Heidelberg, 11 December 2018 Computer model to predict prostate cancer progress The model is currently being implemented at a prostate cancer clinic in Germany. The researchers have also found the enzyme that appears to trigger some of the first mutations in prostate cancer. Cancer Cell publishes their results on 10 December 2018. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men in the Western world, with more than a million new cases each year. The new computer model was developed by an international team involving Jan Korbel and colleagues at EMBL, and researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).
Heidelberg, 7 December 2018 DIY Biology kits: what’s really growing inside? In Germany, CRISPR-Cas technology is strictly limited to certified labs, but people’s curiosity extends much further. Those particularly interested in its application are members of the do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) community, whose scientific backgrounds are as broad and varied as their aims. Their portrayal in the press has been mixed, with journalists alternately highlighting DIYbio’s potential dangers or educational possibilities. For scientists at EMBL, the DIYbio movement provides a conundrum. “As scientists, we recognise and support the urge to explore, ask questions and tinker,” says Vladimir Benes. “But we also hope to see DIY biologists learning in a safe environment – and doing sound science.”
Heidelberg, 6 December 2018 New ways to look at protein-RNA networks Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and EMBL have developed a method that enables researchers to analyse the composition of the entire protein-RNA network of the cell. The new method has now been published in the journal Cell. “With XRNAX we are able to measure all interactions between protein and RNA, which is something nobody could measure before,” explains Jakob Trendel, a PhD student at EMBL who developed XRNAX. “Many protein-RNA interactions are suspected to be the underlying cause for diseases including cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or viral infections like HIV. Now we have a way to look at them.”
General, 5 December 2018 New EMBL Partnership in Hungary EMBL has recently formed an inter-institutional collaboration with the Hungarian Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine (HCEMM), setting the stage for the ongoing transfer of institutional, research and collaborative expertise between the two organisations. Researchers at HCEMM will also have access to the EMBL Partnership network across Europe and further afield. HCEMM is a newly established non-profit organisation, researching the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. It will bridge the gap between fundamental and translational research by undertaking projects with relatively rapid clinical applications.
Hinxton, 3 December 2018 Discovering new enzymes just got easier Biotechnology researchers are always looking for ways to make such innovative ideas a reality. To do that, they need to find enzymes – biomolecular machines, or catalysts – that can transform things or break them down. But finding an enzyme that performs the correct transformation under the right conditions is not that easy. You can’t just Google all life on Earth to find an enzyme that does the right job. But you could try using metagenomics-based analysis to identify enzyme of commercial interest. EMBL-EBI’s MGnify is a good place to start. This open data resource from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) uses metagenomics-based analysis to identify enzyme of commercial interest.
Heidelberg, 30 November 2018 Translating blue-sky research into the clinic In the summer of 1999, Ilaria Ferlenghi sat at a microscope, staring intensely at the greyscale image swimming into and out of focus on screen. She was inside the microscopy facility at EMBL’s Heidelberg site, using one of two cryo-electron microscopes. Within the blur, she was searching for a glimpse of the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) – a virus for which south-west Germany is particularly renowned. In the forest outside the laboratory, hikers were attempting to avoid TBEV. Those sensible enough covered their ankles, to protect themselves from TBEV-infected ticks lurking in the undergrowth. Anyone infected with TBEV risks fever, seizures and even death.
Heidelberg, 28 November 2018 Science in industry For one week in September, twenty postdocs got the chance to hear about exciting research happening within various industries, as part of the EIPOD Corporate Summer School. EIPOD is EMBL’s interdisciplinary postdoc programme, which receives funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. From designing drugs to creating a start-up company, Shveta Bisht and Daniel Schraivogel present their personal highlights, along with the latest developments occurring at the interface between academia and industry.
Heidelberg, 28 November 2018 Night of research, culture and treats European Researchers’ Night is Europe’s biggest science festival. This year, Heidelberg and Mannheim participated for the first time. EMBL’s European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS) was responsible for organising Heidelberg and Mannheim’s participation in the festival, and secured funding from the European Commission for both 2018 and 2019. On 28 September, ten research institutes in and around Heidelberg were invited to take part in the ‘Nacht der Forschung Heidelberg | Mannheim’ (Night of Research Heidelberg | Mannheim), together offering more than 130 activities. The 1300 visitors at EMBL had the opportunity to visit the labs and talk to scientists, who presented their work in various ways, including in pictures, through dance, and on stage.
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, 22 November 2018 Ambition and talent Although Nina Kathe is just 20 years old and at the beginning of her scientific career, her scientific achievements have already been recognised by the EU. In 2017, she won the EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) for her school project, which focused on antibiotic resistance. Part of her prize was a visit to EMBL Heidelberg, where she had the opportunity to attend a conference of her choice. Nina decided to take part in the EMBL conference ‘Transcription and Chromatin’ in August 2018. She also learned about EMBL’s core facilities, tested the light sheet microscope in the Hufnagel group and discussed her research plans with members of the Typas group.