Thursday Talks - 26/11/2015

Dr. Carmen Faso (Institute of Parasitology, UZH): Fighting parasitic diseases: screening for bioactive components trumps rational approaches. Parasites and their hosts have a long history of co-evolution which is effectively an arms-race without end. Every move by the parasite to establish itself has generated an answer by the host(s) in the form of an adaptive immune response. A great deal of parasite biology reflects this constant need to avoid lethal responses from the host. Modern medicine has added another layer of defense by administering bioactive substances to patients suffering from parasitoses. This works well with ectopic pathogens such as round worms because the drug is not required to penetrate the host itself. Deworming is one of the most frequent and most effective treatments against parasites. However, worms adapt by developing resistance to drugs and become insensitive to treatment. Things become more complex when dealing with parasites in the bloodstream or with protozoa which can hide inside host cells. Malaria is a good example because it is highly prevalent and associated with severe complications. Bioactive substances are more difficult to be found and cannot be tested easily. Here, ancient recipes and centuries old anecdotal evidence have provided some leads that were developed to successful drugs for the market. We will put the merits of the Nobels for Medicine 2015 into context and illustrate how the biomedical community thinks about current and future antiparasitic strategies. We will conclude by discussing two fundamentally different philosophies in the quest for new treatments and their effects on the science and on the availability of research funding.

Pascal Bérard (Disney Research Zurich, ETHZ): Face and eye capture. Capturing faces through 3D scanning techniques has become the industry-standard approach to build face models for video games, visual effects in films, medical applications and personalized figurines. Our ultimate goal is to create a digital face that is indistinguishable from a real human face. In this talk I will give some insights into our research with a special focus on eyes.

Abdullah Kahraman