Category Archives: Science News
In response to an infection, the immune system refines its defensive proteins, called antibodies, to better target the invader. New research has revealed two mechanisms that favor the selection of B cells capable of producing antibodies finely tuned to target that invader. More »
Researchers have identified a surprising case in which defects in a single immune gene render children susceptible to two very different diseases: aggravating, but treatable fungal infections, as well as invasive and potentially fatal bacterial disease. This finding suggests a dual role for that gene, RORC, in human immunity to infection. More »
Taking advantage of a previously unknown mechanism within the immune system, researchers think they may be able to improve the immune response to the flu vaccine. If successful, this could mean less frequent flu shots that offer broad protection against the many strains of this ever-mutating virus. More »
Researchers have discovered a new mechanism that helps neurons make new connections with one another, the basis for learning. Their discovery focuses on one particular type of DNA-supporting protein, the histone H3.3, and its role regulating gene expression. More »
Scientists have thought for some time that multiple immunizations, each tailored to specific stages of the immune response, could be used to generate a special class of HIV-fighting antibodies, so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies. These findings provide the first evidence supporting this approach. More »
Scientists have uncovered crucial steps in the dynamic dance that dilates and constricts the nuclear pore complex. Their ongoing work has shown this elaborate portal to and from the cell’s nucleus is much more than the inert structure it was once thought to be. More »
Antibody therapy not only kills cancerous cells, it can confer lasting protection by priming the immune system to remember a tumor. Scientists have found this process centers on antibody-binding receptors found on two types of immune cells. Their results suggest ways to improve anti-cancer treatments. More »
For years, researchers have puzzled over conflicting results about the workings of type III CRISPR-Cas systems, a type of immune system found in many species of bacteria. Some data showed that this mechanism would target the virus’s DNA, while other experiments suggested it could only disable a virus once it had started replicating itself. New results suggest both mechanisms play a role.
The histone variant H3.3 appears to help keep certain genetic elements called retrotransponsons in place in the genome, preventing potentially harmful mutations in mouse embryonic stem cells, researchers have found. This discovery reveals a basic mechanism for epigenetics, or the control of inherited traits through means other than DNA. More »
Research on the genetic roots of a blood disorder illustrates the challenges in parsing genetic data
Does a particular genetic variation translate into a predisposition to an illness, or is it simply a benign rearrangement of genetic code? Drawing up on genomic data from thousands of people, researchers attempted to answer this question by focusing on mutations in two genes associated with a key receptor in blood clotting. More »
In the first results to emerge from HIV patient trials of a new generation of so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies, Rockefeller University researchers have found the experimental therapy can dramatically reduce the amount of virus present in a patient’s blood. The work, reported this week in Nature, brings fresh optimism to the field of HIV immunotherapy and suggests new strategies for fighting or even preventing HIV infection. More »
Biophysicists have discovered that fast-swimming, sulfur-eating microbes known as Thiovulum majus can form a two-dimensional lattice of rotating cells. Not only is this the first known example of bacteria spontaneously creating such a pattern, never before have living things been seen to move together in this way. More »
A small number of children who catch the influenza virus fall so ill they end up in the hospital even while their family and friends recover easily. New research from Rockefeller helps explain why: a rare genetic mutation that prevents the production of a critical protein, interferon, that is needed to fight off the virus. More »
A detailed look at the African sleeping sickness parasite’s strategy for evading its hosts’ immune systems revealed that the blood parasites assume a surprising diversity of protein coat disguises. In fact, the number of disguises necessary to maintain a long-term infection appears to exceed the functional genes that encode them. More »
Rockefeller University researchers have successfully harnessed a technique, CRISPR-Cas9 editing, to use in an important and understudied species: the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which infects hundreds of millions of people annually with the deadly diseases chikungunya, yellow fever, and dengue fever. More »
New research reveals how cells sort out the RNA molecules destined to become gene-regulating microRNAs by tagging them. Because microRNAs help control processes throughout the body, this discovery has wide-ranging implications for development, health and disease, including cancer.
Researchers identify a molecular bridge between amyloid-β and chronic inflammation, two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. That bridge, a molecular cascade known as the contact system, suggests the possibility of a simple blood test that could diagnose the disease early and non-invasively.
Experiments placed Sox9 at the crux of a shift in gene expression associated with hair follicle stem cell identity. The molecule first makes stem cell genes accessible so they can become active, then recruits other molecules that promote the expression of these genes in stem cells found at the base of the hair follicle. More »