Events 2013

Mois : December - November - October - September - August - July - June - April - April - March - February - January -

December

19/12/2013 - Molecular marker discovered for detecting artemisinin-resistant forms of malaria

Scientists at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIAID/NIH) have identified a molecular marker for detecting malaria parasites with resistance to artemisinin derivatives (major components in antimalarial medicine or drug treatments currently recommended by the World Health Organization, WHO). The discovery of this marker will increasing our understanding of parasite resistance to artemisinin derivatives, improved monitoring of the spread of resistant forms of malaria, and the swift adaptation of effective treatment methods to combat this disease. This research was published online December 18, 2013 by the journal Nature. more...

17/12/2013 - Neanderthals buried their dead

Ever since the discovery, over a hundred years ago, of a Neanderthal burial site at La Chapelle-aux-Saints in southwestern France, controversy has raged within the scientific community about Neanderthal funerary practices, especially burials. New archaeological excavations at the site and a reassessment of the human remains discovered in the early twentieth century provide conclusive evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead, thus settling the debate. The findings, by a team of CNRS researchers, the research company Archéosphère, and the University of Bordeaux, together with members of INRAP (Institut de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives) and the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, highlight the fundamentally modern behavior of Neanderthals with regard to death. They are published this week on the website of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). more...

13/12/2013 - Carriers of a genetic mutation show increased dependence on tobacco

Scientists at the Institut Pasteur, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) have recently proven that, in mice, nicotine intake – nicotine is the main addictive substance in tobacco – is heavily regulated by a genetic mutation that is very common in humans. This mutation affects the neuronal nicotinic receptor, disrupting its function and resulting in partial inactivation of the "reward circuit". Carriers of this mutation therefore have to increase their consumption to feel the effects of tobacco. These results, published online on December 3, 2013 in Molecular Psychiatry, pave the way for the development of new smoking cessation treatments that target carriers of this mutation. more...

11/12/2013 - When will the Earth lose its oceans?

The natural increase in solar luminosity—a very slow process unrelated to current climate warming—will cause the Earth's temperatures to rise over the next few hundred million years. This will result in the complete evaporation of the oceans. Devised by a team from the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique1 (CNRS / UPMC / ENS / École polytechnique), the first three-dimensional climate model able to simulate the phenomenon predicts that liquid water will disappear on Earth in approximately one billion years, extending previous estimates by several hundred million years. Published on December 12, 2013 in the journal Nature, the work not only improves our understanding of the evolution of our planet but also makes it possible to determine the necessary conditions for the presence of liquid water on other Earth-like planets. more...

11/12/2013 - Revolutionary method for gluing gels and biological tissues

Researchers have discovered an efficient and easy-to-use method for bonding together gels and biological tissues. A team headed by Ludwik Leibler, involving researchers from the Laboratoire Matière Molle et Chimie (CNRS/ESPCI ParisTech) and the Laboratoire Physico-Chimie des Polymères et Milieux Dispersés (CNRS/ UPMC/ESPCI ParisTech), has succeeded in obtaining very strong adhesion between two gels by spreading on their surface a solution containing nanoparticles. Until now, there was no entirely satisfactory method of obtaining adhesion between two gels or two biological tissues. Published online in Nature on 11 December 2013, this work could pave the way for numerous medical and industrial applications. more...

10/12/2013 - New global scientific landscape is shaping up

Beijing, Tokyo, Paris, New York, Seoul, London… The world's largest scientific centers are losing some of their prominence due to geographical decentralization at the global scale, according to a team of researchers from the LISST (Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Solidarités, Sociétés, Territoires, CNRS / Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail / EHESS) who conducted a systematic statistical analysis of millions of articles and papers published in thousands of scientific reviews between 1987 and 2007. Their project, whose results were recently published on the Urban Studies website, was the first to focus on the geography of science in all the world's cities. more...

05/12/2013 - Fossil primate shakes up history of strepsirrhines

Fossils discovered in Tunisia challenge several hypotheses concerning the origin of tooth-combed primates (Malagasy lemurs, Afro-Asian lorises and African galagos). The fossils are of a small primate called Djebelemur, which lived around 50 million years ago. They were discovered by a French-Tunisian team from the Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution in Montpellier (CNRS/Université Montpellier 2/IRD) and the Office National des Mines (ONM) in Tunis. According to the paleontologists, Djebelemur was probably a transitional form leading to the appearance of tooth-combed primates. However, according to genetic data, these primates appeared at least 15 million years earlier. Djebelemur therefore challenges the hypotheses put forward by molecular biology. The work, which has just been published in Plos One, makes it possible to reconstruct a chapter in the evolutionary history of this lineage. In addition, it may help to refine genetic models. more...

02/12/2013 - Unparalleled accuracy for European climate projections

An international team including CNRS, Météo-France, CEA, UVSQ and INERIS1 has carried out and analyzed2 an ensemble of climate projections for the whole of Europe at an unprecedented resolution of 12 km, by downscaling the global simulations performed for the 5th IPCC report. These simulations for the 21st century now provide a much more detailed representation of local phenomena and extreme events. Initial analyses confirm that there will be a significant increase in the frequency of extreme events, such as heavy rainfall, heatwaves and droughts. Data from the EURO-CORDEX project have just been published and made available to scientists. This should lead to more detailed studies of the impact of climate change in Europe on air quality, hydrology and extreme events, all of which affect key sectors such as energy, health and agriculture. more...

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November

29/11/2013 - Elucidating heavy precipitation events

It is difficult to forecast heavy precipitation events accurately and reliably. The quality of these forecasts is affected by two processes whose relative importance has now been quantified by a team at the Laboratoire d'Aérologie (CNRS / Université Toulouse III–Paul Sabatier). The researchers have shown that these processes should be taken into account in low wind speed events. Their findings should help forecast these events, which repeatedly cause significant damage, especially in south-eastern France. They were first published online on November 28, 2013 in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. more...

28/11/2013 - Amoeboid swimming - crawling in a fluid

Researchers from CNRS, Inserm and Université Joseph Fourier - Grenoble have developed a particularly simple model that reproduces the swimming mechanism of amoebas. They show that, by changing shape, these single cell organisms propel themselves forward in a viscous fluid at the same speed as when they crawl on a solid substrate. This work has recently been published in the journal Physical Review Letters. more...

