Categories
Latest news Personalised Healthcare

Luxembourg rewarded for its translational medicine excellence 

Translational medicine.

The Luxembourg node of the European Research Infrastructure for Translational Medicine (EATRIS) network was granted the EATRIS Node Reward Framework award for its significant contribution to the efforts and impact of the European infrastructure in advancing translational medicine in 2020.

The EATRIS Luxembourg Node, coordinated by Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and its Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL), as well as the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, was rewarded for its achievements in terms of translational research.

The award recognised the remarkable efforts of the Luxembourg Node members with regard to Research Luxembourg two flagship COVID-19 studies CON-VINCE and Predi-COVID, as well as the collaborative FNR-funded doctoral training programme i2TRON.

Research Luxembourg institutes standing together

The EATRIS institutes in Luxembourg play a crucial role in setting up training programmes and clinical studies focused on translational science and personalised medicine. This excellence was particularly evident in 2020, when all research institutes in Luxembourg came together to rapidly and effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, while pursuing their existing research activities

CON-VINCE was launched in April 2020 as one of the several initiatives put in place under the aegis of the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 task force to help contain the current pandemic. By screening a statistically representative panel of volunteers for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the study will identify asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic individuals and follow them up for a year.

Ultimately, the study aims to generate accurate data on the prevalence and transmission of the disease, assisting policy-makers in taking evidence-based decisions.

The Predi-COVID study aims to identify important risk factors and biomarkers associated with COVID-19 severity and long-term health consequences of the disease in Luxembourg. Predi-COVID will contribute to better understanding why some patients infected by SARS-CoV-2 develop severe symptoms while others present only mild forms, which will ultimately lead to more personalised care recommendations.

The study will also include household members of Covid-19 positive participants to study the transmission of the virus in this high-risk population.

EATRIS was founded in 2008 as a research infrastructure comprising over 114 non-profit and academic translational research institutions, located in 14 European member states, collaborating to overcome the fragmentation of the academic research environment and to consolidate knowledge and expertise, with the ultimate aim of accelerating the translation of scientific discoveries into benefits for patients.

Similar articles

Research to empower companies’ space ambitions

Luxembourg has given priority to its space strategy. With its new space movement and a supportive institutional framework, the country provides start-ups with a conducive ecosystem. The Computer Vision, Imaging & Machine Intelligence Research Group (CVI2) of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) – a research centre within the University of Luxembourg, aims to…

Keep reading

France-Luxembourg space cooperation to focus on exploration and resources

A first workshop between French government space agency CNES and Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) identified joint initiatives aiming in particular to address the challenges and opportunities arising out of developments in space exploration. At the same time, LSA, the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) and Air Liquide, drawing on a 50-year heritage of handling…

Keep reading

How satellite tech can power our new 5G world?

New SnT project, conducted in cooperation with leader in global content connectivity solutions SES, envisions a fundamental shift in the emerging 5G wireless system towards closer integration with satellite systems. Advancing data networks Integrating satellite and terrestrial systems is crucial as truly global next-generation networks require an ecosystem of multiple communication infrastructures to be inclusive, ubiquitous and affordable.…

Keep reading
Categories
Latest news Personalised Healthcare

Obesity: a new tool to diagnose visceral fat by Research Luxembourg

Personalised medicine of obesity.

Visceral fat is an intra-abdominal adipose tissue stored around several organs, including the stomach, the intestines and the liver.

Visceral Obesity is a major risk factor for developing several diseases, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cancer, as well as dementia and some inflammatory diseases.

Accurate measurement of visceral fat remains tricky. Keeping track of your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are not the best ways to tell if you are losing visceral fat.

The new online tool Visceral Fat Calculator provides an accurate and easy assessment of visceral fat deposits in adults.

This innovative tool is the result of a successful collaboration between Research and Development teams of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) with Dr Hanen Samouda and the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) with Dr Frédéric Dadoun.

Obesity is a growing disease in Europe

Over more than half of adults in the EU have obesity and overweight, according to Eurostat.

Source dataset: hlth_ehis_bm1e

Obesity is a chronic multifactorial disease, probably due to a combination of several factors.

An increase in visceral fat of more than 130 cm² defines Visceral Obesity, which also comes with a series of health complications that can be fatal. Visceral fat depots might increase in people having normal weight, overweight or obesity. 

Usual measurement of obesity, validated by the World Health Organisation, is based on the BMI assessment. Yet, the index does not distinguish between fat mass and fat free mass and is therefore a poor diagnostic tool for general obesity.

Visceral Fat Calculator: an accurate, simple and readily available tool 

The Visceral Fat Calculator is based on an innovative anthropometric model has been validated as the most accurate indicator of cardiometabolic risk, as well as cardiovascular, cancer and all-cause mortality, when biomedical imaging data is not available.

Using this online tool, users enter their gender, age, weight, height, and waist and thigh measurements. Based on these parameters, the tool calculates the amount of visceral fat, providing an indication of the presence or absence of visceral obesity.

Find out more about the Visceral Fat Calculator and the NutriHealth Group.

NutriHealth Group is part of the “Public Health Research” (PHR) that belongs to the Department of Population Health Luxembourg Institute of Health.

