Research News

Force for activation

Tumor invasion and metastasis are major problems in the therapy of cancer patients. A team of researchers at the Heidelberg Institute of Theoretical Studies (HITS), the LMU Munich (both Germany) and the CNIO Madrid, Spain, has now elucidated the activation conditions for a key enzyme in this process – a step forward in the development of new therapeutic strategies.

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Metabolic signaling as new concept for breast cancer risk estimation

HITS is partner of the international research consortium “MESI-STRAT” that explores the interplay of breast cancer metabolism and oncogenic signaling by systems medicine. The consortium was awarded by the European Union €6 million for five years. The main goal of the five-years project is to develop new models for knowledge-based stratification of patients into subgroups to guide targeted interventions. The Scientific Databases and Visualization (SDBV) group at HITS takes care of the model and data management platform.

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Free Open Source Materials from the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre

Since it opened in April 2018, the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre has shared the wonders of the Universe with more than 55 000 visitors and captured the attention of audiences from around the globe. Now, the ESO Supernova’s extensive library of high-resolution images, stunning videos, educational texts and planetarium resources, as well as a digital version of its state-of-the-art astronomical exhibition, have been made freely available online.

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Effort clarifies major branch of insect tree of life

A team of international researchers just published a new study on Hemiptera, using a vast amount molecular data to investigate their evolutionary history of more than 350 million years. An important part of the study was the reconstruction of the phylogenetic trees with a tool developed in the Scientific Computing group at HITS, Heidelberg. The reconstruction was performed on the supercomputer SuperMUC in Garching near Munich.

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New insights into the regulation of haemostasis

German Scientists investigate the structure of the von Willebrand factor (VWF), a key protein involved in blood clotting. HITS researchers from the Molecular Biomechanics group simulated the dynamics of the platelet integrin-binding VWF C4 domain to better understand disease mutations of this protein. The project was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

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ESCAPE: Launch of the European Project for Data Management in Astronomy

2019 marks the beginning of one of the biggest projects for data management in astronomy. The „European Science Cluster for Astronomy & Particle physics ESFRI research infrastructures” (short: ESCAPE) is a consortium of more than 30 European partners that is now developing different strategies to facilitate the management of data-driven research. The project aims, among other things, to make the European science cloud reality and to create infrastructures and methods to deal with the increasing amount of data in astronomy.

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Parasites discovered in fossil fly pupae

Parasitic wasps existed as early as several million years ago. Within a project coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), researchers of various disciplines for the first time definitively discovered fossil parasites inside their hosts. The scientists studied fly pupae from old collections using ultrafast X-ray imaging. They found 55 cases of parasitation and described four extinct wasp species that were unknown until now. The project was managed by the KIT. Researchers from HITS and Heidelberg University developed the algorithms and software for the digital reconstruction. Their findings are reported in Nature Communications.

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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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