28/11/2013 - Brain shape affects children's learning capacities

The anatomy of the brain affects cognitive control, an essential skill for learning and academic success. This is the result of studies performed by the Laboratoire de Psychologie du Développement et de l'Education de l'Enfant (CNRS/Université Paris Descartes/Université de Caen Basse-Normandie), in collaboration with the NeuroSpin Center (CEA). The scientists showed that an asymmetry of the two brain hemispheres relative to a particular pattern of a cortical region could partly explain the performance of 5-year old children during a task designed to measure cognitive control. According to the research team, and depending on the characteristics of their brains, children may have different pedagogical requirements in terms of learning cognitive control. This work, published online in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience on 30 November 2013, opens new educational perspectives. more...

19/11/2013 - Launch of E-Biothon, a networked platform for the acceleration and advancement of bioinformatics research

CNRS, IBM, Inria, the Institut Français de Bioinformatique and the innovative start-up SysFera are rolling out E-Biothon, an experimental Cloud platform (1) to help speed up and advance research in biology, health and the environment. With a 200-terabyte (1012 bytes) storage capacity and a computing power of 28 teraflops (1012 flops), E-Biothon will provide an application portal and significant processing capacity to both researchers and the scientific community as a whole. This will make it possible to tackle the processing of today's complex biological data in order to develop tomorrow's application software. The platform is being showcased from 18 to 21 November 2013 at the key high performance computing event, the Supercomputing (SC 13) Exhibition in Denver. more...

18/11/2013 - Cancer treatment: a step towards personalized chronotherapy

Cancer chronotherapy consists in administering treatment at an optimal time. Because the body is governed by precise biological rhythms, the efficacy of anti-cancer drugs can be doubled and their toxicity reduced five-fold depending on the exact timing of their administration. However, important differences in biorhythms exist between individuals, which chronotherapy has not been able to take into account until now. An international study conducted on mice and coordinated by researchers from Inserm, CNRS and Université Paris-Sud1 has paved the way towards personalized chronotherapy treatments. In an article published in the journal Cancer Research, the team has shown that the timing of optimal tolerance to irinotecan, a widely used anti-cancer drug, varies by 8 hours depending on the sex and genetic background of mice. They then developed a mathematical model that makes it possible to predict, for each animal, the optimal timing for administering the drug. They now hope to test this model on other drugs used in chemotherapy. more...

14/11/2013 - Decoding, oral comprehension, vocabulary: three key literacy skills for primary schools in priority areas

What types of skills do first-year primary school children in education priority areas need most to learn to read? To find out, a team of researchers at CNRS and the universities of Grenoble, Paris Descartes and Aix-Marseille conducted a study of 394 children in ZEPs (1) administered by the Académie de Lyon at the end of their first year of school. The results show that, of all the factors involved in their reading comprehension skills, three played a predominant role: decoding ability, oral comprehension and vocabulary. Published in the November 8, 2013 issue of PloS ONE, these findings were obtained in collaboration with the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Geneva. The report also underlines the importance of evaluating and cultivating these skills starting in the first year of school in order to improve children's reading comprehension. more...

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October

29/10/2013 - Hearing through sight

Cochlear implants allow adults who have become profoundly deaf to recover the ability to understand speech. However, recovery differs between individuals. Activating the visual regions of the brain has proved essential to the satisfactory recovery of hearing, according to a new study by the Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition (CERCO, CNRS/Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier), carried out in close collaboration with the ENT department at Hôpital Purpan in Toulouse. The more the area of the brain responsible for vision is activated immediately after implantation, the better the individual's speech understanding performance six months later. There is therefore a synergy between sight and hearing, resulting in a gradual improvement in the decoding of speech. These findings, which have just been published in Brain, illustrate the crucial role of brain plasticity. And they may make it possible to develop diagnostic tools for specific rehabilitation. more...

28/10/2013 - The leviton, a silent electron wave

Physicists from the CEA and the CNRS1 have succeeded in injecting a few electrons into a conductor without causing any disturbance to it. This result has been achieved by generating ultra-short electrical pulses with a Lorentzian distribution in the time domain. The quantum electron wave obtained in this way has been named a leviton. It propagates without generating any noise or deformation in the same way as certain other known solitary optical and hydrodynamic waves (solitons). This work opens up the possibility of new simple and reliable 'on demand' electron sources, which may eventually be useful in quantum information systems and other physics applications. These results2 were published in the October 31 edition of the journal Nature. more...

28/10/2013 - How rats and mice came to have a unique masticatory apparatus, key to their evolutionary success

Rats and mice are rodents that have been highly successful in evolutionary terms, as evidenced by their 584 present day species and their ability to adapt to very different environments. The reasons for this success are not yet clearly understood: one of them may be their masticatory apparatus, which is unique among rodents. Now, researchers at the Institut de Paléoprimatologie, Paléontologie Humaine: Évolution et Paléoenvironnements (CNRS/Université de Poitiers)1 have described the evolutionary processes that caused rats and mice to acquire this characteristic feature. The study, which was carried out on several hundred present day and fossil specimens, made use of an X-ray beam at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble. This enabled the researchers to determine the diet of extinct species and to trace the evolutionary history of these rodents. Published in the journal Evolution dated November 2013, the study makes use of innovative analytical methods for the study of the evolution of species. more...

21/10/2013 - Novel technique to detect fingerprints

An innovative product that uses fluorescence to detect fingerprints has been developed by a team from the Laboratoire de Photophysique et Photochimie Supramoléculaire et Macromoléculaire (CNRS/ENS Cachan) in collaboration with the specialized French firm Crime Scene Technology (1). This new product, Lumicyano™, will make it possible to highlight fingerprints directly, more rapidly and at a lower cost, avoiding the cumbersome processes required until now. The product has been successfully put through its paces by the French Police and Gendarmerie as well as by Scotland Yard and the FBI. It has led to a publication on the website of the journal Forensic Science International and a patent has been filed. more...

10/10/2013 - Two forms of Parkinson's disease identified

Why can the symptoms of Parkinson's disease vary so greatly from one patient to another? A consortium of researchers, headed by a team from the Laboratoire CNRS d'Enzymologie et Biochimie Structurales1, is well on the way to providing an explanation. Parkinson's disease is caused by a protein known as alpha-synuclein, which forms aggregates within neurons, killing them eventually. The researchers have succeeded in characterizing and producing two different types of alpha-synuclein aggregates. Better still, they have shown that one of these two forms is much more toxic than the other and has a greater capacity to invade neurons. This discovery takes account, at the molecular scale, of the existence of alpha-synuclein accumulation profiles that differ from one patient to the next. These results, published on October 10 in Nature Communications, represent a notable advance in our understanding of Parkinson's disease and pave the way for the development of specific therapies targeting each form of the disease. more...

