[Press release] 2020 in review: looking back on a momentous year
“The year 2020 can undoubtedly be defined as the most momentous period in the history of science and mankind and, consequently, for LIH and for the national biomedical research ecosystem in which it operates. The present annual report provides an unparalleled opportunity to reflect on the scientific excellence of our institute and celebrate the many collective achievements of its dedicated staff” – Prof Ulf Nehrbass, LIH CEO.
From beer to bread: innovative up-cycling venture generates political interest
Claude Turmes, the Minister of Energy and Spatial Planning in Luxembourg, visited the Luxembourg Institute of Health on June 25 2021. As part of the guided tour, Dr Torsten Bohn of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) gave a short presentation on the BIOVAL project, a collaboration that aims to up-cycle the organic waste produced from the brewing of beer to create other food and chemical products.
[Press release] ‘Unlocking’ the potential of viruses to fight cancer
Researchers from the Laboratory of Oncolytic-Virus-Immuno-Therapeutics (LOVIT) at the LIH Department of Oncology (DONC) are working on the development of novel anticancer strategies based on oncolytic viruses, “good” viruses that can specifically infect, replicate in and kill cancer cells. In particular, the LOVIT team elucidated the mechanism through which the H-1PV cancer-destroying virus can attach to and enter cancer cells, thereby causing their lysis and death. At the heart of this process lie laminins, and specifically laminin γ1, a family of proteins on the surface of a cancer cell to which this virus binds, and which therefore act as the ‘door’ through which the virus enters the cells. The findings, which were published in the prestigious international journal Nature Communications, carry significant implications for the advancement of virus-based anticancer strategies and for the prediction of a patient’s response to this innovative therapeutic approach.
[Press release] ‘Vocal biomarkers’ to monitor health
The Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) announces the launch of CoLive Voice, a first-of-its kind digital health study that aims to advance the diagnosis, risk prediction and remote monitoring of various chronic conditions and symptoms by evaluating voice features. Leveraging breakthrough artificial intelligence approaches, the study will collect and analyse voice recordings in several languages from both the general population and people living with chronic or infectious diseases, to identify so-called ‘vocal biomarkers’. CoLive Voice is led by the Deep Digital Phenotyping research unit of the LIH Department of Population Health (DoPH) and is set to run for up to 10 years.
LIH scientist in the royal spotlight
On June 21st, Dr Bohn received the highly esteemed title of ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre de Mérite du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg’ from the Grand Duke of Luxembourg for his contributions to the culture of Luxembourg.
[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.