolla, CA – Unlike the Three Musketeers who lived by the motto "All for one, one for all," plant hormones prefer to do their own thing. For years, debate swirled around whether pathways activated by growth-regulating plant hormones converge on a central growth regulatory module. Now, the cooperation model is challenged by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. They show that each hormone acts largely independently in the Aug. 11 issue of Cell.


New research points toward mechanism of age-onset toxicity of Alzheimer's protein

La Jolla, CA – Like most neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer's disease usually appears late in life, raising the question of whether it is a disastrous consequence of aging or if the toxic protein aggregates that cause the disease simply take a long time to form.


New Target for Anti-Cholesterol Drugs, Antibiotics

La Jolla, CA – A natural chemical that has been ignored by researchers largely because of the runaway success of the blockbuster statin drugs may in fact yield a rare twofer: a prime target for novel cholesterol-lowering drugs and the blueprint for a new generation of antibiotics that can take down Streptococcus pneumonia and Staphylococcus aureus.


Salk Institute researcher named Pew Scholar

La Jolla, CA – Satchidananda Panda, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has been named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. He is one of only 15 researchers in the country to receive the honor this year. The distinction comes with a $240,000 award provided over four years to support his research on the molecular basis of circadian timekeeping mechanisms in mammals.


Finding a cellular Neverland: How stem cells stay childlike

La Jolla, CA – Despite their celebrated "immortality," the capacity of embryonic stem (ES) cells for endless division has its limits. After a very extended childhood spent dividing in a culture dish, even stem cells tend to grow up and assume adult roles as workaday nerve, muscle, or blood cells, never to return to their youthful state.


Chewing up a key regulator of fat synthesis keeps mice lean despite a high-fat diet

La Jolla, CA – Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a novel pathway that regulates the body's ability to store or burn fat, a discovery that suggests new ways to reduce obesity, diabetes and other fat-related human diseases.


New roles for growth factors: Enticing nerve cells to muscles

La Jolla, CA – During embryonic development, nerve cells hesitantly extend tentacle-like protrusions called axons that sniff their way through a labyrinth of attractive and repulsive chemical cues that guide them to their target.


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