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Salk scientists add new bond to protein engineering toolbox

LA JOLLA, CA—Proteins are the workhorses of cells, adopting conformations that allow them to set off chemical reactions, send signals and transport materials. But when a scientist is designing a new drug, trying to visualize the processes inside cells, or probe how molecules interact with each other, they can't always find a protein that will do the job they want. Instead, they often engineer their own novel proteins to use in experiments, either from scratch or by altering existing molecules.

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Salk scientist discovers novel mechanism in spinal cord injury

LA JOLLA, CA—More than 11,000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries each year, and since over a quarter of those injuries are due to falls, the number is likely to rise as the population ages. The reason so many of those injuries are permanently disabling is that the human body lacks the capacity to regenerate nerve fibers. The best our bodies can do is route the surviving tissue around the injury site.

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Salk Institute raises a record $93 million in 2012 fiscal year

LA JOLLA,CA—The Salk Institute received a record-setting $93 million from individuals, foundations and corporate donors during fiscal year 2012 to support the Campaign for Salk, the Institute's first major fundraising campaign.

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Novel 'top-down' mechanism repatterns developing brain regions

LA JOLLA,CA—Dennis O'Leary of the Salk Institute was the first scientist to show that the basic functional architecture of the cortex, the largest part of the human brain, was genetically determined during development. But as it so often does in science, answering one question opened up many others. O'Leary wondered what if the layout of the cortex wasn't fixed? What would happen if it were changed?

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Salk scientists discover more versatile approach to creating stem cells

LA JOLLA, CA—Stem cells are key to the promise of regenerative medicine: the repair or replacement of injured tissues with custom grown substitutes. Essential to this process are induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which can be created from a patient's own tissues, thus eliminating the risk of immune rejection. However, Shinya Yamanaka's formula for iPSCs, for which he was awarded last year's Nobel Prize, uses a strict recipe that allows for limited variations in human cells, restricting their full potential for clinical application.

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Critical pathway in cell cycle may lead to cancer development

LA JOLLA,CA—A team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has identified why disruption of a vital pathway in cell cycle control leads to the proliferation of cancer cells. Their findings on telomeres, the stretches of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that protect our genetic code and make it possible for cells to divide, suggest a potential target for preventive measures against cancer, aging and other diseases. The findings were published July 11, 2013 in Molecular Cell.

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Tickets for Symphony at Salk, featuring singing superstar Katharine McPhee, on sale now

LA JOLLA,CA—Tickets are now available online for the 18th annual "Symphony at Salk-a concert under the stars" featuring multi-talented singer Katharine McPhee who will perform at the Institute on August 24 with the San Diego Symphony and acclaimed guest conductor Maestro Thomas Wilkins.

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Salk researchers identify potential biomarker for cancer diagnosis

LA JOLLA,CA—Scientists studying cancer development have known about micronuclei for some time. These erratic, small extra nuclei, which contain fragments, or whole chromosomes that were not incorporated into daughter cells after cell division, are associated with specific forms of cancer and are predictive of poorer prognosis.

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Unique epigenomic code identified during human brain development

LA JOLLA,CA—Changes in the epigenome, including chemical modifications of DNA, can act as an extra layer of information in the genome, and are thought to play a role in learning and memory, as well as in age-related cognitive decline. The results of a new study by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies show that the landscape of DNA methylation, a particular type of epigenomic modification, is highly dynamic in brain cells during the transition from birth to adulthood, helping to understand how information in the genomes of cells in the brain is controlled from fetal development to adulthood. The brain is much more complex than all other organs in the body and this discovery opens the door to a deeper understanding of how the intricate patterns of connectivity in the brain are formed.

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Scientists help explain visual system's remarkable ability to recognize complex objects

LA JOLLA, CA—How is it possible for a human eye to figure out letters that are twisted and looped in crazy directions, like those in the little security test internet users are often given on websites?

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