LA JOLLA—Salk Institute researchers, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, have discovered the molecular mechanisms by which the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) becomes resistant to Dolutegravir, one of the most effective, clinically used antiviral drugs for treating HIV.
LA JOLLA—Worldwide, more than a million deaths occur each year due to diarrheal diseases that lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Yet, no vaccine exists to fight or prevent these diseases, which are caused by bacteria like certain strains of E. coli. Instead, people with bacterial infections must rely on the body taking one of two defense strategies: kill the intruders or impair the intruders but keep them around. If the body chooses to impair the bacteria, then the disease can occur without the diarrhea, but the infection can still be transmitted—a process called asymptomatic carriage.
LA JOLLA—The immune system protects the body from invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, or tumors, with its intricate network of proteins, cells, and organs. Specialized immune cells, called cytotoxic T cells, can develop into short-lived effector cells that kill infected or cancerous cells within our bodies. A small portion of those effector cells remain after an infection and become longer-lived memory cells, which “remember” infections and respond when infections reappear. But little was known about what influences cytotoxic T cells to transform into these effector and memory T cell subtypes.
LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute and Autobahn Labs, an early-stage drug discovery incubator, will work together to identify and advance promising initial scientific discoveries through the preliminary steps of drug discovery and development. Autobahn Labs will invest up to $5 million per project for Salk discoveries that require access to drug development expertise and state-of-the art capabilities.
LA JOLLA—Five Salk Institute faculty members have been promoted for their notable, innovative contributions to science. These faculty members have demonstrated leadership in their disciplines, pushing the boundaries of basic scientific research. Assistant Professors Sung Han, Dmitry Lyumkis, and Graham McVicker were promoted to associate professors, and Associate Professors Sreekanth Chalasani and Ye Zheng were promoted to professors. The promotions were based on Salk faculty and nonresident fellow recommendations and approved by Salk’s president and Board of Trustees on April 21, 2023.
LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Professor Susan Kaech, director of the NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She shares the honor with some of the world’s most accomplished leaders from science and technology, business, public affairs, education, the humanities, and the arts. Kaech and the new class of nearly 270 members will be inducted at a formal ceremony on September 30, 2023, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
LA JOLLA—Understanding how HIV replicates within cells is key for developing new therapies that could help nearly 40 million people living with HIV globally. Now, a team of scientists from the Salk Institute and Rutgers University have for the first time determined the molecular structure of HIV Pol, a protein that plays a key role in the late stages of HIV replication, or the process through which the virus propagates itself and spreads through the body. Importantly, determining the molecule’s structure helps answer longstanding questions about how the protein breaks itself apart to advance the replication process. The discovery, published in Science Advances on July 6, 2022, reveals a new vulnerability in the virus that could be targeted with drugs.
LA JOLLA—Mammals can’t typically regenerate organs as efficiently as other vertebrates, such as fish and lizards. Now, Salk scientists have found a way to partially reset liver cells to more youthful states—allowing them to heal damaged tissue at a faster rate than previously observed. The results, published in Cell Reports on April 26, 2022, reveal that the use of reprogramming molecules can improve cell growth, leading to better liver tissue regeneration in mice.
LA JOLLA—Professor Janelle Ayres has been recognized for her contributions and dedication to advancing science through research by being named the inaugural recipient of the Salk Institute Legacy Chair, effective July 1, 2021.
LA JOLLA—Scientists have known for a while that SARS-CoV-2’s distinctive “spike” proteins help the virus infect its host by latching on to healthy cells. Now, a major new study shows that the virus spike proteins (which behave very differently than those safely encoded by vaccines) also play a key role in the disease itself.
LA JOLLA—Clinicians using a new viral screening test can not only diagnose COVID-19 in a matter of minutes with a portable, pocket-sized machine, but can also simultaneously test for other viruses—like influenza—that might be mistaken for the coronavirus. At the same time, they can sequence the virus, providing valuable information on the spread of COVID-19 mutations and variants. The new test, dubbed NIRVANA, was described online today by a multi-institution team of scientists in the journal Med.
LA JOLLA—As we endure a global viral pandemic, our appreciation for health and immunity has never been greater. Now, thanks to a generous gift from the NOMIS Foundation, Salk’s NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis will receive $9.5 million to grow and expand, while continuing to be a leader in health and immunity research.
LA JOLLA—Assistant Professor Dmitry Lyumkis has received a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award supports early career scientists who serve as academic role models and lead scientific advances in their organization. Lyumkis will receive almost $1.8 million over four years to examine how some viruses such as HIV hijack and interact with host protein machinery to permanently alter the host genome to sustain infection.
LA JOLLA—Chronic liver disease represents a major global public health problem affecting an estimated 844 million people, according to the World Health Organization. It is among the top causes of mortality in Australia, the UK and the United States. At the same time, it is both difficult to manage and there is no FDA-approved anti-fibrotic liver therapy. The microbiome—a complex collection of microbes that inhabit the gut—may be an unexpected indictor of health. Now, a collaborative team of Salk Institute and UC San Diego scientists have created a novel microbiome-based diagnostic tool that, with the accuracy of the best physicians, quickly and inexpensively identifies liver fibrosis and cirrhosis over 90 percent of the time in human patients.
LA JOLLA—As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe, the Salk Institute joins in efforts to understand the fundamental science behind the novel coronavirus to pave the way to treatments and cures. COVID-19 exploits a vulnerability in the immune system’s armor: because the SARS-CoV-2 virus—the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19—appeared in humans recently, our immune systems have no experience with the virus—and sometimes have difficulty fighting it.
