News Article | April 28, 2017
Shown is the activity of the SMXL4 gene (yellow) in very early phloem cells of the root tip of Arabidopsis thaliana. Credit: Eva-Sophie Wallner In experiments on transport tissues in plants, researchers from Heidelberg University were able to identify factors of crucial importance for the formation of the plant tissue known as phloem. According to Prof. Dr Thomas Greb of the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS), these factors differ from all previously known factors that trigger the specification of cells. The findings of the Heidelberg researchers substantially expand our understanding of the metabolic processes in plants. Their results were published in the journal Current Biology. Phloem, also called bast, is a vascular tissue that runs through all the organs of plants. It transports sugars formed in the leaves during photosynthesis. "In the course of our research on plant development, we discovered three main factors that are critical for the formation of phloem," states Thomas Greb. These factors are the proteins SMXL3, SMXL4, and SMXL5. They act in the nuclei of cells that develop into phloem tissue, and from there alter the cells to specialise in transport. The researcher explains that the factors are similar to others involved in hormonal signal transmission – but they do not react to these hormones. This unresponsiveness is crucial for building robust phloem tissue and therefore for the growth of the plant in general. "Until now, we understood very little about phloem formation, which is why our results open up new areas of research in a number of ways," explains the Heidelberg biologist. The researchers hope to gain new insights into the regulation of long-distance transport of sugars and metabolic products. How plants react to their environment through the formation of bast could also be studied in greater detail. "That gives us vital clues about the evolution of plants," says Prof. Greb, who directs the Developmental Physiology working group at the COS. Explore further: Sieving for genes: Developmental regulation of important plant phloem components discovered More information: Eva-Sophie Wallner et al. Strigolactone- and Karrikin-Independent SMXL Proteins Are Central Regulators of Phloem Formation, Current Biology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.014
News Article | April 11, 2017
The ability of the brain to respond and adapt to changes is scientifically called brain plasticity. This ability is the basis of all learning processes. New neurons, which can still be generated in the adult brain in specific areas, are instrumental in this process. "But until now it has been unknown which molecular processes translate environmental changes into the production of new neurons," said Hannah Monyer, who leads the Cooperational Division of Clinical Neurobiology of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital. "In our current study, we have found a key mediator in this process for the first time." Monyer and her team have revealed in their current study that a small peptide called DBI (short for: diazepam binding inhibitor) is the crucial mediator in this process. The peptide was first identified because it binds to the receptor for a chemical messenger in the brain called GABA, where it replaces a drug called Diazepam (Valium). Recently, Monyer and colleagues already reported that DBI promotes the development of new neurons in an area of the brain called subventricular zone. This brain area is responsible for the supply of new nerve cells in the olfactory system, which is particularly sophisticated in rodents. In her present work, the Heidelberg neuroscientist shows that DBI has the same function in the hippocampus - the portion of the brain where memory formation and learning are located. New neurons that form in the hippocampus improve orientation and learning capacity in the animals. Numerous research studies have already provided proof that in mice physical activity or variations in their environment stimulate neurogenesis in the hippocampus. The researchers in Monyer's team used various genetic methods to turn off the DBI gene in this brain region in mice or, alternatively, to strongly boost it. When DBI was absent, the numbers of neural stem cells in the hippocampus declined. An oversupply of the peptide caused the opposite to happen, i.e., the investigators found more neural stem and progenitor cells. Equipping the cages with toys is an established method to stimulate the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus in rodents. However, in mice whose DBI gene had been silenced using molecular-biological tricks, the stimulating environment failed to have an effect: The quantities of neural stem cells could not be increased. DBI exerts its effect by binding to the receptor for the chemical messenger GABA in the neural stem cells, thus acting as a molecular antagonist of this neurotransmitter. "GABA is responsible for keeping the stem cells dormant in their niche without dividing," explained Monyer. "When DBI enters the scene, they start proliferating, thus enlarging the stem cell pool that is available as a reservoir for young neurons. In DBI, we seem to have found the key mediator. The peptide suppresses the effect of GABA and thus links the environmental stimuli to the production of new neurons that are required for learning."
