Human Health

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Overview: Human Health

In the field of Human Health, several research groups at the PSI are involved in research into fundamental questions in biology and the treatment of cancer. To this end, they are studying the structure of proteins – highly complex biomolecules that are responsible for countless processes in living organisms. Patients with specific types of cancer are treated with proton therapy at the institute. The radio pharmacy is developing drugs aimed at very small tumours that have spread throughout the body.

3. December 2013

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An infection tool with a metallic core

Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

Thanks to the analysis of protein samples at the PSI, Lausanne researchers have managed to demonstrate which instrument bacteria use to transmit diseases
Researchers from ETH Lausanne EPFL have described how a particular strain of bacteria transmits diseases with unprecedented precision. The team of scientists headed by Petr Leiman, an assistant professor at the EPFL’s Laboratory of Structural Biology and Biophysics, demonstrated that the tip of a bacterial infection tool consists of a PAAR protein, which envelops a metal atom and tapers off to a sharp point. The findings are based on measurements carried out at the Swiss Light Source (SLS), one of the three large-scale research facilities at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).

17. November 2013

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How botox binds to neurons

Media Releases Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light Human Health

Botox is a highly dangerous toxin that causes paralysis. In cosmetic applications it is used to temporarily eliminate wrinkles and in medicine as a treatment for migraine or to correct strabismus. An international research team has now established how the toxin molecule binds to the neuron whose activity is then blocked by the poison. The findings may be useful for the development of improved drugs with a lower risk of overdosage.

24. October 2013

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A promising new method for the diagnosis of breast cancer

Media Releases Medical Science Human Health

A new mammography procedure that could generate substantial added value for the diagnosis of breast cancer in medical practice has just been published in the scientific journal “Investigative Radiology”. The method was developed at PSI in cooperation with the Certified Breast Centre at the Kantonsspital (cantonal hospital in) Baden and Philips as an industrial partner and is making the tiniest tissue changes visible. This has the potential to improve the early detection of breast cancer. Further studies in women suffering from breast cancer are to prove in a definitive manner the added value of the method.

10. October 2013

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Vitamins join fight against cancer

Human Health Medical Science

Cristina Müller, from the Center of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences at Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), is researching a cancer therapy with radioactively labelled folate compounds. “These enter the tumour cell unimpeded like a Trojan horse which is then killed as a consequence of emitted particle-radiation” she explains.

29. July 2013

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Pancreas: new procedure detects tumours more efficiently

Media Releases Medical Science Human Health

Better than CT and MRI: researchers at the Inselspital Berne, the University Hospital Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute have devised a new method to detect small tumours in the pancreas.

14. February 2013

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A glimpse inside the control centres of cell communication

Media Releases Biology Human Health

Numerous processes taking place within our body, such as sight, smell or taste, are accomplished by an important family of sensors on cell surfaces, which are known as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). Researchers have now compared the hitherto known structures of GPCRs and discovered a stabilising framework of fine struts that is characteristic for the architecture of the entire GPCR family. Knowledge about this constructional feature, which has been conserved over the course of evolution, can be of significant assistance in the development of new pharmaceuticals.

3. January 2013

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How stabilised cell fibres prevent cancer cell division

Media Releases Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

Anti-cancer drugs are used under the heading of “Chemotherapeutics” to prevent cells from dividing. Because the cells in a growing tumour divide more frequently than others, tumour cells are damaged more severely. Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and the ETH Zurich have now clarified the exact mechanism of action of one class of these drugs. The data acquired is so accurate, that targeted drugs could now be developed that are even better suited to fulfil their task.

5. June 2012

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Alzheimer plaques in 3D

Media Releases Human Health Research Using Synchrotron Light Biology

Researchers have succeeded in generating detailed three-dimensional images of the spatial distribution of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. The new technique used in the investigations provides an extremely precise research tool for a better understanding of the disease. In the future, scientists hope that it will also provide the basis for a new and reliable diagnosis method. The results were achieved within a joint project of two research teams – one from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich, the other from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

21. December 2011

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Wenn die Datenleitung in die Zelle versagt

Media Releases Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

Lebende Zellen empfangen dauernd Informationen von aussen, die über Rezeptoren in das Zellinnere weitergeleitet werden. Genetisch bedingte Fehler in solchen Rezeptoren sind der Grund für zahlreiche Erbkrankheiten darunter verschiedene hormonelle Funktionsstörungen oder Nachtblindheit. Forschern des Paul Scherrer Instituts ist es nun erstmals gelungen, die exakte Struktur eines solchen fehlerhaften Rezeptors aufzuklären.
This news release is only available in German.

