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Technology Day - 18 September 2008 New scientific impulses towards 3R Alternatives - Methods to replace, reduce and refine animal use.

Thursday, 18 September, 2008 - 11:45
Campus: Brussels Health Campus
Faculty: Medicine and Pharmacy
A

Welcome 

Besides education and research, the provision of social and scientific services is the third important function of a university in society. This means that the knowledge developed at the university must be able to find its way back to society, and in particular to industry.

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel has made great efforts to achieve an optimal valorisation of the university's research results in industry. The valorisation policy at the Vrije Universiteit brussel is aimed at creating new added value, both for society and for the university. Consequently, valorisation also stimulates education and the research at the institution by making the financial resources gained through valorisation available for funding new research and developing new know-how.

As part of the R&D Department, the Technology Transfer Interface is the first contact for researchers when it comes to valorisation, spin-offs and contract research. Among other things, the Technology Transfer Interface organises interesting training courses for researchers and provides information on contract research and the protection of knowledge, spin-off activities, the BI³ venture capital fund, the Incubation Centres and Research Parks and the CROSSTALKS industrial network.

Do not hesitate to contact us. You will find the right person to reply to your question on our list of staff members.

Sonja Haesen 
Head of the Technology Transfer Interface

Intro

Pharmaceutical and biotech industries are largely dependent upon animal studies for predicting human toxicity and efficacy of pharmaceuticals. In order to be compliant with European and international safety standards, also the cosmetic, chemical and food industries are massively investing in technologies that can refine existing tests by minimizing animal distress, reducing animal usage, or replacing whole animal tests – according to the so-called 3R-principle.

As animal testing is costly in both societal and economic terms, there is a great deal of academic research on finding viable and effective alternatives. Too often however, valuable technologies and ideas, although not always developed for that purpose, are lost for innovative developments. That’s why VUB’s Technology Transfer Interface identified the 3R-principle as a constructive framework for new collaborations to emerge.

This technology day is intended as a networking event for academic and industrial researchers, practitioners, policy advisors, innovation managers, members and organizations which are professionally occupied with developing and implementing alternative methods for animal testing. This seminar is an opportunity to listen and learn about new developments and state of the art research and to interact with researchers associated with VUB’s faculties of Science, Medicine & Pharmacy and University Hospital.

Bios, abstracts & business opportunities : 
technlogy day 18 September 2008

Welcome & introduction

Professor Jan Cornelis (°1950) is Vice-rector Research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, responsible for the industrial policy and for the technology transfer interface, which supports all R&D activities in the process leading from scientific discovery and exploration of new knowledge up to invention and development, including the interface with the regional and worldwide industrial and economic actors.

Jan Cornelis is Professor in electronics, medical imaging and digital image processing at the VUB, director of the department of Electronics and Informatics Processing – ETRO at the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, and coordinator of the research group on image processing and machine vision – IRIS. He is also Consultant Professor at Northwestern Polytechnic University, NPU-Xi’an, China.

Furthermore, Prof. Cornelis is member of the board of directors of the Interuniversity MicroElectronics Centre – IMEC in Leuven and Chairman of the board of directors BI3 (Brussels I3 NV) – the incubation fund of VUB.

Session chairs

Professor Vera Rogiers, PhD,

... is since 2000 head of the Department of Toxicology, Dermato-Cosmetology and Pharmacognosy at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She teaches in Toxicology ,Pharmaceutical Technology(dermatology)and Safety of cosmetics. She organises yearly intensive courses in Dermato-Cosmetic Sciences and on the Safety Assessment of Cosmetics in the EU. 
Her Toxicology Research Unit focusses mainly on the development of long-term in vitro models for pharmaco-toxicological purposes as an alternative to the use of experimental animals in biotransformation and toxicity studies of drugs, cosmetics and other chemical substances. Of particular interest is the research on adult stem cells as a source of functional human hepatocytes. 
Another research track is situated in the efficacy and safety of dermato-cosmetic products. Vera Rogiers is a frequently asked speaker, author of numerous international publications and reviewer on these topics. She is, at the EU level, co-chair of the SCCP and is member of ESAC. She is chairperson of ecopa (European Consensus Platform on 3R-Alternatives), bringing together Academia, Industry, Animal welfare and Governmental Institutes in the different EU Countries under an European umbrella. As such she is coordinator of the EU START-UP project.Her research group is research partner in the running EU projects LIINTOP , Carcinogenomics (IP) and ESNATS.

