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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.
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.
Nature Methods interviews Stein Aerts about cisTopic and much more.
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.
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.
VIB is very grateful to the Alzheimer Research Foundation (Stichting Alzheimer Onderzoek) for the funding the researchers received, which helps them in their quest for cures. The Alzheimer Research Foundation (Stichting Alzheimer Onderzoek) has been fighting Alzheimer's disease for years and is working on a future without dementia.
Whoever assumes that VIB core facilities only provide executive services is greatly mistaken. Today, their focus lies on helping biologists expand their knowledge and use state-of-the-art technologies. This kind of collaboration is the key to achieving scientific breakthroughs.
If you ask Saskia Lippens (VIB Bioimaging Core, Ghent), Sebastian Munck (VIB Bioimaging Core, Leuven), Alexander Botzki (VIB BioInformatics Core) and Gert Van Isterdael (VIB Flow Core, Ghent), the mission of the VIB core facilities is to provide technological support to the scientific community – in the broadest sense possible. We gave them the floor to elaborate on how this works in practice.
Two newly developed methods will help researchers to study the 3D structure of complex surfaces and individual neurons better than ever before. Sebastian Munck and Natalia Gunko report new imaging protocols that will advance neuroscience and (bio)imaging in general.
A team of scientists from VIB and KU Leuven has developed a machine learning algorithm that identifies children with juvenile arthritis with almost 90% accuracy from a simple blood test. The new findings pave the way for the use of machine learning to improve diagnosis and to predict which juvenile arthritis patients may respond best to different treatment options. The work was led by Professor Adrian Liston, from VIB and KU Leuven in Leuven, Belgium and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK.
Each year, the EU launches calls for postdoc research fellowships through the Marie Sklodowksa-Curie Actions. Fellowships provided through these actions support researchers regardless of age and nationality. Researchers working across all disciplines are eligible for funding. The prestigious two-year funding of Marie Curie fellowships attracts an enormous number of applications. Consequently, these fellowships are very competitive with a typical success rate of around 12%. VIB, however, manages to maintain a success rate of around 27%. The standing of these fellowships also provides an excellent springboard for the launch of an outstanding research career.