Similar articles

In conversation with our young researchers: Dr. Camille Perchoux

How much do urban environments have an impact on our active and healthy behaviours, chronic diseases and healthy ageing? Dr. Camille Perchoux is a young research associate in the Luxembourg Institute of Socio Economic Research (LISER). She focuses on urban health. A health geographer Camille Perchoux describes herself as a health geographer. Indeed, her research…

Keep reading

Luxembourg to speed up the standardisation of clinical data

Generating insights and evidence from real-world clinical data at scale is a major challenge. Yet, it has the optential to support patients, clinicians, payers, regulators, governments, and the industry in understanding wellbeing, disease, treatments, outcomes and new therapeutics and devices. The Luxembourgish National Cancer Registry (RNC) at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) joined the consortium…

Keep reading
Categories
Latest news Personalised Healthcare

Diabetes: Paving the way for a distinction between depression, distress, and burnout

Precision medicine in diabetes.

People with type 1 diabetes can experience psychological health issues related to their disease. Diabetes distress, diabetes burnout & depression are frequently reported.

Yet, it is still complex, for both patients and healthcare professionals, to put the right name on their psychological complications.

How are depression in diabetes, diabetes distress, and diabetes burnout characterised? Why is it critical to distinguish one from the other?

A new study, led by Dr Gloria Aguayo with the contribution of Dr Guy Fagherazzi from the Luxembourg Institute of Health in cooperation with researchers from the CUNY School of Medicine in New York, is addressing the concepts of distress, exhaustion and depression in type 1 diabetes.

The first and most comprehensive scoping review

Psychosocial issues are among the most common complications associated with and affecting type 1 diabetes. Depression and diabetes-related distress are frequently described and associated with poorer metabolic outcomes. Diabetes burnout has recently emerged. Yet, it is unclear whether these concepts are entirely distinct or whether they overlap.

Dr Guy Fagherazzi, Director of the Department of Population Health & Group Leader of the Deep Digital Phenotyping Research Unit, Luxembourg Institute of Health

“Unraveling the concepts of distress, burnout, and depression in type 1 diabetes: A scoping review” is the first and most comprehensive study summarising how the three concepts are used in papers examining depression, diabetes-related distress and diabetes-related burnout in people living with type 1 diabetes.

Areas of overlap among the three concepts

One sentence is common for the three concepts “Detachment from support systems”.

Overlapping between depression (blue) and diabetes distress (green) is in seven more sub concepts: “Fear”, “Feeling guilty”, “Feeling of failure”, “Lonely”, “Loss of energy”, “Negative mood” and “Poor concentration”.

Overlapping between diabetes distress (green) and diabetes burnout (salmon) is in five more sentences/words: “Anger”, “Burned-out”, “Frustration”, “Overwhelmed” and “Powerlessness to manage diabetes”. Twenty-two (73%), 17 (57%) and five sentences (45%) do not overlap in depression, diabetes distress and diabetes burnout, respectively.

Clarifying the underlying concepts of three psychological problems

Depression is a widespread psychological comorbidity in type 1 diabetes, although it is not specific. This condition is assessed using a variety of questionnaires, which increases the heterogeneity of the concept and increases the likelihood of overlap.

Diabetes distress is also common yet specific, and despite some overlap with depression, it seems to be an independent and different concept.

As diabetes burnout is emerging as a concept in type 1 diabetes, while being commonly mentioned in studies of diabetes distress, and presenting overlapping sub-concepts, there is a need to better conceptualise it to differentiate it from diabetes distress.

Towards better recognition and treatment

When depressive symptoms are detected using a self-reported instrument, clinicians should be aware that because of the possible overlap with diabetes distress, this diagnosis should also be evaluated.

The same situation may occur when diabetes-related distress is detected, in which case a diagnosis of diabetes-related burnout should also be screened.

Early differentiation of these concepts will allow for better recognition and treatment of the psycho-social problem with the right approach.

“Next steps are to perform data-driven analyses of qualitative studies and expert opinion with the objective of further refine these concepts. Another step should be to further analyse diabetes burnout and its differentiation from diabetes distress in clinical studies.”

Dr Gloria Aguayo, Deep Digital Phenotyping Research Unit, Department of Population Health, Luxembourg Institute of Health

Read open access study “Unraveling the concepts of distress, burnout, and depression in type 1 diabetes: A scoping review“, published by The Lancet.

Similar articles

Obesity: a new tool to diagnose visceral fat by Research Luxembourg

Accurate measurement of visceral fat remains tricky. Keeping track of your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are not the best ways to tell if you are losing visceral fat. The new online tool Visceral Fat Calculator provides an accurate and easy assessment of visceral fat deposits in adults. This innovative tool is the…

Keep reading

Luxembourg hosts international flagship cancer epidemiology conference

Bringing together about 150 international scientists, clinicians, healthcare professionals and policymakers from 17 nations, the 45th edition of the Group of Cancer Epidemiology and Registration in Latin Language Countries (GRELL) conference takes place in Luxembourg in a fully virtual format. Organised in Luxembourg for the first time by the National Cancer Registry of Luxembourg (RNC)…

Keep reading

Vocal Biomarkers: What our voice tells us about our health

A Research Luxembourg team has published an overview on the use of voice monitoring in Digital Health. A voice reveals a lot about a person’s health: Does it sound strong? Does it sound weak? Is it hoarse? Are there indications of pain or fatigue? Modern digital technologies have recently made it possible to detect the…

Keep reading
Categories
Inside Research Luxembourg Latest news Personalised Healthcare Sustainable & Responsible Development

In conversation with our young researchers: Dr. Camille Perchoux

Epidemiology and geography.