09/10/2013 - Alain Beretz, president of the University of Strasbourg and CNRS president Alain Fuchs congratulate Martin Karplus, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Wednesday, 9 October to a team of three researchers, Austrian-American Martin Karplus, British-American Michael Levitt et Israeli-American Arieh Warshel, for their work on multiscale models for complex chemical systems. more...

09/10/2013 - A new era of ocean research drilling has dawned

During the past decades the findings of scientific ocean drilling expeditions have fundamentally changed the way we look at our blue planet. Today we have a much better grasp of how processes like earthquakes and tsunamis develop; ocean drilling made it possible to prove the theory of plate tectonics and we know a lot more about climate change and the limits of life deep below the seafloor. However, many issues remain to be solved. Hence the launch, on October 1st, of a new era of ocean research drilling: over the next decade, the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) will focus on scientific challenges that are of immediate interest to society. more...

08/10/2013 - 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics: CNRS and CEA congratulate laureates François Englert and Peter W. Higgs

CNRS and CEA congratulate the theoretical physicists François Englert and Peter W. Higgs, laureates of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics. Through this distinction, the untiring work of the experimental physicists community in testing Englert and Higgs' theoretical hypothesis is also being recognized. Forty-eight years on, the discovery of a new particle, a Higgs boson, by the Atlas and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has validated the two physicists' model. In France, hundreds of CNRS and CEA researchers played a part in the experimental aspects of the discovery. From the outset, France participated in the design and development of the accelerator's superconducting magnets and of the two LHC detectors that played a key role in the discovery. The country was also involved in the collection and interpretation of the data. Following in the footsteps of the pioneers, French theorists helped to lay the theoretical foundations of the Standard Model of particle physics. more...

07/10/2013 - Alain Aspect awarded the 2013 Niels Bohr Medal

Alain Aspect, Augustin Fresnel Professor at the Institut d'Optique Graduate School, Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique and CNRS senior researcher emeritus, has been awarded the Niels Bohr Medal by the Danish Academy of Engineers, in association with the Niels Bohr Institute and the Royal Danish Society of Sciences and Letters. The medal will be presented in Copenhagen on 7 October 2013, on the occasion of the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Niels Bohr's atomic model. It honors his major contributions to the field of quantum optics and atomic physics. more...

07/10/2013 - Observing the living in real time and in a new light

Fluorescence imaging, a very important technique in biology and medicine, makes it possible to observe the living while in movement. However, the labels used in this domain are very often in competition with the natural fluorescence of the biological medium. In fact, this autofluorescence can seriously hinder observation under visible light. On the other hand, under near-infrared light it is virtually zero. The first stable, non-toxic labels that are sufficiently efficient under near-infrared light to be used in fluorescence imaging have been developed by a team led by Inserm researcher Stéphane Petoud at the Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire of CNRS in Orleans (CBM) and Nathaniel Rosi at the University of Pittsburgh (USA). A new tool for exploring the living world in real time is now available to biologists—and probably to clinicians in the future. This work is published online w/c October 7, 2013, in the journal PNAS. more...

01/10/2013 - Patrick Nédellec named director of the CNRS European Research and International Cooperation Department (DERCI)

On October 1, 2013, Patrick Nédellec was appointed director of the CNRS European Research and International Cooperation Department (DERCI) by president Alain Fuchs. He succeeds Minh-Hà Pham-Delègue, who has been named scientific advisor for science and technology at the French Embassy in Washington D.C. (US). Nédellec previously served as director of the CNRS China office. more...

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September

30/09/2013 - Textured images help tactile recognition for the blind

The use of different materials with varied textures improves the recognition of tactile images by young blind people, researchers from the Laboratoire de psychologie et neurocognition (LPNC) (CNRS/Université Pierre Mendès France/ Savoie University) have shown. This result, which was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied was achieved in collaboration with Geneva University's Faculté de psychologie et des sciences de l'éducation and Les Doigts Qui Rêvent (Dreaming Fingers) in Talant (Côte-d'Or, France). Among other factors, the researchers emphasise that early, regular use of tactile material by blind children is necessary to improve recognition through touch. more...

27/09/2013 - New strategy in the fight against TB?

A new approach to combating the tubercle bacillus, the microorganism that kills some 1.5 million people in the world each year, has been developed by a French-British team including scientists from CNRS, Inserm, the Institut Curie and Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier. The researchers have discovered that an amino acid, aspartate, is essential for the development of the bacillus because it acts as its main source of nitrogen. They have also succeeded in establishing the mechanism by which the bacterium extracts aspartate from its host. These results, published online on 29 September 2013 in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, could make it possible to develop new antibiotics and new vaccines derived from attenuated strains of the bacillus, incapable of supplying themselves with aspartate. more...

18/09/2013 - Developmental biologist Margaret Buckingham is awarded the 2013 CNRS Gold Medal

The CNRS Gold Medal, France's most prestigious scientific distinction, has been awarded this year to the developmental biologist Margaret Buckingham, exceptional grade senior researcher emeritus at CNRS and professor emeritus at the Institut Pasteur. Her research work has led to important advances in the field of myogenesis (muscle formation), cardiogenesis (formation of the heart) and stem cells in embryos and adults. In addition to their contribution to fundamental knowledge, her discoveries will have a major impact, in particular on muscular regeneration therapies and on the understanding of congenital cardiac malformations in humans. The CNRS Gold Medal will be awarded in public for the first time on Thursday, November 14, at 7:00pm (CEST), to coincide with the launch of "Les Fondamentales", the new CNRS forum, which will be held at La Sorbonne in Paris on November 14-16. more...

17/09/2013 - Cystic fibrosis: new compounds display strong therapeutic potential

Cystic fibrosis is a lethal genetic disorder that in France affects one child per 4,500 births. An international team led by scientists at the Institut Fédératif de Recherche Necker-Enfants Malades (CNRS/Inserm/Université Paris Descartes)1, led by Aleksander Edelman, has recently discovered two new compounds that could be used to treat patients carrying the most common mutation. By means of virtual screening and experiments on mice and human cells in culture, the scientists were able to screen 200,000 compounds and selected two that allowed the causal mutated protein to express itself and fulfill its function. These findings were recently published online in EMBO Molecular Medicine. more...

13/09/2013 - Smallest plankton grow fastest with rising CO2

Could the future of the ocean depend on its smallest organisms? An experiment conducted as part of the European project EPOCA, coordinated by Jean-Pierre Gattuso of the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (CNRS/UPMC), has shown that pico- and nanoplankton benefit from increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the seawater, causing a disruption in the food chain. Two climate regulation processes are also affected: carbon export to the deep ocean and production of dimethyl sulfide, a gas that counteracts the greehouse effect. The study was conducted in the Arctic by a team of researchers, mainly from GEOMAR, CNRS and UPMC1, supported by the Institut Polaire Français. These results have been published in a special issue of Biogeosciences. more...

