Brussels, Belgium

Free University of Brussels
Brussels, Belgium

The Free University of Brussels was a university in Brussels, Belgium established in 1834. The university, founded on the principle of secularism by Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen and Auguste Baron in 1834, formed part of a reaction to Catholic dominance in Belgian education. In 1969, during the Linguistic Wars, it split into two separate universities: the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel .The two universities continue to collaborate, and are together referred to as the Brussels Free Universities. Wikipedia.

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News Article | April 17, 2017

It is a fabled place, the “island of stability” at the edge of the periodic table, where superheavy elements are thought to live long lives without decaying. Now, a trio of astrophysicists suggest the place to look for such elements is in certain unusual stars. Each element has an atomic number corresponding to the number of protons in its nucleus. Most elements heavier than lead, atomic number 82, are unstable and radioactive. But physicists have long speculated that there might be long-lived elements with 114 or more protons in their nuclei. To create these superheavy elements, we smash atoms together to form larger nuclei. But particle accelerator technology, pushed to its limits, has so far only built atoms that decay in as little as a fraction of a microsecond. Stars are natural nuclear reactors, and most heavy elements are forged in supernovae, whose explosions spread them to the next generation of stars. Now, Vladimir Dzuba at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and his colleagues think an oddball star called Przybylski’s star (HD 101065) could be harbouring superheavy elements. The star’s discoverer, Antoni Przybylski, who found it in 1961, saw that it was chemically weird from the get-go. A variable star some 370 light years away in the constellation Centaurus, it has little iron or nickel, but a lot of heavy elements. It is the only star believed to contain short-lived radioactive elements called actinides, with atomic numbers ranging from 89 to 103, such as actinium, plutonium, americium and einsteinium. Only one other star, HD 25354, has even come close, but its hints of americium and curium are on shakier footing. It’s hard to explain how these heavy elements could form there in the first place. One possible explanation was that Przybylski’s star had a neutron star companion, which could bombard it with particles and create heavy elements in its atmosphere. But no companion was ever found. “If such elements are indeed confirmed, it will remain a great challenge for nucleosynthesis models to explain their origin,” says astrophysicist Stephane Goriely at the Free University of Brussels (ULB). Dzuba suggests that the actinides are a sign that the predicted island of stability elements exist there, and that actinides are in fact the products of their slow decay. The half-lives are a clue: the observed elements all decay quickly relative to a star’s lifetime. After millions of years, they ought to be gone unless there is some mechanism to replenish them. “We can say that we already have indirect indication,” Dzuba says. To find out if they are right, Dzuba’s team suggests searching the star’s spectrum for five elements with atomic numbers of 102 or more: nobelium (102), lawrencium (103), nihonium (113) and flerovium (114). These could be intermediate steps in the radioactive decay chain between an island of stability element and the actinides. It sounds simple enough, but it is hard to work out what the spectral signatures of superheavy elements would look like, because their half-lives are so short. Nobelium’s most stable isotope’s half-life is under an hour, for instance. That means some spectra aren’t well defined yet. “If and when such [spectral] lines are found, that would be very strong evidence for the existence of the long-living superheavy elements somewhere in our universe,” Dzuba says. But Goriely doesn’t think the evidence for actinides is that strong. “Przybylski’s stellar atmosphere is highly magnetic, stratified and chemically peculiar, so that the interpretation of its spectrum remains extremely complex,” he says. “The presence of such nuclei remains to be confirmed.”

Vauquelin G.,Free University of Brussels
Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery | Year: 2010

Importance of the field: It is well established that the in vivo duration of drug action not only depends on macroscopic pharmacokinetic properties like its plasma half-life, but also on the residence time of the drugtarget complexes. However, drug 'rebinding' (i.e., the consecutive binding of dissociated drug molecules to the original target and/or targets nearby) can be influential in vivo as well. Areas covered in this review: Information about rebinding is available since the 1980s but it is dispersed in the life sciences literature. This review compiles this information. In this respect, neurochemists and biopohysicians advance the same equations to describe drug rebinding. What the reader will gain: The rebinding mechanism is explained according to the prevailing viewpoint in different life science disciplines. There is a general consensus that high target densities, high association rates and local phenomena that hinder the diffusion of free drug molecules away from their target all promote rebinding. Take home message: Simulations presented here for the first time suggest that rebinding may increase the duration and even the constancy of the drug's clinical action. Intact cell radioligand dissociation and related ex vivo experiments offer useful indications about a drug's aptitude to experience target rebinding. © 2010 Informa UK, Ltd.

