The human immune system, that marvel of complexity, subtlety, and sophistication, includes a billion-year-old family of proteins used by bacteria to defend themselves against viruses, scientists have discovered.
Worldwide, there is growing belief that biomedical sciences can advance with less animal testing by replacing in-vivo experiments with in-vitro models based on human cells or tissues. However, when it comes to elucidating disease mechanisms, especially at the organ and system levels, or to testing the efficacy and safety of drugs and medical devices, animal models are as yet indispensable. This is why researchers – also at the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM – are working to develop new human-relevant disease and test models according to the principle of the 3 Rs, both in vitro and ex vivo.
How can we shift from a state of inattentiveness to one of highest attention? The locus coeruleus, literally the “blue spot,” is a tiny cluster of cells at the base of the brain. As the main source of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, it helps us control our attentional focus. Synthesizing evidence from animal and human studies, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the University of Southern California have now developed a novel framework describing the way the blue spot regulates our brain’s sensitivity to relevant information in situations requiring attention. Their findings have been published in an opinion article in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Plants, like other organisms, can be severely affected by heat stress. To increase their chances of survival, they activate the heat shock response, a molecular pathway also employed by human and animal cells for stress protection. Researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now discovered that plant steroid hormones can promote this response in plants.
Scientists have discovered that genes in human embryos rapidly become active after fertilization, opening a new window onto the start of human embryonic life.
How complex innovations can emerge seemingly out of nowhere is a central question of evolutionary biology. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB) discovered new evidence that inflammatory immune responses can lay the foundation for the evolution of novel tissues. This process led to the emergence of a unique tissue called “plug”, which allows ricefish mothers to carry their offspring until hatching. Such an “innovative inflammation” not only revolutionized ricefish reproduction, but also played a key role in human evolution.
Artificial intelligence (AI) models that evaluate medical images have potential to speed up and improve accuracy of cancer diagnoses, but they may also be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Researchers simulated an attack that falsified mammogram images, fooling both an AI breast cancer diagnosis model and human breast imaging radiologist experts.
Recently published research has found that most cancer-free individuals over age 60 carry at least 100 billion cells harboring at least one oncogenic, or tumor-causing, mutation.
The human brain works differently than a computer – while the brain works with biological cells and electrical impulses, a computer uses silicon-based transistors. Scientists led by Paschalis Gkoupidenis, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, have now combined the two worlds in a large-scale research collaboration. They have equipped a toy robot with a smart and adaptive electrical circuit made of soft organic materials, similarly to the biological matter. With this bio-inspired approach, they were able to teach the robot to navigate independently through a maze using visual signs for guidance.
Scientists have identified a rare population of potentially toxic senescent cells in human brains that can serve as a target for a new Alzheimer’s disease treatment.
2 December 2021 – A group of Italian and American researchers led by Fabrizio d’Adda di Fagagna now reports that the expression of the cell receptor for the virus, ACE2, which is essential for mediating cell entry of the virus, increases in the lungs of aging mice and humans. They further show that ACE2 expression increases upon telomere shortening or dysfunction – common hallmarks of aging – in cultured human cells and in mice. This increase depends on a DNA damage response elicited by dysfunctional telomeres. The findings published today by EMBO Reports provide one possible molecular explanation for the increased sensitivity of elderly people to SARS-CoV-2.
Breakthrough research on human embryo models paves the way for improving in vitro fertilization success rate and new non-hormonal, user-friendly contraception.
Recent research compared the genetic expression profiles of a nonlethal canine tumor and the rare, devastating human oral tumor it resembles, laying the groundwork for potential translational medicine down the road.
The bacterium P. aeruginosa causes the most common secondary infection in hospital patients with influenza, COVID-19 or cystic fibrosis and it is resistant to antibiotics. Another bacterial pathogen, Vibrio vulnificus, is found in raw seafood and brackish waters and can have rare, but deadly consequences for human beings. To poison the cells, both pathogens use toxins called ExoY that are almost inactive inside the bacteria. Once injected into cells, however, ExoY takes a turning point as it becomes ten thousand times more active. Yet, the exact mechanism that leads to this ten thousand fold activity was until recently unknown.
Researchers have produced a single-cell chromatin atlas for the human genome. Delineating chromatin regions in cells of different human tissue types would be a major step toward understanding the role of gene regulatory elements (non-coding DNA) in human health or disease.
In a worldwide collaboration, environmental scientists assessed the even distribution of aquatic biomass among size classes, from bacteria to whales, for the first time on a global scale. Their quantification of human impact reveals a dramatic shift in one of the most significant scale patterns in nature.
After 200 years of absence due to historic human pressures that once threatened their existence, New Zealand sea lions are returning to New Zealand’s mainland in an emerging story of conservation success and complex opportunities.
Nature and nurture: researchers identify pathway critical for the development and prevention of intestinal inflammation
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are chronic inflammatory diseases of unknown origin. While genetics was shown to contribute to IBD risk, only a minority of people carrying genetic risk variants develop the disease. It suggests that other environmental factors play an important role in IBD. Researchers from the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) and the Medical Faculty of the TU Dresden have now identified a new pathway responsible for intestinal inflammation. They show how a human genetic defect promotes susceptibility to bacterial triggers of inflammation in the gut.
A new study has identified an RNA molecule that suppresses prostate tumors. The scientists found that prostate cancers develop ways to shut down this RNA molecule to allow themselves to grow. According to the new research — conducted in mice implanted with human prostate tumor samples — restoring this so-called long noncoding RNA could be a new strategy to treat prostate cancer that has developed resistance to hormonal therapies.
Extensive comparative study at Kiel University on the composition of the bacterial colonisation of zoo animals provides new insights into the loss of microbial diversity in the human body
Neuronal migration is a fundamental step in the development of the central nervous system. Specific cells, so called basal progenitors (BPs), in humans contribute to neuronal expansion. The exact molecular and cellular processes of this expansion are poorly understood. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry discovered a new important role for the cancer biomarker protein LGALS3BP in this process. This gene is enriched in human neural progenitors (NPCs).
A decade ago, genome sequencing revealed a big surprise: about 50 percent of human cancers are linked to mutations in what are known as epigenetic regulators, which control the activity of genes. Medical researchers have now developed a new drug-like molecule that can counteract the effects of mutated epigenetic regulators, which are known to drive certain types of cancer including lymphoma.
Researchers have designed a way to selectively turn on gene expression in target cells, including human cells. Their technology can detect specific mRNA sequences, which triggers production of a specific protein.
Archaea are often mistaken as bacteria, given that both are small, single-cell organisms. However, archaea are as genetically different from bacteria as humans are from bacteria. While archaea are found in most environments, including the human gut microbiome, relatively little is known about them. An international team of researchers from Germany and Austria, led by Nicholas Youngblut at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, has compiled the first large scale assessment of archaeal diversity in the vertebrate gut. The study shows that the diversity of archaea in the vertebrate gut is greater than previously thought.