Dr Philippe Vanparys

... graduated as biologist at the University of Ghent (Belgium) and joined in 1978 the Janssen Research Foundation in Beerse (Belgium). He established the genetic toxicology unit and became head of this department. 
In 1979, he organised the switch of his department from non-GLP to GLP compliance and has 27 years of experience in conducting studies according to the GLP regulations. He gained his PhD in Science in 1988 at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). In 1990, he established an in vitro toxicology laboratory with focus on the development of alternative methods to replace and reduce laboratory animals in toxicology testing. He was appointed in 1991 Director of Genetic and In vitro Toxicology. 
Besides responsibilities in regulatory toxicology and alternative toxicology testing, he also established in silico and high throughput screens for primary screening of genetic toxicity for the Discovery research. With the introduction of a scientific ladder, he was appointed in 2000 as Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Genetic and In vitro Toxicology at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development in Beerse (Belgium). He was asked to established in 2005 a centre of Excellence on Mechanistic Toxicology and appointed as “EU Head Mechanistic Toxicology”. 
In April 2008, he joined CARDAM (VITO, Belgium) as Managing Director and as expert in the field of alternatives gives assistance to the IHCP Director on EVVAM matters. He was elected President of the Belgian Environmental Mutagen Society (BEMS) in 1991, is involved in several ECVAM Taskforces, was member of the ICCVAM Ocular Expert Panel in 2005 and is founding member of INVITROM. 
In 2005, he and two of his collaborators received the first J&J 3Rs Award in Recognition of Advancing the 3Rs at J&J. He is author and co-author of more than 50 publications and several hundreds non-clinical study reports on genotoxicity testing and alternatives on animal testing.

Dr Bernward Garthoff

... studied veterinary medicine at Hannover University. Following the award of his doctorate in 1975 and a period of scientific work, he joined Bayer in 1976. In the Pharmaceuticals Business Group, he held a variety of positions in pharmacological research management to join the top management of Bayer’s Crop Protection Business Group as Head of Portfolio Management in 1994. 
He has managed the integration process associated with the acquisition of Aventis CropScience and has been a member of the Board of Management since the creation of Bayer CropScience in mid 2002. He has just recently taken over association-related tasks for Bayer AG, focusing on Crop Protection and Bioscience, and is now situated in Bayer’s Headquarters, Leverkusen. Dr. Garthoff is a member of the Private Sector Committee of CGIAR (World Bank) and a member of the EuropaBio Board, Chairman of the Agrifood Council of EuropaBio.
He is the Chairman of DIB, Deutsche Industrie-Vereinigung Biotechnologie and Co-chair of epaa, the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing. He held a lectureship with Bochum University in Pharmacology and has been founding member of ecopa, the European Consensus Platform for 3 R Alternatives, and still is vice chair of the German Foundation for Alternative Methods ( s e t ). He is Board-certified expert in Toxicology and Pharmacology.

 

Speakers & topics in order of appearance

 

The use of microdialysis in drug discovery & development by Prof. Ilse Smolders, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Drug Analysis and Drug Information, VUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Our laboratory has expertise in in vivo neuropharmacological, neurochemical and pharmacokinetic studies as well as with ex vivo immunobiotechnological techniques. 
In general we are interested in unravelling new neurobiological drug targets for major neurological disorders such as psychomotor epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and cognitive decline.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

Microdialysis is a well-established tool to monitor neurobiological and metabolic alterations occurring in the animal models of disease. It is most often applied complementary to other in vivo as well as ex vivo neuromethods. It is concomitantly used in drug discovery to investigate the effects of many diverse therapeutic approaches on the sampled substances as well as for the monitoring of the drugs itselves in many organs and body fluids.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Many pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic questions in Drug Discovery & Development require the use of laboratory animals and transgenic mice. Microdialysis causes minimal pain and distress, reduces significantly the number of animals, and allows chronic assessment of physiological parameters and collection of high-quality reproducible quantitative data from freely moving animals, even implanted with several probes in different tissues.