News Article | April 24, 2017
Plasmonic nanoparticles exhibit properties based on their geometries and relative positions. Researchers have now developed an easy way to manipulate the optical properties of plasmonic nanostructures that strongly depend on their spatial arrangement. The plasmonic nanoparticles can form clusters, plasmonic metamolecules, and then interact with each other. Changing the geometry of the nanoparticles can be used to control the properties of the metamolecules. “The challenge is to make the structures change their geometry in a controlled way in response to external stimuli. In this study, structures were programmed to modify their shape by altering the pH,” tells Assistant Professor Anton Kuzyk from Aalto University. Utilization of Programmable DNA Locks In this study plasmonic metamolecules were functionalized with pH-sensitive DNA locks. DNA locks can be easily programmed to operate at a specific pH range. Metamolecules can be either in a “locked” state at low pH or in relaxed state at high pH. Both states have very distinct optical responses. This in fact allows creating assemblies of several types of plasmonic metamolecules, with each type designed to switch at different a pH value. The ability to program nanostructures to perform a specific function only within a certain pH window could have applications in the field of nanomachines and smart nanomaterials with tailored optical functionalities. This active control of plasmonic metamolecules is promising for the development of sensors, optical switches, transducers and phase shifters at different wavelengths. In the future, pH-responsive nanostructures could also be useful in the development of controlled drug delivery. The study was carried out by Anton Kuzyk from Aalto University, Maximilian Urban and Na Liu from Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the Heidelberg University, and Andrea Idili and Francesco Ricci from the University of Rome Tor Vergata.
News Article | May 23, 2017
"We are thrilled to have Dr. Cerwenka join Dragonfly's Scientific Advisory Board," said Dr. Tyler Jacks, Dragonfly co-founder and head of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. "Adelheid's expertise in how to increase the persistence of NK cells in tumors and how to amplify the recognition of cancer cells by NK cells will be a great help in our development of NK cell-based cancer immunotherapies that can both enhance the effectiveness of T cell performance and attack cancer directly." Adelheid Cerwenka, Ph.D., is a professor at Heidelberg University and Head of the Innate Immunity Group in the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. Her research areas include innate immune responses against cancer and viruses. Dr. Cerwenka received a doctorate from the University of Vienna, Austria. Her postdoctoral research was at the Trudeau Institute New York, and UCSF. She then headed a laboratory at Novartis Research Institute in Vienna before joining the faculty at the University of Heidelberg. Dr. Cerwenka is author of more than 80 publications and member of the German Society for Immunology coordinating the "NK cells" focus group and is the president elect of the Society for Natural Immunity. "Like T cells, Natural Killer (NK) cells are a part of the body's natural immune system, which can recognize and destroy cancer cells in a broad set of indications," said Dr. Cerwenka. "I have studied NK cells for decades, and am delighted to bring my expertise to Dragonfly in order to dramatically expand the range of immunotherapies available to patients." About Dragonfly Dragonfly Therapeutics harnesses its novel TriNKETTM technology to develop drugs that leverage the power of the innate immune system to provide breakthrough cancer treatments for patients. For more information on Dragonfly, visit www.dragonflytx.com or follow Dragonfly on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/dragonflytx), Twitter ) , or Linkedin. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dragonfly-therapeutics-adds-natural-killer-cell-based-cancer-immunotherapy-expert-to-its-scientific-advisory-board-300462010.html
News Article | May 25, 2017
Hobsons, the leading provider of college and career readiness, enrollment management, and student success solutions, today announced the launch of Intersect™, a suite of tools designed to foster dialogue between high school counselors and higher education admissions staff as well as between colleges and prospective students. Counselors at more than 12,000 schools around the globe using Hobsons’ popular college and career readiness platform Naviance® can now connect directly with U.S. higher education admissions professionals to learn more about their campuses, their admissions criteria, and financial aid options to help students connect with their best-fit options after high school. According to a soon-to-be-released Hobsons survey of college admission counselors, nearly 75 percent said they make an initial visit to a high school because of a positive interaction with the school counselor. With the launch of Intersect, which includes the Hobsons Counselor Community reachable for free through Naviance, high school counselors can meet and network with admissions representatives to better understand their institution and to invite them to visit, helping students to make better-informed decisions about their educational choices. Through Intersect, college admissions representatives can publish real-time information about their institutions to millions of students in Naviance, including detailed information about student life, academics, costs, and admissions. Engaging in the Hobsons Counselor Community will allow them to reach K-12 counselors working directly with prospective students, increasing their chances of recruiting best-fit students who are most likely to enroll and succeed at their institutions. “Students benefit when high school counselors and college admissions representatives work together,” said Amy Reitz, General Manager for Intersect by Hobsons. “Our research has shown that these dedicated professionals in K-12 and higher ed are best-positioned to help students and their families connect with their best-fit options after high school to achieve their education and life goals.