Lots of activity in our building these weeks, as the labs located in ON4 are gradually moving to the new ON5 building this January and February.
Top research institutes from Germany, France, Belgium and the UK have formed a new alliance to combat neurodegenerative diseases. Their mission? Catalyzing a United Response in Europe to Neurodegenerative Diseases, or CURE-ND for short.
Each year, Clarivate publishes a ‘highly cited researchers’ list recognizing pioneers in their field. This list contains researchers who have demonstrated significant influence through the publication of multiple papers, highly cited by their peers, during the last decade (2009-2019). No less than 19 VIB researchers are part of this highly acclaimed group of influential scientists.
A research team led by Bart De Strooper and Mark Fiers at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research in Leuven used pioneering technologies to study in detail what happens in brain cells in the direct vicinity of plaques.
Our DNA determines a large part of our risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but it remained unclear how many genetic risk factors contribute to disease. A team led by Prof. Bart De Strooper (VIB-KU Leuven) and Dr. Mark Fiers now show that many of those risk factors affect brain maintenance cells called microglia, and more particularly their response to amyloid-beta, one of the proteins aggregating in the brains of Alzheimer patients.
Today, VIB and KU Leuven present a new venture, Augustine Therapeutics, with the mission to develop innovative therapeutics for patients suffering from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Augustine raises a seed-round of 4.2 million euro with V-Bio Ventures, PMV, Advent France Biotechnology, Gemma Frisius Fund and VIB.
The human brain is a tricky study subject. Brain scans are still limited in resolution and the knowledge they can provide, and in vitro approaches are not yet able to fully replicate the important micro-environment of brain cells. A new method developed by the lab of Bart De Strooper (VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research) pioneers the transplantation of human microglia cells into mice brains. Their work appears in Nature Neuroscience.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), neurological disorders, ranging from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s disease, affect up to one billion people worldwide. These neurological disorders affect people in all countries, irrespective of age, sex, education, or income. The impact of these conditions on healthcare systems across the globe is enormous, and with an aging population in many countries this burden is likely to increase. Patients do not only experience difficulties in the practicalities of life, but also in their emotional and psychological experiences.
An international team of researchers at VIB-KU Leuven, Belgium, the UK Dementia Institute and the Children’s Cancer Institute, Australia, have found a safer treatment for a specific type of leukemia. By refining a therapeutic avenue that was previously abandoned because of its severe side effects, they came up with a targeted approach that was both effective and safe in mice and in human cancer cells.
A Leuven research team led by Prof. Bart De Strooper (VIB-KU Leuven, UK DRI) studied how specialized brain cells called microglia respond to the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain, a feature typical of Alzheimer’s. The three major disease risk factors for Alzheimer’s—age, sex and genetics—all affect microglia response, raising the possibility that drugs that modulate this response could be useful for treatment.