10/09/2013 - French islands under threat from rising sea levels

By the year 2100, global warming will have caused sea levels to rise by 1 to 3 meters. This will strongly affect islands, their flora, fauna and inhabitants. A team of researchers from the Ecologie, systématique et évolution (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud) laboratory studied the impact of rising sea levels on 1,269 French islands throughout the world. Their model shows that between 5% and 12% of these islands could be totally submerged in the future. On a worldwide scale, they predict that about 300 endemic island species are at risk of extinction, while the habitat of thousands of others will be drastically reduced. This research has been published in the journals Global Ecology and Biogeography (August 2013) and Nature Conservation (September 2013). more...

01/09/2013 - Polar ice sheet formation: paradox solved

The beginning of the last glacial period was characterized in the Northern hemisphere by significant accumulation of snow at high latitudes and the formation of a huge polar ice sheet. For climatologists this was paradoxical, since snowfall is always associated with high humidity and relatively moderate temperatures. Now, a French team coordinated by María-Fernanda Sánchez-Goñi, a researcher at EPHE1 working in the 'Oceanic and Continental Environments and Paleoenvironments' Laboratory (CNRS/Universités Bordeaux 1 & 4)2 has solved this paradox. By analyzing sediment cores dating back 80,000 to 70,000 years, the researchers have shown that during that period, water temperatures in the Bay of Biscay remained relatively high, whereas those in mainland Europe gradually fell. Carried northwards by wind, the humidity released by this thermal contrast appears to have caused the snowfall that formed the polar ice sheet. This work was published on the Nature Geoscience website on 1 September 2013. more...

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August

30/08/2013 - Brown algae reveal antioxidant production secrets

Brown algae contain phlorotannins, aromatic (phenolic) compounds that are unique in the plant kingdom. As natural antioxidants, phlorotannins are of great interest for the treament and prevention of cancer and inflammatory, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers at the Végétaux marins et biomolécules (CNRS/UPMC) laboratory at the Station biologique de Roscoff, in collaboration with two colleagues at the Laboratoire des sciences de l'Environnement MARin (Laboratory of Marine Environment Sciences) in Brest (CNRS/UBO/IFREMER/IRD) have recently elucidated the key step in the production of these compounds in Ectocarpus siliculosus, a small brown alga model species. The study also revealed the specific mechanism of an enzyme that synthesizes phenolic compounds with commercial applications. These findings have been patented and should make it easier to produce the phlorotannins presently used as natural extracts in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. The results have also been published online on the site of the journal The Plant Cell. more...

01/08/2013 - Dengue: identifying mosquito genetic factors that control virus transmission

Dengue is currently the most common insect-borne viral disease of humans worldwide. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) have discovered several genetic factors controlling the transmission of various dengue virus strains in a natural population of mosquitoes in Thailand. Their results indicate that the transmission of these viruses in nature depends not only on mosquito genetic factors but also on their specific interaction with viral genetic factors. This discovery significantly advances our understanding of dengue biology in nature. From a more general standpoint, this study also refines our view of the genetic basis of host-pathogen interactions. This work was published August 01, 2013 on the PLoS Genetics website. more...

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July

29/07/2013 - Novel molecules to target the cytoskeleton

The dysfunction of the cytoskeleton, a constituent element of the cell, is often associated with pathologies such as the onset of metastases. For this reason, it is a target of interest in numerous therapies. Teams from CNRS, the Université de Strasbourg and Inserm, led by Daniel Riveline1, Jean-Marie Lehn2 and Marie-France Carlier3, have synthesized molecules capable of causing rapid growth of actin networks, one of the components of the cytoskeleton. This is a breakthrough because, until now, only molecules that stabilize or destroy the cytoskeleton of actin have been available. These compounds with novel properties, whose action has been elucidated both in vitro and in vivo, provide a new tool in pharmacology. This work was published in the journal Nature Communications on 29 July 2013. more...

18/07/2013 - Pandoravirus: missing link discovered between viruses and cells

Researchers at IGS, the genomic and structural information laboratory (CNRS/Aix-Marseille University), working in association with the large-scale biology laboratory (CEA/Inserm/Grenoble Alpes University) have just discovered two giant viruses which, in terms of number of genes, are comparable to certain eukaryotes, microorganisms with nucleated cells. The two viruses – called “Pandoravirus” to reflect their amphora shape and mysterious genetic content – are unlike any virus discovered before. This research appeared on the front page of Science on July 19, 2013. more...

16/07/2013 - Sanction mechanism identified between ants and host plants

In nature, many forms of plant-animal mutualism exist in which each partner benefits from the presence of the other. Although mutualistic interactions offer advantages for both partners, they are nonetheless a source of conflict. CNRS researchers from Toulouse III University – Paul Sabatier and the IRD have recently observed an original sanction interaction between a plant and an ant. In French Guiana, the Hirtella physophora plant is capable of retaliating against the "guest ants" that prevent it from flowering. These results illustrate the importance of sanction mechanisms, which prevent a mutualistic partner from becoming a parasite. This work was published in Evolutionary Biology dated 12 July 2013. more...

14/07/2013 - Chromosomal abnormalities may explain increased cancer risk in type 2 diabetes

Certain chromosomal abnormalities of the preleukemic type appear to be over-represented in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) who are suffering from vascular complications. This finding may provide a partial explanation for the higher rates of cancer-related mortality observed among patients with this type of diabetes. These results were obtained by a French-British-Qatari research group coordinated by Professor Philippe Froguel in the Laboratoire Génomique et maladies métaboliques (CNRS/Université Lille 2/Institut Pasteur de Lille), working in collaboration with teams attached to INSERM, AP-HP (Paris Public Hospitals) Paris Diderot and Paris-Sud universities . Their work was published on July 14, 2013 on the Nature Genetics website. more...

10/07/2013 - Bioluminescence reveals deep-water motion in the Mediterranean

In 2009 and 2010, the underwater neutrino telescope ANTARES detected an unusual phenomenon: the bioluminescence of deep-sea organisms suddenly increased, revealing an unexpected connection between biological activity—bioluminescence—and the motion of water masses in the deep ocean. Convective motion in the Gulf of Lion provides deep waters with oxygen and nutrients that boost biological activity. Published on July 10th in PloS ONE, the work was carried out by a team coordinated by CNRS researchers from the Institut Méditerranéen d'Océanographie (CNRS / IRD / Aix-Marseille Université / Université du Sud Toulon-Var) and the Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille (CNRS / Aix-Marseille Université). more...

