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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 - 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.

Life Sciences - Mathematics - 18.12.2015
Reading the neural code for space
The cognitive map for spatial navigation is thought to rely on grid cells. Scientists at LMU and Harvard University have now put forward a mathematical theory that explains key grid-cell features and how these give rise to a neural metric for space. One year ago, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to the discoverers of the mammalian "GPS system" for spatial navigation.

Life Sciences - Health - 06.12.2015
Scientists reach for the limits: Get the new issue of the Technologist magazine
Scientists reach for the limits: Get the new issue of the Technologist magazine
Six researchers from Europe reveal just how far they go to discover some of nature's deepest secrets or test novel technologies. Among them: Prof. Elisa Resconi, experimental physicist from TUM. Find this and more exciting stories about science and innovation from Europe in the new issue of the Technologist magazine.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 04.12.2015
Cut, File, Shred - A Type of Multi-tool Pocketknife Processes Ribosomal RNA
Researchers from the Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center (BZH) have discovered a complex of four proteins that, much like a multi-tool pocketknife, serves as a knife, a file and a pair of scissors in the manufacture of ribosomes. The complex helps eliminate the residual ribonucleic acid (RNA) that are produced during the manufacturing of the ribsome and must be removed to complete the process.

Life Sciences - Health - 30.11.2015
Giant waste bins
Giant waste bins
If rubbish is too big and unwieldy for normal household waste, its removal becomes the job of specialized experts. Researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now discovered, in cooperation with colleagues from the UK, how large, fused cells help our body to deal with bulky items that may otherwise obstruct normal physiological processes.

Life Sciences - Health - 26.11.2015
Looking on the brighter side
The effect of a widespread genetic variant that increases the risk for childhood asthma can be neutralized. A new study shows that young infants are particularly responsive to the positive influence of exposure to farm dust. LMU asthma researchers have shown, for the first time, that specific environmental influences can neutralize the effect of a prevalent genetic variant that increases risk for childhood asthma.

Life Sciences - Health - 25.11.2015
The
The "dark matter" in the protein universe
Whether in the form of antibodies, enzymes or carriers: proteins play a crucial role in biology. While researchers have been able to at least partially determine the three-dimensional structure of many proteins, the structures of many other protein building blocks and even entire protein molecules remain as yet unknown.

Physics - Life Sciences - 19.11.2015
Details from the inner life of a tooth
Details from the inner life of a tooth
Both in materials science and in biomedical research it is important to be able to view minute nanostructures, for example in carbon-fiber materials and bones. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the University of Lund, Charité hospital in Berlin and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have now developed a new computed tomography method based on the scattering, rather than on the absorption, of X-rays.

Life Sciences - Health - 09.11.2015
Possible Reasons Found for Failure of Alzheimer's Treatment
Possible Reasons Found for Failure of Alzheimer’s Treatment
Agglutinated proteins in the brain, known as amyloid-? plaques, are a key characteristic of Alzheimer's. One treatment option uses special antibodies to break down these plaques. This approach yielded good results in the animal model, but for reasons that are not yet clear, it has so far been unsuccessful in patient studies.

Life Sciences - Health - 04.11.2015
Protein Repairs Nerve Cell Damage
Protein Repairs Nerve Cell Damage
In laboratory experiments on the basic mechanisms that cause Alzheimer's dementia, an international research team led by Heidelberg neurobiologist Ulrike Müller and a team of French scientists have succeeded in largely "repairing" the nerve cell damage typical in this disease. The researchers took a closer look at a key protein in Alzheimer's pathogenisis, APP, and one of its cleavage products APPs'.

Life Sciences - 03.11.2015
Learning during Sleep
Neurobiologists at Freie Universität Berlin Demonstrate Significance of Sleep for Learning Processes in Bees Biologists at Freie Universität Berlin in the group of the highly regarded bee researcher Randolf Menzel have demonstrated for the first time the importance of deep sleep for learning processes in the brains of insects.

Physics - Life Sciences - 02.11.2015
Facilitating processing of biomass
Facilitating processing of biomass
Usually, harvesting energy and raw materials from plants requires many process steps and aggressive chemicals. To make these processes more efficient and resource saving, researchers are looking for suitable enzymes. Using neutrons, researchers have now investigated the reaction mechanism of an important class of enzymes: the glycosidases.

Health - Life Sciences - 30.10.2015
Novel high-throughput approach for the analysis of cancer genes
Novel high-throughput approach for the analysis of cancer genes
An international team of scientists, led by Prof. Roland Rad at the University Hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar of Technical University of Munich (TUM), has developed a multiplexed screening approach together with colleagues of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. The method can be used to mutate simultaneously many different genes in adult mice.

Health - Life Sciences - 29.10.2015
New state-of-the-art compact X-ray source
New state-of-the-art compact X-ray source
For some years now it has been possible to generate high-brilliance X-rays using ring-shaped particle accelerators (synchrotron sources). However, such installations are several hundred meters in diameter and cost billions of euros. The world's first mini synchrotron was inaugurated today at Technical University of Munich (TUM).
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