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On the importance of being translational: Patient-driven therapeutics


Our second example of the intense exchange of our basic science researchers with the Discovery Sciences team leads us into the field of neurology and peripheral neuropathies. More specifically to Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), an incurable progressive weakening and atrophy of distal limb muscles. Patients develop foot deformities and gait difficulties, and also experience sensory abnormalities. CMT has a severe impact on the quality of life of its patients. Ludo Van Den Bosch, who is specialized in CMT, is professor neurobiology at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research. 

Connecting neurons in the brain


Leuven researchers uncover new mechanisms of brain development that determine when, where and how strongly distinct brain cells interconnect. The brain consists of a large collection of interconnected neurons. How complex patterns of neuronal cells grow into functioning circuits during development has fascinated researchers for decades. A team of scientists at VIB and KU Leuven has now uncovered a new signaling mechanism in fruit flies that specifies the formation of neuronal circuits in the brain.

Do ‘microglia’ hold the key to stop Alzheimer’s disease?


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.

Mapping cellular diversity by looking for common topics of gene control


​A Belgian team of computational biologists led by Stein Aerts (VIB-KU Leuven) has developed a new bioinformatics method called cisTopic. Inspired by text-mining methods, cisTopic helps scientists to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying the differences in gene regulation across and within the cells in our body by looking for common topics. In a new publication in Nature Methods, Aerts and his team demonstrate the broad range of applications of this method, from brain research to cancer biology.

5 VIB researchers receive an exceptional ERC Advanced grant


The European Research Council (ERC) is unique in its kind in Europe supporting individual top researchers from anywhere in the world for 5 years to embark on an innovative and highly challenging research project. The ERC Program covers all levels of research career and the Advanced Grants are awarded to exceptional leaders in research embarking on a novel high-risk/high gain research line. No less than 5 VIB researchers have been awarded this very competitive and widely acknowledged benchmarks of scientific excellence.