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June

26/06/2013 - Hydrogen technologies: new process uses enzymes as catalysts

For the first time, a research team from the CEA1, Collège de France, CNRS and Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble has developed an efficient process for in vitro activation of an enzyme, hydrogenase, which is found in microorganisms that use hydrogen as a source of energy. This was made possible by combining approaches from biomimetic and protein chemistry. The results will lead to use of the wide variety of hydrogenase enzymes found in nature, and even the possibility of 'invented' artificial enzymes over the long term, which may potentially serve as catalysts for fuel cells or the production of hydrogen from sources of renewable energy. The results were published online in Nature on 26 June 2013. more...

24/06/2013 - Mission accomplished for CoRoT

After a mission that lasted twice as long as planned, CNES's CoRoT spacecraft—capable of listening to the music of the heavens and hunting for exoplanets—is to be retired from service. Its remarkable haul of results has enabled scientists to progress from detecting exoplanets to studying them in close detail, while opening a new window into the inner workings of stars. more...

20/06/2013 - Why closely related species do not eat the same things

Closely related species consume the same resources less often than more remotely related species. In fact, it is the competition for resources, and not their kinship, which determines the food sources of the species of a community. Under the effect of this competition, closely related species have specialized on different food resources. This is the conclusion of a study carried out by researchers from CNRS, the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and Exeter University (United Kingdom). These results were obtained by studying trophic interactions between species at an extraordinary level of detail in an English meadow. Published on 20 June 2013 in the journal Current Biology, the work provides important insights into the evolution of ecological communities at a time when certain are being disrupted by climate change and the arrival of invasive species. more...

17/06/2013 - New minimalist and efficient photovoltaic molecules

What is the simplest molecule capable of transforming solar energy into electricity? A team from the Institut des Sciences et Technologies Moléculaires d'Angers (Moltech-Anjou, CNRS/Université d'Angers) found the answer. The researchers demonstrated that extremely simple molecules, produced in few steps with very good synthesis yields, could become credible alternatives to the more complex molecules and polymers currently used to produce organic solar cells. Their work, published online in Advanced Functional Materials and Chemistry: A European Journal, has made it possible to obtain molecules of low molecular weight with an electrical conversion efficiency above 4 %. In this way, they have shown that by optimizing simple molecules, it should be possible to go from fundamental research to the industrial production of solar devices manufactured from organic molecules. more...

12/06/2013 - Emiliania genome sequenced

The genome of Emiliania huxleyi, an emblematic species of marine phytoplankton, has been sequenced for the first time by an international consortium including French teams from CNRS, UPMC, INRA, Aix-Marseille Université and ENS1 . The scientists found that the genome of this extremely abundant single-celled microorganism contains one third more genes than the human genome, but is twenty times smaller. Another surprising finding is the complexity of this genome, which gives Emiliania a high adaptation capacity. Sequencing was performed at the Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute in the US and results were published in Nature on 13 june 2013. more...

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April

28/05/2013 - Rare species have a unique ecological role

Many rare species play unique ecological roles that make them irreplaceable, even in the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, an international team has found. Based on data from three very different ecosystems (coral reefs, alpine meadows and tropical forests) scientists from the CNRS, University de Montpellier 2, INRA, EPHE and IRD discovered that unique ecological functions (such as exceptional resistance to fire or drought) are mostly characteristic of rare species and are therefore particularly vulnerable to the erosion of biodiversity. These functions could be crucial in case of major environmental change. The study, published on May 28th in Plos Biology, shows that protection of the ensemble of biodiversity is vital for the resilience and survival of ecosystems. more...

22/05/2013 - New method for predicting cancer virulence

A new way of tackling cancer and predicting tumor virulence are has been reported by a team of scientists from the Institut Albert Bonniot de Grenoble including researchers from CNRS, Inserm and Université Joseph Fourier, in collaboration with clinical physicians and anatomopathologists from the CHU de Grenoble, with the support of the Institut National du Cancer, the Ligue Nationale Contre le Cancer and the Fondation ARC pour la Recherche sur le Cancer. The scientists have shown that, in all cancers, an aberrant activation of numerous genes specific to other tissues occurs. For example, in lung cancers, the tumorous cells express genes specific to the production of spermatozoids, which should be silent. This work, published on 22 May 2013 in Science Translational Medicine, suggests that identifying the genes that are abnormally activated in a cancer makes it possible to determine its virulence with great accuracy. This study represents an original concept that will allow cancer patients to be given an accurate diagnosis as well as personalized care. more...

16/05/2013 - Resistance to visceral leishmaniasis: new mechanisms involved

Researchers from CNRS, Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier and IRD have elucidated new molecular mechanisms involved in resistance to visceral leishmaniasis, a serious parasitic infection. They have shown that dectin-1 and mannose receptors participate in the protection against the parasite responsible for this infection, by triggering an inflammatory response, while the DC-SIGN receptor facilitates the penetration of the pathogen and its proliferation in macrophages1. This work, conducted on both mice and humans and published on 16 May 2013 in the journal Immunity, opens new perspectives for the prevention and treatment of this disease. more...

15/05/2013 - Discovery of a molecule derived from cholesterol that has anti-cancer properties

Although excessive quantities of cholesterol in the body are known to have adverse effects on health, researchers might polish up its reputation via one of its derivatives. The research team from Inserm and the CNRS led by Marc Poirot and Sandrine Silvente-Poirot at the "Centre de recherche en cancérologie de Toulouse" (Inserm / CNRS / Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier), has not only discovered a new molecule derived from cholesterol (known as dendrogenine A), but has also provided proof in mice that this molecule has anti-cancer properties. This work has been published in the journal "Nature Communications". more...

06/05/2013 - Chikungunya : discovery of a human-specific factor involved in the virus replication

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, Inserm and CNRS, have identified a human-specific factor involved in the replication of Chikungunya virus which accounts for the species specificity of this virus. Chikungunya virus is an emerging virus that in 2005 caused, for the first time, an outbreak in La Réunion island, a French overseas district where more than 30% of the population was infected, and has recently emerged in temperate regions of Europe. The identification of this new host factor enriches our understanding of the molecular bases of Chikungunya virus infection, which were characterized so far. This work also paves the way for the development of a more relevant humanized animal model to better understand the pathophysiology of infection. This research has been published online on April 26, at the European Molecular Biology Organization reports (EMBO reports). more...

