PID: a (not so) rare disease with a big impact
Primary immune deficiency diseases (PIDs) are a heterogeneous group of life-threatening genetic disorders of the innate and adaptive immune system. To date, there is still a lot of under-diagnosis as PIDs are very complex and can present clinically in many forms. A large number of PID patients remain undiagnosed or get a label of undefined PID, preventing the design of a rational therapeutic approach.
Therapeutic options are currently limited due to a lack of molecular insight into PID’s mechanisms and progression. This places a heavy burden not only on patients and families, but also on health care systems.
Cancer, second cause of death
Cancer can affect anyone - young or old, female, male or child, rich or poor. However, because the
risk of cancer increases with age, and because the population is ageing, the number of people with
cancer - both in Belgium and worldwide - will continue to rise. And yet there is still hope. The treatment of cancer is improving. The arsenal of medicines has increased significantly in recent years. Whereas in the past we were limited to surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, 'targeted' medicines are now available, along with blood vessel inhibitors, immunotherapy, etc. And there are many more new treatments in the 'cancer pipeline'. Despite all that good news, and the jubilation you sometimes hear and read in the media about some new, spectacular treatment or cancer test, we are not finished with cancer yet. We can not cure all patients, treatments are often accompanied by serious side effects and too many patients relapse after a number of years. Over the past hundred years, a great many chapters have been written about our knowledge of cancer. But we are still far from the end of the story. However, there is the hope that, in a not too distant future, we can turn cancer into a chronic, treatable disease.
What patients say
I think it’s very relevant that scientists, physicians, and patients can share their experiences because each of those groups has its own perspective on the issues. You notice that certain aspects are very important for patients, but that these same aspects often fly below the radar of the scientists and physicians. Vice versa, when patients come into contact with the research world, they understand that not everything can be solved in the blink of an eye.
Seeing what happens emotionally to the members of your family is the most important side effect of cancer.
My cancer story is something that I carry with me. It is part of who I am now and will be in the future. My cancer journey was certainly not a 'cool' one, but there are people who have traveled much harder roads.
Science in your classroom
'Do fruit flies have brains?' 'How does our DNA differ from that of a bee?' 'Why do researchers study zebrafish?' VIB has launched several school projects to make young people enthusiastic about the life sciences so that all their questions can be answered.
VIB aspires to be an inspiring place for research at the interface of academia and industry, offering an appreciative and collaborative environment. While maintaining the highest standards of research, VIB’s HR team mentors and coaches employees from across the institute during all stages of their career.
Science benefits society directly, for example through the development of new medications or more efficient crops. There is, however also a large indirect societal impact in which VIB strongly invests. This is the creation of companies that provide jobs, generate economic revenue, and spur technological progress.