BUSINESS POTENTIAL

The technique is much appreciated by the pharmaceutical industry as an elegant tool easily applicable in their research & development departments. Microdialysis offers opportunities for pharmacological studies, for unravelling biomarkers of disease, to investigate blood-brain-barrier transport of molecules, to assay the pharmacodynamic active protein-unbound free fraction of drugs in development, and to characterize pharmacodynamic/pharmacokinetic relationships of drugs. However, using the technique requires a high level of expertise, which is often lacking.
In certain countries, microdialysis in humans is allowed in neurointensive care units. Clinical drug delivery studies of for instance new chemotherapeutic agents have great value since it allows monitoring simultaneously tumour metabolism and identification of surrogate markers of antitumor activity.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Our research group has an expertise of almost 20 years in using the in vivo microdialysis technique in neuropharmacological and pharmacokinetic research and published about 150 peer-reviewed papers. Microdialysis is an in vivo sampling technique and is coupled to very sensitive analytical methods. The group has also the expertise in developing analysis methods for drugs, neurotransmitters and biomarkers sampled by microdialysis, using nano- and micro liquid chromatography coupled to electrochemical, fluorescence or mass spectrometry detectors.
We collaborate(d) with many pharmaceutical companies and research groups from other universities seeking our expertise.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Prof. Dr. Yvette Michotte
Faculty of Medicine & Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Drug Analysis & Drug Information, Research Group Experimental Pharmacology
Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, 
Tel +3224774748
Fax +3224774113
Email 

 

Small animal molecular imaging in preclinical research by Prof. Tony Lahoutte, Department of Nuclear Medicine, UZ Brussel


DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

At the Laboratory for In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging (ICMI) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, we have centralized multiple small animal imaging modalities including MicroSPECT, Optical imaging, MicroCT and Ultrasound together with a unit for probe development and a vivarium for the housing of animals in one laboratory. Different research teams collaborate in an interdisciplinary research effort which encompasses the development and validation of innovative core technologies, their application in preclinical translational research and the introduction of these emerging technologies into clinical diagnostic imaging practice.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

The research of ICMI-Vrije Universiteit Brussels is organized in the following main research lines:

  • Image processing and analysis
  • Molecular probe development
  • Small animal cardiac imaging
  • Imaging of reporter gene expression

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

The ability to study those animals noninvasively and repeatedly with new, high-resolution imaging devices provides the most relevant milieu in which to find and examine new therapies without the need for sacrifising multiple groups of animals at different time points

BUSINESS POTENTIAL 
To provide state of the art small animal multimodal imaging facilities and services for a wide range of industrial partners:

  • Acquisition and reconstruction of planar, and SPECT, images of single-photon- emitting radiotracer distributions, microCT imaging, ultrasound imaging and optical ioluminescent imaging of mice and rats.
  • Image processing and analysis (digital filtering, ROI analysis, etc.)
  • Harvesting of tissues at necropsy and scintillation well-counting ex vivo of radioactivity in blood and tissue samples.
  • Consultation on experimental design, including choice of the contrast agent, radiotracer, handling of radioactivity, and compliance with associated institutional and regulatory requirements.

ACHIEVEMENTS

ISI publications since 2003: 80
PhD graduates since 2003: 8

CONTACT INFORMATION

LAHOUTTE Tony
Department Nuclear Medicine UZ Brussels, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Brussels 
Tel. 322 477 50 20

 

Stabilisation of functional hepatocytes in culture by epigenetic modification(s) by Prof. Tamara Vanhaecke, Department of Toxicology, Dermato-Cosmetology and Pharmacognosy, VUB


DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Development of long-term hepatocyte cultures for pharmaco-toxicological purposes by stabilisation of the functionality of cultured hepatocytes by epigenetic modification of their chromatin.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

Innovative technology to stabilise hepatoctes by addition of histone deacetylase inhibitors with or without DNA methylation inhibitors (patent submission)

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Opens new research field and may lead to the availability of cultures of functional primary hepatocytes (human included) and in general primary cells, which otherwise loose their specific phenotype in culture as a function of culture time.

BUSINESS POTENTIAL

Functional metabolising cells are necessary in alternatives for:
- testing tiers for new EU chemical legislation (REACH)
- cosmetic testing to overcome the testing and marketing bans of March 2009 and 2013, respectively
- pharmaceutical industry to introduce more alternatives to increase preclinical safety and efficacy of new chemical entities (NCEs)

ACHIEVEMENTS

Academic collaboration with:

  • Prof. A. Geerts, Cell Biology, VUB
  • Prof. D. Tourwé, Organic Chemistry, VUB
  • Prof. K. Vanderkerken, Immunology and Microbiology, VUB
  • International collaboration within several EU projects (ESNATS, Liintop, Predictomics, Carcinogenomics)

Industrial advice for valorisation from Dr. P. Vanparijs, former J&J head of alternatives department, Beerse

Possible customers:

  • companies interested in bringing stem cell research on the market, e.g.
    (a) postnatal progenitor cells oriented to specific lineages (from different tissues and different species, including human)
    (b) having access to new adult stem cell technology and their research possibilities in preclinical drug safety and efficacy
    (c) in transplanting adult stem cell derived hepatocytes
  • companies interested in bringing functionally stabilised hepatocytes of different species on the market or companies interested of using these cells in pharmaceutical or toxicological research and testing

Patents & publications list on request

CONTACT INFORMATION

ROGIERS Vera
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy
Dept. of Toxicology and Dermato-Cosmetology
VUB
Laarbeeklaan 103
B-1090 Brussels
Tel: 0032-2-4774516
Fax: 0032-2-4774582
e-mail: 

 

Use of in vitro systems to develop antifibrogenic drugs by Prof. Albert Geerts,Department of Cell Biology & Histology, VUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Our research group studies the roles of various liver cells in the pathogenesis of chronic liver disease. We study stellate cells, sinusoidal endothelial cells, Kupffer cells, hepatic progenitor cells and hepatocytes.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

We isolate and purify various liver cells by cell sorting to characterize these cells and to bring them in culture. We have identifyied stellate cells as important fibrogenic cells and have recently developed a new method to isolate progenitor cells from liver tissue.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Stellate cells in culture provide an excellent means to screen antifibrogenic drugs. We have identified that histone deacetylase inhibitors are strong antifibrogenic compounds. In future studies, we will attempt to differentiate stellate cells from stem/progenitor cells to avoid to have to sacrifice animals.

BUSINESS POTENTIAL

Development of antifibrogenic drugs (pharma industry)
Development of cell therapy for acute and chronic liver diseases

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Coordinator of tbe IUAP network HEPRO P6/36
  • Member of European network HEPADIP
  • Member of GOA on deacetylases
  • Holder of several national and regional grant
  • Publications in international peer reviewed journals : 96
  • Patent applications : 2

CONTACT INFORMATION

Prof. Dr. Albert GEERTS, 
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, 
Dept of Cell Biology,
Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels
TEL : 0032 2 477 4407
Fax : 0032 2 477 4412 
Email : 

 

Production of functional hepatoyctes by mimicking the liver embryogenesis in vivo: an innovative in vitro technology by Dr. Sarah Snykers, Department of Toxicology, Dermato-Cosmetology and Pharmacognosy, VUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Development of long-term hepatocyte cultures for pharmaco-toxicological purposes by production of functional human hepatocytes by differentiation of postnatal progenitor cells from different tissues.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

Innovative technology to produce functional hepatocytes from postnatal progenitor cells of different tissues and different species (including human) (patent submission)

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Opens new research field and may lead to the availability of cultures of functional primary hepatocytes (human included) and in general primary cells, which otherwise loose their specific phenotype in culture as a function of culture time.

BUSINESS POTENTIAL

Functional metabolising cells are necessary in alternatives for:

  • testing tiers for new EU chemical legislation (REACH)
  • cosmetic testing to overcome the testing and marketing bans of March 2009 and 2013, respectively
  • pharmaceutical industry to introduce more alternatives to increase preclinical safety and efficacy of new chemical entities (NCEs)

ACHIEVEMENTS

Academic collaboration with:

  • Prof. A. Geerts, Cell Biology, VUB
  • Prof. D. Tourwé, Organic Chemistry, VUB
  • Prof. K. Vanderkerken, Immunology and Microbiology, VUB
  • International collaboration within several EU projects (ESNATS, Liintop, Predictomics, Carcinogenomics)

Industrial advice for valorisation from Dr. P. Vanparijs, former J&J head of alternatives department, Beerse

Possible customers:

  • companies interested in bringing stem cell research on the market, e.g.
    (a) postnatal progenitor cells oriented to specific lineages (from different tissues and different species, including human)
    (b) having access to new adult stem cell technology and their research possibilities in preclinical drug safety and efficacy
    (c) in transplanting adult stem cell derived hepatocytes
  • companies interested in bringing functionally stabilised hepatocytes of different species on the market or companies interested of using these cells in pharmaceutical or toxicological research and testing

Patents & publications list on request

CONTACT INFORMATION

ROGIERS Vera
VUB. Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy
Dept. of Toxicology and Dermato-Cosmetology
Laarbeeklaan 103
B-1090 Brussels
Tel: 0032-2-4774516
Fax: 0032-2-4774582
e-mail: 

 

