news from the lab 2016

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Environment/Sustainable Development - Life Sciences
22.12.2016
Global warming disrupts fish stocks
Global warming disrupts fish stocks
The global catches of fishes would largely benefit from achieving the 1.5°C global warming target.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
22.12.2016
Forces at play: A new infection route for bacteria
Forces at play: A new infection route for bacteria
Snapshots from a Molecular Dynamics simulation of a single shigella toxin particle binding to its lipid partners in the vesicle membrane (side and top views).
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
21.12.2016
Aging & cancer: An enzyme protects chromosomes from oxidative damage
Aging & cancer: An enzyme protects chromosomes from oxidative damage
EPFL scientists have identified a protein that caps chromosomes during cell division and protects them from oxidative damage and shortening, which are associated with aging and cancer. When cells divide, they pack up all of their genetic material in the tightly wrapped chromosomes. The ends of our chromosomes have a unique structure, named a telomere.
Life Sciences
21.12.2016
Store and Supply - How the Brain Saves Time
Store and Supply - How the Brain Saves Time
Neurons in the brain store RNA molecules - DNA gene copies - in order to rapidly react to stimuli. This storage dramatically accelerates the production of proteins. This is one of the reasons why neurons in the brain can adapt quickly during learning processes. The recent results of a research group at the University of Basel's Biozentrum have been published in the current issue of ‘Neuron'.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
19.12.2016
How complex cells originated
How complex cells originated
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Mitochondria are the ‘power plants' of complex cells. In order to provide the cell with energy they need protein building blocks, which are imported from the outside. Over billions of years the ‘protein import machines' necessary for this process have developed differently than previously assumed, as biochemists in Bern have discovered.
Life Sciences - History/Archeology
16.12.2016
Battlefield of the sexes
Battlefield of the sexes
How the differences between the sexes evolve depends not only on which parts of the genome are sex-specifically active. The question also arises concerning the sex in which such changes take place. ETH researchers demonstrate this using a closely related pair of plants. Scientists have been asking a fundamental question ever since the time of Darwin: how do the different sexes evolve when the genes of females and males are for the most part the same? Take the example of humans: a small but obviously important genetic difference between women and men is that a man has a Y chromosome.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
08.12.2016
New weapon against Diabetes
New weapon against Diabetes
Researchers have used the simplest approach yet to produce artificial beta cells from human kidney cells. Like their natural model, the artificial cells act as both sugar sensors and insulin producers. Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
07.12.2016
Miraculous proliferation
Miraculous proliferation
Bacteria able to shed their cell wall assume new, mostly spherical shapes. ETH researchers have shown that these cells, known as L-forms, are not only viable but that their reproductive mechanisms may even correspond to those of early life forms. Researchers from a group led by ETH professor Martin Loessner discovered a few years ago that rod-shaped Listeria can become spherical.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
07.12.2016
Gene
Gene "bookmarking" regulates the fate of stem cells
A protein that stays attached on chromosomes during cell division plays a critical role in determining the type of cell that stem cells can become. The discovery, made by EPFL scientists, has significant implications for stem cell biology and their use in medicine. When cells divide, DNA is neatly wrapped up into chromosomes, and the normal expression of genes into proteins stops until the new cells are formed.
Environment/Sustainable Development - Life Sciences
01.12.2016
Intensification of Land Use Leads to the Same Species Everywhere
Intensification of Land Use Leads to the Same Species Everywhere
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Intensive use of grasslands by humans reduces species diversity and makes the landscape more monotonous, so that the same species end up everywhere. Nature is then no longer able to provide us with many essential ‘services', which range from soil formation for food production to pest control.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
30.11.2016
A method for storing vaccines at room temperature
A method for storing vaccines at room temperature
Several simple and inexpensive techniques make it possible to store antiviral-vaccines at room temperature for several months.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
23.11.2016
Starch from yeast
Starch from yeast
Researchers at ETH Zurich have produced starch in yeast - the first time this has been achieved in a non-plant organism. The new model system now makes it easier for them to investigate how starch is formed and what role is played by the enzymes involved. In future, it may be possible to use yeast to trial specific modifications of starch.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
21.11.2016
Protein packaging may cause the immune attacks of type-1 diabetes
Protein packaging may cause the immune attacks of type-1 diabetes
Type-1 diabetes occurs when immune cells attack the pancreas. EPFL scientists have now discovered what may trigger this attack, opening new directions for treatments. Type-1 diabetes is the rarest but most aggressive form of diabetes, usually affecting young children and adolescents. The patient's own immune cells begin to attack the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, eventually eliminating its production in the body.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
16.11.2016
Taking miniature organs from lab to clinic
Taking miniature organs from lab to clinic
EPFL scientists have developed a gel for growing miniaturized body organs that can be used in clinical diagnostics and drug development.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
10.11.2016
Red squirrels in the British Isles are infected with leprosy bacteria
Red squirrels in the British Isles are infected with leprosy bacteria
Microbiologists at EPFL and the University of Edinburgh have discovered that red squirrels in Britain and Ireland carry the two bacterial species that cause leprosy in humans. Once rampant in medieval Europe, leprosy dramatically declined by the end of the Middle Ages for reasons that are still unclear.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
09.11.2016
Primates Regain Control of Paralyzed Limb
Primates Regain Control of Paralyzed Limb
Non-human primates regain control of their paralyzed leg ­- as early as six days after spinal cord injury - thanks to a neuroprosthetic interface that acts as a wireless bridge between the brain and spine, bypassing the injury.
Life Sciences - Philosophy
08.11.2016
Most Mammals Have a Greater Life Expectancy in Zoos
Most Mammals Have a Greater Life Expectancy in Zoos
How long do animals live? Although the question seems trivial, it is not easy to answer - especially in the case of free-ranging animals, as it is extremely difficult to determine accurate dates of birth and death of all members of a specific population. By comparison, zoos meticulously record the births and deaths of the animals in their care.
Earth Sciences - Life Sciences
04.11.2016
Herbivorous mammals have bigger bellies
Herbivorous mammals have bigger bellies
The researchers have studied the shape of the ribcage in more than 120 tetrapods - from prehistoric times up to the present day. (Image: UZH) What do enormous dinosaurs have in common with tiny shrews' They are both four-legged vertebrates, otherwise known as tetrapods. In the course of evolution, tetrapods developed various body shapes and sizes - from the mouse to the dinosaur - to adapt to different environments.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
01.11.2016
Tuberculosis bacteria find their ecological niche
Tuberculosis bacteria find their ecological niche
Researchers at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and the University of Basel have isolated and analyzed genetically tuberculosis bacteria from several thousand patients from over a hundred countries. This analysis demonstrates that the tuberculosis bacteria vary in their ecological niche.
Life Sciences - Administration/Government
25.10.2016
Iron supplements in the fight against lead
Iron supplements in the fight against lead
Targeted iron supplements in biscuits can achieve a striking reduction in the level of lead in children's blood in regions with high exposure to this toxic heavy metal. This has been demonstrated for the first time by an ETH-led research group in a study of schoolchildren in Morocco. Lead is a toxic heavy metal that was added to petrol for use in cars until as recently as 25 years ago, including in Switzerland.
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