Biology

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.

  • “Biological Bandage” Could Help Heal Wounds

    Is the "biological bandage" coming soon? A team of researchers at the University of Bremen led by Dorothea Brüggemann and Karsten Stapelfeldt has now created a fibrinogen network. Kai Uwe Bohn / University of Bremen

    Scientists at the University of Bremen have now developed a three-dimensional protein structure in the laboratory that could help to heal wounds in the future. It is conceivable that one day this network could be produced as a kind of “biological bandage” from the blood of the person who will use it. The development is now patent pending.

  • “Showcasing the Bioeconomy” – Bio-based Products and Research Highlights at Hannover Fair 2019

    Showcase Bioeconomy at the Hannover Messe, hall 2. Steffen Ullmann, BCM BioEconomy Cluster Management GmbH

    Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the bioeconomy’s latest product innovations and research findings at Hannover Messe. Other types of events, such as the International Bioeconomy Conference, promote the establishment of international partnerships and drive economic change towards a bioeconomy.

    Nineteen research projects currently being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) will be presented at the joint stand “Showcasing the Bioeconomy” at Hannover Messe 2019. We are co-exhibitors with our cluster partners.

  • 3D Structure of DNA Forms Defined Room for Dissociated lncRNAs to Activate Gene Expression

    The long non-coding RNA called A-ROD functions within a loop to recruit proteins to the DKK1 gene.  © E. Ntini / Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics

    Enhancers are regulatory regions of the DNA, giving rise to “long non-coding RNAs” (lncRNAs), which are known as crucial regulators of gene expression. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin now have shown that a lncRNA called A-ROD is only functional the moment it is released from chromatin into the nucleoplasm. In the current issue of Nature Communications the researchers demonstrate that the regulatory interaction requires dissociation of A-ROD from chromatin, with target specificity ensured within the pre-established chromosomal proximity. This can heavily influence our understanding of dynamic regulation of gene expression in biological processes.

  • 3D-microdevice for minimally invasive surgeries

    Figures 1 and 2. Microswimmer CAD and microswimmer micrograph. © MPI IS

    Scientists take challenge of developing functional microdevices for direct access to the brain, spinal cord, eye and other delicate parts of human body. A tiny robot that gets into the human body through the simple medical injection and, passing healthy organs, finds and treats directly the goal – a non-operable tumor… Doesn’t it sound at least like science-fiction? To make it real, a growing number of researchers are now working towards this direction with the prospect of transforming many aspects of healthcare and bioengineering in the nearest future. What makes it not so easy are unique challenges pertaining to design, fabrication and encoding functionality in producing functional microdevices.

  • 8th NRW Nano Conference Dortmund, Open Call for Presentations and Posters

    NRW nanoconference 2018

    The NRW Nano Conference is Germany’s largest conference with international appeal in the field of nanotechnologies. It takes place every two years at changing locations. More than 700 experts from science, industry and politics meet for two days to promote research and application of the key technology at the network meeting.

  • A Boost for Biofuel Cells

    Boosting the energy output by storing and bundling the energy of many spontaneous enzyme reactions. Alejandro Posada

    In chemistry, a reaction is spontaneous when it does not need the addition of an external energy input. How much energy is released in a reaction is dictated by the laws of thermodynamics. In the case of the spontaneous reactions that occur in the human body this is often not enough to power medical implants. Now, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international team of researchers, found a way to boost the energy output by storing and bundling the energy of many spontaneous enzyme reactions. The work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

  • A Boost for Photosynthesis

    Cryo-EM structure of the linked complexes of CcmM (red) and Rubisco (green) in liquid droplets (yellow). Formation of this network is the first step in carboxysome biogenesis in cyanobacteria. Illustration: Huping Wang, Andreas Bracher © MPI of Biochemistry

    Photosynthesis is a fundamental biological process which allows plants to use light energy for their growth. Most life forms on Earth are directly or indirectly dependent on photosynthesis. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany have collaborated with colleagues from the Australian National University to study the formation of carboxysomes – a structure that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis in aquatic bacteria. Their results, which were now published in Nature, could lead to the engineering of plants with more efficient photosynthesis and thus higher crop yields.

