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Barcelona, 19 December 2018 Growing bio-inspired shapes with hundreds of tiny robots Hundreds of small robots can work in a team to create biology-inspired shapes – without an underlying master plan, purely based on local communication and movement. To achieve this, researchers from EMBL Barcelona, CRG and Bristol Robotics Laboratory introduced the biological principles of self-organisation to swarm robotics. Science Robotics publishes the results on 19 December.
Rome, 17 December 2018 Using light to stop itch Itch is easily one of the most annoying sensations. For chronic skin diseases like eczema, it’s a major symptom. Although it gives temporary relief, scratching only makes things worse because it can cause skin damage, additional inflammation and even more itch. Paul Heppenstall, Linda Nocchi, and colleagues from EMBL Rome have now found a way to stop itch with light in mice. Their results were published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Hinxton, 26 November 2018 Algorithm identifies gene–environment relationships The research article, published in the journal Nature Genetics, produced an algorithm and a bioinformatics method that can be applied to large cohorts of human genome and lifestyle data to identify the impact environmental factors (such as diet, physical activity or living conditions) have on genotype–phenotype relationships. Applying this method allows scientists to identify areas of the genome that affect human traits in different ways, depending on lifestyle or other environmental factors.
Heidelberg, 15 November 2018 Controlling organ growth with light In optogenetics, researchers use light to control protein activity. This technique allows them to alter the shape of embryonic tissue and to inhibit the development of abnormalities. Now, scientists in EMBL’s De Renzis group have enhanced the technique to stop organ-shaping processes in fruit fly embryos. Their results, published in The EMBO Journal, allow control over a crucial step in embryonic development.
Heidelberg, 24 October 2018 More effective insulin thanks to first 3D image An international collaboration including EMBL scientists Felix Weis and Christoph Müller has revealed how to make therapeutic insulins more effective than they currently are, by publishing the first definitive 3D image of how insulin successfully binds to its receptor. The findings - published in Nature Communications on 24 October - will help to improve treatments for diabetes, a disease that impacts the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Heidelberg, 1 October 2018 Ageing is visible in the way cells use glucose A research team from EMBL and Heidelberg University has studied the molecular features of ageing in human blood stem cells. The most prominent finding is that the sugar metabolism of stem cells increases with age – a change similar to that observed in cancer cells. Their results, published in Nature Communications on 1 October 2018, serve as an important reference for further studies on the molecular mechanisms of ageing in humans.
Heidelberg, 10 September 2018 First interactive model of human cell division Mitosis – how one cell divides and becomes two – is one of the fundamental processes of life. Researchers at EMBL's Ellenberg group have now produced the first interactive map of proteins that make our cells divide, allowing users to track exactly where and in which groups the proteins drive the division process forward. This first dynamic protein atlas of human cell division is published in Nature today.
General, 5 September 2018 €17 million fund to power European detection and imaging innovation pipeline The ATTRACT initiative will commit €17 million to funding 170 breakthrough detection and imaging ideas with market potential to help enable the creation of products, services, companies and jobs based on these technologies. The ATTRACT seed fund is open to researchers and entrepreneurs from organisations all over Europe. The call for proposals is already open and will collect breakthrough ideas until the 31st of October 2018.
Hinxton, 29 August 2018 PhenoMeNal: an online portal for metabolomics An international collaboration between EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and 13 other partners has made large-scale metabolomics analyses easier with the launch of PhenoMeNal. This online portal allows researchers and clinicians to analyse large metabolomics datasets. For example, researchers can search for patterns in a patient’s data, and use the findings to improve the detection of disease and to help optimise treatment.
Heidelberg, 1 August 2018 Understanding soil through its microbiome Soil is full of life, essential for nutrient cycling and carbon storage. To better understand how it functions, an international research team led by Peer Bork and Falk Hildebrand at EMBL and the University of Tartu (Estonia) conducted the first global study of bacteria and fungi in soil. Their results show that bacteria and fungi are in constant competition for nutrients and produce an arsenal of antibiotics to gain an advantage over one another. Nature publishes the results on 1 August 2018.
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