Where we live and where we go as the result of our daily activities affect our health.

How much do urban environments have an impact on our active and healthy behaviours, chronic diseases and healthy ageing?

Dr. Camille Perchoux is a young research associate in the Luxembourg Institute of Socio Economic Research (LISER). She focuses on urban health.

A health geographer

Camille Perchoux describes herself as a health geographer. Indeed, her research expertise expends on her multi-disciplinary background in epidemiology and geography. Building on these two research fields, her research focus is on the social and spatial determinants of health behaviours and population health.

In her research, she investigates the impact of urban environments on active and healthy behaviours, chronic diseases and healthy ageing. Indeed, physical environmental characteristics, and social aspects of neighbourhood constitute urban structures of opportunities that enhance or constrain individual’s health related behaviours such as leisure physical activity, active transport, or adopting a healthy diet in daily life, which are key determinants of mental and physical health.

In order to more comprehensively assess people place interaction, and understand people decision making process in adopting (or not) health behaviours, Camille Perchoux and her colleagues in LISER are increasingly relying on GPS trackers to understand where people go, accelerometers to estimate their amount of energy expenditure and related transportation modes, and additional mobile sensors to accurately measure either personalised exposure to environmental factors or health related markers.

“This multidisciplinary research thematic is at the crossroads of public health policy, transport policy and land use as well as urban planning.”


Dr. Camille Perchoux

The promotion of strategies for adopting and maintaining healthy and active lifestyles is a public health priority to curb the cardiometabolic diseases, among others, and related severe impact on well-being.

In this regard, her research tends to identify socio-demographic and environmental levers that can provide element of decision-making to support the implementation of intervention at the individual level and their environment. 

Research as a natural career path

While Camille Perchoux was a master student in geography, at Provence university, she had the chance to study the geography of malaria during two successive internships in Brazzaville, Congo, and in Dakar, Senegal.

“[During my master] I had the opportunity to do some field work, develop a survey, sample and survey the participants, work with researchers from public health and geography, and disseminate the results to the local stakeholders. After such an enriching experience of the different tasks that make up the daily work of a researcher, research was the only work I could picture myself doing at the end of my master degree.”

Dr. Camille Perchoux

After completing her Master’s degree, she joined a multidisciplinary research team to conduct a dual PhD thesis in public health – epidemiology at Sorbonne university – Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 6 (France), and at Montreal university (Canada). During her PhD, she examined the residential and non-residential neighbourhood environments that individuals experience as the results of their daily activities and may influence their health behaviours, with a case study on recreational walking.

Indeed, while more traditional approaches focused exclusively on the effect on residential neighbourhood characteristics on health, a significant innovation of this work was to highlight and quantify how individuals’ daily mobilities and daily activities outside their residential neighbourhood may also contribute to shape their health.

Then she joined the Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine Rhône-Aples (CRNH-RA) in 2015 where she continued developing a strong taste for multidisciplinary work, being part of the ACTI-Cités consortium that embraces a team of epidemiologists, nutritionists and geographers to examine the socio-ecological determinants of active transportation in France. She also joined the DEDIPAC knowledge hub, a multidisciplinary consortium of 68 research centres from 13 countries across Europe, reflecting on the determinants of diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviours.

Camille Perchoux joined LISER in 2016 as a postdoc researcher before being prompted permanent researcher two years later.

Why Luxembourg as a research destination?

Camille Perchoux moved to Luxembourg as LISER was conducting a very innovative study on place effects on health based on map-based questionnaires, sensors and GPS trackers. It was “the perfect opportunity for me to grow as an independent researcher in the fields of neighbourhood and health.”

“Luxembourg applies the highest international standards of research, while the rather small size of the country facilitates the discussion and collaboration between researchers from different disciplines but also between researchers, political actors and stakeholders. Such dialogue between key actors in research and policy, and citizen is key in addressing complex societal challenges such as designing healthy and liveable cities while producing research with a high societal impact.”

Dr. Camille Perchoux

An FNR CORE 2020 grantee

Dr. Camille Perchoux is the principal investigator of the FNR CORE 2020 MET’HOOD project on the “Time-varying residential neighbourhood effects on cardiometabolic health”. Cardio-metabolic diseases are one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide.

“The MET’HOOD project is a joint collaboration between LISER and Luxembourg Institute of Health. It embraces a multidisciplinary team of urban geographers, epidemiologists, nutritionists, and sports scientists, with the support of local stakeholders in public health and urban planning “

Dr. Camille Perchoux

MET’HOOD explores the relationships between the socio-economic and physical environmental characteristics of residential neighbourhoods, behavioural cardiometabolic risk factors such as diet and physical activity, and the metabolic syndrome, over a nine-year period in Luxembourg.