Human embryonic stem cells: possible uses and ongoing research at VUB by Prof. Karen Sermon, Department of Embryology and Genetics, VUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Human embryonic stem cells (heSC) are derived from preimplantation embryos at our lab. This can be from normal or genetically abnormal embryos. We have research projects on the (epi)genetic stability of these cells to assess their safety in regenerative medicine, as well as projects for differentiation into lung, muscle, blood, bone cells and comparison between normal and abnormal hESC. We also intend to make induced pluripotent cells, derived from somatic cells but with the same characteristics as hESC.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

hESC derivation and culture, genetic analysis through microarray technology, quantitative RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry. In vitro differentiation protocols. 26 derived hESC lines, 18 of which carry a monogenic disease (eg fragile X syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, cystic fibrosis). Different culture systems have a different influence on the genotype of embryonic stem cells.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

In vitro cultured hESC are a continuous source of cells and can be differentiated in vitro in all cell types of the body. They are considered to become an important tool in drug development and testing. They are also expected to play a role in regenerative medicine.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Our centre has a long track record in reproductive biology and genetics, embryology and treatment of infertility. We have only recently started up the hESC work, but this has nevertheless already led to 8 peer-reviewed papers.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Karen Sermon
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy
Department of Embryology and Genetics (EMGE)
Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Brussel
Tel 02 477 36 45
e-mail: 

 

Predicting effects of endocrine disruptors on the ovary and the oocyte by the invitro approach by Drs Sandy Lenie, Centre for Reproductive Medicine, UZ Brussel

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

At the Follicle Biology Laboratory, research is directed on one hand towards improving oocyte in vitro maturation, and on the other hand to study the effects of ovotoxic and/or endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) by employing ex-vivo ovarian follicles that can be grown up to the preovulatory stage. After an ovulatory stimulus, fertilizable, developmentally-competent oocytes are retrieved as a possible endpoint.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

Characterization of the ovarian follicles in-vitro in terms of steroid receptor expression and steroidogenic pathways are two important targets for endocrine disruption. These assays can be used to test EDCs and the targeted follicles can be subjected to more in-depth investigation, to identify the mechanism underlying endocrine disruption. The in-vitro assay approach is important in suggesting the endpoints to be studied in subsequent complementary in vivo testing.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Concerns over the potential consequences of exposure to xenobiotic compounds has drawn the attention of several international agencies, that were put in charge of providing recommendations for a screening and testing program that would serve to identify and characterize endocrine disrupters. A complementary battery of in vitro and in vivo tests seems the most appropriate and efficient way to test EDCs. For this purpose, existing in vitro bioassays need to be validated. Precise concentration-effect relations at the follicular level can be approached in our in vitro assay systems.

BUSINESS POTENTIAL

The knowledge on in-vitro systems related to fertility has broad applications in the field of gamete maturation, reproductive hormone production, proof of principle for new lead testing, fertility preservation and assisted reproduction techniques. Hence several opportunities have presented themselves mainly in the area of lead compound testing.

ACHIEVEMENTS

This project was partly supported by ReProTect (LSHB-CT-2004-503257) in the sixth framework programme and by European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM). Several pharmaceutical industries have used our in vitro to screen for activities at the ovarian level. Part of the technologies is patented.
Publications: 
Lenie S et al. Continuous exposure to bisphenol A during in vitro follicular development induces meiotic abnormalities. Mutation Research 2008, 12;651(1-2):71-81.
Lenie S and Smitz J. Estrogen receptor subtypes localization shifts in cultured mouse ovarian follicles. Histochemistry and Cell Biology 2008,129(6):827-40.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Sandy Lenie
Faculty of Medicine, UZ Brussels, EMGE-FOBI
Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Brussels
Tel. 02/477.46.45
Fax. 02/477.50.60

 

Human gametes and embryos: balance between research and respect by Prof. Josiane Van der Elst, Centre for Reproductive Medicine, UZ Brussel

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Our research group is part of the “vakgroep” “Embryology and Genetics” Our specific research focuses on human clinical embryology. The overall goal is to optimize the output of the IVF lab in terms of best performance of gamete and embryo production, selection and preservation.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

We focus on optimisation of human embryo culture for selection of the single best embryo. This involves testing of new embryo culture media, recombinant culture supplements, alternative culture substrates (grouped culture, endometrial cells, uterine capsule) and validation of prototype culture and fertilisation devices. A second focus is on cryopreservation of human oocytes and embryos by vitrification. A third focus will be on sperm selection methods and sperm cryopreservation for optimising sperm bank facilities.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Testing of drugs for embryotoxicity, gametotoxicity on in vitro human gametes and embryos 
Validation of new technologies for IVF on in vitro human gametes and embryos 
All: respecting law on research on embryos of 11 May 2003 defining conditions for embryos donated for research after informed consent

