Discovery and research, Technology and digital innovation

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have great potential to improve people’s lives. From supporting data analysis in research to providing more accurate and quicker diagnostic tools. But their interior workings are questioned by many and understood by few. New models are needed to solve current shortcomings and causal AI might be our way out. By offering a peek inside the black box, it creates opportunities to implement AI in high-risk settings such as healthcare. But how far along are we and where is this journey taking us?
Microalgae have been proposed as a potential source for numerous products, ranging from proteins used in nutrition to mycosporine-like amino acids (MAA) that could be used in sunscreens to absorb ultraviolet (UV) light. However, one of the major constraints to using microalgae-based products is their low production of high-value products like MAA. GeneBEcon, a Horizon Europe-funded project, investigates the potential to increase the production of valuable compounds in microalgae through gene editing in order to enable a more sustainable bioeconomy in Europe.
In a world where our health is paramount, fatty liver disease, known as metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), is climbing the ranks of health concerns we can't afford to ignore. Imagine your liver, which controls over 500 vital functions, including the body's detox powerhouse, getting clogged with fat. Alarmingly, about 30% of people globally are wrestling against this silent epidemic. It's a complex disease with various risk factors, especially related to gender and sex hormonal differences, making a one-size-fits-all treatment difficult.
After several years of dismal market activity, 2024 is already looking up for deals in the pharmaceutical industry, with a recent flurry of billion-dollar mergers and acquisitions. Is this trend being driven by the impending loss of revenue caused by soon-to-expire blockbuster drug patents? And what does it mean for earlier-stage biotech startups?
The emergence of artificial intelligence and machine learning accelerates research and innovation across various sectors, particularly in healthcare. The potential for the development of innovative diagnostic tools and therapies based on insights from health data is limitless. However, progress should never compromise the privacy of patients. It’s a delicate balance that is essential to maintain.
Belgium is one of the top countries in the world for in vitro fertilization (IVF). Despite the high cumulative success rates of these interventions, disproportionally little attention has been given to the health of both mother and child during and after pregnancy. With the HEART (High risk for pre-Eclampsia after Assisted Reproductive Technology) project, Belgian researchers strive to understand why some women have an increased risk for pre-eclampsia after IVF and whether biomarkers can be identified to estimate these risks early in pregnancy or even before conception. They aim to raise the standard from successful conception to improved child and maternal health.
While a vast majority of women experience vaginal yeast infections, research has fallen short in providing an effective treatment approach. However, hope has emerged recently with the development of new model systems that allow exploration of the complex vaginal environment. Organ-on-chip models enable researchers to examine the interactions between human cells and microbes in a more accurate manner, offering the potential for the development of new therapies.
Barely any people stick to a three-meals-a-day plan. Snacking is part of our culture and can even contribute to a healthy diet when choosing the right snacks. But your appetite doesn’t always agree about what’s the “right” snack. Your hands automatically reach for those candy bars, instead of a handful of nuts. Therefore, we investigated whether two different nutritional labels – calorie labels and the Nutri-Score – can nudge you in the right direction.
Gluten-free dietary products contain more sugar and fats but fewer nutrients and are generally more expensive. A gluten-free diet can even lead to social isolation and stigmatization. Scientists are thus looking for a way that allows people with celiac gluten intolerance disease to enjoy the benefits of gluten in a safe manner.
ATHENA, a VLAIO-funded multi-stakeholder project, clears the path for increased reuse of Real-World Data in scientific research and healthcare, by introducing innovative solutions and responding to current technical and governance challenges. The project has made significant strides in the field of oncology by developing groundbreaking privacy-preserving machine learning techniques for predictive analytics. The project findings will be presented and discussed at the ATHENA symposium on November 23rd, 2023.
The ´Science for health´ congress gathers local and global experts in Brussels on November 28 to discuss how to adapt healthcare to current challenges, combining cutting-edge technology with biology and place Belgium at the forefront of healthcare innovation.
Even though endometriosis impacts millions of women globally, the condition remains poorly understood and researched, leading to delayed diagnosis and lack of effective treatment. Encouragingly, there are promising recent developments in the field coming from Belgium. Professor Hugo Vankelecom’s research group at KU Leuven uses advanced cellular models, known as organoids, to delve into the disease and expedite the drug discovery process. The Danish BioInnovation Institute now offers the team an incubation program to pave the way towards industrial success.
New advances in the life sciences shouldn’t be kept in the dark. Whether you are an academic publishing a paper, a researcher with a breakthrough drug, or an entrepreneur with the next big biotech innovation, you want to reach your audience and achieve your goals. However, it can be hard to know how to go about it. So let’s break it down and examine some of the key considerations for impactful science communication.
BioWin and MEDVIA are two Belgian organizations which support and promote health innovation in Wallonia and Flanders. This year, these two clusters have come together to jointly organize the event Science for health on the topic of ‘biology meets technology’. In this dual interview, Ann Van Gysel (MEDVIA) and Sylvie Ponchaut (BioWin) discuss the differences between their regions and how they are working to improve cross-border collaboration in Belgium.
The AIPLANT project aims to reduce complications from dental implant surgery using AI-based preoperative planning. The project is a collaboration between the Centre for Dentomaxillofacial Imaging at UZ Leuven, AI startup Relu, and Xentro Dental.