Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, identification and taxonomy. Modern biology is a vast and eclectic field, composed of many branches and sub-disciplines.

  • About injured hearts that grow back - Heart regeneration mechanism in zebrafish revealed

    Zebrafish have a wonderful characteristic trait: they have extraordinary regenerative powers that go beyond the ability to regrow injured extremities. Even heart injuries heal up completely in this fish species. For cardiologists, who regularly treat heart attack patients, this would be a dream come true. Scientists at Utrecht University and Ulm University now have unravelled a central molecular mechanism that coordinates this healing process.
  • Added bacterial film makes new mortar resistant to water uptake

    Added bacterial film makes new mortar resistant to water uptake | The surface of the hybrid mortar (left) is covered with tiny crystalline spikes. This results in the so-called lotus effect which does not occur on the untreated mortar (right) Illustration: Stefan Grumbein / TUM

    Moisture can destroy mortar over time – for example when cracks form as a result of frost. A team of scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has found an unusual way to protect mortar from moisture: When the material is being mixed, they add a biofilm – a soft, moist substance produced by bacteria.

    Oliver Lieleg usually has little to do with bricks, mortar and concrete. As a professor of biomechanics at the Institute of Medical Engineering (IMETUM) and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he mainly deals with biopolymer-based hydrogels or, to put it bluntly, slime formed by living organisms.These include bacterial biofilms, such as dental plaque and the slimy black coating that forms in sewage pipes. “Biofilms are generally considered undesirable and harmful. They are something you want to get rid of,” says Oliver Lieleg. “I was therefore excited to find a beneficial use for them.”

  • Bacteria supply their allies with munitions

    Vibrio cholerae bacteria (green) recycle T6SS proteins of the attacking sister cells (red) to build their own spear gun (light green intracellular structure). (Image: University of Basel, Biozentrum)

    Bacteria fight their competitors with molecular spear guns, the so-called Type VI secretion system. When firing this weapon they also unintentionally hit their own kind. However, as researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum report in the journal Cell, the related bacteria strains benefit from coming under fire. They recycle the protein components of the spear guns and use these to build their own weapons.

  • Better Contrast Agents Based on Nanoparticles

    Scientists at the University of Basel have developed nanoparticles which can serve as efficient contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging. This new type of nanoparticles produce around ten times more contrast than common contrast agents and are responsive to specific environments. The journal Chemical Communications has published these results.

  • Biodegradable composites: a significant advance in medical implant technology

    • Evonik is conducting research on new composite materials for the fixation of fractured bones
    • Bioresorbable polymers degrade naturally in the body, eliminating the need for additional surgery
    • Medical implant technology is an attractive and growing market

  • Bioimaging - Tiefe Blicke in den Nanokosmos

    Am Biomedizinischen Centrum (BMC) geht die Core Facility Bioimaging, eine Serviceeinheit für lichtmikroskopische Verfahren, offiziell in Betrieb – in einer neuartigen Kooperation mit dem Unternehmen Leica Microsystems.

  • Biomolekül verhält sich unter künstlichen Bedingungen natürlicher als erwartet

    Faltungsexperimente in dicht gedrängten Lösungen im Reagenzglas sowie in der lebenden Zelle erlauben es, die Stabilität einer RNA-Haarnadel räumlich und zeitlich aufgelöst zu verfolgen. (C) David Gnutt

    Forscher untersuchen Biomoleküle oft isoliert im Reagenzglas, und es ist fraglich, ob die Ergebnisse auf dicht gepackte Zellen übertragbar sind. Ein Team aus Bochum, Dortmund und Greifswald verfolgte die Faltung einer RNA-Struktur in der lebenden Zelle und verglich die Ergebnisse mit Tests im Reagenzglas.

  • Biophysik - Den Ring schließen

    Wie Bakterien sich teilen, ist bisher nicht vollständig klar. LMU-Physiker zeigen jetzt, dass sich Proteine bei hoher Dichte von selbst zu Ringen zusammenschließen können. Sie schnüren die Mutterzelle ein und teilen sie so in Tochterzellen.

  • Blattläuse als Bio-Sensoren

    Haben Pflanzen eine Art Nervensystem? Das ist nicht leicht herauszufinden, weil es keine guten Messmethoden gibt. Würzburger Pflanzenforscher nahmen dafür Blattläuse – und entdeckten, dass Pflanzen auf verschiedene Schädigungen jeweils anders reagieren.

  • Breaking Through Insect Shells at a Molecular Level

    With their chitinous shells, insects seem almost invulnerable – but like Achilles’ heel in Greek mythology, their impressive armor can still be attacked. Researchers at the universities of Bonn and Leipzig studied fruit flies (Drosophila) and discovered the molecular processes that are able to break through this protective casing. The enzyme chitinase 2 and growth factor idgf6 are especially important in correctly forming the insects’ shells. These findings are relevant for fighting parasites, and will be published in the professional journal “Scientific Reports.”

  • Cell culture experiments reveal antiviral activity of Cistus incanus extracts against HIV and Ebola

    Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München discover that extracts of the medicinal plant Cistus incanus (Ci) prevent human immunodeficiency viruses from infecting cells. Active antiviral ingredients in the extracts inhibit docking of viral proteins to cells. Antiviral activity of Cistus extracts also targets Ebola- and Marburg viruses. The results were published in Scientific Reports*.

