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Let’s build a cell

Researchers engineer a minimal synthetic cellular system to study basic cell function

24-Jan-2020

Cells are the basic unit of life. They provide an environment for the fundamental molecules of life to interact, for reactions to take place and sustain life. However, the biological cell is very complicated, making it difficult to understand what takes place inside it. One way to tackle this ...

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Synchro swimmers under the microscope

New insights into collective movement of bacteria

20-Dec-2019

Not only birds, fish and even crowds of people show collective movement patterns, motile bacteria also form currents and vortices when their cell density exceeds a certain size. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg have now been able to show how swarm ...

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Protein injections in medicine

One day, medical compounds could be introduced into cells with the help of bacterial toxins

18-Dec-2019

Pathogens can use a range of toxins to damage their host organism. Bacteria, such as those responsible for causing the deadly Plague, use a special injection mechanism to deliver their poisonous contents into the host cell. Stefan Raunser, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular ...

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Self-restrained genes enable evolutionary novelty

22-Nov-2019

Changes in the genes that control development can potentially make large contributions to evolution by generating new morphologies in plants and animals. However, because developmental genes frequently influence many different processes, changes to their expression carry a risk of “collateral ...

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Generation of mouse induced pluripotent stem cells succeeds better without Oct4

11-Nov-2019

Quality of induced pluripotent stem cells is dramatically enhanced by omitting what was thought to be the most crucial reprogramming factor. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster showed that Oct4, a factor most commonly used for reprogramming, is detrimental ...

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Genetic diversity facilitates cancer therapy

Cancer patients with more different HLA genes respond better to treatment

11-Nov-2019

The constant battle against infectious pathogens has had a decisive influence on the human immune system over the course of our evolution. A key role in our adaptation to pathogens is played by HLA molecules. These proteins activate the immune system by presenting it with fragments of pathogens ...

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How cells stick together tightly

07-Nov-2019

Our organs are specialized compartments, each with its own milieu and function. To seal our organs, the cells in the tissue must form a barrier which is tight even down to the level of molecules. This barrier is formed by a protein complex that “sticks” all the cells together without any gaps. ...

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Pathogens from the sea

A marine pathogenic bacterium forms specialized cells for dissemination

29-Oct-2019

Vibrio parahaemolyticus can be found in the tidal zones in estuarine areas. The marine bacterium causes acute gastroenteritis in humans and is the leading cause for seafood borne illnesses in the world. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany, ...

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Immune reaction causes malaria organ damage

Immune cells can be the body's defenders and foes at the same time

21-Oct-2019

Malaria is one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases: a small mosquito bite delivers numerous malaria parasites into the bloodstream. The human body defends itself valiantly against the parasite, which usually results in periodic flu-like symptoms and severe fever. Severe cases of the ...

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Cellular aging is linked to structural changes in the brain

Telomeres on human chromosomes change together with brain structure

27-Sep-2019

Telomeres are the protective caps of our chromosomes and play a central role in the ageing process. Shorter telomeres are associated with chronic diseases and high stress levels can contribute to their shortening. A new study now shows that if telomeres change in their length, that change is also ...

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