Arranz & De Strooper 2019 (The Lancet Neurology) The role of astroglia in Alzheimer's disease: pathophysiology and clinical implications
In this review, Arranz and De Strooper summarize what is known about the role of astroglia in Alzheimer's disease. They also highlight recent findings from genetic and human stem cell studies, and discuss which future studies are needed to develop new targeted therapies. Single-cell transcriptomics will play a major role to achieve this, which is why further development of this technique towards higher spatial and temporal resolution is one of Mission Lucidity's projects (read more).
Bravo Gonzales-Bras et al. 2019 (Nature Methods) cisTopic: cis-regulatory topic modeling on single-cell ATAC-seq data
A Belgian team of computational biologists led by Stein Aerts (VIB-KU Leuven) has developed a new bioinformatics method called cisTopic. cisTopic helps scientists to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying the differences in gene regulation across and within the cells in our body. (more information)
Mastrangeli et al. 2019 (ALTEX) Building blocks for a European Organ-on-Chip roadmap
In January 2019, Dries Braeken attended the Organ-on-Chip In Development (ORCHID) Strategy workshop which intended to establish a European Organ-on-Chip roadmap. This resulted in six building blocks, which are detailed in this report.
Rice et al. 2019 (Science) Secreted amyloid-β precursor protein functions as a GABABR1a ligand to modulate synaptic transmission
The research groups of Joris de Wit and Bart De Strooper found a novel physiological role for the amyloid precursor protein (APP), the source of amyloid-β. The secreted part of APP interacts with the GABABR1a receptor, thereby modulating synaptic transmission, and offering a therapeutic target in Alzheimer’s disease. (more information)
Sala Frigerio et al. 2019 (Cell Reports) The Major Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease: Age, Sex, and Genes Modulate the Microglia Response to Aβ Plaques
The research group of Bart De Strooper investigated the microglia response to amyloid in a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease. The response seemed to be influenced by the three main risk factors for the disease (aging, gender and genetics), suggesting that microglia are a potential therapeutic target. (more information)
Spinazzi et al. 2019 (PNAS) PARL deficiency in mouse causes Complex III defects, coenzyme Q depletion, and Leigh-like syndrome
A study led by Bart De Strooper discovered the physiological roles of PARL, a mitochondrial protein associated with Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. PARL deficiency in mice led to severe neurodegeneration due to aberrant mitochondrial structure and function. The new model is reminiscent of Leigh syndrome, and may help to shed light on mechanisms of neurodegeneration. (more information)
Beel et al. 2018 (Molecular Neurodegeneration) Progranulin reduces insoluble TDP-43 levels, slows down axonal degeneration and prolongs survival in mutant TDP-43 mice
A study at VIB-KU Leuven led by Philip Van Damme revealed neuroprotective effects of progranulin against TDP-43 accumulation and neurodegeneration in mice. The findings suggest that progranulin treatment holds potential for patients with frontotemporal dementia and ALS. (more information)
Mattson et al. 2018 (Alzheimer's & Dementia) Prevalence of the apolipoprotein E ε4 allele in amyloid β positive subjects across the spectrum of Alzheimer's disease
This large international study investigated the prevalence of the APOE ε4 allele, which is associated with a higher risk for Alzheimer's. They found that the prevalence is higher than previously estimated and that is it not affected by education or gender. Globally, the APOE ε4 prevalence is highest in Northern Europe.
Miccoli et al. 2018 (Curr Pharm Des) Brain-on-a-chip Devices for Drug Screening and Disease Modeling Applications
This review discusses the current strategies to make brain-on-chip devices, their role in the study of the healthy and diseased brain, and their limitations and future perspectives.
Mora Lopez et al. ISSCC 2018 (IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference on Feb 14, 2018) A 16384-Electrode 1024-Channel Multimodal CMOS MEA for High-Throughput Intracellular Action Potential Measurements and Impedance Spectroscopy in Drug-Screening Applications.
Researchers at imec have designed and fabricated a 16,384-electrode, 1,024-channel micro-electrode array (MEA) for high-throughput multi-modal cell interfacing. The chip offers intracellular and extracellular recording, voltage- and current-controlled stimulation, impedance monitoring and spectroscopy functionalities thereby packing the most cell-interfacing modalities on a single chip, and being the only one to enable multi-well assays. With this new chip, imec has created a platform that enables high quality data acquisition at increased throughput in cell-based cell studies. (Read more and watch the video)
Sierksma et al. 2018 (Molecular Neurodegeneration) Deregulation of neuronal miRNAs induced by amyloid-β or TAU pathology
A study led by Mark Fiers and Bart De Strooper detected microRNAs that are specifically upregulated in amyloid or tau transgenic mice, some of which are also altered in Alzheimer’s patients. (more information)
Valadas et al. 2018 (Neuron) ER Lipid Defects in Neuropeptidergic Neurons Impair Sleep Patterns in Parkinson's Disease
The research group of Patrik Verstreken discovered why people with familial Parkinson’s disease often experience sleep problems. In transgenic fruit fly models and cells from patients, they detected dysfunctional processes in the cells responsible for sending signals to regulate sleep patterns, and managed to restore the defects. (more information)
- Van Paesschen W. 2018 (Lancet Neurol.) The future of seizure detection.
