WELBIO is an inter-university life sciences research institute based in Wallonia, Belgium. WELBIO is funded by the Walloon Region. Our mission is to support strategic fundamental research through carefully selected projects from universities in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, with a view to transforming their discoveries into industrial applications in all fields of biotechnology.
The first Generet Award, which was launched this year, has gone to Professor Miikka Vikkula, WELBIO investigator at de Duve Institute – UCLouvain, for his research seeking a genetic explanation for vascular anomalies. Prof. Vikkula collected his prize on 6 December 2018 at a ceremony attended by, among others, HRH Princess Astrid and Belgian Federal Minister of Public Health Dr Maggie De Block.
Belgian research groups from the UCLouvain and WELBIO, VIB and Ghent University, and the biotechnology company argenx elucidated the three-dimensional structure of an assembly of proteins operating on cells that dampen immune responses. They also discovered how an antibody can block this assembly and the immunosuppression it induces downstream. Such an antibody could serve to stimulate immunity against tumor cells in cancer patients, triggering the destruction of their tumors by immune cells. The study is published the journal Science.
Researchers lead by Pr. Cédric Blanpain, MD/PhD, WELBIO investigator and Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, identified a population of tumour cells that persist following drug treatment, leading to cancer relapse following treatment discontinuation in basal cell carcinoma, the most frequent skin cancer. The study also identifies a combination of drugs that can eliminate the tumour population that resists to the therapy and prevents tumour relapse after treatment discontinuation. The results of this study have been published in Nature.