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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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Worms' mental GPS helps them find food

LA JOLLA–You’ve misplaced your cell phone. You start by scanning where you remember leaving it: on your bureau. You check and double-check the bureau before expanding your search around and below the bureau. Eventually, you switch from this local area to a more global one, widening your search to the rest of your room and beyond.

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Salk Institute Board of Trustees welcomes biotech entrepreneur Richard Heyman

LA JOLLA–The Salk Institute is pleased to announce the election of Richard A. Heyman, PhD, to its Board of Trustees. Heyman currently serves as CEO of Seragon Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego-based biotech company that he co-founded in August 2013. Seragon develops selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDs), which are being used for the treatment of breast cancer.

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Salk and Harvard scientists chart spinal circuitry responsible for chronic pain

LA JOLLA–Pain typically has a clear cause–but not always. When a person touches something hot or bumps into a sharp object, it’s no surprise that it hurts. But for people with certain chronic pain disorders, including fibromyalgia and phantom limb pain, a gentle caress can result in agony.

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Salk Institute announces second Helmsley-Salk Fellow

LA JOLLA–The Salk Institute is pleased to announce its second appointment in the new Salk Fellows Program. The program, which brings scientists from across disciplines to tackle big problems in biology, welcomes scientist Jesse Dixon as a Helmsley-Salk Fellow.

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Another case against the midnight snack

LA JOLLA–These days, with the abundance of artificial light, TV, tablets and smartphones, adults and children alike are burning the midnight oil. What they are not burning is calories: with later bedtimes comes the tendency to eat.

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