“ Later this summer, the Hobsons Counselor Community will expand to provide free access for all high school counselors (including those without Naviance) and to fully integrate the next generation of RepVisits, the counselor-created service recently acquired by Hobsons that enables on-line scheduling of high school visits by college admissions reps. This scheduling capability will continue to be available to all high school counselors and higher ed admission counselors for free. As colleges and universities work to recruit a broad spectrum of students, they are increasingly looking at high school counselors as their partners in identifying and connecting with students who are not only eligible for admission, but who are more likely to thrive and succeed on campus, improving college retention and graduation rates as well as increasing student satisfaction and employability. Nearly 100 higher education institutions are already active in Intersect and anxious to connect with high school counselors now that the Hobsons Counselor Community is live. “The Hobsons Counselor Community allows our university to have a conversation with one of the most important influencers in the college search: the high school counselor. Just like with a prospective student, having an ongoing dialogue about our university with the school counseling staff allows them to get a more complete picture about what we have to offer and more importantly, allows the high school counselors to form a clearer picture about which students at their school would be a good fit at our university,” said Michael Brown, director of admission for Heidelberg University in Ohio. “Finding a university that is a good fit for the student is what the college search is all about.” To learn more about the Hobsons Counselor Community and Intersect, visit: https://www.hobsons.com/intersect About Hobsons Hobsons helps students identify their strengths, explore careers, create academic plans, match to best-fit educational opportunities, and reach their education and life goals. Through our solutions, we enable thousands of educational institutions to improve college and career planning, admissions and enrollment management, and student success and advising for millions of students around the globe.
News Article | May 23, 2017
"We are thrilled to have Dr. Cerwenka join Dragonfly's Scientific Advisory Board," said Dr. Tyler Jacks, Dragonfly co-founder and head of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. "Adelheid's expertise in how to increase the persistence of NK cells in tumors and how to amplify the recognition of cancer cells by NK cells will be a great help in our development of NK cell-based cancer immunotherapies that can both enhance the effectiveness of T cell performance and attack cancer directly." Adelheid Cerwenka, Ph.D., is a professor at Heidelberg University and Head of the Innate Immunity Group in the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. Her research areas include innate immune responses against cancer and viruses. Dr. Cerwenka received a doctorate from the University of Vienna, Austria. Her postdoctoral research was at the Trudeau Institute New York, and UCSF. She then headed a laboratory at Novartis Research Institute in Vienna before joining the faculty at the University of Heidelberg. Dr. Cerwenka is author of more than 80 publications and member of the German Society for Immunology coordinating the "NK cells" focus group and is the president elect of the Society for Natural Immunity. "Like T cells, Natural Killer (NK) cells are a part of the body's natural immune system, which can recognize and destroy cancer cells in a broad set of indications," said Dr. Cerwenka. "I have studied NK cells for decades, and am delighted to bring my expertise to Dragonfly in order to dramatically expand the range of immunotherapies available to patients." About Dragonfly Dragonfly Therapeutics harnesses its novel TriNKETTM technology to develop drugs that leverage the power of the innate immune system to provide breakthrough cancer treatments for patients. For more information on Dragonfly, visit www.dragonflytx.com or follow Dragonfly on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/dragonflytx), Twitter ) , or Linkedin.
News Article | May 26, 2017
Latin Americans originate from a mix of people with Native American, European and African ancestry. A new study finds that different types of original Native American ancestry can be associated to different causes of death. Justo Lorenzo Bermejo and Felix Boekstegers from Heidelberg University in Germany, and their Chilean colleagues report these findings in a new study published May 26th, 2017 in PLOS Genetics. Indigenous peoples in Latin America are genetically diverse. Genetic differences among Native Americans become obscured when researchers lump together the ancestry of all groups as "Native American" in biomedical studies. In the current study, researchers examined genetic data from 2,039 Chileans with mixed ancestry to investigate possible associations between top causes of death and the two major types of Native American ancestry in Chile, the Mapuche and the Aymara. They found and validated a link between Mapuche ancestry and gallbladder cancer, with each 1% increase in the Mapuche proportion representing a 3.7% increase in the risk of death from the disease. Mapuche ancestry was also associated with an increased risk of asthma, and with a decreased mortality by diabetes. Increasing proportions of Aymara ancestry were linked to greater risk of skin, bladder, larynx, bronchus and lung cancers. The findings highlight the importance of taking into account the genetic contributions of different ancestral groups when researching ethnically diverse populations. Mapuche and Aymara ancestry show associations with different diseases, and grouping them together cancels out differences in risk. By separately considering genetic contributions from individual indigenous populations, scientists can better estimate a patient's risk and identify genetic variants underlying certain diseases. Justo