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In brief: Mutation explains why some people are more vulnerable to viral brain infection

For previously healthy children, brain infections are rare. But about one out of every 10,000 people who are exposed to common viruses like herpes simplex or influenza will develop a potentially deadly disease, encephalitis. Rockefeller’s Jean-Laurent Casanova has identified mutations in a single gene that may explain what goes wrong…...

Günter Blobel, a Nobel laureate who redefined cell biology, has died

Günter Blobel, a Nobel Prize-winning Rockefeller biologist who discovered the mechanisms by which proteins are targeted for delivery to specific locations within cells, died February 18 at 81. Blobel joined the Rockefeller faculty 51 years ago; he was the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor and had been a Howard Hughes…...

Scientists shed light on biological roots of individuality

Put 50 newborn worms in 50 separate containers, and they’ll all start looking for food at roughly the same time. Like members of other species, microscopic C. elegans roundworms tend to act like other individuals their own age. It turns out that the innate system that controls age-appropriate behavior in…...

In brief: New molecular insights on a rare immune disorder

Scientists have pieced together a molecular process that is disrupted in a rare genetic disorder called ICF syndrome, short for immunodeficiency-centromeric instability-facial anomalies. The condition is marked by an impaired immune system, distinctive facial features, and abnormal chromosomes. In a new study, researchers in Hironori Funabiki’s lab and colleagues elsewhere…...

New images reveal how the ear's sensory hairs take shape

Our ears are exquisite detection instruments, capable of discerning a whisper or distinct notes of music within a symphony. To pick up these sounds, tiny hair-like filaments in the inner ear must be packed into precisely arranged bundles, all facing the same direction. Images of the normal, tidy architecture of…...

New tool for tracking “kiss-and-run” communication between cells could advance research in multiple fields

A new method for monitoring interactions between cells, dubbed LIPSTIC by its creators, is much more than a cosmetic improvement over existing techniques. The breakthrough, led by The Rockefeller University assistant professor Gabriel Victora, offers scientists in a wide range of disciplines a powerful new tool for studying complex biological…...

Uncovering the early origins of Huntington's disease

With new findings, scientists may be poised to break a long impasse in research on Huntington’s disease, a fatal hereditary disorder for which there is currently no treatment. One in 10,000 Americans suffer from the disease, and most begin to show symptoms in middle age as they develop jerky movements—and…...

New immunotherapy approach boosts body’s ability to destroy cancer cells

Few cancer treatments are generating more excitement these days than immunotherapy—drugs based on the principle that the immune system can be harnessed to detect and kill cancer cells, much in the same way that it goes after infectious microorganisms. Yet these treatments only benefit some patients, and remain ineffective in…...

In brief: Variation between strains may account for differences in people’s vulnerability to infection

Scientists have long sought to explain why people respond differently to bacterial infections. In the case of TB, for example, less than 10 percent of those infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis develop severe lung disease, while others remain symptom-free. In some cases, genetic defects have been shown to make the human…...

In brief: How the immune system curbs its own mistakes

When we encounter a pathogen, the immune system is usually able to respond quickly and forcefully to protect us from infection. Some of its preparedness is inherent in the process by which white blood cells called B cells make antibodies, proteins fine-tuned to recognize a specific invader. Within structures called…...