Most recent news releases
Jul 8, 2014 A healthy lifestyle adds years to life
Live longer thanks to fruit, an active lifestyle, limited alcohol and no cigarettes. This is the conclusion of a study by public health physicians at the University of Zurich who documented for the first time the impact of behavioural factors on life expectancy in numbers. The results are to be taken over into prevention and health counselling in primary care.
How well tropical trees weather periods of drought depends on the carbohydrates stored, as revealed by a novel experiment conducted by an international team of researchers headed by ecologists from the University of Zurich in contribution to the University Research Priority Program on “Global Change and Biodiversity”. The findings are extremely important for assessing the resistance of tropical forests to climate change and reforestation.
For the first time, researchers at CERN have found evidence for the direct decay of the Higgs boson into fermions – another strong indication that the particle discovered in 2012 behaves in the way the standard model of particle physics predicts. Researchers from the University of Zurich made a significant contribution to the study published in Nature Physics.
Animals have the ability to conceal their sickness in certain social situations. According to a new review, when given the opportunity to mate or in the presence of their young, sick animals will behave as though they were healthy. The research has implications for our understanding of the spread of infectious diseases.
After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation. An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered, as researchers from the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich and the University of Heidelberg reveal.
The transport routes of nutrients and messenger cargos can be compared to the traffic system of a city: A worldwide unique quantitative study of cell biologists of the University of Zurich shows that cells regulate the main routes, side routes and intersections by an intricate traffic control system, which guides the spatial and temporal distribution of substances within the cell.
Jun 2, 2014 Hypnosis extends restorative slow-wave sleep
Deep sleep promotes our well-being, improves our memory and strengthens the body’s defences. Zurich and Fribourg researchers demonstrate how restorative SWS can also be increased without medication – using hypnosis.
May 27, 2014 New jigsaw piece for the repair of DNA crosslinks
DNA damage repair is highly complex. UZH researchers have now discovered another piece in the puzzle for the removal of extremely dangerous DNA lesions. Faithful and efficient repair of so-called crosslinks requires a collaboration between a specific signalling and repair protein. As crosslink-inducing agents are used in chemotherapy, the new insights are also important for the development of better anti-cancer treatment strategies.
Around a third of all men suffer from premature ejaculation. For the majority of women, however, curtailed sexual intercourse without climaxing is less frustrating. A sex researcher from the University of Zurich reveals: If men are focused too heavily on controlling ejaculation, they ignore the sexual needs of women and are unable to cater to their individual desires, which can seriously jeopardize the relationship.
When emotions are processed in a negatively biased manner in the brain, an individual is at risk to develop depression. Psilocybin, the bioactive component of the Mexican magic mushroom, seems to intervene positively in the emotion-processing mechanism. Even a small amount of the natural substance attenuates the processing of negative emotions and brightens mood as shown by UZH researchers using imaging methods.
The human body is fine-tuned to Earth’s gravity. A team headed by Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Anatomy is now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to study whether this also applies to human cells. On the evening of April 18, the transporter spaceship Dragon lifted off from the Cape Canaveral launch center in Florida with a cargo of UZH immune cells on board.
The drug ivermectin is used around the world to combat parasites in humans and animals. The active ingredient is also known to harm dung-degrading beneficial organisms. An international research team headed up by evolutionary biologists at the University of Zurich have now demonstrated that certain dung organisms react more sensitively to ivermectin than previously assumed. Hence there is a need for more sophisticated field tests.
Apr 10, 2014 Camels emit less methane than cows or sheep
When digesting ruminants exhale methane. Their contribution to this global greenhouse gas is considerable. So far the assumption had been that camels with similar digestion produce the same amount of the climate-damaging gas. However, researchers at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have now shown camels release less methane than ruminants.
In mammals, embryonic cranial development is modular and step-wise: The individual cranial bones form according to a defined, coordinated schedule. The typical increase in the size of the brain in mammals in the course of evolution ultimately triggered changes in this developmental plan, as a study conducted on embryos of 134 species of animal headed by palaeontologists from the University of Zurich reveals.
Mar 31, 2014 Using different scents to attract or repel insects
Flowering plants are able to make flexible use of their scents. If the focus is on pollination they attract insects with the scent of their flowers. If they are infested with parasites, they reduce the release of floral scents which then attracts more beneficial partner insects for their defence. This has been demonstrated by a Swiss-Italian team led by evolutionary biologists from the University of Zurich using a plant that is closely related to rapeseed.
Not only folded proteins fulfil important functions in the human body; unfolded or intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) likewise assume major tasks. Researchers at the University of Zurich have observed how molecular forces influence protein structure. The unfolded proteins become smaller when exposed to elevated temperatures and density stress.
Immediately after the biggest extinction event of all time there were once again functioning and complete food webs in the oceans of the Early Triassic. Contrary to previous assumptions there were large predators, too. Large predatory fish and amphibians, and later dinosaurs too, were the last link in the food chain. This is demonstrated in new studies by palaeontologists at the Universities of Zurich and Utah, USA.
Humans are often infected by parasites, sometimes even several species at a time. Such co-infections are more difficult to treat if the parasites interact with each other. An ecologist from the University of Zurich and his international team have compiled a list of the numerous possibilities as to how parasites can interact: They are most likely to do so indirectly via the food source they share.
Whether a tumour develops from individual cancer cells and whether metastases are formed depends on many factors in the affected tissue. A greater understanding of a tumour’s complex switch and control circuits could help to combat cancer in a more targeted fashion. Researchers at the University of Zurich have come up with an imaging method that is able to simultaneously visualize a previously unachieved number of factors involved in cancer.
After a stroke, sufferers are often faced with the problem of severe movement impairment. Researchers at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich have now discovered that the brainstem could play a major role in the recovery of motor functions. The projection of neurons from this ancient part of the brain into the spinal cord leads to the neural impulses needed for motion being rerouted.