news from the lab 2017

Environment - Oct 18
Environment
According to the prevailing opinion, species-rich ecosystems are more stable against environmental disruptions such as drought, hot spells or pesticides. The situation is not as simple as it seems, however, as ecologists have now discovered. Under certain environmental conditions, increased biodiversity can also lead to an ecosystem becoming more unstable.
Life Sciences - Oct 18
Life Sciences

Graphene has been hailed as the material of the future. As yet, however, little is known about whether and how graphene affects our health if it gets into the body.

Life Sciences - Oct 16
Life Sciences

House mice carrying a specific selfish supergene move from one population to another much more frequently than their peers.

Environment - Oct 17
Environment

Analysis of ice cores delivers continuous data for the first time on industrial soot from 1740 to today In the first half of the 19th century, a series of large volcanic eruptions in the tropics led to a temporary global cooling of Earth's climate.

Computer Science - Oct 16
Computer Science

Researchers have carried out a study using smartphone data from young Swiss people to better understand the circumstances in which they are most likely to drink.


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Chemistry - Physics / Materials Science - 30.12.2017
A step towards cheap aluminium batteries
A step towards cheap aluminium batteries
The energy transition depends on technologies that allow the inexpensive temporary storage of electricity from renewable sources. A promising new candidate is aluminium batteries, which are made from cheap and abundant raw materials. Scientists from Maksym Kovalenko's research group, which is based at both ETH Zurich and in Empa's Laboratory for Thin Films and Photovoltaics , are researching and developing batteries made from abundant raw materials.

Life Sciences - Medicine / Pharmacology - 27.12.2017
Bacteria acquire resistance from competitors
Bacteria acquire resistance from competitors
Bacteria not only develop resistance to antibiotics, they also can pick it up from their rivals. In a recent publication in "Cell Reports", Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have demonstrated that some bacteria inject a toxic cocktail into their competitors causing cell lysis and death.

Medicine / Pharmacology - Computer Science / Telecom - 26.12.2017
Looking back at 2017 (1/2)
Coral reefs that can survive global warming, an expedition around Antarctica, a booster for genetic research, a personnal virtual heart, a National Center for Data Science... Some of the EPFL's research and milestones that marked the year 2017.

Chemistry - Physics / Materials Science - 26.12.2017
Traces in scrap
Traces in scrap
Last year Empa's inorganic analytics lab was granted the status of "Reference Laboratory" within the scope of the ProSUM project, funded by the EU. Fine-grained samples of shredder waste from scrapped cars, e-waste or mine dumps from all over Europe end up here. Empa chemists find out what is in them, what is worth extracting and what could be dangerous for staff at recycling plants.

Chemistry - Physics / Materials Science - 23.12.2017
Search engine for «smart wood»
Search engine for «smart wood»
Mark Schubert modifies wood properties with the aid of the enzyme laccase. However, the search for suitable ingredients is complex - a bit like trying to find the key to an unknown lock. Instead of long, expensive series of experiments, Schubert uses artificial intelligence as it gets him to the goal more quickly.

Innovation / Technology - Electroengineering - 21.12.2017
Sensor-enhanced surgical robot enables highly precise and safe spinal operations
Sensor-enhanced surgical robot enables highly precise and safe spinal operations
Researchers from the University of Bern, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital and the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology develop a high-precision, sensor-based surgical robot for spinal operations together with industry partners. Their project is being funded with two million Swiss francs, sponsored by the "BRIDGE" programme of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Commission for Technology and Innovation.

Physics / Materials Science - Business / Economics - 21.12.2017

Physics / Materials Science - 20.12.2017

Medicine / Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 20.12.2017
Feasibility of Eliminating Rabies in Africa
Feasibility of Eliminating Rabies in Africa
The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, together with European and African collaborators, carried out a mass dog vaccination in Chad and determined its effect on human rabies exposure. The study employed a bio-mathematical method for estimating the transmission dynamics of rabies. The researchers conclude that with political will and the necessary funding, elimination of rabies is possible in Africa.

Medicine / Pharmacology - Computer Science / Telecom - 20.12.2017
New software can model natural light from the occupants' perspective
New software can model natural light from the occupants' perspective
OCUVIS, a visualization software developed by a soon-to-be-launched EPFL spin-off, lets architects simulate 3D building models to assess the performance of natural light indoors. After specifying the ambient conditions, architects can view the visual and non-visual characteristics of the resulting natural light in their designs.

