Category Archives: Science News

Friction harnessed by proteins helps organize cell division

Researchers have found that the fastener proteins that organize cell division can harness the movement around them to do their work. Movement of filaments within the structure responsible for cell division can cause some of these proteins to shuffle along the path of least resistance and into position. More »

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A new web tool effectively prioritizes disease-causing genes by biological distance

With the Human Gene Connectome, an investigator can rank potential disease-causing genes based on a new metric called biological distance. This tool is now available online thanks in part to the work of two high school students. More »

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Genetically identical ants help unlock the secrets of larval fate

Rockefeller researchers are developing a species of small raider ants as a model organism in order to ask questions about the relationships between genes, social behavior and evolution. One such question: How does the interaction between a larvae’s interaction with its caretaker sway the fate of the young animal? More »

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Drug is identified that could block the spread of melanoma

Researchers have found a promising new route to slowing or even preventing melanoma cells from spreading within the body. Using a compound that targets a hormone receptor, the team found they could reduce tumors’ recruitment of blood vessels, a process necessary for metastasis. More »

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Discovery reveals protons sneak through the sodium-potassium pump


The sodium-potassium pump, a ubiquitous and essential molecule located in the membrane of cells, transports more than just the sodium and potassium that its name would suggest. New research shows these pumps also routinely transport hydrogen ions known as protons. Among other things, the work suggests a new dimension to molecules that underlie processes involved in nerve signaling and muscle contractions. More »

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Sniff study suggests humans can distinguish more than 1 trillion scents

Rockefeller researchers tested the sensitivity of volunteers’ noses and brains, and determined that the human sense of smell is far more refined than previously thought. While individual volunteers’ performance varied, on average people can tell the difference between complex mixtures of odors even when they contain many of the same components. More »

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Researchers discover unusual genetic mutation linked to adolescent liver cancer

In the race for better treatments and possible cures, rare diseases are often left behind. In a collaboration of researchers at The Rockefeller University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the New York Genome Center, an unusual mutation has been found that is strongly linked to one such disease: a rare liver cancer that affects teens and young adults. More »

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Research shows combination of sensory signals draw mosquitoes in for a bite

Researchers used a genome editing technique to engineer a mutant version of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads yellow fever. The mutant was unable to detect carbon dioxide, and studies showed that this hindered its ability to detect a host, even in the presence of other sensory cues like heat and odor. The results can help inform the design of chemical repellents to block host-seeking behavior in both Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae, which spreads malaria. More »

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Psoriasis researchers identify molecular changes responsible for skin discoloration

Two immune system molecules — interleukin-17 and tumor necrosis factor — are increased in psoriasis, leading the immune system to attack a person’s own skin cells. Scientists found that these molecules disrupt the pigment production of patients’ melanocytes, and are responsible for the dark spots that psoriasis leaves behind. The results could bring about new treatments for pigmentation changes in this and other skin conditions such as eczema and acne. More »

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Biostatistics approach to genetics yields new clues to roots of autism

Researchers have developed a statistical method for genetic screens that improves the classic genome-wide association screen, and, applying to autism, have uncovered genes related to the disorder that had not been suggested in previous analyses. The scientists offer evidence that beginning treatment in infants at the first symptoms could change the course of the disease, possibly preventing the permanent “pruning” of neurons, which occurs during the first two years of life, from cementing autistic symptoms in place. More »

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New RNA interference technique finds seven genes for head and neck cancer

The technique, created by scientists in Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development, attaches short pieces of RNA to highly concentrated viruses and uses ultrasound to inject the viruses into mouse embryos. It takes a fraction of the resources and much less time than using knockout mice to conduct genetic screens, and can assess about 300 genes in a single mouse in as little as five weeks. More »

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Large-scale survey of clinical research participants shows mostly positive experiences

Although many participants gave high marks to the research teams’ trustworthiness and ability to explain their protocols, the survey also revealed that a sizable minority did not feel completely prepared for the study. The results suggest aspects of the participant experience that researchers may be able to address. More »

Gene is linked to deadly runaway fungal infection

Jean-Laurent Casanova, head of the Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases, and colleagues at Necker Medical School in Paris have discovered a genetic deficiency that in rare cases allows the dermatophyte fungus, which causes ringworm, to spread below the skin’s surface and onto the lymph nodes, bones, digestive tract and even the brain. More »

New technique in RNA interference cuts time and cost in genetic screens

Rockefeller scientists revealed the first genome-wide RNA interference screen of a mouse, using a new technique that essentially treats the surface of living mouse embryos as a petri dish of cells, allowing for in vivo analysis. More »

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Researchers find molecule that causes sunburn pain

A collaboration between Elaine Fuch’s Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development at Rockefeller University and researchers at Duke University and the University of California, San Francisco, found that blocking a molecule called TRPV4 greatly protects against the painful effects of sunburn. The research could yield a way to combat sunburn and possibly several other causes of pain. More »

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Scientists identify gene that regulates stem cell death and skin regeneration

A collaboration between researchers in Hermann Steller’s Strang Laboratory of Apoptosis and Cancer Biology and Elaine Fuchs’s Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development has revealed a new function for a gene previously shown to prevent stem cells from turning cancerous. The gene, Sept4/ARTS, has now been shown to regulate programmed death in skin stem cells, a finding that may have implications for wound healing, regeneration and cancer. More »

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Mutant mosquitoes lose their appetite for humans

Scientists in Leslie Vosshall’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at Rockefeller used a genetically modified mosquito to show that a specific gene called orco gives the insects a strong preference for humans over other mammals, and that the insect repellant DEET uses this pathway to deter mosquitoes from biting. More »

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Scientists discover new way protein degradation is regulated

Researchers at The Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have identified the mechanism by which the cell’s protein recycler, the proteasome, ramps up its activity to take care of unwanted and potentially toxic proteins. The finding, which has implications for treating muscle wasting and neurodegeneration, also suggests that small molecule inhibitors of this mechanism may be clinically useful in treating multiple myeloma. More »

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Scientists discover gene mutation that causes children to be born without spleen


An international team of scientists led by Rockefeller University researchers has identified the defective gene responsible for a rare disorder in which children are born without a spleen, which makes them susceptible to life-threatening bacterial infections early in life. The findings may lead to new diagnostic tests and raises new questions about the role of this gene in the body’s protein-making machinery.

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Scientists use Nature against Nature to develop an antibiotic with reduced resistance

Scientists at Rockefeller University and Astex Pharmaceuticals have discovered a new broad range antibiotic that kills a wide range of bacteria, including drug-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA) bacteria that do not respond to traditional drugs, in mice. The antibiotic, Epimerox, targets weaknesses in bacteria that have long been exploited by viruses that attack them, known as phage.

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