  • Circulating Immune Cells as Biomarkers for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

    Staining of surface molecules (CD11 in red, CD33 in green) on cells in lung tissue, nuclei in blue. MDSC are positive for both surface markers and consequently appear orange (arrow). Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), have discovered that the number of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) is increased in the blood of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The higher the number of MDSC, the more limited the lung function. The findings on this new biomarker have now been published in the ‘European Respiratory Journal’.

  • Closed-loop stimulation promises fewer side effects

    How adaptive stimulation could make a significant difference for patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease

    Could potential side effects in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease with stimulation be avoided with a closed-loop approach, which constantly adapts to the symptoms? This is one of the key questions Dr. Ioannis Vlachos and his colleagues Taskin Deniz, Prof. Dr. Ad Aertsen, and Prof. Dr. Arvind Kumar address in a study that was now published in the journal “PLoS Computational Biology.”

  • Constricting without a string: Bacteria gone to the worms divide differently

    The rod-shaped bacteria densely populating the surface of the worm belong to the Gammaproteobacteria. These comprise members of our gut microbiome but also some serious pathogens. Nikolaus Leisch

    A new study provides fascinating insights into how bacteria divide. This shows not only how little we know about bacteria outside of the lab, but might also bring us one step closer towards the development of new antibiotics.

  • COPD – what causes the lungs to lose their ability to heal?

    The molecule Wnt5a prevents the repair of structures in the lung of COPD patients. Shown here are the alveolar epithelium (green) and immune cells (red). Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the patients’ lungs lose their ability to repair damages on their own. Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, partner in the German Center for Lung Research (DZL) now have a new idea as to why this might be so. In the ‘Journal of Experimental Medicine’, they blame the molecule Wnt5a for this problem. The first indication of COPD is usually a chronic cough. As the disease progresses, the airways narrow and often pulmonary emphysema develops. This indicates irreversible expansion and damage to the alveoli, or air sacks. "The body is no longer able to repair the destroyed structures," explains Dr. Dr. Melanie Königshoff, head of the Research Unit Lung Repair and Regeneration (LRR) at the Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC) of Helmholtz Zentrum München. She and her team have made it their job to understand how this happens.

  • CRISPR/Cas9 technology to inactivate cancer mutations

    As for many other biomedical and biotechnology disciplines, the genome scissor “CRISPR/Cas9” also opens up completely new possibilities for cancer research. Scientists of the National Center for Tumor Disease (NCT), the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK) and the Medical Faculty of the TU Dresden have shown that mutations that act as cancer drivers can be targeted and repaired. The most relevant mutations could therefore be diagnosed faster, improving personalized therapies.

  • Dentin nanostructures – a super-natural phenomenon

    Dentin nanostructures a super natural phenomenon | Dentin's biological structure: tubules and mineral nanoparticles embedded in a network of collagen fibers. Image: Jean-Baptiste Forien, © Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

    Why it is superior to any synthetic filling material at making teeth last

    Dentin is one of the most durable biological materials in the human body. Researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin were able to show that the reason for this can be traced to its nanostructures and specifically to the interactions between the organic and inorganic components. Measurements performed at BESSYII, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin's synchrotron radiation source, showed that it is the mechanical coupling between the collagen protein fibers and mineral nanoparticles which renders dentin capable of withstanding extreme forces. Results from this research have been recently published in the journal Chemistry of Materials*.

  • Die Blitzabwehr der Bakterien: Immunzellen werden direkt beim ersten Kontakt getötet

    Die Blitzabwehr der Bakterien Immunzellen werden direkt beim ersten Kontakt getötet | Die genetische Ausstattung ihres Virulenzplasmids ermöglicht es Bakterien der Gattung Yersinia, die Immunabwehr auszuschalten. HZI/M. Rohde

    Dringen Bakterien in den Körper eines Menschen oder eines Tieres ein, werden sie vom Immunsystem als fremd erkannt. Daraufhin versuchen die Immunzellen, diese Fremdkörper zu beseitigen. Wissenschaftler des Helmholtz-Zentrums für Infektionsforschung (HZI) in Braunschweig haben nun gemeinsam mit Kollegen der Universität Umeå in Schweden herausgefunden, wie es Bakterien der Gattung Yersinia schaffen, Immunzellen direkt beim ersten Kontakt abzutöten: Sie vervielfältigen die genetische Information für ihre krankmachenden Werkzeuge und schießen gleichzeitig Substanzen in die Immunzelle, die sie schnell inaktivieren und umbringen.

  • Die Genetik der schwachen Herzen

    Das Deutsche Zentrum für Herzinsuffizienz (DZHI), das unter dem gemeinsamen Dach des Universitätsklinikums Würzburg (UKW) und der Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) die Volkskrankheit Herzschwäche systematisch erforscht und behandelt, hat vielversprechenden Forscherzuwachs bekommen: Die renommierte Kardiologin und Genetikerin Professor Brenda Gerull hat den Ruf des DZHI auf die Forschungsprofessur „Kardiovaskuläre Genetik“ angenommen und damit ihre Wirkungsstätte von Calgary, Kanada, nach Würzburg verlegt. Als Ärztin will sie eine Spezialambulanz für familiär bedingte Herzerkrankungen im UKW einrichten, als Wissenschaftlerin wird sie die Genetik der schwachen Herzen entschlüsseln.
  • Die Sprache der Moleküle – Chemische Kommunikation in der Natur

    Auf dem Rundgespräch des Forums Ökologie am Mittwoch, 6. April 2016, stellen Expertinnen und Experten die „chemische Sprache“ vor, mit der Pflanzen, Tiere, Pilze und Bakterien Informationen austauschen.