Jul 162014

Only a few days left to register for the ELLS LearningLAB! 

Date: 29 – 30 September 2014ELLS LearningLAB

LearningLAB title: ‘Log in to Science – Forschern auf der Spur: Forschungssimulation am Beispiel der Eisenspeicherkrankheit (Hämochromatose)’

Location: EMBL Heidelberg, Germany

Course language: German

Application deadline: 20 July 2014

In this ELLS LearningLAB participants will be introduced to log2EMBL – a virtual research institute which allows teachers to integrate a practical research project into biology lessons.

More information about the course and the possibility to apply can be found on the dedicated LearningLAB course page.

Jul 082014

The new edition of the ELLS Newsletter is now online! Our Summer edition, which can be accessed here, features the new ELLS bioinformatics teaching resource collection, the EMBL School Ambassadors Scheme as well as several upcoming ELLS events in Germany, Greece and online.

To find out more or register for an event, please take a look at our newsletter!

Jul 032014

ELLS Guest Blog by Kanchan Anand

Protein synthesis - a target for antibiotics

To watch the EMBL Insight Lecture 2013 by Christiane Schaffitzel in full, please click on the image above.

The WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, stated recently: “Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine”. At one or the other time, directly or indirectly, we all have been exposed to antibiotics. We also know about the use or abuse of antibiotics, e.g. by over-prescription or by attempts to maximize profit in livestock farming. The result is that a growing number of bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance in general is not new. Certain reports claim that shortly after Sir Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin, by chance in fungal mould in 1928 that some resistant strains developed. After this initial discovery, hundreds of chemically enhanced antibiotics have followed that were effective against the toughest infections. However, the situation has changed and there are millions of deaths worldwide each year, most of which are associated with patients acquiring antibiotic-resistant infections. According to Prof. Hugh McGavock (University of Ulster, UK), almost all antibiotics will become unusable in the next 10-15 years. So, is this really the last decade of antibiotics? Continue reading »

Jun 302014
Cancer by remote-control

Overlooked DNA shuffling drives deadly paediatric brain tumour

In a nutshell:

• Identified key genes behind Group 3 medulloblastoma
• Gene-activation process not typically looked-for in solid tumors: large-scale DNA rearrangements put genes close to enhancers
• 1st mouse model that truly mimics the genetics of this paediatric brain tumour.

One of the deadliest forms of paediatric brain tumour, Group 3 medulloblastoma, is linked to a variety of large-scale DNA rearrangements which all have the same overall effect on specific genes located on different chromosomes. The finding, by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), both in Heidelberg, Germany, and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in San Diego, USA, is published online in Nature last week.

To date, the only gene known to play an important role in Group 3 medulloblastoma was a gene called MYC, but that gene alone couldn’t explain some of the unique characteristics of this particular type of medulloblastoma, which has a higher metastasis rate and overall poorer prognosis than other types of this childhood brain tumour. To tackle the question, Jan Korbel’s group at EMBL and collaborators at DKFZ tried to identify new genes involved, taking advantage of the large number of medulloblastoma genome sequences now known.

...read more
May 262014
Insights into genetics of cleft lip

How long-distance control impacts face formation

In a nutshell:

Stretch of DNA linked to greater susceptibility of cleft lip and cleft palate acts on far-away gene

Ultimately controls 2 groups of genes: face-builders and ribosome-makers

Could increase sensitivity to environmental factors like smoking or drinking during pregnancy

Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, have identified how a specific stretch of DNA controls far-off genes to influence the formation of the face. The study, published today in Nature Genetics, helps understand the genetic causes of cleft lip and cleft palate, which are among the most common congenital malformations in humans.

...read more
May 232014
EMBL Forschercamp 2014

Applications for the EMBL Forschercamp (in German) are now invited. Auf den Spuren des Lebens – Eine Entdeckungsreise in die Welt der Zellen und Moleküle 25./26. Juli 2014, EMBL Heidelberg   HOBBY-FORSCHER ZWISCHEN 12 UND 100 JAHREN FÜR ZWEI TAGE GESUCHT – JETZT BEWERBEN! Wir laden Sie ein zu einer spannenden Entdeckungsreise in die Welt

...read more
Jun 052014
Magic rings

DNA-coralling protein complex in an unexpected bind

Every time a cell divides to create two offspring cells, it has to carefully manage its genetic inheritance to ensure that each new cell ends up with their appropriate share. In most cases, the parent cell first duplicates its genome, and then parcels out half of this DNA (one full genome) to each of its progeny.

This process sounds simple, but it’s fraught with complications. One big issue the cell has to contend with is preventing the newly duplicated chromosomes that make up the genome getting tangled up, like loops of rope.

In the past few years, the lab of Christian Häring, Group Leader in the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit at EMBL Heidelberg, has found that cells use a specialised protein complex called condensin to organise the stringy chromosomes so that they can be moved around the cell. Christian and colleagues have shown that when the cell needs to divide its genome up, condensin complexes form a ring around chromosomes and prevent the strands of DNA tangling up. If the condensin rings are artificially cut open, the cell still divides, but the chromosomes end up being split apart, with each daughter cell inheriting an unusable mish-mash of genetic material.

...read more
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