News

At the University of Zurich and at ETH Zurich, Life Science research covers a huge range of different topics. There is plenty of new information about all these research activities is every day and you easily lose track of what is really important. Under “News”, we have selected some of the reports and articles on new and relevant findings in the Life Science research for you. If you are looking for more detailed knowledge of a specific subject you might find an answer here. If you miss your favorite research topic, please let us know.

  • We are less sceptical of genetic engineering than assumed

    We often hear that Swiss consumers want their agriculture to be free from genetic engineering. But consumer acceptance of genetically modified crops is likely to be higher than the media leads us to believe, Angela Bearth says.

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  • Humans and Chimps

    Human communication is much more complex than all other forms of animal communication. And yet, monkeys and meerkats are also able to use language. Research into animal languages can help us understand how human language evolved.

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  • Computer algorithms are currently revolutionising biology

    Artificial intelligence can help predict the three-​dimensional structure of proteins. Beat Christen describes how such algorithms should soon help to develop tailored artificial proteins.

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  • Toxicity testing on the placenta and embryo

    Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a cell culture test to detect substances that are directly or indirectly harmful to embryos. Based on an existing test used for developing new drugs and chemicals, the augmented version is designed to help reduce the number of animal experiments.

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  • Courting Females

    In the animal kingdom, it’s the ladies who get to pick their partners. So if males want to mate, they have to woo females and outshine their rivals. UZH biologist Stefan Lüpold examines what gives male animals the edge when it comes to sexual selection.

     

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  • Eating Our Way Through the Pandemic

    Increased stress, lack of exercise and frequent snacking: The effects of the pandemic are visible on our waistlines. For endocrinologist Philipp Gerber, the weight gain is not just a short-term side effect, but is storing up problems for the future and needs to be taken seriously.

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  • Optimising nature

    Today, molecular genetic methods can be used to breed sustainable crops - such as multinutrient rice. Researchers are calling for the risk of new plant varieties to be assessed not on the basis of the breeding method, but on the basis of their characteristics.

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  • Luring bacteria into a trap

    Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Basel have developed a vaccine that protects animals from Salmonella. These bacteria often escape the effects of vaccination by genetically modifying their protective coat. The researchers have succeeded in manipulating this process to lure the bacteria into an evolutionary trap.

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  • A deep dive into the brain

    Researchers from ETH Zurich and University of Zurich have developed a new microscopy technique that lights up the brain with high resolution imagery. This allows neuroscientists to study brain functions and ailments more closely and non-​invasively.

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  • How tendons become stiffer and stronger

    Researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich deciphered the cellular mechanisms through which tendons can adapt to mechanical stresses. People who carry a certain variant of a gene that is key to this mechanism show improved jumping performance.

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  • The African Wild Dog: An Ambassador for the World’s Largest Terrestrial Conservation Area

    The world’s largest terrestrial conservation area is located in southern Africa and covers 520,000 square kilometers spanning five countries. A study from the University of Zurich now shows that the endangered African wild dog mostly remains within the boundaries of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) when dispersing, thus highlighting the relevance of such a large-scale conservation initiative for maintaining key wildlife corridors of threatened species.

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  • The Achilles heel of the Coronavirus

    SARS-​CoV-2 is critically dependent on a special mechanism for the production of its proteins. A collaborative team led by a research group at ETH Zurich obtained molecular insights into this process and demonstrated that it can be inhibited by chemical compounds, thereby significantly reducing viral replication in infected cells.

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  • A simple exterior – but complex interior

    ETH Fellow Serina Robinson is devoted to microorganisms. She is particularly interested in the enzymes they use to produce and break down chemical substances. The young scientist is also especially fascinated by as yet uncultivated microbes.

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  • Brain Tumors under Attack

    Is Marian Neidert taking a saw to the branch he’s sitting on? As a neurosurgeon, he operates on brain tumors; as a researcher he’s trying to teach the immune system to fight them itself. But it might be some time before immunotherapies make surgery superfluous

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  • Planting Underpants

    Biologist Marcel van der Heijden aims to increase agricultural yields – not just with artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and GM technology, but also fungi and other microorganisms. He's not afraid to resort to less conventional research methods, either.

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  • How bacteria sleep through antibiotic attacks

    Bacteria can survive antibiotic treatment even without antibiotic resistance by slowing down their metabolism and going into a type of deep sleep. A research team reveals the changes bacteria undergo to reach this "persister" state. Annelies Zinkernagel, an infectiologist at UZH, is main author of the publication in the scientific journal PNAS.

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  • Synchronization of Brain Hemispheres Changes What We Hear

    Most of the time, our brain receives different input from each of our ears, but we nevertheless perceive speech as unified sounds. This process takes place through synchronization of the areas of the brain involved with the help of gamma waves, neurolinguists at the University of Zurich have now discovered. Their findings may lead to new treatment approaches for tinnitus.

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  • Unusual mutation causes defective sperm in boars

    ETH researchers have found a gene mutation that causes the sperm of boars to immobilize. Their discovery will help pig breeders to exclude animals with this genetic defect from breeding in future.

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  • Detailed tumour profiling

    As part of a clinical study involving patients from the University Hospitals in Zurich and Basel, researchers are conducting a thorough and highly precise investigation into the molecular and functional properties of tumours. Their goal is to help physicians to better determine which treatment will best match every patient’s cancer and thus be most effective.

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  • How a large protein complex assembles in a cell

    A team of ETH researchers led by Karsten Weis has developed a method that allows them to study the assembly process for large protein complexes in detail for the first time. As their case study, the biologists chose one of the largest cellular complexes: the nuclear pore complex in yeast cells.

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  • What immune cells reveal about sleep disorders

    Daniela Latorre wanted to be a scientist since she was a child. At the Institute for Research in Biomedicine, affiliated to the USI in Bellinzona and the Institute of Microbiology, she is finding evidence that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease. She has now received the Pfizer Prize for Research 2020 for her pioneering work.

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  • Depression therapy: Adrift on the Ocean

    Psilocybin, the active ingredient found in certain mushrooms, expands the boundaries of the self and reduces anxiety. Psychiatrist Franz X. Vollenweider wants to harness this effect to treat patients suffering from depression.

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  • Which factors trigger leaf die-off in autumn?

    Researchers at ETH Zurich have identified a self-​regulating mechanism in European deciduous trees that limits their growing-​season length: Trees that photosynthesise more in spring and summer lose their leaves earlier in autumn.

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  • Medical microrobots score the Breakthrough of the Year

    through of the Year in the category “Engineering & Technology” at this year’s Falling Walls Conference in Berlin. The ETH Zurich-​affiliated researcher’s microrobots open up new possibilities for non-​invasive medical diagnosis and treatment.

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  • Understanding mutations at different levels of the cell