LA JOLLA—A significant site of damage during COVID-19 infection is the lungs. Understanding how the lungs’ immune cells are responding to viral infections could help scientists develop a vaccine.
LA JOLLA—Salk scientists have discovered how a powerful class of HIV drugs binds to a key piece of HIV machinery. By solving, for the first time, three-dimensional structures of this complex while different drugs were attached, the researchers showed what makes the therapy so potent. The work, which appeared in Science on January 30, 2020, provides insights that could help design or improve new treatments for HIV.
LA JOLLA—Three Salk Institute faculty members have been promoted after the latest round of faculty reviews determined they are scientific leaders who have made original, innovative and notable contributions to biological research.
LA JOLLA—Associate Professor Janelle Ayres has been awarded $1.8 million over two years by the NOMIS Foundation to study health as an active process in which microbes—including the trillions of microorganisms that call the human body home—initiate interactions that promote the health of the host.
LA JOLLA—Associate Professor Janelle Ayres has been awarded a 2018 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award by the National Institutes of Health for her innovative research into host-pathogen interactions that promote the health of the host.
LA JOLLA—Antibiotic use is driving an epidemic of antibiotic resistance, as more susceptible bacteria are killed but more resilient strains live on and multiply with abandon. But if antibiotics aren’t the end-all solution for infectious disease, what is?
LA JOLLA—Associate Professor Janelle Ayres is the recipient of a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to study new ways to treat deadly infections including sepsis and the flu, both of which require novel therapies beyond antibiotics and antivirals to effectively combat.
LA JOLLA—Salk Associate Professor Janelle Ayres has been named one of three winners of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, one of the world’s largest unrestricted prizes for early career scientists. Ayres, the laureate in the life sciences category, will receive $250,000 for her pioneering research in physiology and the study of the how bacteria interact with humans. Ayres’ work is revolutionizing our understanding of host-pathogen interactions and has the potential to solve one of the greatest current public health threats: anti-microbial resistance.
LA JOLLA—Associate Professor Janelle Ayres is one of 31 US finalists selected to compete for the world’s largest unrestricted prizes for early career researchers, the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. The Blavatnik National Awards recognize both the past accomplishments and the future promise of the most talented scientific and engineering researchers aged 42 years and younger at America’s top academic and research institutions.
LA JOLLA—Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are the traffic cops of the immune system. They instruct other types of immune cells on when to stop and when to go. Learning how to direct the activity of Tregs has important implications for improving cancer immunotherapy as well as developing better treatments for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
LA JOLLA—Two Salk Institute faculty members have been promoted based on their innovative and notable contributions to biological research.
LA JOLLA—The last time you had a stomach bug, you probably didn’t feel much like eating. This loss of appetite is part of your body’s normal response to an illness but is not well understood. Sometimes eating less during illness promotes a faster recovery, but other times—such as when cancer patients experience wasting—the loss of appetite can be deadly.
LA JOLLA—Salk Institute scientists have solved the atomic structure of a key piece of machinery that allows HIV to integrate into human host DNA and replicate in the body, which has eluded researchers for decades. The findings describing this machinery, known as the “intasome,” appear January 6, 2017, in Science and yield structural clues informing the development of new HIV drugs.
LA JOLLA—A molecular pathway that is activated in the brain during fasting helps halt the spread of intestinal bacteria into the bloodstream, according to a new study by a team of researchers at the Salk Institute.
LA JOLLA—Using cutting-edge imaging technology, Salk Institute and Harvard Medical School researchers have determined the structure of a protein complex that lets viruses similar to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) establish permanent infections within their hosts.
LA JOLLA–As concerns over deadly antibiotic-resistant strains of ‘superbug’ bacteria grow, scientists at the Salk Institute are offering a possible solution to the problem: ‘superhero’ bacteria that live in the gut and move to other parts of the body to alleviate life-threatening side effects caused by infections.
LA JOLLA–Salk Institute scientist Janelle Ayres has received an award of $500,000 over two years from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to further her research on bolstering a person’s microbiome to help their body overcome an infection. The award comes with the possibility of an additional $500,000 for a third year.
Janelle Ayres, Salk assistant professor in the Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis, has been selected to receive the prestigious Ray Thomas Edwards Foundation Career Development Award. Only one three-year grant is conferred annually, aiming to foster the development of a promising early career biomedical researcher in San Diego County and to help him or her make the transition to becoming an independent investigator.
LA JOLLA—Janelle Ayres, assistant professor at Salk Institute’s Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis, has received the prestigious Searle Scholar award, which each year is given to only 15 researchers in the fields of chemical and biological sciences.
LA JOLLA, CA—Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered a powerful mechanism by which viruses such as influenza, West Nile and Dengue evade the body’s immune response and infect humans with these potentially deadly diseases. The findings may provide scientists with an attractive target for novel antiviral therapies.
La Jolla, CA – Like a circuit breaker that prevents electrical wiring from overheating and bringing down the house, a tiny family of three molecules stops the immune system from mounting an out-of-control, destructive inflammatory response against invading pathogens, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have found.
La Jolla, CA – A collaboration between scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Pasteur Institute in Paris has uncovered the molecular signals that trigger maturation of natural killer cells, an important group of immune system cells, into fully armed killing machines. Their findings will be published in a forthcoming issue of Nature Immunology.