Life Sciences - 20.12.2017
How Plants Form Their Seeds
How Plants Form Their Seeds
Around 80 to 85 percent of our calorie needs is covered through seeds, either directly as food or indirectly through use as feed.

Medicine / Pharmacology - 20.12.2017
Feasibility of Eliminating Rabies in Africa
Feasibility of Eliminating Rabies in Africa
The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, together with European and African collaborators, carried out a mass dog vaccination in Chad and determined its effect on human rabies exposure. The study employed a bio-mathematical method for estimating the transmission dynamics of rabies. The researchers conclude that with political will and the necessary funding, elimination of rabies is possible in Africa.

Physics / Materials Science - Medicine / Pharmacology - 18.12.2017
Using gold nanoparticles to destroy viruses
Using gold nanoparticles to destroy viruses
EPFL researchers have created nanoparticles that attract viruses and, using the pressure resulting from the binding process, destroy them. This revolutionary approach could lead to the development of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs.  HIV, dengue, papillomavirus, herpes and Ebola - these are just some of the many viruses that kill millions of people every year, mostly children in developing countries.

Innovation / Technology - Computer Science / Telecom - 14.12.2017
Real-world district for digital
Real-world district for digital
For the very first time, the "Innovation Lab", a special exhibition for digital transformations in the construction industry, will be held at Swissbau 2018 from 16 to 20 January. NEST, the modular research and demonstration platform from Empa and Eawag, will be presenting with its partners (in hall 1.1, booth L88) how digital construction is implemented in reality and exactly what kind of potential for digital innovation is offered by the set of demonstrators on the Empa campus in Dübendorf.

Medicine / Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 14.12.2017
The immune cells that help tumors instead of destroying them
The immune cells that help tumors instead of destroying them
EPFL scientists have discovered that neutrophils, a type of immune cell, can actually help lung tumors grow. The work is published in Cell Reports, and has enormous implications for cancer immunotherapy. Neutrophils inside lung adenocarcinoma tumors. On the left, neutrophils inside a mouse tumor are stained brown; on the right, neutrophils inside a human tumor are stained red (credit: E. Meylan/EPFL).

Life Sciences - Medicine / Pharmacology - 13.12.2017
Protein Structure Could Unlock New Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis
Protein Structure Could Unlock New Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a severe hereditary disease of the lung, for which there is currently no cure. The underlying cause of the disease is a malfunction of the chloride channel CFTR, which prevents the secretion of chloride in certain body cells.

Life Sciences - Medicine / Pharmacology - 13.12.2017
Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease
Autophagy refers to a fundamental recycling process of cells that occurs in yeast, fungi, plants, as well as animals and humans. This process allows cells to degrade their own components and thus activate energy resources to be able to adapt to nutritional needs. In addition, autophagy plays a central role in steering an organism's immune response.

Transport - Innovation / Technology - 12.12.2017
Tailor-made asphalt
Tailor-made asphalt
The one ideal asphalt for all conditions does not exist: climatic conditions, traffic frequencies and loads place different demands on the pavement. Another challenge: preparing old asphalt so that it can be used for new pavements. Thanks to Empa researchers, the design of the ideal asphalt for every type of road has finally become easier.

Medicine / Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 11.12.2017
Novartis drug crizanlizumab shown to prolong time to patients’ first sickle cell pain crisis in subgroup analysis of SUSTAIN study
Investigational therapy crizanlizumab (SEG101, formerly SelG1) approximately doubled the time to first on-treatment sickle cell pain crisis, according to new subgroup analysis of Phase II SUSTAIN data Results were consistent across patient subgroups despite differences in disease severity, genotype or background therapy New findings for crizanlizumab, a potential disease-modifying, preventive treatment option for patients with sickle cell diseas

Medicine / Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 11.12.2017
Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation
Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation
Lipid, also known as fat, is an optimal energy source and an important cell component. Much is required for the rapid and uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and from the University of Geneva have now discovered that the protein mTOR stimulates the production of lipids in liver tumors to satisfy the increased nutrient turnover and energy needs of cancer cells among other functions.
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