Single-cell sequencing on granulomas opens new therapeutic approaches for sarcoidosis
Granulomas are an accumulation of immune cells in the tissue, often the result of an overactive immune response. Granulomas contribute to several inflammatory systemic diseases such as sarcoidosis, berylliosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. For the first time, scientists at CeMM, the Medical University of Vienna and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases have thoroughly characterized granulomas in the skin in immense detail. The results provide numerous insights into the composition, structure and signaling pathways of granulomas, providing clues for new therapeutic approaches. The study was published in the journal Immunity.
From octopus to elephant: a molecular zoo of epigenetics
Christoph Bock’s team at the CeMM established a catalog of DNA methylation across 580 animal species. These data enabled a detailed dissection of the evolution of epigenetic regulation and the epigenome. The new study, published in Nature Communications, shows that the characteristic DNA methylation signatures of animal genomes are evolutionarily very old, having emerged long before the first mammals. Surprisingly, DNA methylation in starfish and sharks follows a very similar “code” as in orangutans or humans. This epigenetic code may even help protect against cancer – as indicated by DNA methylation patterns in birds, which rarely develop cancer.
Christoph Bock received the prestigious Erwin Schrödinger Award of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
CeMM congratulates Principal Investigator Christoph Bock on being awarded the Erwin Schrödinger Award of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) for his pioneering achievements in the field of single-cell sequencing and epigenetics. The Erwin Schrödinger Award together with the Wilhelm Hartel Prize are the highest prizes awarded annually by the ÖAW.
“scifi-RNA-seq” method for ultra-high-throughput RNA sequencing in single cells
Molecular analysis of single cells provides an important basis for precision medicine. Five years ago, scientists around the world came together to pursue the “Human Cell Atlas” project, with the aim of cataloging all cells in the human body. These data have helped, for example, to identify those cell types that the coronavirus can infect particularly well. To accelerate and improve the creation of such cell catalogs, Paul Datlinger and André F. Rendeiro from Christoph Bock’s research group at CeMM developed a new method that enables single-cell RNA sequencing in a very large number of individual cells at the same time.
Blood test detects childhood tumors based on their epigenetic profiles
A new study exploits the characteristic epigenetic signatures of childhood tumors to detect, classify and monitor the disease. The scientists analyzed short fragments of tumor DNA that are circulating in the blood. These "liquid biopsy" analyses exploit the unique epigenetic landscape of bone tumors and do not depend on any genetic alterations, which are rare in childhood cancers. This approach promises to improve personalized diagnostics and, possibly, future therapies of childhood tumors such as Ewing sarcoma. The study has been published in Nature Communications.
Mutational Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in Austria: UK and South Africa variants found in Austria
Over the last few weeks, the United Kingdom and South Africa have faced a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases leading to enhanced epidemiological and virological investigations. Analysis of viral genome sequence data identified a sizeable proportion of cases belonging to new phylogenetic clusters. The new SARS-CoV-2 variants are defined by nonsynonymous, several of which are found in the viral spike protein, and still of uncertain functional significance. While it is known that viruses constantly change through mutation, and seldom does it lead to biological changes, the variants now increasingly observed in the UK and South Africa may be associated with increased infectivity.
Christoph Bock becomes Professor of Medical Informatics at MedUni Vienna
Christoph Bock has been appointed as professor of medical informatics at the Medical University of Vienna and head of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Decision Support at CeMSIIS, starting 1 January 2021. The bioinformatician and genome researcher joins MedUni Vienna from the neighboring CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He will continue to lead his research group at CeMM, complementary to the new tasks at MedUni Vienna.
ERC Consolidator Grant awarded to CeMM Principal Investigator Christoph Bock
Congratulations to Christoph Bock, Principal Investigator at CeMM and Guest Professor at the Medical University of Vienna, for receiving a prestigious and well-endowed ERC Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council.
Austrian study provides deep insights into transmission and mutation properties of SARS-CoV-2
Learning from past SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks for future pandemic control. In the COVID-19 pandemic, 57 million people have already been infected worldwide. In the search for vaccines and therapies, a precise understanding of the virus, its mutations and transmission mechanisms is crucial. A recent study by the research group of Principal Investigator Andreas Bergthaler at the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, in the renowned journal Science Translational Medicine, makes an important contribution to this. The high quality of epidemiological data in Austria, together with state-of-the-art virus genome sequencing, has supported unprecedented insights of the mutation behaviour and transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.