Simple 3-D Grid Structure Underlying Complexity of Primate Brain

How do you build a brain? In the March 30 issue of Science a team of investigators presents a surprising answer, reporting their discovery of a remarkably simple organizational structure in the brains of humans and other primates. Employing sophisticated mathematical analysis of advanced imaging data, they found that the pathways carrying neural signals through the brain are arranged not in a disorganized tangle but in a curved, three-dimensional grid. Continue reading

New Layer of Genetic Information Helps Determine How Fast Proteins Are Produced

A hidden and never before recognized layer of information in the genetic code has been uncovered by a team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) thanks to a technique developed at UCSF called ribosome profiling, which enables the measurement of gene activity inside living cells — including the speed with which proteins are made. Continue reading

A 24-Karat Gold Key to Unlock the Immune System

Developing a drug or vaccine requires a delicate balancing act with the immune system. On one hand, medications need to escape detection by the immune system in order to perform their function. But vaccinations — de-activated versions of a disease or virus — need to do the reverse. They prompt the immune system to create protective antibodies. But scientists are still stumped by how the immune system recognizes different particles, and how it chooses whether or not to react against them. Continue reading