Discovery of a New Function of the Prion Protein Improves our Understanding of Epilepsy

Cellular prion protein (PrPc) plays an essential role in maintaining neurotransmitter homeostasis in the central nervous system. This discovery has been made possible by the observation that both a deficiency and an excess of the protein have a considerable effect on this homeostasis.

Surprisingly, in both cases, the central nervous excitability threshold is altered to such an extent that an epileptic seizure may result. Thanks to this discovery, we now have more tools at our disposal that can help us to deepen our basic understanding of epilepsy.

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Discovery of a Novel Cell Adhesion Mechanism

In a process essential to the immune system’s response to infection, dendritic cells responsible for identifying pathogens communicate with the T-cells that destroy the infectious agents.

To achieve this, the dendritic cells must be correctly activated and migrate to the lymph nodes where they must adhere firmly to T-cells.

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Novel Evolutionary Theory for the Explosion of Life

The Cambrian Explosion is widely regarded as one of the most relevant episodes in the history of life on Earth, when the vast majority of animal phyla first appear in the fossil record.

However, the causes of its origin have been object of debate for decades and the question of what was the trigger for the single cell microorganisms Precambrian Age (500 Mio. Years ago) to assemble and organize into multicellular organisms (Metazoans) has remained unanswered until now.

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Feeling and pressing the cytoplasm

IBEC researcher in collaboration with a Harvard-led team in PNAS

Imagine an opaque bag in front of you and you wish to figure out what’s inside, what would you do? You can’t open it. So you press and you feel the content, then you might be able to tell whether it is a bag of glass beads or soft balls.

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New Light Technique Developed to Observe Real-Time Cellular Activity on a Nanometric Scale

In any biological process, multiple interactions occurring at the molecular level make it impossible to observe live cells in real time, because light microscopes cannot focus light at scales of less than 350 nanometres. 

New breakthroughs in nanophotonics, however, will shortly enable us to visualise molecular processes at an optical resolution of ten nanometres, according to researcher María García-Parajo, head of the Bionanophotonics Laboratory at IBEC.

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