Based on a country-wide, population based longitudinal study, this project will provide solid evidence on how urban density, transport infrastructures, foodscape characteristics and neighbourhood active-friendly characteristics have changed over the last decade in Luxembourg, and how such changes may have resulted in changes in the cardiometabolic health of the population.

About living in Luxembourg

After moving every six months during her PhD in between France and Canada, and then discovering the city of Lyon during her post-doctoral fellowship, Camille Perchoux was eager to discover a new country and a new culture.

“I believe that Luxembourg provides a great opportunity to benefit from natural spaces, in particular nature is accessible by bike and foot, while concentrating the assess of a capital city in terms of diversity to engage in social and leisure activities. Also, being exposed daily to such a great cultural and linguistic diversity provides me a strong sense of belonging to a European community.”


Dr. Camille Perchoux

More about Camille Perchoux

Explore related topics

Categories
Latest news Personalised Healthcare

Luxembourg pioneering in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominantly dopamine-producing (dopaminergic) neurons, resulting in declining dopamine levels and ensuing symptoms such as shaking, stiffness, difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. As no cure is available yet, virtually all Parkinson’s Disease patients undergo efficient symptomatic treatment with levodopa as the gold standard, which restores dopamine levels thereby controlling some of the symptoms.

The Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) announce the launch of “SCOL” (Study of Continuous Oral Levodopa), a unique international clinical trial aiming to assess the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the new DopaFuse System for the continuous oral delivery of levodopa to better treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

The clinical trial, which is being conducted concomitantly in Italy, Spain and Luxembourg, has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of this common neurodegenerative disease by facilitating drug delivery and reducing side effects.

Meeting an unmet medical need in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

Chronic levodopa treatment through intermittently delivered oral doses is associated with medium-term motor complications, while its currently available continuous intra-intestinal delivery − though entailing a reduction in motor complications − requires invasive surgery with potential related adverse effects.

“Given the side-effects of the current levodopa delivery systems, an alternative method to administer the treatment continuously and in a non-invasive manner while minimising motor side effects remains an important unmet medical need in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.”

Dr. Guy Berchem, Deputy Director of Research at CHL

As such, SCOL aims to evaluate whether the novel DopaFuse System, developed by the pharmaceutical company SynAgile, can reduce the fluctuation of levodopa levels in the blood, compared to the standard
intermittent oral delivery of levodopa tablets. The clinical trial will also assess whether the system is safe, well tolerated and effective in relieving motor symptoms.

DopaFuse Delivery System

The DopaFuse Delivery System is a non-invasive, intra-oral system that continuously releases a levodopa paste at a controlled rate directly in the back of the patient’s mouth. It consists of a dental retainer, its case and a single-use drug container.

Clinical trial to assess novel drug delivery method kicks off in Luxembourg

The SCOL trial will recruit a total of 30 patients across the three participating countries, up to 10 of whom will be included in Luxembourg. The study visits will take place at the neurology department of the CHL.

The study will run with the support of LIH’s Transversal Translational Medicine (TTM) team and rely on the clinical research expertise of the LIH Clinical and Epidemiological Investigation Centre (CIEC). Individuals above the age of 30 with a confirmed Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis and a good response to levodopa are eligible to participate.


Participation in the study will last 29 days. At the beginning of the study, participants will be hospitalised at CHL for three days to receive a combination of standard oral levodopa tablets and DopaFuse treatment.

They will subsequently pursue the therapy from home until day 14, before being hospitalised for another day for additional treatment evaluations. Safety assessments and follow-ups will then take place at home until the end of the trial. Regular monitoring visits are foreseen throughout the duration of the study at CHL, with the assistance of the LIH TTM and CIEC teams.

Clinical data and blood samples will also be collected as part of the trial.

“The SCOL study is yet another instance of the pioneering clinical efforts carried out in Luxembourg. Indeed, we are one of the first three countries in the world to be trialling this novel levodopa delivery method, owing to our longstanding expertise in PD exemplified by joint initiatives such as the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s Disease. We are confident that our highly collaborative approach will allow us to generate meaningful results and contribute to improving clinical outcomes for our PD patients.”

Prof Rejko Krüger, principal investigator at the CHL clinical site in Luxembourg and Director of Transversal Translational Medicine (TTM) at LIH

Prof Krüger’s additional affiliations are as follows: FNR PEARL Chair and Head; Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg; Coordinator National Center for Excellence in Research – Parkinson’s disease (NCER-PD), Parkinson Research Clinic, Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg.

Similar articles

Luxembourg rewarded for its translational medicine excellence 

The EATRIS Luxembourg Node, coordinated by Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and its Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL), as well as the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, was rewarded for its achievements in terms of translational research. The award recognised the remarkable efforts of the Luxembourg Node members with regard to…

Keep reading

How Covid-19 affects our mental health?

The first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in strict pandemic control measures in Luxembourg and other countries. While these measures expectedly had an impact on the mental health of Luxembourg residents, little data is available on the longitudinal evolution of population mental health measures during lockdown and during the gradual relaxation of the lockdown…

Keep reading
Categories
Latest news Personalised Healthcare

Luxembourg to speed up the standardisation of clinical data

Clinical data.

Real-world clinical data has the potential to transform our understanding of health, disease and treatment. Yet, it is currently dispersed across multiple institutions and countries, stored in different formats and systems, and subject to different rules, challenging policy restrictions and technology considerations. This makes it very difficult to fully exploit its potential to the benefit of European patients.