  • A Molecular Switch May Serve as New Target Point for Cancer and Diabetes Therapies

    Signal receptor-containing vesicles (red) form on the inside of the cell membrane (brown) and bud off into the cell. Visualization: Thomas Splettstößer

    If certain signaling cascades are misregulated, diseases like cancer, obesity and diabetes may occur. A mechanism recently discovered by scientists at the Leibniz- Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) in Berlin and at the University of Geneva has a crucial influence on such signaling cascades and may be an important key for the future development of therapies against these diseases. The results of the study have just been published in the prestigious scientific journal 'Molecular Cell'.

  • A Pair of RNA Scissors with Many Functions

    Photo: Dominik Kopp

    Arming CRISPR/Cas systems with an enzyme that also controls the translation of genetic information into protein. CRISPR/Cas systems are known as promising “gene scissors” in the genome editing of plants, animals, and microorganisms by targeting specific regions in their DNA – and perhaps they can even be used to correct genetic defects.

  • 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.”

  • Antibiotic Resistance – Quick and Reliable Detection

    DZIF scientists (from left to right): Alexander Klimka, Sonja Mertins, Paul Higgins. Uniklinik Köln/Klimka

    Early detection of antibiotic resistant pathogens can be life-saving. DZIF-scientists at the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, University of Cologne, have developed an antibody-based diagnostic test, which can identify carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria in only 10 minutes – in a process similar to a pregnancy test.

  • Artificially Produced Cells Communicate with Each Other: Models of Life

    First author Aurore Dupin and Prof. Friedrich Simmel at the fluorescence microscope. Image: U. Benz / TUM

    Friedrich Simmel und Aurore Dupin, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have for the first time created artificial cell assemblies that can communicate with each other. The cells, separated by fatty membranes, exchange small chemical signaling molecules to trigger more complex reactions, such as the production of RNA and other proteins. Scientists around the world are working on creating artificial, cell-like systems that mimic the behavior of living organisms. 

  • Attacking Flu Viruses from Two Sides

    IgA1 antibodies binding to the influenza A virus antigen hemagglutinin. TSRI/UZH

    UZH researchers have discovered a new way in which certain antibodies interact with the flu virus. This previously unknown form of interaction opens up new possibilities for developing better vaccines and more efficient medication to combat the flu. Fever, shivering, headaches, and joint pains – each year millions of people around the world are affected by the flu. While most people recover after a few days, the WHO estimates that each year between 250,000 and 500,000 people die from the disease.

  • 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.

  • Basel researchers identify drug against the formation of metastasis

    The image represents an artistic coloration of a cluster of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), isolated from the blood of a patient with breast cancer, trapped on a microfluidic device. © M Oeggerli / Micronaut 2018, supported by Pathology-, C-CINA / Biozentrum-, and I Krol, and N Aceto, Faculty of Medicine-, University Hospital and University Basel.

    The most deadly aspect of breast cancer is metastasis. It spreads cancer cells throughout the body. Researchers at the University and the University Hospital of Basel have now discovered a substance that suppresses the formation of metastases. In the journal Cell, the team of molecular biologists, computational biologists, and clinicians reports on their interdisciplinary approach. The development of metastasis is responsible for more than 90% of cancer-related deaths, and patients with a metastatic disease are considered incurable.

  • 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

  • Biofilms as Construction Workers

    Red algae move towards the light and excrete chains of sugar molecules. By means of time-variable light patterns, the researchers obtain customized templates from these long, fine polymer threads, which they use for functional ceramics. (Photo: v. Opdenbosch/TUM)

    Biofilms are generally seen as a problem to be eradicated due to the hazards they pose for humans and materials. However, these communities of algae, fungi, or bacteria possess interesting properties both from a scientific and a technical standpoint. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes processes from the field of biology that utilize biofilms as ‘construction workers’ to create structural templates for new materials that possess the properties of natural materials. In the past, this was only possible to a limited extent.

  • 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.

  • Biological Risk Potential of Nanoparticles Studied

    Two CD34+ stem cells containing carbon nanoparticles (coloured magenta); the cell nuclei can be seen in blue. The researchers found that the nanoparticles are encapsulated in the cell lysosomes. HHU / Stefan Fasbender

    Publication in Scientific Reports

    Carbon nanoparticles are a promising tool for biomedical applications, for example for targeted transportation of biologically active compounds into cells. A team of researchers from the Physics, Medicine and Chemistry departments at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) has now examined whether these particles are potentially dangerous for the organism and how cells cope with them once they have been incorporated. The findings of the interdisciplinary study have just been published in the journal Scientific Reports.