Elk jaar reikt de European Research Council Proof of Concept beurzen uit aan ERC subsidiehouders die een stap verder willen zetten in het vertalen van hun ERC onderzoek naar toepassingen. Dit jaar ontvingen maar liefst drie VIB hoofdonderzoekers een ERC PoC beurs: prof. Kevin Verstrepen (VIB-KU Leuven Centrum voor Microbiologie), prof. Patrik Verstreken en prof. Stein Aerts (beiden van het VIB-KU Leuven Centrum voor Hersenonderzoek).
Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the philanthropic endeavor led by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his partner Priscilla Chan, announced the launch of its Neurodegeneration Challenge Network. This new network brings together experimental scientists from diverse biomedical research fields, as well as computational biologists and physicians, to understand the underlying causes of neurodegenerative disorders.
Researchers from the Verstreken lab (VIB-KU Leuven) have identified a completely novel function for Hsp90, one of the most common and most studied proteins in our body. In addition to its well-known role as a protein chaperone, Hsp90 stimulates exosome release. These findings shed new light on treatment strategies for both cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Tau proteins clump together to form neuronal tangles, found in patient brains of more than twenty different neurodegenerative diseases, including various forms of dementia. Last year, researchers at VIB and KU Leuven uncovered that Tau disturbs neuronal communication when it is mislocalized to presynaptic terminals during early disease stages. In a new study, the researchers report that a protein called Synaptogyrin-3 is mediating these effects and could be a new potential target for therapeutic development.
2017 marks the 200th anniversary of James Parkinson’s description of the disease that now bears his name and that affects an estimated 5 million people worldwide. Working as a medical surgeon in London, James Parkinson was the first to connect the dots when confronted with a handful of patients with similar involuntary tremors and symptoms of muscle weakness. In 1817, he published his findings in his seminal ‘Essay on shaking palsy’.
Roeland Vanhauwaert and Dr. Sandra-Fausia Soukup and colleagues from the Patrik Verstreken Lab (VIB-KU Leuven) modelled a new Parkinson mutation in fruit flies and in differentiated iPS cells from different patients. This was realized by a mutation in the ‘synaptojanin gene’. The researchers were able to show that this gene is only active at the synapse.
A team of researchers led by Patrik Verstreken (VIB–KU Leuven) have identified an underlying mechanism in early onset Parkinson’s. Using flies, mice and patient cells, the team focused on cardiolipin, a fat unique to cells’ mitochondria, organelles that produce energy. They demonstrated that reducing the effects of the protein FASN influences the mitochondria, leading to increased cardiolipin levels and reduced Parkinson’s symptoms. These results could pave the way to therapies for Parkinson’s disease that target lipids. The team’s research was published in the scientific magazine Journal of Cell Biology.
Some research projects apply more than just one model organism. As many basic cell processes are quite similar across lifeforms, the exact effects of molecules can be compared in different organisms. One example is the multidisciplinary research carried out by the labs of Patrik Verstreken (VIB-KU Leuven) and Jenny Russinova (VIB-UGent). In plants, fruit flies and human cells, they discovered the mechanisms by which inhibitors of endocytosis disrupt energy metabolism.