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New insight means a breakthrough in the improvement of titanium implants

Contrary to what has been assumed up to now, the growth of the natural oxide layer that is present on titanium implants does not encourage the adhesion of proteins. Quite the opposite, in fact: the adhesion is actually considerably reduced. Eng. Isabel Van De Keere of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel obtained this trailblazing insight in her doctorate research project.


More information
Eng. Isabel Van De Keere, tel.: 02-629 32 53 of 02-629 32 55,  

Consumption of stimulants by young people drastically reduced over the past few years

Contrary to the recent alarming media reports, the use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis among young people aged fifteen and sixteen has clearly declined in our country over the past years. This appears from a new European ESPAD study. The results were published by researchers of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel on Thursday, the 26th March.


More information
 Patrick Lambrecht, tel.: 02-629 25 27 or 02,  
 Prof. Dr. Caroline Andries, tel.: 02-629 25 28,  

Expansion of euthanasia legislation desirable according to nurses

The vast majority of nurses in paediatric intensive care units in Belgium is of the opinion that the current legislation on euthanasia should be extended to include minors. This would make it possible to legally terminate the life of a child in certain cases. In practice, euthanasia involving minors is already practised, although it is not legal. This is apparent from a study by Els Inghelbrecht and Prof. Dr. Luc Deliens of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
The study was recently published in the American Journal of Critical Care. You can download the full article here.


More information
 Prof. Dr. Luc Deliens,  
 Els Inghelbrecht, tel.: 02-477 47 49,  

Effect of the S. boulardii probiotic proven

The saccharomyces boulardii probiotic has a beneficial effect in cases of acute gastro-enteritis and diarrhoea caused by antibiotics. This has been proven by a recent research project by paediatrician Yvan Vandenplas of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that have a positive effect on the host’s quality of life. Prof. Dr. Yvan Vandenplas of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel took a closer look at one specific probiotic: Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast that he selected because it is one of the best-researched probiotics, both in vitro and in vivo. From the results of both fundamental and clinical research, Vandenplas concludes that the effectiveness of this yeast has been proven in cases of acute gastro-enteritis and diarrhoea caused by antibiotics.


More information
Prof. Dr. Yvan Vandenplas, tel: 02-477 57 80,  
(Head of the Biological Psychology Research Unit)

Brussels protein research aboard the ISS

The Discovery space shuttle which departed for the International Space Station on Sunday, the 15th March has a Belgian test on board in which both the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the ULB are participating. TV Brussel has produced this news report, quoting Klaas Decanniere, VUB researcher, and Prof. Dr. Dominique Maes of the VUB Science–Biotechnology Faculty.
This experiment should enable the researchers to examine how proteins crystallize in zero-gravity conditions. "Proteins are the building bricks of the human body. By crystallization, i.e., by creating order from chaos, we can carry out a whole series of applications," explains VUB researcher Klaas Decanniere. "In fact, we want to know precisely which processes occur during crystallization."


View the news report on TV Brussel (only available in Dutch).

HLA typing on embryos suffers from discrepancies in legislation

In seven years of HLA typing on pre-implantation embryos, scientists from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel have treated a total of 32 families, resulting in nine HLA-identical, healthy babies. Four embryos could thereby be successfully transplanted. Discrepancies in the legislation of the various European countries raise serious questions, however, with the result that the UZ Brussels mainly receives applications from abroad.


More information
 Dr. Hilde Van de Velde, tel.: 02-477 66 96,  
 Prof. Dr. Inge Liebaers, tel.: 02-477 68 68

The Darwin Year is the theme of the second edition of CAMPUSTALKS

150 years after the publication of ‘On the Origins of Species’, CROSSTALKS aims to make an interdisciplinary contribution to the Darwin Year by organising another CAMPUSTALKS. On the 8th May 2009, Jean-Michel Claverie, Professor of Medical Genomics and Bioinformatics from Marseille (and author of 'Bioinformatics for Dummies') will hold a lecture ‘On viruses and their contribution to the evolution of life on this planet’, followed by a panel discussion with four of Belgium’s most prominent biologists, Prof. Em. Nicolas Glansdorff (VUB), Prof. Em. René Thomas (ULB), Prof. Em. Raymond Hamers (VUB) and Prof. Em. Nicky Roggen (VUB).


Pecha Kucha
A second panel of speakers opens up the biological topic to other disciplines via the Pecha Kucha format, whereby speakers can make use of 20 slides, with a maximum duration of 20 seconds each. Experience with the previous edition on the 25th March indicates that the formula is bound to guarantee an animated sequence of up-tempo presentations with a great sense of relevance and humour.


Pecha Kucha speakers
 The Evolution of Social Ties - Tom LENAERTS, Associate Professor, Bioinformatics and modelling, ULB/VUB
 Bacterial Altruism - Lode WYNS, VUB Research Vice Rector
 Earth history reflected in DNA - Franky BOSSUYT, Head of the Amphibian Evolution Laboratory, VUB
 Evolving Ethics - Katinka QUINTELIER, The Moral Brain Research Group, UGent
 The Criminal Other - Jenneke CHRISTIAENS & Els DUMORTIER, Department of Criminology, VUB
 Laws of Mass Action - Chris VAN SCHRAVENDIJK, Biomedical Sciences, VUB
 Some surprise presentations


The Darwin ‘Campustalks’ will be held on the 8th May 2009 at the Etterbeek Campus, between 3 and 7 p.m. You can enrol separately for the two sessions. The event is free of charge, but registration is obligatory and can be carried out via

Unsuitable stem cells can be traced much faster

Genetic mutations in human embryo stem cells could lead to carcinomas in transplantation patients, but Dr. Claudia Spits and some of her colleagues of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel have now found a way of tracing mutations quickly and accurately, thereby ensuring that only suitable cells will be used.
The complete article can be found on  


More information
Prof. Dr. Karen Sermon, tel: 02-477 46 35 of 02-476 39 63,  

Official start of the Flemish Supercomputer Centre

The Flemish Supercomputer Centre officially started operations at the end of March. Supercomputing is a crucial technology for the twenty-first century. Fast and efficient computing power is indispensible for superior scientific research, industrial development and the competitive positions of our companies. The Flemish government and the five university associations have therefore jointly decided to set up the ‘Vlaams Supercomputer Centrum’ (VSC).


Supercomputer infrastructure
This centre will unite the local computing clusters of the Flemish Universities into one network, and expand this with a computing cluster that will compare positively in an international context. The VSC aim to make a high-performance and user-friendly supercomputer infrastructure and extensive expertise available to all Flemish researchers from the participating associations, from research institutes and from the industrial world in Flanders.