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April

29/04/2013 - Brilliant dye to probe the brain

To obtain very-high-resolution 3D images of the cerebral vascular system, a dye is used that fluoresces in the near infrared and can pass through the skin. The Lem-PHEA chromophore, a new product outclassing the best dyes, has been synthesized by a team from the Laboratoire de Chimie (CNRS / ENS de Lyon / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1). Conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Institut des Neurosciences (Université Joseph Fourier - Grenoble / CEA / Inserm / CHU) and the Laboratoire Chimie et Interdisciplinarité: Synthèse, Analyse, Modélisation (CNRS / Université de Nantes), this work has been published online in the journal Chemical Science. It opens up significant prospects for better observing the brain and understanding how it works. more...

26/04/2013 - Let's twist again: the role of cellulose in stem twisting

How are molecular interactions in plant cell walls and the overall plant structure related? Scientists have just discovered the role of a protein that controls cellulose synthesis. It appears that plant stems twist by default. Research carried out by a team of scientists from INRA, CNRS, the ENS de Lyon and the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 in tandem with German scientists sheds light on the basic phenomena that govern plant shape and which could be applied to the fields of biomaterials or predictive biology. The results were published in the 25 April 2013 issue of Current Biology. more...

25/04/2013 - The Earth's Centre is 1000 Degrees Hotter than Previously Thought

Grenoble, 26 April 2013: Scientists have determined the temperature near the Earth's centre to be 6000 degrees Celsius, 1000 degrees hotter than in a previous experiment run 20 years ago. These measurements confirm geophysical models that the temperature difference between the solid core and the mantle above, must be at least 1500 degrees to explain why the Earth has a magnetic field. The scientists were even able to establish why the earlier experiment had produced a lower temperature figure. The results are published on 26 April 2013 in Science. more...

25/04/2013 - Musical memory deficits start in auditory cortex

Congenital amusia is a disorder characterized by impaired musical skills, which can extend to an inability to recognize very familiar tunes. The neural bases of this deficit are now being deciphered. According to a study conducted by researchers from CNRS and Inserm at the Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon (CNRS / Inserm / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), amusics exhibit altered processing of musical information in two regions of the brain: the auditory cortex and the frontal cortex, particularly in the right cerebral hemisphere. These alterations seem to be linked to anatomical anomalies in these same cortices. This work, published in May in the journal Brain, adds invaluable information to our understanding of amusia and, more generally, of the “musical brain”, in other words the cerebral networks involved in the processing of music. more...

23/04/2013 - Tara Oceans Polar Circle: a new scientific expedition in the Arctic

The polar schooner Tara will depart from Lorient on May 19, 2013 for a new expedition: Tara Oceans Polar Circle. A scientific adventure lasting seven months and traveling 25,000kms around the Arctic Ocean via the Northeast and Northwest passages. Supported by the CNRS, CEA, EMBL and other private and public partners, this mission unites biologists and oceanographers. They will focus on plankton biodiversity in the Arctic and other specific issues in this region susceptible to climate changes, at a time when we are witnessing an accelerated summer melting of Arctic sea ice. more...

23/04/2013 - Water in Jupiter's upper atmosphere comes from SL9 comet

Nearly all the water present in Jupiter's upper atmosphere today comes from the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which collided with the planet in July 1994. Using ESA's Herschel telescope, the discovery was made by an international team of astronomers led by a researcher from the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux (CNRS/Université Bordeaux 1). It is published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics dated 23 April 2013. more...

23/04/2013 - Pathological gambling caused by excessive optimism

Compulsive gamblers suffer from an optimism bias that modifies their subjective representation of probability and affects their decisions in situations involving high-risk monetary wagers. This is the conclusion drawn by Jean-Claude Dreher's research team at the CNC (Centre de Neurosciences Cognitives, CNRS / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1). These findings, published in the May print edition of Psychological Medicine, could help explain and anticipate certain individuals' vulnerability to gambling, and could lead to new therapeutic approaches. more...

18/04/2013 - Pollution plumes in Paris air are richer in gaseous aromatic compounds than in Los Angeles

What is the origin of the volatile hydrocarbons, other than methane, present in city air? Mainly gasoline-powered vehicles1, according to a study carried out by a French-US team2 including French researchers from the Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA/IPSL3, CNRS / UPEC / Université Paris Diderot) and the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE/IPSL, CNRS / CEA / Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines). The study also shows that the proportion of gaseous aromatic compounds4 in hydrocarbon emissions is two to three times greater in pollution plumes in Paris than in Los Angeles, even though the total quantity of hydrocarbons emitted in Los Angeles remains considerably greater than in Paris. The research is published in the journal Journal of Geophysical Research. more...

18/04/2013 - Are babies endowed with consciousness?

Babies have long been considered as beings with limited skills and behaviors that are principally automatic and of a reflex type, and are not accompanied by a subjective conscious experience. Nevertheless, CNRS scientists in the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistiques (CNRS/Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris/EHESS), working in collaboration with scientists from NeuroSpin (Inserm/CEA) have now shown that as from an age of 5 months, infants are endowed with form of consciousness similar to that seen in adults. These findings are published in Science on 19 April 2013. more...

17/04/2013 - Atomic-level characterization of the effects of alcohol on a major player of the central nervous system

Scientists at the Institut Pasteur, the CNRS and the University of Texas have been able to observe at atomic-level the effects of ethanol (the alcohol present in alcoholic beverages) on central nervous system receptors. They have identified five ethanol binding sites in a mutant of a bacterial analog of nicotinic receptors, and have determined how the binding of ethanol stimulates receptor activity. These findings can be directly extrapolated to human GABA receptors (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitters in the human brain), which are ethanol's main target in the central nervous system. This work is being published online on April 16, on the Nature Communications website. It paves the way for the synthesis of ethanol antagonist compounds that could limit the effect of alcohol on the brain. more...

11/04/2013 - CNRS/sagascience issues a report on nuclear energy

Coinciding with France's ongoing debate on energy transition, the CNRS / sagascience collection releases a report on the current state of nuclear energy. This animation gives the public invaluable cues to deciphering nuclear issues and thus take part in the national debate organized between January and April 2013. "Nuclear energy, from basic research to society" is available online at : http://www.cnrs.fr/nuclear more...

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March

27/03/2013 - Planck sheds new light on the Big Bang

After fifteen months of observation, the European Space Agency (ESA)'s spacecraft Planck, launched in 2009 to observe the cosmic microwave background (the relic radiation from the Big Bang), has delivered its first results. The wealth of information they provide about the history and composition of the universe includes in particular: the most accurate map of the cosmic microwave background ever obtained; evidence of an effect predicted by inflationary models; a lower value for the expansion rate of the universe; and a new estimate of its composition. Much of this data was collected by Planck's main instrument, HFI, which was designed and assembled under the supervision of the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud) with funding from CNES and CNRS. more...

