500 million year reset for the immune system

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (MPI-IE) in Freiburg re-activated expression of an ancient gene, which is not normally expressed in the mammalian immune system, and found that the animals developed a fish-like thymus. To the researchers surprise, while the mammalian thymus is utilized exclusively for T cell maturation, the reset thymus produced not only T …

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New weapon of the immune system discovered

Max Planck researchers have discovered a completely new way in which the immune system recognizes pathogens. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor has long been a focus of research for pharma-cologists and toxicologists, as it recognizes environmental toxins. However, it also plays an important role in the immune system. A team of scientists headed by Stefan H. E. Kaufmann at the Max …

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HO-1 makes obese individuals sick

Study unravels a link between obesity and diabetes and suggests promising therapeutic strategies. Health and obesity are not mutually exclusive. Freiburg and Vienna scientists identify one key difference separating individuals with healthy versus sick obesity: the enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). Humans and mice with high HO-1 levels develop diabetes, those with low levels remain healthy – even when overweight. The …

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Starting signal for antiviral defense

Protein identified as important trigger of antiviral response. Cells have to protect themselves: against damage in their genetic material for one thing, but also against attack from the outside, by viruses for example. They do this by using different mechanisms: special proteins search out and detect defects in the cell’s own DNA, while the immune system takes action against intruders. …

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Transfer of a few immune cells can protect immunodeficient patients

When patients have to undergo a bone marrow transplant, the procedure weakens their immune system. Viruses that are usually kept in check in a healthy immune system may then cause potentially fatal infections. Scientists at Technische Universität München (TUM), together with colleagues from Frankfurt, Würzburg and Göttingen, have now developed a method which could offer patients conservative protection against such …

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Virus infection supports organ acceptance

A question of tolerance: Liver transplants in patients with hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C virus infections are among the most common reasons for liver transplants. Because existing viruses also infect the new liver, the immune system is highly active there. Despite this, the new organ is not rejected, as scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technische Universität München …

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First positive results toward a therapeutic vaccine against brain cancer

Tumor vaccines might help the body fight cancer. A prerequisite to the development of such a vaccination is to find protein structures in cancer cells that differ from those of healthy cells. Such differences are often created by gene mutations in tumor cells, which lead to altered proteins that cells of the immune system can potentially recognize. Cancer researchers from …

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We have to get very ill in order to get well more quickly

HZI researchers discover possible reason why the flu takes longer in elderly people. Elderly people get the flu more often and suffer from the symptoms for longer than younger people. Why this is the case was unclear – until now. Researchers at Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, discovered a possible reason: Influenza virus proliferates slowly in …

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Does the moon affect our sleep?

Max Planck scientists find no correlation between moon phases and human sleep. Popular beliefs about the influence of the moon on humans widely exist. Many people report sleeplessness around the time of full moon. In contrast to earlier studies, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich did not observe any correlation between human sleep and the lunar …

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Well-rested flies

Therapeutic agent reduces age-related sleep problems in fruit flies. Elderly flies do not sleep well – they frequently wake up during the night and wander around restlessly. The same is true of humans. For researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, the sleeplessness experienced by the fruit fly Drosophila is therefore a model case for …

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Blocking cancer stem cells in the brain prolongs survival in mice

In a study of malignant brain tumors in mice, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have identified a key molecule that is responsible for the dangerous properties of tumor stem cells. When this stem cell marker was switched off, cancerous mice survived longer. Switching off the marker in human brain tumor cells causes cancer stem cells …

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Life-style determines gut microbes

An international team of researchers has for the first time deciphered the intestinal bacteria of present-day hunter-gatherers. The gut microbiota is responsible for many aspects of human health and nutrition, but most studies have focused on “western” populations. An international collaboration of researchers, including researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has for the first …

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Artificial lung the size of a sugar cube

What medications can be used to treat lung cancer, and how effective are they? Until now, drug companies have had to rely on animal testing to find out. But in the future, a new 3D model lung is set to achieve more precise results and ultimately minimize – or even completely replace – animal testing. From June 23-26, researchers will …

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Competition among cells prevents cancer

T lymphocytes arise from the thymus gland, which plays an important role in the immune system. In this organ, immature progenitor cells originating in the bone marrow mature into immune system cells. The bone marrow constantly produces new progenitor cells that migrate into the thymus, where they replace older, „worn-out“ progenitors. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, …

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How cancer viruses protect their host cells against tumor therapies

Certain types of human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause cervical cancer by settling in a body cell and inducing it to divide in an out-of-control process. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have now discovered a mechanism by which HPV protects cancer cells from undergoing DNA damage and dying as a result of cancer therapies.

Plant compound protects healthy cells from chemotherapy drugs

Chemotherapy drugs attack not only cancer cells but more generally rapidly dividing tissues. This can cause side effects ranging from hair loss to nausea to deadly infections. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have now discovered that the plant compound rocaglamide protects healthy cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs.

Abnormal blood stem cells reprogram their environment

Blood arises from stem cells in the bone marrow; in patients with a myelodysplastic disorder (MDS), defective stem cells reprogram their neighbors in the marrow to create a “niche” that promotes their own survival. A recent report by scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in collaboration with colleagues from the University Medical Centre Mannheim, suggests that …

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