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Genetics - Highlight ERIBA

The Campus has excellent expertise in the areas of fundamental genetic research aimed at the early diagnosis of disease, and indicators of health. European Institute for the Biology of Ageing (ERIBA) is one of the initiatives in this field; to better understand what causes ageing. It's a research Institute which will focus on fundamental biological problems. It is likely that knowledge that is acquired through such a basic research agenda will repeatedly generate potentially commercially relevant intellectual property.

Their studies are focused on the mechanisms that result in loss of cells with age and the decline in the function of old cells and tissues. ERIBA aims to develop novel strategies to prevent or combat age-related disease and to provide evidence-based recommendations for healthy ageing. The approach is based on curiosity, communication and collaboration. Group leaders and their teams working with unique model systems and technology platforms meet regularly and share their knowledge and expertise to accelerate discoveries.

ERIBA is a research Institute which will focus on fundamental biological problems. It is likely that knowledge that is acquired through such a basic research agenda will repeatedly generate potentially commercially relevant intellectual property. The protection of such intellectual property is strongly encouraged and will be facilitated by a pro-active patent office.

More about this expertise Go to ERIBA's website

Cohort study and Bio banks

One of the major research projects related to healthy aging is the ambitious LifeLines project. The LifeLines project has a unique design and state-of-the-art facilities for the storage and processing of data. The database will eventually expand into one of the world’s largest biobanks. The study will follow a total of 165,000 inhabitants of the northern provinces of the Netherlands: children, parents, and grandparents. LifeLines is the first study to adopt a three-generational approach.

The central research question that LifeLines researchers aim to answer is ‘Why do some people reach a healthy old age, while others suffer from several disorders – including chronic disorders – from a young age?’

At the beginning of the study, most of the participants will still be healthy. During their lives, they may develop chronic illnesses. By following people for at least thirty years, we will be able to show clearly whether and when the first symptoms of a chronic disease appear.

LifeLines will provide insight into a wide range of risk factors, including genetic predisposition, lifestyle, metabolism, nutritional habits, medication, physical activity patterns, infections, and stress, as well as such environmental factors as exposure to harmful substances. The results of the LifeLines study will help to improve both prevention and the effectiveness of diagnosis, treatment, and care.

Another great example of excellent research at the Healthy Ageing Campus Netherlands is ERIBA: the European Research Institute for the Biology of Ageing.

Do you want to connect to excellent research in the field of Healthy Ageing? We can assist you in collaborating with the UMCG/RUG.

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The Campus has excellent expertise in the areas of fundamental genetic research aimed at the early diagnosis of disease, and indicators of health.

The Department of Genetics in the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) and has a broad spectrum of activities

  • Research lines in systems genetics, heart diseases, colon cancer, autoimmune and intestinal disorders, neurodegenerative diseases
  • Hosting the Genomics Coordination Centre to facilitate large-scale genetic studies
  • Clinical genetics, diagnostics and genetic counselling
  • European surveillance of congenital anomalies (Eurocat)
  • Teaching of undergraduate and MSc students, and of clinical fellows.
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Drug development and delivery

Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration (GUIDE) its main asset is the integration of clinical, biomedical and pharmaceutical research, which promotes the education of researchers with a keen eye on the complete spectrum of biomedical research in a unique research and teaching environment: from bed to bench to drugs.

New insight into the pathophysiology of a selected number of diseases leads to the development of new drugs and/or treatment options (from bench to bed). Alternatively, patient-oriented research is structured in such a way that this leads to new pathophysiological concepts (from bed to bench). This basic philosophy starts from the idea that new concepts for treatment of diseases are most fruitfully initiated and explored in 8 focussed programs by combining knowledge concerning the pathophysiology of a collection of related diseases with the knowledge concerning drugs.

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The Campus has excellent knowledge of the cardiovascular system, transplants and medical devices in that area.

Oncology (including inflammation), cardiovascular diseases, and neural and neuromuscular diseases are the major themes of the CMI-Groningen research programme. Only through innovation we can improve the quality and contain the costs of future health care. Medical imaging will play a major role in this exercise. Next generation imaging technologies will enable the early diagnosis of, for example, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. This will lead to early interventions which delay or prevent the onset or spread of disease and mitigate its effects. New and more effective imaging tools and methods will also facilitate the transition from invasive to minimally-invasive to non-invasive diagnosis and therapy. Medical imaging addresses the main factors for the quality and costs of medical interventions: diagnostic accuracy, the need for (revision) surgery, side effects and recovery times.

Relevance for Healthy Ageing
The CMI-Groningen research programme will help to realize the vision that, by 2020, individuals with an elevated risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases can be identified at an early state. Patients are likely to be cured with less pain, lesser hospitalization duration and a shorter recovery period, which will allow for a quicker restart at work. The CMI-Groningen research programme will achieve this by:

  • First, developing systematic pathways for the appropriate application of new and existing medical imaging technology, including new and existing biomarkers, in optimal diagnostic algorithms (sets of rules and procedures to solve diagnostic problems);
  • Second, focusing on techniques with high predictive power to exclude rather than demonstrate diseases. Low cost, high sensitivity tests to exclude diseases are expected to become very impor­tant in reassuring patients, reducing medicalization and containing healthcare cost;
  • Third, developing a model of the diagnostic and minimally invasive treatment center of the future. Such a center will contain all procedures for primary diagnosis, starting from a clinical question and resulting in a final diagnosis – preferably within one day. A limited number of high-end university diagnostic centers can serve the entire population, while follow-up diagnostic care remains an intramural procedure;It is important to note that, although the CMI-Groningen research programme’s primary focus is on imaging-enabled diagnosis, its impact will extend far into therapy. Better imaging and more accurate navigation lead to smaller interventions posing a lesser burden on patients. They also produce better results, leading to fewer relapses.
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The Campus has excellent knowledge of the musculoskeletal system for improving mobility.

Future healthcare will have to deal with large groups of elderly people with inevitable impairments and resultant function loss. This will put pressure on the demand for high-quality interactive prostheses and orthoses.

Easy-to-use, intelligent, devices that require a minimum of guidance by the professional are needed that adapt to the changing needs of the patients and that need less capacity of healthcare.

This aim is adressed in the UMCG leaded Center of Research Excellence SPRINT as part of the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative Netherlands (IMDI). SPRINT is a collaboration between the UMCG and many scientic, health care and industrial parties.

SPRINT will increase knowledge on balance and rehabilitation processes to prevent people from falling through a loss of balance and create better suited training devices and extramural rehabilitation. Furthermore, SPRINT will increase knowledge on the interactions between patients and mobility devices to develop second generation individualized, intelligent mobility devices.

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