Lorenzo Bermejo adds: "The genome of Latin Americans is the result of a genetic mixture between Europeans, Africans and Native Americans from different indigenous peoples. The identification of health disparities among ethnic groups may have important implications for personalized prevention and disease management. This study demonstrates that considering the origin of the Native American component of ancestry can be crucial to identify existing associations with human disease. We plan to exploit this finding in future studies on Latin American health, in particular common cancers and infectious diseases in South America." In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Genetics: http://journals. Citation: Lorenzo Bermejo J, Boekstegers F, González Silos R, Marcelain K, Baez Benavides P, Barahona Ponce C, et al. (2017) Subtypes of Native American ancestry and leading causes of death: Mapuche ancestry-specific associations with gallbladder cancer risk in Chile. PLoS Genet 13(5): e1006756. https:/ Funding: This study was financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, grant 01DN15021), Germany's Excellence Initiative of Heidelberg University within the program "Mobilitätsmaßnahmen im Rahmen internationaler Forschungskooperationen 2015-16", the support program "Stiftungen und Preise" of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg within the funding program Open Access Publishing, and the German Research Foundation (DFG, grant LO 2061/1). Sample collection and storage was supported by the Biobank of University of Chile. JSS is partially funded by USA NIH Grant GM053275. This work was partially supported by general funds from the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) and the Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
News Article | May 9, 2017
LearnHowToBecome.org, a leading resource provider for higher education and career information, has released its list of the best colleges and universities in Ohio for 2017. 50 four-year schools were ranked, with Ursuline College, Xavier University, Ohio Northern University, Case Western Reserve University and John Carroll University coming in as the top five. Of the 29 two-year schools that also made the cut, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Belmont College, Sinclair College, Owens Community College and Columbus State Community College were in the top five. A complete list of schools is included below. “Earning a certificate or degree can be a major stepping stone for career development,” said Wes Ricketts, senior vice president of LearnHowToBecome.org. “These schools offer more than just educational opportunities, they represent Ohio’s best combination of education and employment resources that translate to strong post-college earnings for students.” To be included on the “Best Colleges in Ohio” list, institutions must be regionally accredited, not-for-profit schools. Each college is also ranked on metrics like the variety of degree programs offered, the number of employment and academic resources offered, financial aid availability, graduation rates and annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering college. Complete details on each college, their individual scores and the data and methodology used to determine the LearnHowToBecome.org “Best Colleges in Ohio” list, visit: http://www.learnhowtobecome.org/college/ohio/ Ohio’s Best Four-Year Colleges for 2017 include: Ashland University Baldwin Wallace University Bluffton University Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Capital University Case Western Reserve University Cedarville University Cleveland Institute of Art Cleveland State University Defiance College Denison University Franciscan University of Steubenville Franklin University Heidelberg University Hiram College John Carroll University Kent State University at Kent Kenyon College Lake Erie College Lourdes University Malone University Marietta College Miami University-Oxford Mount Saint Joseph University Mount Vernon Nazarene University Muskingum University Notre Dame College Oberlin College Ohio Dominican University Ohio Northern University Ohio State University-Main Campus Ohio State University-Mansfield Campus Ohio University-Main Campus Ohio Wesleyan University Otterbein University The College of Wooster The University of Findlay Union Institute & University University of Akron Main Campus University of Cincinnati-Main Campus University of Dayton University of Mount Union University of Toledo Ursuline College Walsh University Wilberforce University Wittenberg University Wright State University-Main Campus Xavier University Youngstown State University Ohio’s Best Two-Year Colleges for 2017 include: Belmont College Bowling Green State University-Firelands Central Ohio Technical College Choffin Career and Technical Center Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Clark State Community College Columbiana County Career and Technical Center Columbus State Community College Cuyahoga Community College Eastern Gateway Community College Edison State Community College Hocking College Lakeland Community College Lorain County Community College Marion Technical College North Central State College Northwest State Community College Ohio Institute of Allied Health Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute Owens Community College Remington College-Cleveland Campus Rhodes State College Sinclair College Southern State Community College Stark State College Terra State Community College University of Akron Wayne College Washington State Community College Zane State College About Us: LearnHowtoBecome.org was founded in 2013 to provide data and expert driven information about employment opportunities and the education needed to land the perfect career. Our materials cover a wide range of professions, industries and degree programs, and are designed for people who want to choose, change or advance their careers. We also provide helpful resources and guides that address social issues, financial aid and other special interest in higher education. Information from LearnHowtoBecome.org has proudly been featured by more than 700 educational institutions.