22/03/2013 - How evolution changes living beings' looks

From zebra stripes to butterflies' colorful wings to the red and white clownfish, animals' bodies are adorned with a wide variety of pigmentation patterns that are essential for their reproduction and survival. But how do these color patterns appear and change in the course of evolution? A team of researchers at the IBDML (Institut de Biologie du Développement Marseille-Luminy, CNRS / Aix-Marseille University) has proposed a genetic model that explains the evolutionary emergence of new pigmentation patterns and their diversification among species. They focused their investigation on a black spot found on the wings of Drosophila flies, tracing the history of the genetic changes that gave rise to this characteristic and caused it to take different forms in various species. A report on their findings appears in the March 22, 2013 issue of Science. This genetic model could also explain the evolution of other characteristics in cnimams$ in addition tn thir$external coloring. more...

20/03/2013 - Philippe Cinquin, Ludwik Leibler and Stéphane Mallat to receive the CNRS 2013 Medal of Innovation

The laureates of the CNRS 2013 Medal of Innovation are Philippe Cinquin, a professor in medical data processing, Ludwik Leibler, a physical chemist and the mathematician Stéphane Mallat. Each year, the award is handed out in recognition of groundbreaking research that has led to significant innovations in technology, economics, medicine or the humanities. The three will be presented with the accolade by France's Higher Education and Research Minister Geneviève Fioraso on 12 June. more...

18/03/2013 - Buruli Ulcer: Mechanism Behind Tissue Erosion Revealed

Scientists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), in collaboration with the Universities of Basel (Switzerland) and Cambridge (UK) have identified the mechanism underlying the formation of Buruli ulcers caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans. Their discovery opens avenues for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for combating this disfiguring skin disease. This study is published online by The Journal of Clinical Investigation. more...

11/03/2013 - Why red algae never colonized dry land

The first red alga genome has just been sequenced by an international team coordinated by CNRS and UPMC at the Station Biologique de Roscoff (Brittany), notably involving researchers from CEA-Genoscope1, the universities of Lille 1 and Rennes 1 and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle2. The genome of Chondrus crispus, also known by the Breton name 'pioka', turns out to be small and compact for a multicellular organism. It has fewer genes than several other species of unicellular algae, which raises a number of questions about the evolution of red algae. This low number of genes could explain why these organisms never colonized dry land, unlike their green counterparts—from which all terrestrial plants are descended. These findings open up new perspectives on the natural history of algae and of terrestrial plants. They are published online in the journal PNAS on March 11th 2013. more...

01/03/2013 - Taking transistors into a new dimension

A new breakthrough could push the limits of the miniaturization of electronic components further than previously thought possible. A team at the Laboratoire d'Analyse et d'Architecture des Systèmes (LAAS–CNRS, Toulouse) and Institut d'Électronique, de Microélectronique et de Nanotechnologie (IEMN, CNRS / University of Lille 1 / University of Valenciennes and Hainaut-Cambresis / Isen) has built a nanometric transistor that displays exceptional properties for a device of its size. To achieve this result, the researchers developed a novel three-dimensional architecture consisting of a vertical nanowire array whose conductivity is controlled by a gate measuring only 14 nm in length. Published in Nanoscale, these findings open the way toward alternatives to the planar structures used in microprocessors and memory units. The use of 3D transistors could significantly increase the power of microelectronic devices. more...

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February

28/02/2013 - Past increases in Antarctic temperature and CO2 levels coincided

The increase in temperature and in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the Antarctic during the last deglaciation (20,000 to 10,000 years ago) happened simultaneously. These are the conclusions of the analysis of five Antarctic ice cores by a European team led by French researchers from CNRS, CEA, and Universités Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and Joseph Fourier - Grenoble1 . These findings contradict previous work, which showed that CO2 increases lagged behind rises in Antarctic temperature. These results therefore suggest that CO2 may be a possible cause for warming. They are published in the journal Science dated March 1. more...

27/02/2013 - Renewable energy: Nanotubes to channel osmotic power

The salinity difference between fresh water and salt water could be a source of renewable energy. However, power yields from existing techniques are not high enough to make them viable. A solution to this problem may now have been found. A team led by physicists at the Institut Lumière Matière in Lyon (CNRS / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), in collaboration with the Institut Néel (CNRS), has discovered a new means of harnessing this energy: osmotic flow through boron nitride nanotubes generates huge electric currents, with 1,000 times the efficiency of any previous system. To achieve this result, the researchers developed a highly novel experimental device that enabled them, for the first time, to study osmotic fluid transport through a single nanotube. Their findings are published in the 28 February issue of Nature. more...

19/02/2013 - Sexually transmitted HIV: key mechanisms elucidated in men

Having suggested in 2011 that the urethra is a novel entry site for HIV, a team from the Institut Cochin (CNRS/Inserm/Université Paris Descartes, with the support of Anrs), has now confirmed this hypothesis and identified the cells and mechanisms brought into play : the immune system cells macrophages, present in the epithelium of the urethra, allow the entry of HIV. This work, published online on the website of the journal Mucosal Immunology, could make it possible to test novel HIV/AIDS prevention strategies. more...

17/02/2013 - Exploring supercapacitors to improve their structure

No matter how intimidating their name, supercapacitors are part of our daily lives. Take buses for example: supercapacitors are charged during braking and supply electricity to open the doors when the vehicle stops! Yet the molecular organization and functioning of these electricity storage devices had never previously been observed. For the first time, researchers from CNRS and the Université d'Orléans have explored the molecular rearrangements at play in commercially available supercapacitors while in operation. The technique devised by the scientists provides a new tool for optimizing and improving tomorrow's supercapacitors. The results are published on-line on Nature Materials's website on 17 February 2013. more...

15/02/2013 - Bilingual babies know their grammar by seven months

Babies as young as seven months can distinguish between, and begin to learn, two languages with vastly different grammatical structures, according to new research from the University of British Columbia and the French Laboratoire de Psychologie de la Perception (Université Paris Descartes/CNRS/ENS). more...

08/02/2013 - Cervical cancer: first 3D image of an HPV oncoprotein

For the first time, researchers from the Laboratoire biotechnologie et signalisation cellulaire at the Strasbourg-based Ecole supérieure de biotechnologie (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg) and Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg/Inserm) have solved the three-dimensional structure of an important oncoprotein involved in cell proliferation and in the development of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Type 16 (HPV 16), which causes cervical cancer, is the most dangerous of human papilloma viruses. This work, published in Science on 8 February 2013, should make it possible to identify and improve medication to block the protein and prevent it from causing tumors. more...

