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Lorena Anderson

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At the Intersection of Math and Biology, Sindi Lab Sees a Breakthrough in Prion Disease

A UC Merced researcher and her lab have unlocked one of the mysteries that could lead to treatments — or even cures — for prion diseases in mammals.

Prion diseases are a family of rare, progressive neurodegenerative disorders that affect both humans — such as with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or fatal familial insomnia — and animals, such as mad-cow disease. These disorders are usually rapidly progressive and always fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Research Reveals Collective Dynamics of Active Matter Systems

Flocks of starlings producing dazzling patterns across the sky are natural examples of active matter — groups of individual agents coming together to create collective dynamics.

In a study featured on last week’s cover of the journal Science, a team of researchers including a UC Merced theoretical physicist revealed new insights into what happens inside such active systems.

Researchers Discover Mechanism Proteins Use To Find And Control Genes

Bioengineering Professor Victor Muñoz has answered a long-standing genetic mystery, and his research suggests that someday, bioengineers could devise ways to control gene activity — manually switching off the genes that contribute to cancer, for instance.

“If this mechanism turns out to be as powerful as we anticipate, engineering it will be relatively straightforward,” Muñoz said. “Controlling the output of genes could be done in a targeted way by new genome editing technologies such as CRISPR.”

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