Generating insights and evidence from real-world clinical data at scale is a major challenge. Yet, it has the optential to support patients, clinicians, payers, regulators, governments, and the industry in understanding wellbeing, disease, treatments, outcomes and new therapeutics and devices.

The Luxembourgish National Cancer Registry (RNC) at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) joined the consortium of the European Health Data & Evidence Network (EHDEN). The LIH team secured a cross-disciplinary grant for a duration of 12 months to accelerate the standardisation of clinical data.   

Accelerating the harmonised large-scale analysis of health data

The LIH team will set up and implement IT tools and processes, such as those developed by the international Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics open science collaboration, that will turn the data into the so-called OMOP (Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership) common data model – a model that will allow patient data to be captured in the same way across different institutions.

“Joining the EHDEN consortium is an excellent opportunity for the RNC to proactively demonstrate its commitment to evolving its data structure towards more streamlined and harmonised health data formats, ultimately contributing to facilitating the use of clinical and epidemiological cancer-related data to improve patient outcomes.”

 Dr Claudine Backes, Principal Investigator and coordinator of the project.

EHDEN aims to accelerate the harmonised large-scale analysis of health data in Europe and reduce the time that it takes to provide an answer in real-word health research. Specifically, its goal is to build a federated data network allowing access to the data of over 100 million EU citizens in a harmonised and standardised common data model. This will enable the smarter management and sharing of research methodologies, therefore improving collaboration and expanding education in open science.

EHDEN is a flagship project funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (IMI 2) and is part of the IMI Big Data for Better Outcomes programme. 

Read more about The Luxembourgish National Cancer Registry (RNC) at LIH.

Similar articles

Luxembourg pioneering in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

The Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) announce the launch of “SCOL” (Study of Continuous Oral Levodopa), a unique international clinical trial aiming to assess the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the new DopaFuse System for the continuous oral delivery of levodopa to better treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s…

Keep reading

In conversation with our young researchers: Dr Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi

In 2020, cancer was the second leading cause of death in the world. We expect the global cancer burden to continue to rise as a result of lifestyle changes, increased life expectancy and a growing ageing population. Dr Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi, a newly graduated doctor in cancer biology of the department of Life Sciences and…

Keep reading

Towards 2030: How Luxembourg is transforming?

Second largest patenting country per 100,000 inhabitants According to IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021 and the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, R&D personnel rose from 9.34 per 1,000 inhabitants to 9.60 between 2020 and 2021. As such, Luxembourg ranks 5th in this respect. In the same vein, the number of scientific articles published in Luxembourg increased…

Keep reading
Categories
Covid-19 taskforce Latest news Personalised Healthcare

How Covid-19 affects our mental health?

New longitudinal study analysed the mental health of the Luxembourgish population during first lockdown.

A new Research Luxembourg study found female and younger respondents reported higher rates of severe depression and anxiety symptoms, suggesting higher vulnerability to the pandemic control measures.

The first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in strict pandemic control measures in Luxembourg and other countries. While these measures expectedly had an impact on the mental health of Luxembourg residents, little data is available on the longitudinal evolution of population mental health measures during lockdown and during the gradual relaxation of the lockdown measures in spring 2020.

The new study conducted by the CON-VINCE consortium explored whether differential effects of COVID-19 restrictions on mental health could be observed by sex and age in a Luxembourgish nationally representative sample during the initial outbreak of COVID-19. The analysis assessed whether there are differences in risk and protective factors longitudinally at two assessment times.

A total of 1,756 respondents aged 18 years and older (50.74% women) reported sociodemographic and socio-economic characteristics, depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness.

Women more vulnerable to depression

This study examined mental health during the initial COVID-19 containment measures in Luxembourg residents at baseline (one month after the start of the containment measures) and at follow-up (two weeks after baseline, at the start of the relaxation of the containment measures).

Overall, levels of stress, depression and anxiety were higher in women, indicating that the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may be greater for women. In fact, women were more likely to have part-time jobs, to be homemakers or family caregivers, to work in the health sector and to have lower incomes.

While Luxembourg has taken several steps to bring about equality between men and women, there were still visible gender-related socio-economic differences in the study. For instance, women reported on average a lower income than men. In addition, women reported a higher rate of caring tasks.

Since the first wave of the pandemic, policy measures have been implemented in Luxembourg to buffer the impact of childcare closures, family leave and other measures that could aim to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Other measures could contribute to ensure a more equal use of family leave to increase work-family balance for mothers. A follow-up analysis one year into the pandemic will help to understand whether the existing measures were effective.

Younger groups more likely to present severe depression

In Luxembourg, younger respondents reported more symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety than older respondents. This could be explained by the fact that younger study participants are more vulnerable because they are exposed to a greater uncertainty about their future in terms of careers in a changing world, employment and a possible economic crisis.

Given the impact of the pandemic on social contacts, daily routines, employment and mobility prospects, the higher degrees of depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness reported by young respondents may reflect the suddenly changed conditions and prospects of today’s younger generation.

This study contributes to the investigation of mental health consequences of the pandemic and the pandemic control measures. In particular, it stresses out shifts in care task responsibilities and gender and socio-economic inequalities. It also highlights younger groups’ uncertainty about the future.