01/02/2013 - Cyrcé, a new cyclotron for medical research

Cyrcé (Cyclotron pour la Recherche et l'Enseignement—Cyclotron for Research and Teaching), the new particle accelerator completed a few months ago at the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien (IPHC, CNRS/Université de Strasbourg) on the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg campus, is now up and running. It has just performed its first production of fluorine-18, a radioisotope commonly used as a tracer in nuclear medicine. This marks the start of operations at the facility—the only one of its kind in Europe—made available for academic research. Cyrcé is part of a French initiative to determine novel radioelements that will facilitate progress in diagnosis, monitoring of medicines and the discovery of new therapeutic protocols, especially in oncology and neurology. more...

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January

30/01/2013 - Androgenic hormones could help treat multiple sclerosis

Testosterone and its derivatives could constitute a. effIcidnt treatment against myelin diseases such as multiple sclerosis, reveals a study by researchers from the Laboratoire d'Imagerie et de Neurosciences Cognitives (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), in collaboration in particular with the “Neuroprotection et Neurorégénération: Molécules Neuroactives de Petite Taille” unit (Inserm/Université Paris-Sud). Myelin composes the sheaths that protect the nerve fibers and allow the speed of nerve impulses to be increased. A deficit in the production of myelin or its destruction cause serious illnesses for which there is no curative treatment. The researchers have shown that in mice brains whose nerve fibers have been demyelinated, testosterone and a synthetic analog induce the regeneration of oligodendrocytes, the cells responsible for myelination, and that they stimulate remyelination. This work is published on January in the journal Brain. more...

23/01/2013 - Greenland ice cores tell story of warm spell

The analysis of ice cores extracted at the NEEM ice-drilling site has enabled an international team of scientists to reconstruct Greenland's climate history over the past 130,000 years, with the participation in France of CNRS, CEA, UVSQ, Université Joseph Fourier and IPEV. For the first time in the Arctic, the researchers have succeeded in retrieving ice formed during the last interglacial period, 130,000 to 125,000 years ago, which was marked by significant warming in that region. Their findings show that the Greenland ice sheet only contributed 2 meters to the 4—8 meters of sea level rise observed during that period. Published on 24 January in Nature, this study provides valuable information about the relationship between climate and sea level rise. more...

21/01/2013 - Lupus: peptide P140/LupuzorTM effectiveness confirmed

A clinical trial with 149 patients suffering from the very disabling autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus, has shown the effectiveness of a synthetic peptide developed by a team of researchers led by CNRS biologist Slyviane Muller at the Institut de Biologie Moleculaire (IBMC) in Strasbourg, France. The peptide, known as P140/LupuzorTM, is well tolerated by patients and leads to regression of the disease. Under the CNRS patent, ImmuPharma-France, which funded the trial, has an exclusive license to use the peptide. Now the final phase of clinical tests should soon confirm these results and contribute to the development of a drug without the side effects of existing treatments, which use cortico-steroids and immunosuppressants. These results are published online in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. more...

18/01/2013 - Repeated aggressions trigger social aversion in mice

One of the mechanisms involved in the onset of stress-induced depression has been highlighted in mice by researchers from CNRS, Inserm and UPMC1. They have determined the role of the corticosterone (stress hormone) receptor, in the long-term behavioral change triggered by chronic stress. In mice subject to repeated aggressions, this receptor participates in the development of social aversion by controlling the release of dopamine2, a key chemical messenger. If this receptor is blocked, the animals become “resilient”: although anxious, they overcome the trauma and no longer avoid contact with their fellow creatures. This work is published in Science on 18 January 2013. more...

15/01/2013 - Reconciling agronomic production, water-saving and soil preservation

Unexpectedly, some crops such as maize or rapeseed have been found to act as carbon sinks, extracting CO2 from the atmosphere. However, others like sunflower and silage maize are carbon sources. These are the main conclusions of a study carried out by a research team from the Centre d'études spatiales de la biosphère (CESBIO, CNRS / Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier / CNES / IRD). Over seven years, researchers measured the carbon and water fluxes of two experimental field plots. Their results show that the environmental impact of agriculture can be reduced by the right cropping practices, making it possible for agriculture to reconcile environmental and agronomic objectives. This work was published in Agricultural and Forestry Meteorology on 15 January 2013. more...

15/01/2013 - Nearby Universe's "Cosmic fog" measured

Researchers from the Laboratoire Leprince-Ringuet (CNRS/École Polytechnique) have carried out the first measurement of the intensity of the diffuse extragalactic background light in the nearby Universe, a fog of photons that has filled the Universe ever since its formation. Using some of the brightest gamma-ray sources in the southern hemisphere, the study was carried out using measurements performed by the HESS1 telescope array, located in Namibia and involving CNRS and CEA. The study is complementary to that recently carried out by the Fermi-LAT2 space observatory. These findings provide new insight into the size of the Universe observable in gamma rays and shed light on the formation of stars and the evolution of galaxies. They feature on the cover of the 16 January 2013 issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics online. more...

15/01/2013 - 3D mapping of lipid orientation in biological tissues such as skin

A non-invasive method that makes it possible to observe in situ how assemblies of lipids are oriented in biological tissues, and which does not require any labeling or preparation, has been developed by physicists from the Laboratoire d'Optique et Biosciences (CNRS / Inserm / École Polytechnique). This work, published on the 14 January 2013 in the online journal Physical Review X, should enable the detection and characterization of certain pathologies associated with molecular disorders in the skin or in the nervous tissue. more...

10/01/2013 - Effect of season on the health of apes: a case study of wild chimpanzees and Western gorillas

Our closest relatives, the great apes, are all endangered and particularly sensitive to infectious diseases. Both chimpanzees and western gorillas experience seasonal variations in fruit availability but little is know about the effect on their health. A research team involving the National Museum of Natural History, the National Veterinary School of Alfort, CNRS, WWF and the Project for the conservation of great apes conducted a study that compares the factors influencing the health of two populations of wild chimpanzees and gorillas. This study has been published in the journal Plos One. more...

07/01/2013 - Smallest motor with controllable direction of rotation

A nanometric motor whose direction of rotation can be reversed at will has been developed by a French-American team of researchers from the Centre d'Elaboration de Matériaux et d'Etudes Structurales (CEMES, CNRS) and the University of Ohio. They have reached the lower size limit for a device capable of transforming energy into rotational movement. With a diameter of only 2 nanometers, the rotor of this motor is set in motion by electrons from the tip of a tunnel-effect microscope. This work, published in the January 2013 issue of Nature Nanotechnology, explores the mechanics and energetics of “molecular motors” and heralds the way for future nanometric robot components. more...

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