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14-08-2013 | The skeletons of the siliceous sponges, here of Euplectella aspergillum, ©picture and illustration: W.E.G Müller

Sponge enzymes: nature’s little bio-builders

Sponges seem an unlikely source for innovation, yet they may hold the key to new nanotechnologies, innovative optical devices and new ways of regrowing human bone and preventing bone disease. Difficult to believe? Not for Werner E.G. Müller. In the BIOSILICA project, he and his team are developing ways to adapt the complex processes that natural glassy sponges use to build their wondrous biosilica structures for use in biodegradable implants that would facilitate bone healing after surgery or fractures.

24-04-2013 | An artist’s impression of the PSR J0348+0432 binary system. The pulsar is extremely compact, leading to a strong distortion of space-time (illustrated by the green mesh). The white-dwarf companion is shown in light-blue - ©J. Antoniadis/MPIfR

A heavyweight for Einstein: Probing gravity where no one has done it before

An international research team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR, Bonn, Germany) used a collection of large radio and optical telescopes to investigate a newly discovered pulsar, and its white dwarf companion. The observations revealed a system with unusual properties, which weighs twice as much as the Sun, making it the most massive neutron star to date. These findings partly result from the “BEACON” project led by ERC Starting grantee Dr Paulo Freire, and agree with Einstein’s theory on general relativity. They will be published in tomorrow’s issue of Science, April 26, 2013.

13-03-2013 | Piwi proteins activity (red) protecting the integrity of genetic material, DNA (blue) in the normal development of mouse male germ cells

Unveiling how our genome is protected

Conducting research in small RNAs, Dr. Ramesh Pillai attempts to understand how the genome protects itself from an internal threat, namely ‘transposons’ or ‘jumping genes’ which can cause mutations. Awarded an ERC Starting grant in 2010, Dr. Pillai is based at the European Molecular Biological Laboratory, Grenoble (France).