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 …


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 …


Decoding characteristic food odors

Scientists map molecular olfactory signatures of foodstuffs. How are we able to recognize foodstuffs like strawberries, coffee, barbecued meat or freshly boiled potatoes by smell alone? Foodstuffs contain more than 10,000 different volatile substances. But only around 230 of these determine the odor of the food we eat. Narrowing it down further, between just 3 and 40 of these key …


Environmental hormones – tiny amounts, big effects

Empty nets and few species – environmental hormones are believed responsible for the diminishing numbers of fish. How damaging are these substances really, though? Studies that depict a complete picture of the lives of fish provide clues.

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 …


Outgrowing emotional egocentricity

Max Planck researchers discover a region of the brain that enables children to overcome emotional self-centeredness as they mature. Children are more egocentric than adults. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have demonstrated for the first time that children are also worse at putting themselves in other people’s emotional shoes. According to …


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 …


Environmental change leaves its footprint in the epigenome

High-fat diets and long daylight periods alter epigenetic markers in wild mice. Monozygotic twins look more similar when they are young than later in life. One of the reasons for this is epigenetic change in the form of chemical modifications of the DNA or its packaging proteins. Environmental factors can influence these modifications over a lifetime. Scientists at the Max …


Making new species without sex

Plants can transfer their entire genetic material to a partner in an asexual manner. Occasionally, two different plant species interbreed with each other in nature. This usually causes problems since the genetic information of both parents does not match. But sometimes nature uses a trick. Instead of passing on only half of each parent’s genetic material, both plants transmit the …


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 …


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 …


Implanted infection prevention

Hospital germs can be fatal, since they are resistant to antibiotics. As a result, alternative methods of defense against bacteria are in demand. Fortunately, a German-French research team has been able to develop bone implants that keep the germs at bay.

Your stress is my stress

Merely observing stressful situations can trigger a physical stress response Stress is contagious. Observing another person in a stressful situation can be enough to make our own bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. This is the conclusion reached by scientists involved in a large-scale cooperation project between the departments of Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and …


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 …