news from the lab 2017

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Health - Life Sciences - 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.

Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 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.

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.

Health - 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 - 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 - Health - 13.12.2017
Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease
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.

Life Sciences - Health - 06.12.2017
Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer's
Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer's
Using a bioinformatics and experimental approach, scientists at EPFL have found that rendering mitochondria resistant to damage can halt diseases caused by amyloid toxicity, such as Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and neurodegeneration worldwide. A major hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of toxic plaques in the brain, formed by the abnormal aggregation of a protein called beta-amyloid inside neurons.

Life Sciences - Health - 01.12.2017
3D-printed minifactories
3D-printed minifactories
ETH researchers have developed a biocompatible ink for 3D printing using living bacteria. This makes it possible to produce biological materials capable of breaking down toxic substances or producing high-purity cellulose for biomedical applications. There will soon be nothing that cannot be produced with 3D printing.

Life Sciences - Health - 29.11.2017
A Big Data tool begins new era for biology and personalized medicine
A Big Data tool begins new era for biology and personalized medicine
Researchers from EPFL have developed a novel series of systems genetics tools to identify new links between genes and phenotypes. The work, a hallmark of EPFL's endeavors into the advancement of open science, brings biology to the cloud and sets the stage for the development of precision medicine. The study is published in Cell Systems.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 28.11.2017
Maize pest exploits plant defense compounds to protect itself
Maize pest exploits plant defense compounds to protect itself
A new study by the Institute of Plant Sciences of the University of Bern and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology shows how the Western corn rootworm puts the maize plants' defense strategies out of action. The results explain why biological control of the crop pest has not been efficient. The Western corn rootworm continues to be on the rise in Europe.

Life Sciences - Health - 27.11.2017
Tracking Down Genetic Influences on Brain Disorders
Tracking Down Genetic Influences on Brain Disorders
New findings will help to identify the genetic causes of brain disorders: researchers at the Universities of Basel, Bonn and Cologne have presented a systematic catalog of specific variable locations in the genome that influence gene activity in the human hippocampus, as they report Communications. Individual differences in gene regulation contribute to the development of numerous multifactorial disorders.

Life Sciences - Health - 22.11.2017
Alzheimer's Tau protein forms toxic complexes with cell membranes
Alzheimer's disease is caused by tangles in the brain made up of malfunctioning aggregated Tau proteins. Scientists at EPFL have discovered a new toxic form of Tau that forms as a result of its interaction with cell membranes. The research is published and provides novel insights into possible mechanisms by which this protein moves in the brain and kills neurons.

Life Sciences - Microtechnics - 08.11.2017
A robotic spy among the fish
A new miniature robot developed by EPFL researchers can swim with fish, learn how they communicate with each other and make them change direction or come together. These capabilities have been proven on schools of zebrafish. Researchers at EPFL's Robotic Systems Laboratory (LSRO), which is headed by Professor Francesco Mondada, have developed a miniature robot that can integrate perfectly into schools of zebrafish.

Life Sciences - Pharmacology - 02.11.2017
Animals' mitochondria defenses discovered in plants
Animals' mitochondria defenses discovered in plants
Scientists at EPFL have discovered that the mechanism that mitochondria use to defend mammalian cells against protein-damaging stress also exists in plants. The work is published in Molecular Cell. Image: Arabidopsis thaliana plants used in this study. On the left is a plant under normal growth conditions, while on the right is a plant treated with doxycycline, which has significantly stunted its growth but is protected against aging as evidenced by its fresher appearance (credit: J. Auwerx/EPFL).

Health - Life Sciences - 31.10.2017
Virtual reality reduces phantom pain in paraplegics
Virtual reality reduces phantom body pain in paraplegics and creates the illusion that they can feel their paralyzed legs being touched again. The results could one day translate into therapies to reduce chronic pain in paraplegics. In breakthrough research led by neuroscientist Olaf Blanke and his team at EPFL, Switzerland, the scientists show that phantom body pain can be reduced in paraplegics by creating a bodily illusion with the help of virtual reality.

Physics - Life Sciences - 26.10.2017
How much does life weigh?
How much does life weigh?
ETH researchers have developed a scale for measuring cells. It allows the weight of individual living cells, and any changes in this weight, to be determined quickly and accurately for the first time. The invention has also aroused significant interest both in and outside the field of biology. From earthworms and sunflowers to human beings, we are all made up of cells, so it's no surprise that researchers are hard at work investigating these building blocks of life.

Life Sciences - 23.10.2017
Sleepwalkers are better at automatic walking
Sleepwalkers who are awake may have a multi-tasking advantage over non-sleepwalkers, according to recent research that uses virtual realilty. Try counting backwards from 200 in steps of 7 while walking en-route to your favourite café. Chances are, you will slow down or even freeze mid-stride, unless you are a sleepwalker.

Life Sciences - 09.10.2017
The female brain reacts more strongly to prosocial behavior
The female brain reacts more strongly to prosocial behavior
Behavioral experiments have shown that when women share a sum of money more generously than men. To gain a more in-depth understanding of this behavior, neuroscientists from the Department of Economics looked at the areas of the brain that are active when decisions of this kind are made. They are the first to demonstrate that the brains of men and women respond differently to prosocial and selfish behavior.

Health - Life Sciences - 02.10.2017
Our muscles measure the time of day
Our muscles measure the time of day
Researchers funded by the SNSF have discovered a biological clock at work in our muscle cells. It could be a factor in regulating our metabolism and play a role in diabetes. Biological clocks are ticking everywhere throughout our body. They trigger the release of the hormone melatonin during sleep, favour the secretion of digestive enzymes at lunchtime or keep us awake at the busiest moments of the day.

Life Sciences - Innovation - 29.09.2017
Two items of anthology now stored for eternity in DNA
Two items of anthology now stored for eternity in DNA
Thanks to an innovative technology for encoding data in DNA strands, two items of world heritage - songs recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival and digitized by EPFL - have been safeguarded for eternity.
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