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Life Science Zurich Communication & Events

News 2020

News list

  • Spread of a novel SARS-CoV-2 variant across Europe in summer 2020

    A research team led by the University of Basel and ETH Zurich has identified a novel SARS-​CoV-2 variant that has spread widely across Europe in recent months, according to an un-​peer-reviewed preprint released this week

  • Women’s Hearts Age Differently

    Cardiologist Catherine Gebhard’s research focuses on why certain diseases affect women and men differently. For the gender medicine pioneer, the corona pandemic is both a textbook example and a call for action at the same time.

  • Maternal Elixir

    Mothers' milk has always been subject to superstitious beliefs and questions. How long should mothers breastfeed? What if it doesn't work? UZH human biologist Thierry Hennet's aim is to find rational arguments, and to identify how breastmilk protects babies from infections.

  • Mechanism discovered how the coronavirus hijacks the cell

    Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Bern have discovered a mechanism by which the corona virus manipulates human cells to ensure its own replication. This knowledge will help to develop drugs and vaccines against the corona virus.

  • How Plants Close their Gates when Microbes Attack

    Like humans, plants protect themselves against pathogens. An international consortium under the lead of UZH professor Cyril Zipfel has now identified a long sought-after factor of this plant immune system: The calcium channel triggers the closure of stomata upon contact with microbes such as bacteria. This innate defense mechanism could help to engineer crop plants that are resistant to pathogens.

  • Spores to Help Combat Coronavirus

    Virologist Cornel Fraefel hopes a novel vaccine technique will help control Sars-CoV-2. The Swiss National Science Foundation has awarded him a grant to fund the remarkable project.

  • RNA as a future cure for hereditary diseases

    ETH Zurich scientists have developed an RNA molecule that can be used in bone marrow cells to correct genetic errors that affect protein production. Patients suffering from a rare hereditary disease that causes a painful hypersensitivity to sunlight could benefit in future.

  • Corona Measures “Imparting knowledge is not enough”

    ETH researchers have investigated how the population has been complying with the prescribed measures to combat the coronavirus. Angela Bearth, one of the authors of the study, explains what conclusions can be drawn from the data so far and what areas deserve particular attention in the near future.


  • The amazing travels of small RNAs

    Biologists have known for some time that RNA interference can silence genes in far-​off cells. They suspected that a messenger substance “transmits” RNA interference. Now, ETH researchers have shown that these messengers in plants are short double-​stranded RNA fragments.

  • Iron deficiency during infancy reduces vaccine efficacy

    About 40 percent of children around the globe suffer from anaemia because they do not consume enough iron. Now, studies by ETH researchers show that iron deficiency also reduces the protection provided by vaccinations.

  • Spark Award winners illuminate tumours

    Making tumours visible so that surgeons can cut only as much as necessary: this is the goal of an invention by chemical biologists Helma Wennemers and Matthew Aronoff. For their achievement they have received the Spark Award, with which ETH recognises the most innovative invention with the most commercial potential of the past year.

  • Data-driven resistance training against muscular atrophy

    Researchers at ETH Zurich and ZHAW present a simple method to precisely map resistance exercise on machines and record missing comparative figures. This could help to develop optimised training strategies in the future, such as for age-​associated muscular atrophy.

  • How Venus Flytraps Snap

    Venus flytraps catch spiders and insects by snapping their trap leaves. This mechanism is activated when unsuspecting prey touch highly sensitive trigger hairs twice within 30 seconds. A study led by researchers at the University of Zurich has now shown that a single slow touch also triggers trap closure – probably to catch slow-moving larvae and snails.

  • How bacteria fertilise soya

    Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth. Although this has long been common knowledge, scientists have only recently described the mechanism in detail. With biotechnology, this knowledge could now help make agriculture more sustainable.

  • The key lies in the genes

    “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison, the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.” These were the words of Paracelsus, a Swiss physician who recognised back in the 16th century that every medicine has its benefits and risks, and that for a medicine to work, the individual dose is crucial.

  • ETH researchers deconstruct tissue repair

    ETH biologists and engineers have deconstructed the mechanisms that control wound healing and scar formation in more detail. To this end, they have developed a method that allows the biomechanical properties of the healing tissue to be measured in vivo for the first time.

  • Bumblebees speed up flowering

    When pollen is in short supply, bumblebees damage plant leaves in a way that accelerates flower production, as an ETH research team headed up by Consuelo De Moraes and Mark Mescher has demonstrated.

  • Joining forces at ETH Zurich for a covid-19 vaccine

    As the shutdown began and the lights went out in the ETH labs a new consortium crystalized around the idea of developing a vaccine. With special permission from the ETH Executive Board to continue wet-​lab research the project quickly got moving and testing of the first vaccine candidates is now underway.

  • Extinct Giant Turtle Had Horned Shell of up to Three Meters

    Paleobiologists from the University of Zurich have discovered exceptional specimens in Venezuela and Colombia of an extinct giant freshwater turtle called Stupendemys. The carapace of this turtle, which is the largest ever known, measured between 2.4 to almost 3 meters. Moreover, the shell of male Stupendemys had horns – a rare feature in turtles.

  • Maintaining better health

    The health care system places a greater emphasis on the treatment of diseases than the root causes of health. On the invitation of the Life Science Zurich (LSZ) Business Network, science, business and society recently discussed this challenge.

  • New world map of fish genetic diversity

    An international research team from ETH Zurich and French universities has studied genetic diversity among fish around the world for the first time. Their research produced a map that will serve as a tool in improving the protection of species and genetic diversity in the future. 

  • Refining Breast Cancer Classification by Multiplexed Imaging

    An imaging approach developed at UZH enables the study of breast cancer tissue in greater detail. It uses 35 biomarkers to identify the different cell types in breast tumors and its surrounding area compared to the current standard of testing single markers. This increases the precision of tumor analysis and classification - and improves personalized diagnostics for breast cancer patients.

  • Cellular Traitors

    When it comes to disease-causing viruses, medicine is still waiting for a breakthrough. The reason lies in the special way these quasi-living organisms function. Viruses don’t simply attack us; they live in constant symbiosis with us.

  • Machine keeps human livers alive for one week

    Researchers in Zurich have developed a machine that keeps human livers alive outside the body for one week. This breakthrough may increase the number of available organs for transplantation saving many lives of patients with severe liver diseases or cancer.

  • Fixing Hearts, Saving Lives

    Artificial heart valves save many lives. But the problem is that a prosthesis is never as robust as the real thing. This is why UZH Professor Maximilian Emmert wants to get the human body to rebuild the damaged valves itself.

  • Understanding mutations at different levels of the cell

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.