Meet the authors

Fabiana Ribeiro Fabiana Ribeiro is a postdoctoral Research Assistant at University of Luxembourg. She completed a Ph.D. in Basic Psychology in 2019, in which she investigated the effects of emotions evoked by music in the mnesic capacity.

At the moment, she works as a postdoctoral research under supervision of Professor Anja Leist, in which she investigates gender inequalities in cognitive ageing and differences in prevalence of memory impairment in Latin America and the Caribbeans, with a focus on temporal changes and prevalence of associated risk factors.

Valerie E. Schröder is a clinical neuropsychologist/research and development specialist, who has worked in different health care institutions in Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium with the aim to diagnose and treat cognitive dysfunctions in patients suffering from neurological disorders (e.g. neurodegenerative diseases, strokes, traumatic brain injury, etc) and to provide psychological support for patients and their caregivers.

She is currently working as a research and development specialist in the Translational Neuroscience group at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine in the “programme dementia prevention (pdp), a nation-wide integrated care concept coordinated by  Prof. Dr. med. Rejko Krüger.

Rejko Krüger is Professor for Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience at the University of Luxembourg and Director of Transversal Translational Medicine at the Luxembourg Institute of Health. He is coordinating the CON-VINCE study.

Since June 2019, he links between the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) to contribute to personalised medicine by implementing translational research programmes involving partners from different fields within a joint scientific strategy. Furthermore, he sees patients with Movement Disorders at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg. Since 2017, the Ministry of Health is supporting Prof. Krüger to lead integrated healthcare concepts for neurodegenerative diseases in Luxembourg: the “Programme Démence Prévention” (an initiative to prevent dementia) and ParkinsonNet Luxembourg (a care network of health care professionals for Parkinson’s disease).

Anja Leist is Associate Professor in Public Health and Ageing and Vice-head of the Institute for Research on Socio-Economic Inequality in the Department of Social Sciences of University of Luxembourg. 

She is an expert on the topics of health inequalities, ageing, and cognitive ageing, with a social epidemiological and life course perspective. She had research stays at the universities of Luxembourg, Zurich/Switzerland, and Rotterdam/Netherlands, and was funded by several national and European funders, among them the European Research Council on the topic of cognitive ageing.

This work was supported by the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR) and the André Losch Foundation.

Read complete study The evolution and social determinants of mental health during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Luxembourg

Similar articles

How should Europe deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in the future?

How should Europe act, what strategies should it adopt, and what specific risks should it consider moving forward? Prof. Rudi Balling, director of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), and Assistant Prof. Enrico Glab, head of the Biomedical Data Science group at the LCSB contributed to a detailed situation analysis for the coming months […]

Luxembourg comes second in dealing with COVID-19

The analysis was based on a series of factors comprising the Stringency Index. Other aspects include excess mortality, restrictions on personal freedom, impact on the gross domestic product and vaccination progress. Luxembourg brings Covid-19 pandemic under control Based on these factors, Luxembourg holds the second position in the international ranking among the 154 countries analysed. […]

How to make large-scale, voluntary COVID-19 testing work?

Testing is widely seen as one core element of a successful strategy to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic and many countries have increased their efforts to provide testing at large scale. As most democratic governments refrain from enacting mandatory testing, a key emerging challenge is to increase voluntary participation.  Researchers from the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic […]

Categories
Latest news Personalised Healthcare

Luxembourg identifies ‘key’ protein allowing cancer-destroying viruses to enter tumour cells

Novel anticancer strategies.

Researchers from the Luxembourg Institute of Health 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 Laboratory of Oncolytic-Virus-Immuno-Therapeutics (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. 

Oncolytic viruses to effectively infect and destroy cancer cells

Oncolytic viruses, such as the rat virus H-1PV, have the ability to selectively infect and kill tumour cells, inducing their lysis and stimulating an anticancer immune response, without however harming normal healthy tissues. Despite their notable clinical potential, their use as a standalone treatment does not currently result in complete tumour regression, mainly due to the varying degree of patient sensitivity and responsiveness. It is therefore important to be able to identify patients whose tumours display genetic characteristics that make them vulnerable to the virus and who are thus most likely to benefit from this novel anticancer therapy.

In this context, we sought to elucidate the features of host cancer cells that enable oncolytic viruses to effectively infect and destroy them, focusing specifically on the factors required for cell attachment and entry.”

Dr Antonio Marchini, leader of LOVIT and corresponding author of the publication

Laminins play a crucial role in mediating cell attachment and penetration

Using a technique known as RNA interference, the research team progressively ‘switched off’ close to 7,000 genes of cervical carcinoma cells to detect those that negatively or positively modulate the infectious capacity of H-1PV. They thus identified 151 genes and their resulting proteins as activators and 89 as repressors of the ability of H-1PV to infect and destroy cancer cells.

The team specifically looked at those genes that coded for proteins localised on the cell surface, in order to characterise their role in determining virus docking and entry. They found that a family of proteins called laminins, and particularly laminin γ1, play a crucial role in mediating cell attachment and penetration. Indeed, deactivating the corresponding LAMC1 gene in glioma, cervical, pancreatic, colorectal and lung carcinoma cells resulted in a significant reduction in virus cell binding and uptake, and in increased cancer cell resistance to virus-induced death. A similar effect was observed when switching off the LAMB1 gene encoding the laminin β1 protein. 

