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News from the Lab (news.myScience.ch)

  • News from the Lab’ is a selection of scientific works that are significant or interesting for a broad readership. 
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Life Sciences - Mathematics - 22.02.2016
Why the brain is not folded like a crumpled sheet of paper
Why the brain is not folded like a crumpled sheet of paper
Crumpled paper and Romanesco cauliflower have one thing in common: they have a fractal form. "Scientists have long been discussing whether the curves of our cerebrum have a fractal form," explains Dr. Marc de Lussanet, a researcher at Münster University. Experts want to know how the brain folds are produced in order to understand the brain, its development and possible disorders.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 18.02.2016
New Transport Mechanisms Gain Access To Brain
Researchers at the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology of Heidelberg University are exploring new approaches to the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system such as Alzheimer's and brain tumours.

Life Sciences - Physics - 18.02.2016
A tunnel through the head
A tunnel through the head
Humans use the time delay between the arrival of a sound wave at each ear to discern the direction of the source. In frogs, lizards and birds the distance between the ears is too small. However, they have a cavity connecting the eardrums, in which internal and external sound waves are superimposed. Using a universal mathematical model, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now for the first time shown how new signals are created in this "inner ear" used by animals for localizing sounds.

Health - Life Sciences - 17.02.2016
Fragile bacterial community in the gut
Iron deficiency is often an issue in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. An international and interdisciplinary research group under the aegis of the ZIEL Institute for Food & Health (ZIEL) at the TU Munich has now investigated how the intestinal microbiota responds to oral or intravenous iron replacement.

Life Sciences - Health - 17.02.2016
Aiming to prevent stroke and dementia
Aiming to prevent stroke and dementia
Stroke and dementia rank among the most pressing health issues in Europe. Both conditions are linked with so-called cerebral small vessel diseases (SVDs). SVDs account for more than 30% of strokes and at least 40% of dementia cases. Despite this profound impact on human health, reliably effective treatments for SVDs are still elusive.

Life Sciences - Physics - 15.02.2016
Using Light To Control Protein Transport From Cell Nucleus
Using Light To Control Protein Transport From Cell Nucleus
Light can be used to control the transport of proteins from the cell nucleus with the aid of a light-sensitive, genetically modified plant protein. Biologists from Heidelberg University and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) working in the field of optogenetics have now developed such a tool. The researchers, under the direction of Dr. Barbara Di Ventura and Roland Eils, employed methods from synthetic biology and combined a light sensor from the oat plant with a transport signal.

Health - Life Sciences - 15.02.2016
Progress in fighting cancer and infections with'T cell therapy
Progress in fighting cancer and infections with’T cell therapy
The quest to bring immunotherapy into widespread clinical use against cancer and infectious diseases has made great strides in recent years. For example, clinical trials of adoptive'T cell therapy are yielding highly promising results.

Environment - Life Sciences - 12.02.2016
Asynchrony of species is more important than diversity
Asynchrony of species is more important than diversity
Whether an animal or plant community remains stable despite external impacts does not depend on biological diversity alone: asynchrony across the species is also a crucial factor. The more the species in an ecosystem fluctuate in their evolution over time, the less they are likely to falter. As a result, diversity takes second place in terms of the factors to be considered in the context of ecosystem stability.

Life Sciences - Physics - 05.02.2016
If cells run out of oxygen, they start to shine green
If cells run out of oxygen, they start to shine green
Without oxygen, cells cannot survive. If the oxygen supply drops, for example due to a heart attack, long-term damage may result. However, just how serious such damage really is can only be assessed hours or even days later. For the first time now, and using light microscopy, scientists in Münster have observed reduced oxygen supply directly in individual cells.

