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.
This 10th anniversary is the right time for evaluation as the Walloon Government must decide about its budget.
Dr Alban de Kerchove d'Exaerde WELBIO Investigator at the Université libre de Bruxelles is the 2018 winner of the triennial prize awarded by the Pierre and Simone Clerdent Foundation.
A research team led by Decio Eizirik, Director of the ULB Center for Diabetes Research and WELBIO investigator, is working to understand the mechanisms that lead the immune system to recognize the patient’s own beta cells as foreign and attack them. A new study, published in Cell Metabolism, will contribute for a better prediction of the disease and open novel perspectives for the development of approaches to induce tolerance to the beta cells.
Led by Benoit Vanhollebeke, WELBIO investigator at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), the Laboratory of Neurovascular Signaling (ULB’s Faculty of Sciences and ULB Neuroscience Institute) provides a molecular mechanism conferring ligand specificity to Wnt signaling, an ancestral communication pathway present in all vertebrates. Their research is published in Science.
Thanks to new genomic techniques, the Animal Genomics Unit, led by Michel Georges (WELBIO investigator at Université de Liège), in collaboration with the Laboratory of Gastroenterology led by Edouard Louis (GIGA-Medical Genomics) has been able to refine its work to identify the genes responsible for Crohn’s disease. This study, published today in Nature Communications, suggests new potential targets for the development of new treatments.
A team of researchers led by Dr Pierre Close (WELBIO investigator of the GIGA Institute from ULIEGE), in collaboration with researchers from VIB, have revealed that malignant melanomas reprogram their protein synthesis machinery and become addicted to a new family of enzymes that modify transfer RNAs during acquired resistance. Strikingly, the inhibition of these molecules synergies with targeted therapies to produce a strong anti-tumoral effect. The results of this study have been published in Nature.
Alain Chariot's team , WELBIO investigator at the University of Liège, shows that the CEMIP protein plays a role in resistance to targeted therapies for colorectal cancers. By associating one targeted therapy with a pharmacological treatment that inhibits this protein, we could treat relapses in patients with this type of tumor. The results of this study have been published in Cancer Research.
14 projects selected as a result of the 4th call for projects. A 4th call for projects was opened in January 2017 and led to the selection of 14 projects for an annual total budget of 3.5 million EUR. Funding was awarded for a 2-year period, commencing on 01 October 2017. The call was managed by FRS-FNRS within the framework of FRFS-WELBIO...
In a study published this week in the journal Cell Reports, a research team led by professor Pierre Vanderhaeghen (Welbio investigator at ULB), together with scientists from Poitiers University and Antwerp University, checked whether and how visual-cortical cells, derived from human stem cells in a test tube, could integrate into different cortical areas in adult mice.
The research team of Pierre Vanderhaeghen (WELBIO investigator at ULB), turned to the genome to find answers to the human brain’s evolution and its such unprecedented cognitive abilities. The results of this study have been published in Cell and show that a set of genes found only in humans controls key steps of brain development. These genes could be human-specific regulators of brain size. A finding with important implications for human evolution and disease.
2017 has been a crucial year for WELBIO. A 4th call for projects was opened in January 2017 and led to the selection of 14 new projects. By the end of 2017, the project portfolio included 28 basic research projects funded by Wallonia through the Strategic Fundamental Research Fund, as well as one new WELBIO Bridge Fund project. The 24 articles published in 2017 in the most prestigious journals are testament of the scientific excellence of our research groups. In 2017, WELBIO received its first financial returns on investment further to a license agreement concluded with a biotech company. Pathways to creating economic value are emerging for several other WELBIO projects. Funding (WALInnov, BioWin) was obtained for targeted / applied research projects stemming from WELBIO projects. These « downstream » projects involve partnerships with Walloon companies. Last but not least, a project for the creation of a first spin-off company emerging from a WELBIO project, has been initiated.
ChromaCure, a spin-off from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), has been founded by Professor Cédric Blanpain, WELBIO investigator at the ULB. ChromaCure’s mission is to discover and develop first-in-class small molecule therapeutics for unmet needs in oncology. The company will develop inhibitors of a novel target that is a key regulator of tumor initiation and progression, based on research conducted by Prof. Blanpain and his group at the Laboratory of Stem Cells and Cancer, in particular in the framework of his first WELBIO project.
In a recent study published in PNAS, the team of Yves Dufrêne, FNRS research director and WELBIO investigator at the Université Catholique de Louvain, has elucidated, together with the Trinity College Dublin, the mechanism by which S. aureus responds to mechanical tension.
Research team led by Prof. Cédric Blanpain, MD/PhD, WELBIO investigator and Professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), identified for the first time, the different tumor transition states occurring during cancer progression and identified subpopulations of tumor cells responsible for metastasis in skin squamous cell carcinoma, the second most frequent cancer worldwide, and breast cancer, the most frequent cancers in women. The results of this study have been published in Nature.
Researchers from the Université libre de Bruxelles, led by Cédric Blanpain (WELBIO investigator) and a team for the University of Cambridge (led by Berthold Göttgens), identified the role of key gene Mesp1 in the earliest step of cardiovascular lineage segregation. The results of this discovery that may help to better understand congenital heart defects, have been published in Science.