“Essentially, laminins at the surface of the cancer cell are the ‘door’ that allows the virus to recognise its target, attach itself and penetrate into it, subsequently leading to its destruction. In particular, the virus interacts with a specific portion of the laminin, a sugar called sialic acid, which is essential for this binding and entry process and for infection.

Dr Amit Kulkarni, first author of the publication

The team went a step further and sought to assess the clinical implications of their findings for cancer patients. They found that laminins γ1 and β1 are differentially expressed across different tumours, being for instance overexpressed in pancreatic carcinoma and glioblastoma (GBM) cells compared to healthy tissues. Moreover, in brain tumours, their expression increases with tumour grade, with late-stage GBM displaying higher laminin levels than lower grade gliomas. Similarly, based on the analysis of 110 biopsies from both primary and recurrent GBM, the researchers reported significantly higher levels of laminins in recurrent GBM compared to primary tumours.

These observations indicate that elevated laminin expression is associated with poor patient prognosis and survival in a variety of tumours, including gliomas and glioblastoma. The encouraging fact, however, is that cancers displaying high laminin levels are more susceptible to being infected and destroyed by the H-1PV virus and that patients with these tumours are therefore more likely to be responsive to this therapy.”

Dr Antonio Marchini, leader of LOVIT and corresponding author of the publication

These findings could lead to the classification of cancer patients according to their individual laminin expression levels, thereby acting as a biomarker that predicts their sensitivity and responsiveness to H-1PV-based anticancer therapies. This will in turn allow the design of more efficient clinical trials with reduced costs and approval times and, ultimately, the development of enhanced combinatorial treatments to tangibly improve patient outcomes.

The study was published in June 2021 in the renowned journal Nature Communications, with the full title “Oncolytic H-1 parvovirus binds to sialic acid on laminins for cell attachment and entry”.

More about the Luxembourg Institute of Health

Similar articles

‘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. […]

Categories
Inside Research Luxembourg Latest news Personalised Healthcare

In conversation with our young researchers: Dr Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi

K-Ras protein and cancer.

For over 40 years since its discovery, researchers around the world have been working to develop drugs against the K-Ras protein with very little success. This protein is involved in about 15% of all cancer cases worldwide.

In 2020, cancer was the second leading cause of death in the world. We expect the global cancer burden to continue to rise as a result of lifestyle changes, increased life expectancy and a growing ageing population. Dr Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi, a newly graduated doctor in cancer biology of the department of Life Sciences and Medicine at the University of Luxembourg, is developing new compounds that act against major chaperones of K-Ras in the cell.

Mutations in the KRAS gene associated with 15% of all human cancers

Ras proteins were among the earliest identified oncogenes. Being implicated in approximately 19% of all human solid tumors, those proteins are the most frequently mutated oncogenes in cancer.

Major breakthroughs have recently led to the clinical development of the first direct and covalent inhibitors of the K-RasG12C mutant. Yet, the majority of K-Ras driven cancers are not G12C mutated.

To effectively treat K-Ras mutated and/or K-Ras driven cancers, the need to pursue multiple direct and indirect therapeutic strategies including the targeting of K-Ras trafficking chaperones as well as the synergistic targeting of different nodes in K-Ras mediated signaling pathways will be crucial. Hence, Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi focuses on identifying novel isoform specific inhibitors of Ras protein signalling.

The overarching aim of my research is to identify novel small molecules that can interfere with K-Ras membrane localisation through the inhibition of K-Ras trafficking chaperones by both covalent and non-covalent binding. To this end, we designed and developed relevant assays for the in vitro and in cellulo characterisation of small molecules against the trafficking chaperone proteins CaM and PDE6D.”

— Sunday Ojochegbe Okutach

Research as a vocation

The cancer biologist grew up in a relatively rural city in Nigeria. His experience with the direct consequences of poor healthcare instilled in him a strong interest to pursue a career that attempts to proffer solutions to the issue. Hence, he naturally took interest in the life sciences and graduated valedictorian in Biochemistry in his bachelors programme. Then, he secured a scholarship to study Translational Oncology in the UK where he also graduated with distinction.

The exposure to the interface between basic research and clinical oncology practice informed his subsequent decision to go deeper into the cancer drug discovery and development process. To this end, he joined the cancer cell biology and drug discovery group of Professor Daniel Abankwa at University of Luxembourg to pursue his PhD in 2018.

“I am deeply committed to helping fight disease both at the scientific and on a private level. My long-term desire is to help bring useful healthcare solutions to people. As such, I will be working at the interface between basic research and translational outcomes in the molecular diagnostics industry. Also, I recently founded a cancer nonprofit that helps in increasing cancer awareness and organise fundraising to support cancer preventive and diagnostic activities in my home country of Nigeria.”

Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi

Why Luxembourg as a research destination?

To Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi, “Luxembourg is at the forefront of many research fields. Researchers from here regularly publish in high impact and open access journals. Research is well funded and innovation is greatly encouraged. If you are looking for a highly dynamic, international and globally competent scientific environment, Luxembourg is the place for you.”

