Producing bioplastics with heat-loving bacteria

Did you know that some bacteria can be used to produce a kind of bioplastic? This biodegradable plastic could become a sustainable alternative for the current petroleum-based plastics, but at the moment the cost of the production of this bacterial bioplastic is still too high. Microbiologist Radwa Moanis (VUB) explains why turning to heat-loving bacteria might solve this problem 🦠 🌡

Brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease

Getting out of bed in the morning is quite a feat, and not just on Monday mornings. It requires a series of complex motor actions, which we perform without thinking, on automatic pilot. In patients with Parkinson's disease, these automatic actions are disturbed. Something goes wrong in the brain so that they suddenly have to think about every action. Mahyar Firouzi (VUB) is investigating whether brain stimulation can help to improve automatic action in Parkinson's patients.
KU Leuven

Can DNA paperclips explain invisible diseases?

Millions of people worldwide suffer from 'invisible' diseases such as chronic widespread pain and chronic fatigue syndrome, which makes patients feel ill for days or even weeks after a small effort, such as washing their hair. Jolien Hendrix (VUB - KU Leuven) tries to understand these diseases by looking at epigenetics. Epi what?! Well, you can see this as DNA paperclips as Jolien explains vividly in this video!
De Keersmaecker

Learning to walk again with virtual reality

Someone who suffers a stroke often has to learn to walk again. Unfortunately, such rehabilitation - walking for hours on a treadmill - is often very boring and therefore difficult to maintain. "Let's make this more challenging", says Emma De Keersmaecker (VUB - FWO). She has patients complete their rehabilitation in a virtual environment using VR glasses, for example on Mars among aliens. "Walking on a treadmill will never have to be boring again!"

A nervous system of glass fibers will allow airplanes to feel

The next generation of airplanes will be able to feel when they suffer damage, thanks to a nervous system of glass fibers. Engineer Sidney Goossens (VUB) is developing this technology to make airplanes safer & eco-friendlier. Watch the video to find out how he moves forth.

Studying a patient in a Petri dish

Imagine not being able to feel a hug anymore. This is what happens to some patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT1A). They get weaker muscles, their muscles die and sometimes they even lose the sense of touch. In order to research the disease more quickly and efficiently, Karen Libberecht (UHasselt - VIB - FWO) studies her patients ... in a petri dish. She explains how that works exactly in this video.

What diaries teach us about everyday life in the Third Reich

"The cemetery was the place where Jewish life was concentrated at the end. It was the place where people went to sunbathe, children had to play, ..." Literature scholar Annelies Augustyns (VUB - UAntwerp - FWO) studied German-Jewish diaries from WWII for her PhD. These offer a glimpse into the "everyday" life of Jews in the Third Reich.

Why do the social sciences fail?

Hard sciences, such as physics, understand very well how the material world works and have contributed to enormous technological progress. But the social sciences, such as economics or sociology, do not seem to understand as well how the social world - human society - works. Thus, we apparently do not know how to build a peaceful and prosperous society worldwide. Michael Bauwens (UAntwerpen) tries to find out which fundamental assumptions researchers should use to do social science.
Van den Steen

Swallowing rehabilitation in head and neck cancer patients

Radiation can save the lives of people with head and neck cancer. Unfortunately, many patients develop swallowing disorders as a result of the treatment, which makes it impossible for them to eat solid food. Leen Van den Steen (UAntwerpen - UZA) wants to help them. How? With tongue strength training.

How plants really grow

Biologist Sébastjen Schoenaers (UAntwerpen) watches his son Ferre grow rapidly. Yet Ferre grows 150 times slower than an ordinary corn leaf 🌱 We still don't understand how plants do this. Sébastjen zooms in on the plant up to molecular level to figure out how it really grows 🔬 This can help us grow plants better and faster.

Treating heart failure with sport: looking for the secret ingredient 🏃🏻‍♀️

Heart failure patients have a lot of trouble with physical exertion. They can barely even walk the dog. To improve their condition, they can follow training programs in the hospital. But more than half of the patients hardly benefit from them. Cardiologist in training Isabel Witvrouwen (UAntwerpen - University Hospital Antwerp) is trying to find out why.

An injection to solve hearing loss?

In Belgium and the Netherlands, more than 1,000 people suffer from DFNA9, a condition that causes hereditary hearing loss and balance disorders. DFNA9 is due to an error in the DNA of the ear. Dorien Verdoodt (UAntwerp) is conducting research into a new therapy based on the revolutionary Crispr genetic technique. In this way, she hopes to be able to cure hereditary hearing loss in the future with a syringe in the ear.