BUSINESS POTENTIAL

Valorisation of biological test units for gamete / embryotoxicity (possible customers: drug companies)
Validation of prototype embryo culture devices (incubators) (possible customers: incubator designing companies)
Validation of prototype robotic systems for in vitro fertilisation (possible customers: engineering – robotics companies)
Professionalization of sperm bank: manage as a spin-off company in Brussels - Capital Region (possible customers/partners: cryo companies- marketing companies). Arguments:

  • There is a (worldwide) shortage of donor sperm
  • Legally required anonymity of donors in Belgium gives a competitive advantage to EU member states where donor anonymity is no longer allowed (UK, Sweden, Netherlands).
  • Try to include not only Caucasian but also ethnic donors. Brussels multiculturality might be an opportunity.
  • Offer long - term sperm storage for oncology and seropositive patients, where there are space constraints in clinics

ACHIEVEMENTS

Academic partners: “vakgroep” Embryology and Genetics (EMGE)
Industrial partners: contacts with industry already for device testing, but not really as business partners
No patent applications 
Publications / track record: please consult PubMed for Van der Elst Josiane (IVF lab director), Van den Abbeel Etienne, 
Verheyen Greta, De Vos Anick, Van de Velde Hilde, Van Landuyt Lisbet, Janssens Ronny (team of embryologists)

CONTACT INFORMATION

Van der Elst Josiane
Faculty of Medicine, VUB, Dept & Research Group: EMGE
Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, 
Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Brussels
Tel: 02/477. 66. 90
Fax: 02/477. 66. 92
Email: 

 

In vitro cell culture assays for screening of potential Antipicornavirus compounds by Prof. Bart Rombaut, Department Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, VUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

The activity of the research group MICH is focused on the molecular biology of different picornaviruses such as poliovirus, Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV), and human rhinovirus (HRV). The replication cycle of these viruses are studied in regard to identify antiviral targets and to screen (chemical) compounds for their antiviral activity.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

Poliovirus + HRV: An in vitro multiple replication round assay in microtiterplate format was developed for poliovirus and HRV in which the cytotoxicity, cytopathic effect reduction and infectious virus yield reduction of potential antipoliovirus or antirhinovirus compounds can be simultaneous evaluated using only one assay.
TMEV: As macrophages are the primary targets cells in mice persistently infected with the DA strain of TMEV for viral replication, an in vitro macrophage cell culture platform persistently infected with the DA strain of TMEV in microtiterplate format was developed to study the mechanism of persistence of this virus in macrophages and to evaluate the modulation of this persistence by different compounds.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Poliovirus + HRV: a profound screening of the potential cytotoxicity and antiviral activity of new (chemical) compounds against poliovirus and HRV can be measured in an in vitro multiple replication assay without the need of representative animal models.
TMEV: mice persistently infected with the DA strain of TMEV are considered to be one of the best animal models to study multiple sclerosis (MS) affecting humans. With the in vitro macrophage cell culture platform, the persistence of this virus in macrophages and the (antiviral) effect of chemical compounds can be initially studied without the need for infecting their natural host, i.e., the mouse.

BUSINESS POTENTIAL

Poliovirus + HRV: these multiple replication assays reflect better the natural replication of the virus than other existing single round replication assays. It is a miniaturized platform that can be fully automated. It is cheap and very easy in use. The platform is a very valuable tool as a first screening method of (chemical) libraries for their antiviral activities and cytotoxicity profile. Using this platform, potential antiviral compounds against poliovirus and HRV can be identified.

TMEV: Because the in vitro macrophage cell culture platform persistently infected with the DA strain of TMEV is a representative in vitro model for studying the viral persistence mechanisms in mice and because the mouse model infected with TMEV is considered as one of the best animal model to study multiple sclerosis, this platform is a very valuable tool to screen known drugs and new compounds for their effect on viral persistence regarding future therapy for multiple sclerosis. It is a miniaturized platform that can be fully automated. It is cheap and very easy in use.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Relevant Publications:

  • Thys, B., A.M. De Palma, J. Neyts, K. Andries, R. Vrijsen and B. Rombaut (2008). R75761, a lead compound for the development of antiviral drugs in late stage poliomyelitis eradication strategies and beyond. Antiviral Research, 78: 278-281.
  • Steurbaut, S., B. Rombaut and R. Vrijsen (2006). Persistent infection of RAW264.7 macrophages with the DA strain of Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus: An in vitro model to study viral persistence. J. Neurovirol.: 12, 108-115.
  • Steurbaut, S., B. Rombaut and R. Vrijsen (2006). Theiler's virus strain-dependent induction of innate immune responses in RAW264.7 macrophages and its influence on viral clearance versus viral persistence. J. Neurovirol., 13: 47-55