Life Sciences - Health - 02.02.2016
Tracking Down a Bloodsucking Pest
International Team of Scientists Unravels Genome of the Bed Bug and Publishes Results in Journal 'Nature ' An international team of scientists has managed to sequence the genome of the bedbug. Among them are neurogeneticists from the University of Würzburg's Biocenter. They studied genes that control the circadian clock, secretion, and moulting processes. The work was coordinated by researchers at the University of Cincinnati, and the sequencing was carried out at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 29.01.2016
Harbingers of aging
Midlife crisis in the insect world: In a new study, LMU researchers have detected age-dependent alterations in metabolism and gene regulation in middle-aged fruitflies, and show that these effects are linked to a reduction in lifespan. The aging process is accompanied by characteristic changes in physiology whose overall effect is to decrease the capacity for tissue repair and increase susceptibility to metabolic disease.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 28.01.2016
The importance of mixed motifs
Local modifications in histone proteins alter DNA packing density in the cell nucleus to regulate gene activity. They also form the basis of a code in which the significance of a given pattern or motif depends on its broader context. Virtually all the cells in any given multicellular organism contain the same complement of genes.

Health - Life Sciences - 26.01.2016
A protective factor in farm milk
Fresh, unprocessed cow's milk has a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids than does pasteurized, homogenized or low-fat milk. This factor partly explains why children who consume the unprocessed product are less likely to develop asthma. Children who regularly drink fresh farm milk are less likely to develop asthma than kids who consume the industrially processed product.

Life Sciences - 21.01.2016
Sensory function: Thalamus enhances and stores sensory information
Sensory function: Thalamus enhances and stores sensory information
Every day, we constantly absorb information through our sensory organs, which the brain then needs to process correctly. The information initially reaches the main relay center, the thalamus, and then travels to the cerebral cortex. The neurons in the so-called higher-order thalamus form the connecting lines between both areas of the brain.

Life Sciences - Physics - 18.01.2016
Blood cells in action
In experiments and computer simulations, researchers repeatedly deformed red blood cells, let them "wriggle" and then analysed their behaviour. Three tiny spheres hold the cells in place during the process, while the movements of the cell membrane are measured with the help of a fourth sphere. The "wrapper" of the blood cell consists of a lipid double layer and a cytoskeleton; active forces, produced for example by an ion pump, move the membrane (red arrows) and fluids (green arrows) locally in opposite directions.

Life Sciences - Mechanical Engineering - 15.01.2016
How a Developmental Gene Controls Feeding Behaviour
How a Developmental Gene Controls Feeding Behaviour
In experiments on the fruit fly model organism Drosophila melanogaster, Heidelberg University biologists gained new insight into how feeding behaviour is encoded and controlled. The research team led by Ingrid Lohmann of the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) studied the function of a special developmental gene of the Hox gene family.

Life Sciences - 29.12.2015
Lost the beat
Lost the beat
Mice suffer from a decrease in biological fitness if their internal clock is mixed up Mice with deviant internal rhythms due to a genetic mutation have fewer offspring and shorter life spans than normal conspecifics whose rhythms follow the 24-hr cycle of a day more accurately. This discovery was made by a team of scientists led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Princeton University.

Life Sciences - Health - 21.12.2015
Protein That Boosts Memory Identified
Increasing the level of a certain DNA-modified enzyme in the brain significantly improves cognitive ability. The discovery was made by the research team led by Hilmar Bading at the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences of Heidelberg University. Mouse experiments showed that the Dnmt3a2 protein can boost memory performance in the animals.

Health - Life Sciences - 18.12.2015
Drying out the reservoir
A German-Dutch team has succeeded in immunizing dromedaries against the MERS virus. As the camels appear to be the major reservoir of the virus, the vaccine should also reduce the risk of future outbreaks of the disease in humans. Research on MERS has identified camels as the primary source of human infections, although the virus causes only mild symptoms in that host.

Health - Life Sciences - 18.12.2015
Insensitive irritable bowel syndrome
For the first time, biopsies of patients with irritable bowel syndrome have shown that the nerves in their gut wall respond poorly to a cocktail of inflammatory substances. This refutes the previous theory that patients with irritable bowel syndrome have an overly sensitive gut. The new study by scientists of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was carried out in collaboration with several German hospitals.
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