news from the lab 2015

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Life Sciences - Physics/Materials Science
23.12.2015
From gigantic planets to tiny images
From gigantic planets to tiny images
From the smallest ever printed colour image and the world's largest plant seeds to the darkest matter in the infinite expanse of the universe - over the past year, ETH research has focussed on all animate and inanimate aspects of the natural world, presenting fascinating results and ingenious inventions.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
21.12.2015
Eyes turn into skin: how inflammation can change the fate of cells
Eyes turn into skin: how inflammation can change the fate of cells
21.12.15 - EPFL scientists have found that chronic inflammation can cause regenerating cells to grow into new, aberrant types; this is called metaplasia, and is a disorder linked to prolonged inflammation. The study highlights a new concept of chronic inflammation and could lead to better treatments.
Life Sciences - Chemistry
20.12.2015
A multitool for cells
A multitool for cells
Cells have an infallible sense of smell that tells them which direction to grow in to move closer to the source of a scent. ETH researchers have now learned how this sense of smell works. A frequent problem faced by cells is that they are surrounded by a promising cloud of scent and must determine the direction of its source.
Life Sciences - Chemistry
18.12.2015
Scientists predict activity of human genes
Scientists predict activity of human genes
Genetically identical sibling cells do not always behave the same way. So far this has been attributed to random molecular reactions. Now systems biologists of the University of Zurich have discovered an overlooked consequence of the spatial separation of cells into a nucleus and a cytoplasm. Building on top of this insight they could predict with supercomputers the activity of genes in individual human cells.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
18.12.2015
Architecture of mTOR protein complex solved
Architecture of mTOR protein complex solved
It has long been known that the protein TOR - Target of Rapamycin - controls cell growth and is involved in the development of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Through a collaborative effort scientists from the ETH Zürich and from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have now succeeded in revealing the unique architecture of the mammalian TOR complex 1 (mTORC1) in detail.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
15.12.2015
Treating colon cancer with vitamin A
Treating colon cancer with vitamin A
15.12.15 - Scientists at EPFL identify the biological pathway behind the growth of colon cancer, and block it with vitamin A. A leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, colon cancer is famously resistant to treatment. There are many reasons for this, but one has to do with a group of persisting cancer cells in the colon that cause relapses.
Physics/Materials Science - Life Sciences
11.12.2015
Diagnostics with birefringence
Diagnostics with birefringence
ETH researchers led by Raffaele Mezzenga have developed a new diagnostic method. It is based on Birefringence, the ability of substances to change the polarisation state of light. With this method, doctors around the world can easily, rapidly and reliably detect malaria, Ebola or HIV to name only a few.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
09.12.2015
Using
Using "big data" to fight flu
Thanks to "big data", researchers have identified new molecules that are instrumental in the replication of the flu virus. If these host proteins are blocked, influenza viruses are unable to multiply as effectively. The international study therefore makes a significant contribution towards the development of new treatments and flu drugs.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
09.12.2015
Out now: A microscope that sees live cells in 3D
Out now: A microscope that sees live cells in 3D
EPFL spin-off Nanolive has launched the 3D Cell Explorer, a microscope for observing living cells in 3D.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
01.12.2015
Genes for a longer, healthier life found
Genes for a longer, healthier life found
Out of a 'haystack' of 40,000 genes from three different organisms, scientists at ETH Zurich and a research consortium in Jena have found genes that are involved in physical ageing. If you influence only one of these genes, the healthy lifespan of laboratory animals is extended - and possibly that of humans, too.
Social Sciences - Life Sciences
30.11.2015
Anxiety can kill your social status
Anxiety can kill your social status
30.11.15 - Neuroscientists at EPFL identify a brain region that links anxious temperament to low social status. The researchers were able to tweak social hierarchy in animals by using vitamin B3. There are important differences in how individuals approach life. While some people are relaxed and calm, others often see situations as threatening, making them worried and tense.
Life Sciences
27.11.2015
How cells create free space
How cells create free space
In order to divide, cells in the intestinal wall have to leave their densely packed environment and migrate to the surface. ETH researchers have now discovered how they do this - using a tiny bed of nails. The human body is constantly regenerating itself. Trillions of cells die in our bodies each day.
Life Sciences
25.11.2015
A new form of real gold, almost as light as air
A new form of real gold, almost as light as air
Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye.
Life Sciences
24.11.2015
A role for neural noise in animal behavior
A role for neural noise in animal behavior
24.11.15 - Researchers from EPFL and UNIL have used flies to show how behaviors may be shaped by seemingly random brain activity. This study raises new questions about the role of neural noise in moment-to-moment decisions. What processes lie behind voluntary actions like when to walk or rest? According to a study carried out by EPFL and the University of Lausanne, these choices may be shaped in part by neural fluctuations.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
24.11.2015
Lactate for Brain Energy
Lactate for Brain Energy
Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
24.11.2015
Bacterial Nanomachine Serves as a Versatile Tool
Bacterial Nanomachine Serves as a Versatile Tool
The team from the startup company "T3 Pharmaceuticals" at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has developed a fast and simple technique that can provide valuable insights into important life processes and which can be applied for therapeutic purposes. In the recent issue of the "Journal of Cell Biology", the young entrepreneurs describe a bacterial nanomachine that they implement as a tool to selectively inject diverse proteins into cells.
Life Sciences
18.11.2015
Why mice have longer sperm than elephants
Why mice have longer sperm than elephants
In the animal world, if several males mate with the same female, their sperm compete to fertilize her limited supply of eggs. Longer sperm often seem to have a competitive advantage. However, a study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Zurich and Stockholm now reveals that the size of the animals also matters.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
06.11.2015
When less is really more
When less is really more
ETH researchers have found that therapeutic iron supplements may be less effective when given in brief intervals: A peptide molecule blocks iron absorption in the intestine even 24 hours after the iron administation. Anaemia is often the result of an iron deficiency. In such cases the patients, who are typically female, will be prescribed iron supplements to be taken daily.
Life Sciences
05.11.2015
Faster digestion in kangaroos reduces methane emissions
Faster digestion in kangaroos reduces methane emissions
Why does a kangaroo expel less methane than a cow? Researchers from the University of Zurich and Australia decide to investigate - and discovered that the emission of this climate-damaging gas in kangaroos is linked to how long food is digested. Animals produce methane during the digestion process - some more than others.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
27.10.2015
Intestinal worms
Intestinal worms "talk" to gut bacteria to boost the immune system
27.10.15 - EPFL researchers have discovered how intestinal worm infections cross-talk with gut bacteria to help the immune system. Intestinal worms infect over 2 billion people across the world, mostly children, in areas with poor sanitation. But despite causing serious health problems, worms can actually help the immune system of its host as an indirect way of protecting themselves.
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