CONTACT INFORMATION

Prof. Bart Rombaut
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy
Department Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Molecular Biology
Laarbeeklaan 103
B-1090 Brussel
Tel: +32-2-477 44 97
Fax: +32-2-477 44 95

 

Alternative host models to investigate the pathogenicity and virulence of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas Aeruginosa by Prof. Pierre Cornelis, Department of Microbial Interactions, VUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Importance of high-affinity siderophore-mediated iron uptake and cell-to-cell communication (quorum sensing) for the fitness and virulence of the opportunistic pathogenic gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

The virulence of P. aeruginosa is multi-factorial and among the important contributors are the siderophore pyoverdine and the production of signal molecules. Also, the ability to resist oxidative stress is a key factor for the fitness and the virulence of the bacterium. P. aeruginosa is a multi-host pathogen causing opportunistic infections and during the last years it was found that it can infect protozoa, plants, nematodes, and insects. The majority of the virulence factors contributing to the virulence in mouse model are also important in these alternative models.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

Alternative models such as Romaine lettuce or chicory leaves infections or the infection of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans are important because they allow screening a large number of isolates or mutants.

ACHIEVEMENTS

We have developped two plant infection assays (chicory leaves and Romaine lettuce) and our colleague Prof. J. P. Hernalsteens has good experience with C. elegans infection. Colleagues in Oxford have developed a model based on the infection of a caterpillar, Galleria melonella, which is the closest to the mammal infection model.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Pierre Cornelis
Microbial Interactions (MINT)
Faculty of Science and Bio-engineering Sciences
tel: 026291906
e-mail: 

Chromatographic and chemometric approaches to evaluate and predict membrane passage of drug molecules by Prof. Yvan Vander Heyden, Department of Analytical Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology, VUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH GROUP'S ACTIVITIES

Our research group activities are situated in chemometrics (use of statistical and mathematical methods to optimise methods and analyse data sets from chemical analyses) and separation science (HPLC, CE, CEC, pCEC). The mission statement of the group can be described as “The rational use of new techniques in pharmaceutical analysis”, where analysis techniques refer both to separation and data-analysis.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY/RESEARCH TOPIC/RESULTS

The technology applied concerns instruments for the separation of compounds, e.g. chromatographs, capillary electrophoresis instruments, capillary electrochromatography. Additionally in data analysis different chemometric techniques are applied, e.g. modelling techniques.

RELEVANCE OF THIS TECHNOLOGY AS ALTERNATIVE FOR 3Rs

We have been developing micellar liquid chromatography (MLC) methods (specific type of HPLC methods) for which the retention of drug compounds can be related to their gastrointestinal absorption (also to their logP value).
Secondly, we have been modelling and predicting membrane passage of drug compounds (gastro-intestinal absorption and passage over the brain-blood barrier, BBB) as a function of structural properties, i.e. experimental and theoretical molecular descriptors.

ACHIEVEMENTS

The MLC methods have been developed in co-operation with Janssen Pharmaceutica, Beerse, Belgium. For the BBB modelling a data set from Aureus, a French company, has been used. 
Some publications:

  • [1] A. Detroyer, S. Stokbroeckx, H. Bohets, W. Lorreyne, P. Timmerman, P. Verboven, D.L. Massart and Y. Vander Heyden, Fast monolithic micellar liquid chromatography, an alternative drug-permeability assessing method for high-throughput screening, Anal. Chem. 76 (2004) 7304-7309;
  • [2] E. Deconinck, Q.S. Xu, R. Put, D. Coomans, D.L. Massart and Y. Vander Heyden, Prediction of gastro-intestinal absorption using Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines, Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 39 (2005) 1021-1030;
  • [3] E. Deconinck, M.H. Zhang, F. Petitet, E. Dubus, I. Ijjaali, D. Coomans and Y. Vander Heyden; Boosted Regression Trees, Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines and their two-step combinations with Multiple Linear Regression or Partial Least Squares to predict Blood-Brain Barrier passage: a case study; Analytica Chimica Acta 609 (2008) 13-23

CONTACT INFORMATION

Yvan Vander Heyden
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy
Dept. for Analytical Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology,
Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 477 47 34
e-mail: 

Programme

Click on a presentation for more background information such as bios, abstracts and business opportunities

