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Life Sciences - 18.01.2021
Snap-freezing reveals a truer structure of brain connections
Snap-freezing reveals a truer structure of brain connections
Scientists at EPFL have used a snap-freezing method to reveal the true structure of the connections that join neurons together in the adult brain. Most synaptic connections in the adult brain are situated on dendritic spines; small, micrometer-long, protrusions extending from the neurons' surface. The spines' exact size and shape determine how well signals are passed from one neuron to another.

Life Sciences - 14.01.2021
Protecting the genome from transposon activation
Protecting the genome from transposon activation
Transposons are foreign DNA elements capable of random insertion into the genome, an event that can be very dangerous for a cell. Their activity must be silenced to maintain genomic integrity, which is primarily achieved by H3K9me3-mediated repression. Researchers from the Gasser group identified two parallel pathways that are essential for H3K9me3- mediated transcriptional repression and thus for protecting the genome from toxic transposon activation.

Life Sciences - 14.01.2021
How the circadian clock regulates liver genes in time and space
How the circadian clock regulates liver genes in time and space
Scientists have carried out the first comprehensive study of how genes in the liver perform their metabolic functions in both space and time of day. Monitoring almost 5000 genes at the level of the individual cell across a 24-hour period, the researchers have modelled how the circadian clock and liver functions crosstalk throughout the day in sync with the feeding-fasting cycle.

Life Sciences - 08.01.2021
Goats enjoy mental gymnastics
Goats enjoy mental gymnastics
A study on shows that goats like to earn a reward by 'working' for it, even if they can get the same reward without making any effort. This finding could benefit humane husbandry. Goats respond positively to challenges rather than just turning away. In a project funded jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG), two breeding lines - dairy goats and dwarf goats - were offered a choice of two types of reward.

Life Sciences - 07.01.2021
Perceiving prosthesis as lighter thanks to neurofeedback
Perceiving prosthesis as lighter thanks to neurofeedback
Transmitting sensory signals from prostheses to the nervous system helps leg amputees to perceive prosthesis as part of their body. While amputees generally perceive their prostheses as heavy, this feedback helps them to perceive the prostheses as significantly lighter, ETH researchers have shown. Leg amputees are often not satisfied with their prosthesis, even though the sophisticated prostheses are becoming available.

Life Sciences - Health - 07.01.2021
Peeking inside 'mini-brains' could boost understanding of the human brain in health and disease
Peeking inside ’mini-brains’ could boost understanding of the human brain in health and disease
Revealing details of the internal structure of 'mini-brains' could help accelerate drug studies and may offer alternatives to some animal testing Geneva, Switzerland, 7 January 2021 - 'Mini-brains' are pin-head sized collections of several different types of human brain cell. They are used as a tool, allowing scientists to learn about how the brain develops, study disease and test new medicines.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 06.01.2021
The wings of a “genetic bird” protect us against viruses
Researchers have demonstrated that every population can protect itself against a broad range of viruses thanks to the two most diverse HLA immune genes in humans. Do populations from different geographic regions have the same potential for defending themselves against pathogens and against viruses in particular? An analysis of human genomes, especially the HLA genes responsible for the so-called "adaptive" immune system, provide some possible answers to this question.

Life Sciences - 06.01.2021
Neuronal circuits for fine motor skills
Neuronal circuits for fine motor skills
Writing, driving a screw or throwing darts are only some of the activities that demand a high level of skill. How the brain masters such exquisite movements has now been described in the journal "Nature" by a team of researchers at the University of Basel and the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research.

Health - Life Sciences - 30.12.2020
Moving towards new cancer therapies with computer simulations at IDSIA USI-SUPSI
Moving towards new cancer therapies with computer simulations at IDSIA USI-SUPSI
From a research hypothesis in experimental biology to the possible application in the field of anticancer therapies, through computer simulations. This is the essential course of an interdisciplinary and international research project that has identified the mechanisms by which particular peptides can penetrate cell membranes and contribute to the elimination of tumors.

Life Sciences - 23.12.2020
The first endovascular technology that can explore capillaries
The first endovascular technology that can explore capillaries
Scientists have invented a technique to navigate electronic devices that are smaller than human hair inside blood vessels and reach arterioles. The next step will be conducting in vivo tests. The cardiovascular system is astonishing. It uses the blood that circulates in our veins and arteries to transport oxygen and nutrients to every tissue in the body.

