KU Leuven news
A team of Belgian doctors led by Pierre Delaere (University of Leuven) has uncovered the wound-healing mechanisms responsible for keeping a tracheal transplant alive and healthy after the cessation of immunosuppressive therapy. By first transplanting the donor tissue in the recipient’s forearm for a time before re-transplanting it in the throat, the donor tissue’s blood supply and mucous membranes were able to adapt, eventually allowing the cessation of immunosuppressive therapy. Thus far, the Leuven team has treated six patients with the technique. The trachea is the first transplant tissue for which immunosuppressive drugs can be tapered off and eventually stopped.
By 2050, deforestation could cause temperatures in the Congo Basin to increase by 0.7 °C. The increase would intensify warming caused by greenhouse gases by half, according to a study by researchers at the University of Leuven, Belgium.
The Flemish universities are very concerned that the European Commission has agreed to consider a citizens' initiative that would ban the funding of scientific research involving human embryonic stem cells. Such legislation would endanger promising research into possible medical treatments with stem cells for diseases such as Parkinson's and diabetes.
KU Leuven has launched a new Career Center to provide its 13,000 employees with career advancement counseling. A Young Researchers' Careers (YouReCa) unit has also been established to address the career-related questions and needs of young researchers.
Scientists are getting closer to constructing a likeness of a person's face using nothing but a DNA sample. Postdoctoral researcher Peter Claes and his colleagues describe the technique in a recent publication in PLOS Genetics. Their work opens a horizon of potential future applications in forensics, anthropology and medicine.
A defect in the gene PINK1 leads to energy production problems in brain cells, and this plays a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. The finding, described in a paper published on 20 March in Science, is an important step toward unraveling the disease.
In August 1914, the German army reduced the city of Leuven, including the university's venerable library, to smoldering ruins. The burning of Leuven sent a shockwave around the world and the ruined library has since become a worldwide symbol of the total devastation of war. M - Museum Leuven’s latest exhibition, “Ravaged” takes visitors on a journey through art and culture in times of war, with the burning of Leuven as its starting point. The exhibition opened on 19 March and runs until 1 September.
Health workers in malaria-prone countries often depend on rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to diagnose the disease. But are these RDTs reliable enough to use safely? Doctoral researcher Jessica Maltha examined the quality, accuracy and user-friendliness of malaria RDTs in Burkina Faso and Peru.
A team of researchers led by KU Leuven and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in the U.S. found that every one-patient increase in patient-to-nurse ratios was associated with a 7% increase in deaths, while having a better educated nurse workforce is associated with fewer deaths. Every 10% increase in nurses with bachelor’s degree was found to be associated with a 7% decline in mortality.
The banana variety Yangambi km5 produces toxic substances that kill the nematode Radopholus similis, a roundworm that infects the root tissue of banana plants – to the frustration of farmers worldwide. The finding by an international team of researchers that includes professors Rony Swennen and Dirk De Waele (Laboratory for Tropical Crop Improvement) bodes well for the Grande Naine, the export banana par excellence, which is very susceptible to the roundworms.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has given the official green light to PLATO, an ambitious space mission that will search for planets in the habitable zones around stars similar to our sun. KU Leuven professor Conny Aerts is the lead researcher for PLATO in Belgium.
KU Leuven and the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) are investing in a new research and treatment centre for proton therapy. The venture is also being supported by Ghent University Hospital. Proton therapy has shown to be an effective weapon in treating cancer in children and tumours of the central nervous system. The new centre, Belgium's first, will be housed at University Hospitals Leuven's Gasthuisberg campus and will be operated by teams from University Hospitals Leuven and Saint-Luc University Hospital.
Katrien Herdewyn is a doctoral researcher in the Department of Physics. Well, that's her day job anyway. When she's not in the lab, she's pursuing another passion: designing fashion-forward, runway-ready shoes inspired by her research. Her creations have earned her a spot in Vogue magazine's international ‘Young Vision Award’ design competition. "I’d take a full-page spread in Vogue over a publication in Nature every time."
KU Leuven is proud to present its third class of Faculty STARs. The thirteen students will have the chance to showcase and expand their artistic skills as Student Artists in Residents over the coming months.
Components in the outer wall of bacteria directly activate pain sensors, triggering immediate pain and inflammatory responses. This finding by a multinational team of researchers led by Professor Karel Talavera (Laboratory of Ion Channel Research, KU Leuven) and Professor Félix Viana (Institute of Neuroscience, Spain) sheds new light on pain associated with bacterial infections and reveals a new target for drugs designed to treat them.
Our cells produce thousands of proteins, but more than one-third of these proteins can fulfill their function only after migrating to the outside of the cell. While it is known that protein migration occurs with the help of various ‘nanomotors’ that push proteins out of the cell, little is known about their precise mechanical functioning. New research by Anastassios Economou (Laboratory of Molecular Bacteriology - Rega Institute) and his team reveals the inner workings of one such nanomotor, called SecA, with new clarity.
“Poverty is a rich theme,” said Rector Rik Torfs in his introductory remarks at the 2014 Patron Saint's Day conferral ceremony. The rector was of course referring to academic richness – the many ways to understand and address the problem of global poverty.
Each year during its Patron Saint's Day celebration, KU Leuven recognises individuals for exceptional academic, societal and cultural achievements. On 3 February 2014, the university will award honorary doctorates to four people who, each in their own way, have made distinguished contributions to poverty research. We spoke with each of them about their work, passions and thoughts on the future.
Two female Irish students lost their lives in a fire at a student residence in Leuven this morning, Friday, 31 January. Eight other students were able to evacuate the building safely with the help of neighbours. KU Leuven expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims.
A new study led by Professor Bert De Smedt (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven) has found that healthy 12-year-olds who score well in addition and multiplication have higher-quality white matter tracts. This correlation does not appear to apply to subtraction and division.