TECHNOLOGY DAY
New scientific impulses towards 3R Alternatives - Methods to replace, reduce and refine animal use
Stimulating research collaborations between industry and university

09.45 Registration & Coffee
10.15 Welcome & introduction by Prof. Jan Cornelis, vice-rector research VUB
10.30 The use of microdialysis in drug discovery & development by Prof. Ilse Smolders, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Drug Analysis and Drug Information, VUB
10.45 Small animal molecular imaging in preclinical research by Prof. Tony Lahoutte, Department of Nuclear Medicine, UZ Brussel
11.00 Coffee break
11.15 Stabilisation of functional hepatocytes in culture by epigenetic modification(s) by Prof. Tamara Vanhaecke, Department of Toxicology, Dermato-Cosmetology and Pharmacognosy, VUB
11.30 Use of in vitro systems to develop antifibrogenic drugs by Prof. Albert Geerts, Department of Cell Biology & Histology, VUB
11.45 Production of functional hepatocytes by mimicking the liver embryogenesis in vivo: an innovative in vitro technology by Dr. Sarah Snykers, Department of Toxicology, Dermato-Cosmetology and Pharmacognosy, VUB
12.00 Round table and question time moderated by Prof. Vera Rogiers, Chairperson of ecopa, Department of Toxicology, Dermato-Cosmetology and Pharmacognosy, VUB, and Dr. Bernward Garthoff, Co-chair ofepaa, Crop Protection and Bioscience, Bayer AG
 
12.30 Walking Lunch
14.00 Human embryonic stem cells: possible uses and ongoing research at the VUB by Prof. Karen Sermon, Department of Embryology and Genetics, VUB
14.15 Predicting effects of endocrine disruptors on the ovary and the oocyte by the in vitro approach by Drs Sandy Lenie, Centre for Reproductive Medicine, UZ Brussel
14.30 Human gametes and embryos: balance between research and respect by Prof. Josiane Van der Elst, Centre for Reproductive Medicine, UZ Brussel
14.45 Coffee break
15.00 In vitro cell culture assays for screening of potential Antipicornavirus compounds by Prof. Bart Rombaut, Department Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, VUB
15.15 Alternative host models to investigate the pathogenicity and virulence of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas Aeruginosaby Prof. Pierre Cornelis, Department of Microbial Interactions, VUB
15.30 Chromatographic and chemometric approaches to evaluate and predict membrane passage of drug molecules by Prof. Yvan Vander Heyden, Department of Analytical Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology, VUB
15.45 Round table and question time moderated by Prof. Vera Rogiers, Chairperson of ecopa, Department of Toxicology, Dermato-Cosmetology and Pharmacognosy, VUB and Dr. Philippe Vanparys, Managing Director of CARDAM (VITO, Belgium)
16.15 Reception & networking

 

Registration

Participation is free of charge, but registration is absolutely required!

You can register by sending an email to  by mentioning your first and last name, function, organisation, department, email and telephone nr. 
Or send this fax form to +32 (0)2 629 36 40

You will receive confirmation and more practical details as soon as your registration is processed. 

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Bios, abstracts & business opportunities

  • Click here for Bios, abstracts & business opportunities

Location

Auditorium P. Brouwer
VUB Campus Jette
Building A
Laarbeeklaan 103
1090 Brussels

 

 

Slides

Contact

Technology Transfer Interface

Academic Coordination 
Prof. Dr. Lode Wyns 
Vice-rector for Research 
E-mail: 

Coordinator Technology Transfer Interface 
dr. Sonja Haesen

Technology Transfer Manager - Valorisation Coordinator 
dr. Hugo Loosvelt 

Legal Adviser
Lic. Christian Daman

Legal Adviser
Lic. Kristel Mommaerts

TTI Liaison Officer for the Erasmushogeschool Brussel
Lic. Tanja Thijs

Communication & Events TTI (Flanders) and CROSSTALKS 
Lic. Sara Engelen

Communication & Events TTI (Brussels)
Lic. Alena Aga

Contract Management
Mrs. Dorien Slock

Management Assistant
Lic. Tania Bauwens

Contact address Technology Transfer Interface
Vrije Universiteit Brussel 
R&D department
Gebouw M, vierde verdieping 
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel 
tel. (+32 2) 629.21.08 / 22 07 
fax. (+32 2) 629.36.40

Consultants

Operational Director CROSSTALKS (consultant) 
Lic. Marleen Wynants 

The Technology transfer Interface works in close interaction with ICAB nv

Manager Incubation Centre ICAB 
Ir. Marnix Housen