Heidelberg, 15 May 2017 Cell changes drive breast cancer relapse Relapse is now the main cause of death for breast cancer patients. Researchers at EMBL have found that, in mice, the tumour cells that survive therapy and eventually cause a relapse have specific traits that distinguish them from healthy cells. In a study published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the scientists revealed that two of these traits could be promising targets for treatments to reduce tumour recurrence in breast cancer patients. “Our results suggest that residual cells retain an ‘oncogenic memory’ that could be exploited to develop drugs against breast cancer recurrence,” says Martin Jechlinger, who led the research at EMBL.
Hinxton, 11 May 2017 HipSci: The human stem cell bank Stem cell researchers have produced one of the largest collections of high-quality human induced pluripotent stem cell lines (iPSCs) from healthy individuals. This comes as result of a close collaboration between the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, King’s College London, the University of Dundee and the University of Cambridge. The data generated by the initiative are hosted and distributed via EBI services. The new resource, reported in Nature, features hundreds of publicly available human stem cell lines that scientists can use to study human development and disease.
Heidelberg, 8 May 2017 Obituary: Riccardo Cortese The life science community is mourning the loss of Riccardo Cortese, former head of EMBL’s Gene Structure and Regulation Programme (now the Genome Biology Unit), who passed away in April aged 72. Riccardo was a prominent figure in the life sciences internationally, driving many important discoveries that had a huge impact on both fundamental and applied research.
Heidelberg, 8 May 2017 EMBL spin-off company Luxendo acquired by Bruker EMBL spin-off company Luxendo has been acquired by Bruker Corporation. Based in Heidelberg, Germany, Luxendo develops and commercialises microscopes that use the Single Plane Illumination Microscopy (SPIM) technique developed by EMBL researchers.
Monterotondo, 5 May 2017 Welcome: Jamie Hackett EMBL Monterotondo’s new group leader Jamie Hackett and his group are interested in how epigenetic reprogramming works, through processes such as DNA demethylation a and chromatin remodeling. “We are looking at the controversial idea of how some epigenetic information escapes reprogramming and is inherited by offspring – something that could potentially impact development, health and disease over the course of generations. Such ‘non genetic’ inheritance is a tantalising possibility, but something that must be examined and scrutinised very carefully,” explains Jamie.
Heidelberg, 2 May 2017 Futures: Phosphatases As part of a series marking the tenth anniversary of the European Research Council, ERC grantee Maja Köhn shares her vision for the next ten years. “Phosphatases are a group of enzymes involved in an incredibly diverse range of processes. My group will study several phosphatases, learning more about their substrates and investigating their roles in the cell. We hope to gain insights into the features that allow them to bind to their substrates, and identify which of these features are shared by different phosphatases. We’ll also investigate other factors such as where the phosphatase is located in the cell, or the interactions it has with other proteins.”
General, 2 May 2017 Hungary becomes EMBL member state On 20 April EMBL welcomed Hungary as its 23rd member state, highlighting EMBL’s commitment to promoting international science and forming close ties with researchers across Europe. “This is an important step for EMBL, and for life science research in Hungary,” said EMBL’s Director General Iain Mattaj. “We’re very pleased to have them join us as a new member state.”
Heidelberg, 27 April 2017 Illuminating insulin release Typical laboratory tests to measure levels of insulin – the hormone that controls our blood sugar – are based on the total amount of insulin secreted by a large number of cells. But exploring the fundamental biology behind this process – and testing possible drugs to control it – requires an understanding of how it works at the single-cell level. This is possible using a new method developed by researchers at EMBL and reported in Cell Chemical Biology, as study author Carsten Schultz explains.
Monterotondo, 25 April 2017 Developing embryos found to use ancient viral DNA DNA from viruses that once infected our ancestors millions of years ago have remained in our genome to this day. In a study published today in eLife, EMBL scientists found that activation of one class of these ancient viral sequences is critical for early mouse embryo development, and identified the protein involved in regulating them.