Life Sciences - Pharmacology - 23.12.2020
Genetic Engineering without Unwanted Side-Effects Helps Fight Parasites
Genetic Engineering without Unwanted Side-Effects Helps Fight Parasites
Modified CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing scissors are enabling researchers at UZH to make alterations to the genetic material of single-cell organisms that are indistinguishable from natural mutations. This method is making it possible to develop a (harmless) experimental live vaccine for the widespread parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Life Sciences - Health - 21.12.2020
How a large protein complex assembles in a cell
How a large protein complex assembles in a cell
A team of ETH researchers led by Karsten Weis has developed a method that allows them to study the assembly process for large protein complexes in detail for the first time. As their case study, the biologists chose one of the largest cellular complexes: the nuclear pore complex in yeast cells. Cells produce a great number of different protein complexes, each of which is made up of many individual proteins.

Life Sciences - Health - 21.12.2020
Brain Stem Cells Divide over Months
Brain Stem Cells Divide over Months
For the first time, scientists at the University of Zurich have been able to observe stem cells in the adult mouse brain that divide over the course of several months to create new nerve cells. The study shows that brain stem cells are active over a long period, and thus provides new insights for stem cell research.

Life Sciences - Health - 18.12.2020
A weather station for epilepsy
A weather station for epilepsy
To do this, Baud collaborated with Vikram Rao, neurologist at UCSF, to obtain neuronal activity data collected over several years using devices implanted long-term in the brains of patients with epilepsy. After confirming that there were indeed cycles of cerebral epileptic activity, the scientists turned their attention to statistical analysis.

Life Sciences - Environment - 17.12.2020
Downstream passage facilities with signals that are understood by fish
Downstream passage facilities with signals that are understood by fish
Europe still has barely any downstream passage facilities that guide fish past the turbines of run-of-river power stations unharmed. Now, an interdisciplinary team of engineers from ETH Zurich and fish biologists from Eawag have developed a rack that uses pressure and flow differences to guide fish out of the main flow and into the safe fish passage.

Environment - Life Sciences - 17.12.2020
How climate change is disrupting ecosystems
How climate change is disrupting ecosystems
When it gets warmer, organisms rise higher from the lowlands. Researchers from ETH and WSL investigated what could happen to plant communities on alpine grasslands if grasshoppers from lower elevations settled there. The world is getting warmer and warmer - and many organisms native to lower latitudes or elevations are moving higher.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 14.12.2020
Thinking afresh about how cells respond to stress
Thinking afresh about how cells respond to stress
Just like people, cells get stressed too. A sudden drop in oxygen, overheating, or toxins can trigger a cascade of molecular changes that lead cells to stop growing, produce stress-protective factors, and form stress granules - proteins and RNA molecules huddled together into membrane-less organelles.

Life Sciences - Physics - 14.12.2020
Bacterial nanopores open the future of data storage
Bioengineers at EPFL have developed a nanopore-based system that can read data encoded into synthetic macromolecules with higher accuracy and resolution than similar methods on the market. The system is also potentially cheaper and longer-lasting, and overcomes limitations that prevent us from moving away from conventional data storage devices that are rapidly maxing out in capacity and endurance.

Life Sciences - Computer Science - 10.12.2020
DeepLabCut-Live! real-time marker-less motion capture for animals
DeepLabCut-Live! real-time marker-less motion capture for animals
Behavioral scientists at EPFL introduce DeepLabCut-Live!, a deep-learning tool that can enable real-time feedback studies on animal movement and posture. The software features "maker-less" real-time motion capture, can interface with lab hardware for neurological analysis, and is now available open source for use by researchers.

Health - Life Sciences - 09.12.2020
Cancer Research in Bern: Analysing and finding solutions to treatment resistance
Cancer Research in Bern: Analysing and finding solutions to treatment resistance
A number of types of cancer are prone to adapt to targeted treatment, enabling resistance. Prof. Mark Rubin, Department for BioMedical Research and Bern Center for Precision Medicine, together with colleagues from the Weill Cornell Medicine and the University of Manchester have now published a 'Perspective' in the journal Molecular Cell.
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