Research News

The need for speed: Why malaria parasites are faster than human immune cells

Elementary cytoskeleton protein is different in parasites and represents a starting point for a possible new therapy against malaria infections. Researchers from the Heidelberg University Hospital, the Centre for Molecular Biology at the University of Heidelberg (ZMBH), and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) have published these findings in the journal “PLOS Biology”.

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New computational method for drug discovery

HITS researchers developed tauRAMD, a tool to predict drug-target residence times from short simulations. The method is illustrated on the cover page of July 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, software is freely available.

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Accelerated reactions in condensed bio-matter?

HITS researcher Dr. Kashif Sadiq explores ribonucleoprotein granules, a condensed form of bio-matter found inside cells. He investigates whether the rate of enzymatic reactions in these membrane-less granules is accelerated. If true, this would lead to new insights in how cells regulate their biochemistry and may shed light on the origins of life on Earth. The project is funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung with an “Experiment!” grant.

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Protein analysis: Less is more

CONAN to the rescue! The new software-package for molecular dynamic simulations compresses 3D data to contact maps and helps to analyze protein structures. The tool CONAN (CONtact ANalysis), developed at HITS, has now been presented in the latest issue of „Biophysical Journal“.

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EuroNeurotrophin project starts

14 Early Stage Researchers to be trained in a European training network for the discovery of small molecule neurotrophin mimetics as candidate therapeutic agents for neurodegeneration and neuro-inflammation. HITS will host two young scientists who will work on the computer-aided design of neurotrophin mimetics.

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Better Weather Forecasts for Africa: Development Assistance 2.0

Precipitation forecasts are very useful for agricultural areas such as the Sahel. However, while there are reliable models and measurements for Europe, a targeted use of weather information for Africa remains a vision for the future. Scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) are therefore researching methods to improve precipitation forecasts for Africa.

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How black holes shape the cosmos

Astrophysicists from Heidelberg, Garching, and the USA gained new insights into the formation and evolution of galaxies. They calculated how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed throughout the cosmos, and where magnetic fields originate. This was possible by developing and programming a new simulation model for the universe, which created the most extensive simulations of this kind to date. First results of the “IllustrisTNG” project have now been published in three articles in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. These findings should help to answer fundamental questions in cosmology.

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The Mexican axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum (Copyright: IMP)

The largest genome ever: Decoding the Axolotl

A team of researchers led by scientists in Vienna, Dresden and Heidelberg has decoded the entire genetic information of the Mexican salamander axolotl. The axolotl genome, which is the largest genome ever to be sequenced, will be a powerful tool to study the molecular basis for re-growing limbs and other forms of regeneration. The journal NATURE publishes the news in its current issue.

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A new genome for regeneration research

The planarian flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea is an extraordinary animal. Even when cut into tiny pieces, each piece can regenerate back into a complete and perfectly proportioned miniature planarian. Key to this ability are fascinating adult stem cells, a single one of which can restore a complete worm. But how Schmidtea mediterranea achieves these feats is so far poorly understood. An important step towards this goal is the first highly contiguous genome assembly of Schmidtea mediterranea that researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden in cooperation with the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) report in the current issue of Nature.

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Neutron Stars on the Brink of Collapse

Neutron stars are the densest objects in the Universe; however, their exact characteristics remain unknown. Using simulations based on recent observations, a team of scientists including HITS researcher Dr. Andreas Bauswein has managed to narrow down the size of these stars. When a very massive star dies, its core contracts. In a supernova explosion, the…

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