[Press release] ‘Suffocating’ cancer: a new headway in melanoma immunotherapy
Hypoxia, or the inadequate oxygenation of a tissue, is a condition occurring frequently in all solid tumours such as melanoma skin cancer. Melanoma cells are not only able to survive oxygen deprivation, but also to use it to their own advantage by hijacking the anti-tumour immune response and developing resistance mechanisms to conventional anti-cancer therapies. A key gene responsible for cancer cell adaptation to hypoxia is HIF-1α (Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1 alpha). Led by Dr Bassam Janji, head of the Tumor Immunotherapy and Microenvironment (TIME) research group at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and in collaboration with Gustave Roussy Cancer Center in France and the Thumbay Research Institute of Precision Medicine at Gulf Medical University in the United Arab Emirates, the team used gene editing technologies to show how targeting HIF-1α could not only inhibit tumour growth, but also drive cytotoxic (toxic to cells) immune cells to the cancer tissue. This discovery provided a valuable new target to make resistant melanomas more vulnerable to available anti-cancer treatments. Their findings were recently published in the reputable ‘Oncogene Journal’.
2021 Career Launchpad Award for LIH researcher
Dr Martyna Szpakowska, scientist within the Immuno-Pharmacology and Interactomics group of the Department of Infection and Immunity (DII) and the Tumor Immunotherapy and Microenvironment group of the Department of Oncology (DONC), was awarded a EUR 10,000 grant under the LIH Wolfgang Baertz Career Launchpad Award (Legs W. Baertz) programme at the end of May 2021. The funding will allow her to develop an innovative type of antibody that targets and neutralises a receptor with a newly-discovered role in the infiltration of cytotoxic immune cells in the tumour microenvironment and in subsequent tumour recession. This transversal and translational project, has the potential to significantly advance cancer immunotherapies
New FNR PEARL Chair: Luxembourg paves the way for a new era of healthcare digitalisation
Digitalisation is moving forward fast in every field, including medicine. But how can digital tools be integrated into healthcare processes, and how should data be visualised to personalize patient care? These are only two of many questions that Professor Dr Jochen Klucken will analyse over the upcoming five years. Supported by a 3.3 MEUR FNR PEARL Chair, Prof. Dr Klucken will develop digital health concepts for Luxembourg through a joint research programme involving the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL).
Quantity and quality of sleep as a potential target to prevent diabetes in the general population
A collaborative effort from the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the University of Western Ontario (Canada), Aarhus University (Denmark), the Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus (Denmark), the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) and the Directorate of Health (Luxembourg), led by Dr Gloria A. Aguayo from the LIH Department of Population Health (DoPH), was the first to show a link between poor sleep quality and duration, and impaired glycaemic control. The results, published in Diabetes & Metabolism in May 2021, highlight the relevance of measuring sleep patterns as key factors in the prevention of diabetes.
[Press release] New Study Further Advances the Treatment of Chronic Pain
Building on their previous findings, scientists from the Immuno-Pharmacology and Interactomics group at the Department of Infection and Immunity of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), in collaboration with the Center for Drug Discovery at RTI International (RTI), a nonprofit research institute, have demonstrated that conolidine, a natural painkiller derived from the pinwheel flower and traditionally used in Chinese medicine, interacts with the newly identified opioid receptor ACKR3/CXCR7 that regulates opioid peptides naturally produced in the brain. The researchers also developed a synthetic analogue of conolidine, RTI-5152-12, which displays an even greater activity on the receptor. These findings, which were published on June 3rd in the prestigious international journal ‘Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy’ (Nature publishing group), further advance the understanding of pain regulation and open alternative therapeutic avenues for the treatment of chronic pain.
LIH cancer research supported by Schëfflenger Kriibshëllef donation
On May 20th 2021, the Luxembourgish non-profit association “Schëfflenger Kriibshëllef” made a donation to the LIH Department of Oncology (DONC) to support the acquisition of new laboratory equipment for cancer research.
A year of Predi-COVID
On May 5th 2020, the first participants were being enrolled in the newly launched Predi-COVID cohort. Fast-forward to May 2021, these initial volunteers have been invited to take part in the final follow-up foreseen under the study, which will specifically seek to shed light on the features of “Long COVID” through a new dedicated questionnaire.
[Press release] Luxembourg hosts international flagship cancer epidemiology conference
From May 12th until May 14th, about 150 international scientists, clinicians, healthcare professionals and policymakers from 17 nations will gather for the 45th edition of the Group of Cancer Epidemiology and Registration in Latin Language Countries (GRELL) conference which, due to the current pandemic, will take place in a fully virtual format. Organised in Luxembourg for the first time by the National Cancer Registry of Luxembourg (Registre National du Cancer - RNC) at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the meeting will feature several prominent speakers, providing an opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the field of cancer epidemiology with a particular focus on COVID-19 and cancer, as well as childhood and adolescent cancers. This 2021 edition of the GRELL conference is dedicated to the memory of the late Dr Michel Untereiner, oncologist and Scientific Director of the RNC between January 2013 and March 2021.
Visceral adiposity and cardiometabolic health in Luxembourg
Looking at a sample of individuals representative of the Luxembourgish population, researchers from the LIH Department of Population Health (DoPH) showed that increased visceral adipose tissue (VAT), located inside the abdominal cavity between the organs, is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders. To study this relationship, the scientists used recently developed and validated anthropometric predictive models of VAT, which distinguished VAT from other forms of adipose tissue. Their findings were published in the April issue of the Nature Publishing Group journal “Scientific Reports”.