Cause of rare cancer discovered – new hope for children suffering from rhabdomyosarcoma

A team of scientists from SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, the Universities of Harvard and Aberdeen, and the Institute of Cancer Research have made a breakthrough in understanding the causes of rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer. In their study, published today in Cancer cell, the researchers reveal for the first time the key role a protein called Yap plays in triggering off this type of cancer.

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Augmenting genomics through metabolomics

The field of genomics has opened up new perspectives to determine the origins of various phenotypes, such as diseases and physiological traits. Statistical studies that measure correlations between genetic and phenotypic variations within large populations have provided important results, but, so far, have explained only a small fraction of heritability. To address this issue, Rico Rueedi, Prof. Zoltán Kutalik, and Prof. Sven Bergmann of the University of Lausanne investigate, in the context of the CoLaus study, a new approach integrating metabolomics into genomics.

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SIB honours two young bioinformaticians for their outstanding research work

On the occasion of its Foundation Council Meeting in Bern on 26 June, SIB announced the winners of the SIB Awards 2014. The SIB Young Bioinformatician Award and the SIB Best Graduate Paper Award, of CHF 10,000 and CHF 5,000 respectively, are given every year by SIB to recognize the excellent merits of young bioinformaticians.

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„Microbial Pompeji“ in dental calculus

Researchers of the University of Zurich have discovered a „microbial Pompeii“ preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old. They found a high concentration of genetic material, as well as numerous opportunistic pathogens and could establish that periodontal disease is caused by the same bacteria today as in the past.

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Searching for the molecular clues to longer life spans in ants

Over evolutionary time, the ant lineage has undergone spectacular adaptations. To identify their molecular origins, researchers from the University of Lausanne examined signatures of positive selection on genes from seven ant genomes. The work was led by Julien Roux, then postdoctoral researcher and e-bioinformatician in the lab of Laurent Keller in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, and also involved other SIB members from the laboratories of Marc Robinson-Rechavi and Laurent Excoffier.

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Automated quantitative histology reveals vascular morphodynamics during Arabidopsis hypocotyl secondary growth

Prof. Christian Hardtke, Director of the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Lausanne, with the help of SIB’s High Performance Computing Group led by Ioannis Xenarios, established an “Automated Quantitative Histology” approach to analyze high-resolution images of hypocotyl cross-sections in an automated manner.

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Male or female? The first sex determining genes appeared in mammals some 180 million years ago

The Y chromosome, which distinguishes males from females at the genetic level, appeared some 180 million years ago. It originated twice independently in all mammals. The team of Prof. Henrik Kaessmann at the Center for Integrative Genomics and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics managed to date these events that are crucial for both mammalian evolution and our lives, because the Y chromosome determines whether we are born as a boy or girl.

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Biology’s “dark matter”

Thanks to bioinformatics, researchers from the University of Lausanne have shed light upon a poorly understood category of genes, which produce long non-coding RNA molecules rather than proteins. A few of these genes appeared over 350 million years ago in the common ancestor of 11 species – amongst which humans, the great apes, opossums and frogs. The article was published in Nature, on 19 January 2014.

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