2010 Media Releases
1 October 2010
Major disease-vector mosquito reveals the secrets of its immune system
The Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito poses a significant threat to human health as a blood-sucking transmitter of elephantiasis-causing worms and encephalitis-inducing viruses. An international team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Geneva and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics sequenced its genome and studied its responses to pathogen infections. Two articles published in today’s issue of Science, describe results from comparing the Culex mosquito with the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, and the dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which offer new insights into the elimination of insect-transmitted diseases that seriously impact on global public health.Full media release English French German
25 June 2010
SIB honours two young bioinformaticians for their outstanding research work
Today, during the 8th [BC]2 Computational Biology Conference in Basel, SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics announced the two winners of the SIB Awards 2010.
The winner of the SIB Young Bioinformatician Award is SIB Member Aitana Morton de Lachapelle, 27, PhD student in the Computational Biology Group led by Prof. Sven Bergmann at the Department of Medical Genetics of the University of Lausanne, which she joined after graduating in Physics from the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne). During her PhD thesis, she has been investigating how robust pattern formation can be achieved during development.
The Young Bioinformatician Award is given yearly by SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. It recognises a graduate student or young researcher who has carried out a research project centered on the in silico analysis of biological sequences, structures and processes. The award is given competitively by a jury of experts and is doted with a cash prize of CHF 10'000.
The winner of the 2010 SIB Best Graduate Paper Award is Rajesh Ramaswamy, 27, PhD student in the MOSAIC Group of Prof. Ivo Sbalzarini at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). The title of his award paper is «A new class of highly efficient exact stochastic simulation algorithms for chemical reaction networks».
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21 June 2010
Sequencing of the human body louse Genome: an important step towards the control of this disease-vector insect
The results of the sequencing and analysis of the human body louse genome, which were published on June 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), offer new insights into the intriguing biology of this disease-vector insect. The project involved more than 70 international scientists led by Professor Evgeny Zdobnov at the University of Geneva Medical School and the SIB Swiss Institute of
Bioinformatics, with Professor Barry Pittendrigh at the University of Illinois and Professor Ewen Kirkness at the J. Craig Venter Institute.
The human body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus, is an obligate human parasite responsible for the transmission of bacteria that cause relapsing fever, trench fever, and epidemic typhus. The sequencing and comparative analysis of the body louse genome with other sequenced species revealed many features that will enhance our understanding of the relations between disease-vector insects, the pathogens they
transmit, and the affected human hosts.
Full media release
16 April 2010
Scientists discover new genetic sub-codeIn a multidisciplinary approach, Professor Yves Barral, from the Biology Department at ETH Zurich and the computer scientists Dr. Gina Cannarozzi and Professor Gaston Gonnet, from the Computer Science Department of ETH Zurich and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, joined forces to chase possible sub-codes in genomic information. The study, which will be published in today’s issue of the journal Cell, led to the identification of novel sequence biases and their role in the control of genomic expression.
Full media release
29 January 2010
New computational tool for cancer treatment
Docking Algorithm EADock allows successful design of new inhibitors for an anti-cancer targetMany human tumors express indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an enzyme which mediates an immune-escape in several cancer types. Researchers in the Molecular Modelling group at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) and Dr. Benoît J. Van den Eynde’s group at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd (LICR) Brussels Branch developed an approach for creating new IDO inhibitors by computer-assisted structure-based drug design. The study was presented in the January 2010 online issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
The docking algorithm EADock, used for this project, was developed by the Molecular Modeling Group over the last eight years. It provides solutions for the “lock-and-key” problem, wherein the protein active site is regarded as a “lock”, which can be fitted with a “key” (usually a small organic molecule) able to regulate its activity. Once an interesting molecule has been obtained, synthesis and laboratory experiments are necessary to confirm or reject the prediction. This algorithm will soon be made available to the scientific community worldwide.
The scientists obtained a high success rate. Fifty percent of the molecules designed in silico were active IDO inhibitors in vitro. Compounds that displayed activities in the low micromolar to nanomolar range, made them suitable for further testing in tumor cell experiments and for in vivo evaluation in mice. If these studies are successful, scientists can begin evaluating these new compounds in patients undergoing cancer-immunotherapy.
According to Olivier Michielin, Assistant Member at the Lausanne Branch of LICR and leader of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics Molecular Modelling group, “This is a satisfactory proof of principle showing that computational techniques can produce very effective inhibitors for specific cancer targets with high yield. This is very encouraging for future drug developments in the academic environment.”
15 January 2010
Parasitic Wasps’ Newly Sequenced Genomes Reveal New Avenues for Pest
Researchers from the University of Geneva and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics led an analysis of the sequenced genomes of parasitic wasps. Generally unknown to the public, the parasitic wasps kill pest insects. They are like ‘smart bombs’ that seek out and kill only specific kinds of insects. Harnessing their full potential would thus be vastly
Control, Provides Insights into Evolution, Genetics
preferable to chemical pesticides, which broadly kill or poison many organisms in the environment, including humans. The results of this large study are featured in today’s issue of Science. Professor Evgeny Zdobnov from the University of Geneva Medical School and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics directed the comparative evolutionary genomics studies as part of this international project, which revealed many features that could be useful to pest control and medicine, and to enhance our understanding of genetics and evolution.
Full media release