2. August 2011

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Investigation of a new method for the diagnosis of cancer in breast tissue

Media Releases Human Health Medical Science

The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI has developed a new breast cancer diagnostic method, and is now carrying out first tests on non-preserved human tissue in conjunction with Kantonsspital Baden AG. This new method should be able to reveal structures that cannot be seen using conventional mammography. Scientists from the research department at Philips are currently investigating the use of this process as the basis for application in medical practice.

23. May 2011

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X-ray methods help to understand brain disorders better

Media Releases Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

An international team of researchers has developed a new method for making detailed X-ray images of brain tissue, which has been used to make the myelin sheaths of nerve fibres visible. Damage to these protective sheaths can lead to various disorders, such as multiple sclerosis. The facility for creating these images of the protective sheaths of nerve cells is being operated at the Swiss Light Source (SLS), at the Paul Scherrer Institute.

27. January 2011

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Dem Rätsel der Centriolen-Bildung auf der Spur

Media Releases Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

In menschlichen Zellen finden sich stammesgeschichtlich sehr alte Funktionseinheiten, die als Centriolen bezeichnet werden. Ein Forscherteam vom PSI und der ETH Lausanne hat nun erstmals ein Modell für die Bildung der Centriolen vorgestellt. Das erstaunende Ergebnis ist, dass die Neuner-Symmetrie des Centriols durch die Fähigkeit eines einzelnen Proteins sich selbst zu organisieren zustande kommt.
This news release is only available in French and German.

16. November 2010

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Effizienter Gentransfer nun auch in Säugerzellen möglich

Media Releases Human Health Biology

Wissenschaftler am Paul Scherrer Institut entwickelten ein neues Verfahren, das auch zur Entwicklung von neuen Medikamenten genutzt werden kann.
Die Gentechnik ist aus der modernen Biologie nicht mehr wegzudenken. Sie liefert Werkzeuge, mit denen Forscher Gene aus dem Erbgut von Zellen herausschneiden, verändern und einfügen können. Die stabile Einführung mehrerer Gene in Säugetierzellen gilt zwar als Schlüsseltechnologie, die verfügbaren Methoden waren bislang aber äusserst ineffizient. Wissenschaftler am PSI haben nun eine neuartige Technik entwickelt.
This news release is only available in German.

15. October 2010

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25 Jahre erfolgreiche Behandlung von Augentumoren am PSI

Media Releases Human Health Medical Science

Heute haben die Physiker und Ärzte des PSI diesen Erfolg mit einem Festsymposium gefeiert. In Anwesenheit von geladenen Gästen aus Forschung, Medizin und Politik wurde dabei auch die brandneue Behandlungsanlage OPTIS 2 eingeweiht. Diese Bestrahlungseinrichtung befindet sich nicht nur technisch auf dem allerneusten Stand, sondern überzeugt auch durch ihre Patientenfreundlichkeit.
This news release is only available in German.

23. September 2010

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Advanced imaging for bone research and materials science

Media Releases Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

High-resolution method for computed nano-tomography developed
A novel nano-tomography method developed by a team of researchers from the Technische Universität München, the Paul Scherrer Institute and the ETH Zurich opens the door to computed tomography examinations of minute structures at nanometer resolutions. The new method makes possible, for example, three-dimensional internal imaging of fragile bone structures.

2. July 2010

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Paul Scherrer Institut ermöglicht bessere Versorgung der Spitäler mit hochwirksamem Krebsmedikament

Media Releases Medical Science Human Health

Das Paul Scherrer Institut ist für die Behandlung von bestimmten Krebserkrankungen mittels seiner einzigartigen Protonentherapie-Anlage bekannt. Nun hilft das PSI auch bei der Behandlung einer Gruppe von Krebspatienten durch die Herstellung eines Krebsmedikaments. Die erste Patientendosis wurde heute am Zentrum für Radiopharmazeutische Wissenschaften des PSI hergestellt und im Kantonsspital Luzern einem Patienten verabreicht.
This news release is only available in German.

18. January 2010

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Attacking the lifeline of tumour cells

Media Releases Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light Human Health

Researchers at Biomedicum Helsinki, Finland, and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland, have determined the crystal structure of the ligand-binding domain of a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor in complex with one of its ligands (VEGF-C).