As Prof. Abankwa is a leading expert in Ras biology, It was a great opportunity to work in his lab in Luxembourg. Also, Luxembourg has one of the most innovative, agile and competent research programs out there. Through various initiatives, Luxembourg continuously attract some of the best academics across the globe, as a result, the research environment is filled with highly competent, international and diverse professionals. All these factors informed my decision to execute my PhD in the only Grand duchy in the world.”

— Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi

A robust research environment fostering collaboration

Working in the laboratory of Prof. Daniel Abankwa, Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi executed his research project at the University of Luxembourg in collaboration with scientist from Finland and the NCI-Ras initiative in the USA.

“Luxembourg has a very robust research environment that supports innovation and collaborative research. “

“The country invests heavily in obtaining state-of-the-art equipment in biomedical research. Consequently, researchers are able to carry out their work with minimal hassle. Indeed, the commitment of the relevant authorities to make the country a leading scientific hub is highly commendable.”

Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi

About living in Luxembourg

The researcher sees the country as very safe, family oriented, welcoming and socially generous. These very positive experiences largely instructed his decision to stay in the country beyond his PhD.

“Luxembourg has one of the highest standards of living in the world, its extremely charming medieval castles, beautiful and safe streets are solid reasons to live here. In addition to these, what I love most about the country is that it is a great place to have and raise a family.”

Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi

Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi recently completed his PhD, entitled Characterization of novel covalent and non-covalent drugs against K-Ras surrogate targets.

More about Sunday Ojochegbe Okutachi

Explore related topics

Categories
About Luxembourg Industrial & Service Transformation Latest news Personalised Healthcare Sustainable & Responsible Development

Towards 2030: How Luxembourg is transforming?

Luxembourg 2030

Luxembourg 2030 is underway. The Covid-19 crisis marked a slowdown on the macroeconomic level. This situation should partially change Luxembourg’s trajectory, particularly by accelerating the efforts undertaken in recent years. Thus, the economic recovery is set to focus on five growth niches, including research and development and innovation

Second largest patenting country per 100,000 inhabitants

According to IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021 and the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, R&D personnel rose from 9.34 per 1,000 inhabitants to 9.60 between 2020 and 2021. As such, Luxembourg ranks 5th in this respect.

In the same vein, the number of scientific articles published in Luxembourg increased from 814 to 869.

Finally, when it comes to patents, Luxembourg is a highly attractive country. Indeed, it ranks second, behind Switzerland, for the number of patents held per 100,000 inhabitants.

Five growth niches

Luxembourg has given a new impetus to its strategy and carried out ambitious projects to maintain and strengthen the competitiveness of its economy and industries. Ensuring that the pension system is sustainable, maintaining an attractive legislative framework and strengthening social cohesion are all among the projects that Luxembourg is taking on. The main stake for the the country’s economy is to anticipate the economic world of tomorrow.

Five growth niches have been identified, with the aim of developing internationally competitive clusters based on the model of the Financial Centre.

The Luxembourg five growth niches:

biomedicine & health technologies

renewable energies & eco-technologies

logistics

space technologies

information & telecommunication technologies

The development of new growth niches should lead to a more diversified economy, of which the international financial centre would continue to be the major driver. The country’s infrastructure challenges and steady population growth will reinforce the need for greater interconnections with the Greater Region. The country should by then have become a European leader in digitalisation.

Making digitalisation happen

Digitalisation is one of the cornerstones of the global economy. For now, companies and countries at different stages of the digital transition for now. In this respect, Luxembourg has the potential to successfully complete its digital transition.

In particular, it can count on a strong orientation towards the service sector and, more generally, the structure of the different sectors of activity supporting the use of digital technologies as a supplement rather than as a substitute. According to LISER’s “Les cahiers de la Grande Région #4”, the digital transition and Work 4.0 as a whole could increase GDP per capita by 1.7% and employment by 1.0% in Luxembourg. The effect on employment would be spread between replacing 13% of jobs, creating 4.5% of digital jobs and 9.5% of non-digital jobs.

Sources from LISER’s Les relations entre l’Ostbelgien, la Wallonie et le Grand-Duché : vers un «Grand Luxembourg» ? and Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce TURNING THE CRISIS INTO AN OPPORTUNITY FOR COMPETITIVENESS

Latest from the Blog

Luxembourg a leader in the EU for internet quality

What’s the digital quality of life like in Luxembourg? Where does the country stand in Europe and globally? The 2021 Digital Quality Life index assesses 110 countries on the quality of a digital well-being. The global research, which covers 90% of the global population, is calculated by looking at the impact of five core pillars: […]

The University of Luxembourg reached its highest ever score in research

The University of Luxembourg achieved its highest ever score in the categories of research and industrial income. In terms of international outlook, it scored an astounding 99.5. A research-oriented university With a score of 39.2 in the research category, The University of Luxembourg achieved its best performance ever. In comparison, it is on a par […]

University of Luxembourg: 20th top young university

Top three in international outlook category The University of Luxembourg performed particularly high in the international outlook category, coming in third position. Its overall score was 59.84 across the categories teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook. The Young University Rankings considers universities aged 50 or younger. The top spot was occupied by Nanyang […]