Outstanding research in the field of Neurological Diseases – B-SMART researcher awarded with Baillet Latour Grant 2017

The Baillet Latour Fund, promoting outstanding medical research in Belgium, awards each year a grant to support a young group leader conducting a research project in a Belgian University or University Hospital. This year the prestigious Belgian grant was awarded to Professor Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke from Ghent University / Flemish Institute of Biotechnology VIB & partner of the EU funded project B-SMART for her excellent research in the field of neurological diseases. As the efficient delivery of medication into the brain to treat neurological diseases remains a major, unsolved challenge, Prof. Vandenbroucke’s research tackles this issue and aims at exploring a novel entry gate to deliver therapeutics into the brain.

Professor Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke receives Baillet Latour Grant 2017 for Medical Research

With her research project on “Hijacking natural occurring mechanisms at the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier to deliver therapeutic molecules into the brain”, Professor Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke was selected by the jury of the Health Prize and awarded for this year’s Baillet Latour Grant 2017. The laureate’s laboratory will receive an annual sum of 150,000 Euros for three years.

Prof. Vandenbroucke investigates the role of brain barriers under physiologic and pathophysiologic conditions, including neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. In healthy conditions, the brain is strictly separated from the blood by the presence of specific brain barriers. One of these barriers is the blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barrier. This unique barrier is composed of a single layer of choroid plexus epithelial cells and appears to be essential in the communication between body and brain. The goal of Prof. Vandenbroucke’s research is to study blood-CSF barrier functionality under healthy and diseased conditions and to use the blood-CSF barrier as an entry gate to the brain, e.g. for brain-specific therapeutics. The research group of Prof. Vandenbroucke identified several alterations at the blood-CSF barrier functionality in systemic inflammation and neuro-inflammation. Her research resulted recently in the identification of a novel mechanism of blood-to-brain communication in sepsis through the secretion of extracellular vesicles (EVs) by the choroid plexus epithelial cells into the CSF, thereby transferring a pro-inflammatory message from the body to the brain.

Prof. Vandenbroucke’s research project relies on the observation that the choroid plexus epithelial cells allow the controlled transport of molecules from blood to brain through two separate mechanisms: transcytosis and EV secretion. The efficient delivery of medication into the brain to treat neurological diseases remains a major, unresolved issue. The blood-CSF barrier therefore is an attractive entry gate to the brain as it consists of a single layer of epithelial cells between the peripheral blood and the CSF, in contrast to other multi-layered blood-brain barriers. Therefore, the objective of her research project is to hijack these naturally occurring mechanisms to allow therapeutics to cross the blood-CSF barrier into the brain.

As partner of the EU funded project B-SMART, Prof. Vandenbroucke’s research in the field of neurological diseases – honoured with the prestigious Belgian Baillet Latour Grant 2017 – will contribute to the research activities in B-SMART towards the realisation of the project’s objectives.

Please find the full press release here.

Please follow the link here to see a video in the Belgian news of the awardee Professor Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke about her research and work in the lab.

Queen Mathilde and B-SMART researcher Prof. Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke
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