1. December 2009

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Studies on protein structures – understanding the basic building blocks of life

Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

Proteins are the building blocks of all living organisms. In the living cell these complex molecules perform countless tasks. The precise function a protein performs is directly related to its structure. Researchers at the PSI investigate a wide range of proteins, in order to understand their structures and functions, often to lay the foundations for developing new drugs. In addition, researchers explore new techniques for determining protein structure – in particular with synchrotron light at the Swiss Light Source (SLS).

24. July 2009

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Ticket für die Reise durch die Zelle

Media Releases Biology Human Health Research Using Synchrotron Light

Publikation in “Cell”. Forscher entdecken Mechanismus für wesentliche Erkennungsvorgänge in lebenden Zellen. Über ihre Ergebnisse berichten die Forscher in der neuesten Ausgabe der Fachzeitschrift Cell.
This news release is only available in German.

4. May 2009

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Komplexe in den Griff bekommen

Media Releases Human Health Biology

Die meisten Vorgänge in lebenden Zellen werden von molekularen “Maschinen” aus vielen Proteinen ausgeführt. Wissenschaftler von PSI und EMBL haben ein automatisiertes Verfahren zur Herstellung von solchen Multiprotein-Komplexen für die Forschung entwickelt.
This news release is only available in German.

28. October 2008

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Röntgenbilder mit Durchblick

Media Releases Medical Science Human Health

Der Nationale Latsis-Preis 2008 geht an Franz Pfeiffer. Der Physiker hat einen Weg gefunden, die in der Spitzenforschung angewandten Verfahren der Röntgentechnik auch für gewöhnliche Röntgengeräte nutzbar zu machen. Der mit 100'000 Franken dotierte Preis wird jährlich vom Schweizerischen Nationalfonds (SNF) im Auftrag der Latsis-Stiftung vergeben.
This news release is only available in German.

5. September 2008

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Promising targets for drug development

Media Releases Human Health Biology

ETH Researchers determine atomic structure of the mammalian “fatty acid factory”. Mammalian fatty acid synthase is one of the most complex molecular synthetic machines in human cells. It is a promising target for the development of anti-cancer and anti-obesity drugs and for the treatment of metabolic disorders. Researchers of ETH Zurich have determined the atomic structure of a mammalian fatty acid synthase.

3. June 2008

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Vitamin B12 ist das Trojanische Pferd der Krebsforscher am schweizerischen Zentrum für radiopharmazeutische Wissenschaft

Media Releases Human Health Medical Science Biology

Erste Klinische Studie soll Mitte Juni beginnen.
This news release is only available in German.

20. January 2008

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New technology sharpens X-ray vision

Media Releases Medical Science Biology Human Health

Publication in “Nature”. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the EPFL in Switzerland have developed a novel method for producing dark-field X-ray images at wavelengths used in typical medical and industrial imaging equipment. Dark-field images provide more detail than ordinary X-ray radiographs and could be used to diagnose the onset of osteoporosis, breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease, to identify explosives in hand luggage, or to pinpoint hairline cracks or corrosion in functional structures.

27. November 2007

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First structure of a Rhesus family membrane protein solved

Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

Researchers at PSI, in collaboration with scientists in France and England, have solved the first structure of a Rhesus (Rh) protein and thereby shed new light on a group of proteins of great importance in human transfusion medicine.

27. November 2007

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New insights on cataract formation

Human Health Medical Science Biology Research Using Neutrons

Using the tools and techniques of soft condensed matter physics, a research team from University of Fribourg and EPF Lausanne in Switzerland has demonstrated that a finely tuned balance of attractions between proteins keeps the lens of the eye transparent, and that even a small change in this balance can cause proteins to aggregate and de-mix.

25. September 2007

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Year round proton radiation therapy at PSI using a new, dedicated cyclotron

Media Releases Large Scale Facilities Medical Science Human Health

A pioneer in proton therapy for the treatment of cancer, PSI has recently introduced one of the most advanced technologies in the field. A new proton accelerator, a superconducting cyclotron, has been put into operation for patient treatment. The accelerator is used in conjunction with a gantry, a device which delivers the protons to the patient from any angle. The desired dose distribution is achieved by scanning a small pencil beam of protons throughout the tumor. The performance of the new accelerator has been excellent since the start of medical operation.

9. May 2007

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Important protein-folding problem solved

Media Releases Biology Human Health

Coiled coils comprise two to five polypeptide chain helices that wrap around each other to form a supercoiled protein structure.

18. January 2007

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Key proteins illuminated by SLS

Media Releases Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

How cells regulate nitrogen uptake can be better understood.



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