Clinical practice relies on seizure diaries of patients to manage epilepsy, but less than half of all patients can accurately document their seizures. The development of algorithms that automatically detect seizure-related EEG changes and increases in heart rate can help to detect seizures in real-time and to generate an alarm signal for family members, caregivers, or health professionals. Smartphone-based wearable devices to measure several biosignals simultaneously, including EEG, will probably be available within the next 5 years.
- Davie et al. 2017 (biorxiv) A single-cell catalogue of regulatory states in the ageing Drosophila brain.
Scientists at the ‘VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research’ mapped a single-cell transcriptome catalogue of the entire adult fly brain sampled across its lifespan. These findings show an extensive heterogeneity in gene regulation that is linked to ageing and specific brain functions. Such insights generated from fly brain will serve as a reference for future studies of genetic variation and disease mutations.
Gu et al. 2017 (Sensors) Comparison between scalp EEG and behind-the-ear EEG for development of a wearable seizure detection system for patients with focal epilepsy.
KU Leuven and UZ Leuven scientists and clinicians aim to develop a wearable electroencephalogram (EEG) device that is small and unobtrusive enough to be used in daily life. They recorded epileptic EEG from behind the ear and found that it was a feasible approach to detect seizures in patients with focal epilepsy. Tools based on this technology provide valuable information for disease monitoring and management.
Espuny Camacho et al. 2017 (Neuron) Hallmarks of Alzheimer's Disease in Stem-Cell-Derived Human Neurons Transplanted into Mouse Brain.
Researchers from the lab of professor Bart De Strooper (VIB/KU Leuven) successfully transplanted human neural cells into mouse brains containing amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Unlike mouse neurons, human neurons that developed in this environment were extremely susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.
Guo et al. 2017 (Nature Communications) HDAC6 inhibition reverses axonal transport defects in motor neurons derived from FUS-ALS patients.
The teams led by professor Ludo Van Den Bosch (VIB/KU Leuven) and Catherine Verfaillie (KU Leuven) used stem cell technology to generate motor neurons from ALS patients carrying mutations in FUS. They found disturbed axonal transport in these motor neurons, but also identified genetic and pharmacological strategies that mitigate these defects in cells.
Ju et al. 2017 (Nature) Fully integrated silicon probes for high-density recording of neural activity.
Engineers and scientists at imec, KU Leuven and VIB collaborated with researchers at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, the Allen Institute, and University College London (with grant funding from Gatsby and Wellcome) to build and test powerful new devices for detecting neural activity within the brains of living animals. The result is a silicon probe called Neuropixels, which can simultaneously record the activity of more than 200 individual neurons.
- Liu et al. 2016 (Cell) Sleep drive is encoded by neural plastic changes in a dedicated circuit.
This study defines an integrator circuit for sleep homeostasis and provides a mechanism explaining the generation and persistence of sleep drive.
31 October 2018 | Imec releases neuropixels neural probe to the global Neuroscience Community
“The Neuropixels probe is the most advanced neural electrophysiology probe to date, thanks to the power of integration of advanced CMOS chip technology. I sincerely hope that the Neuropixels probe will revolutionize the way neuroscience research is performed and propel our understanding of complex brain processes and diseases forward." - Barun Dutta, chief scientist at imec.
23 May 2018 | Imec Presents Novel Organ-on-Chip Platform for Drug Screening
Read more and watch the video about imec's novel high-density multi-electrode array (MEA)-chip that is fused with a microfluidic well plate, that allows growing and measuring cell cultures under physiological conditions.
January 2018 | Peter Peumans on life science applications: "Increasingly, electronics will be built into our bodies"
Read more about imec's ongoing developments of chips and electrodes that can treat many diseases, ranging from arthritis, chronic pain, Parkinson's and epilepsy, as well as improve the next generations of prosthetics and DNA sequencing devices.
July 2017 | Chip technology for brain probes
Imec does not only develop multi-electrode probes to probe brain activity, but also probes that can stimulate the activity of brain cells by shining light on them. Such probes can be used for ‘optogenetics’, a technique combining genetics and optics.