Tournaye H.,Free University of Brussels | Dohle G.R.,Erasmus University Rotterdam | Barratt C.L.R.,University of Dundee
The Lancet | Year: 2014

During the past decade, advances in cancer treatment have increased survival rates of both boys and men. However, cancer treatment itself can compromise fertility, especially exposure to alkylating agents and whole body irradiation, which cause substantial germ cell loss. Children and adolescents with testicular cancer, leukaemia, and Ewing sarcomas are at the highest risk of developing permanent sterility from cancer treatment. Consequently, various strategies to preserve fertility are necessary. Sperm cryopreservation is an effective but underused method to safeguard spermatozoa. In the past few years, large advances have been made in prepubertal germ cell storage aimed at subsequent transplantation of testicular tissue and associated stem cells. Although still experimental, these approaches off er hope to many men in whom germ cell loss is associated with sterility. The derivation of male gametes from stem cells also holds much promise; however, data are only available in animals, and the use of this method in human beings is probably many years away.

Van Gossum A.,Free University of Brussels
Current Opinion in Gastroenterology | Year: 2014

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Video capsule endoscopy, which was initially developed for exploring the small bowel, has been adapted for investigating the colon. This review summarizes recent developments in colon capsule technology as well as indications for its use. RECENT FINDINGS: Second-generation PillCam colon capsule endoscopy (CCE-2) has been recently developed and has significantly improved the sensitivity and specificity of colon capsules for detecting polyps and/or tumors in patients with suspected or known colonic lesions. The use of CCE-2 has been shown to be of value in patients with incomplete standard colonoscopy. The use of CCE-2 has also been investigated in patients with ulcerative colitis and in outpatient settings. Several trials have tried to simplify the colon preparation regimen. SUMMARY: Colon capsule endoscopy is a novel technique for exploring the colon. CCE-2 has improved the diagnostic capability of this noninvasive method. There is still room for improvement and simplification of colon preparation regimens. Apart from detection of polyps or neoplasms, colon capsule endoscopy has also been assessed in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health.

Naeije R.,Free University of Brussels
Current Hypertension Reports | Year: 2013

The pulmonary circulation is a high-flow and low-pressure circuit. The functional state of the pulmonary circulation is defined by pulmonary vascular pressure-flow relationships conforming to distensible vessel models with a correction for hematocrit. The product of pulmonary arterial compliance and resistance is constant, but with a slight decrease as a result of increased pulsatile hydraulic load in the presence of increased venous pressure or proximal pulmonary arterial obstruction. An increase in left atrial pressure is transmitted upstream with a ratio ≥1 for mean pulmonary artery pressure and ≤1 the diastolic pulmonary pressure. Therefore, the diastolic pressure gradient is more appropriate than the transpulmonary pressure gradient to identify pulmonary vascular disease in left heart conditions. Exercise is associated with a decrease in pulmonary vascular resistance and an increase in pulmonary arterial compliance. Right ventricular function is coupled to the pulmonary circulation with an optimal ratio of end-systolic to arterial elastances of 1.5-2. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

The robustness and safety of liver-directed gene therapy can be substantially improved by enhancing expression of the therapeutic transgene in the liver. To achieve this, we developed a new approach of rational in silico vector design. This approach relies on a genome-wide bio-informatics strategy to identify cis-acting regulatory modules (CRMs) containing evolutionary conserved clusters of transcription factor binding site motifs that determine high tissue-specific gene expression. Incorporation of these CRMs into adeno-associated viral (AAV) and non-viral vectors enhanced gene expression in mice liver 10 to 100-fold, depending on the promoter used. Furthermore, these CRMs resulted in robust and sustained liver-specific expression of coagulation factor IX (FIX), validating their immediate therapeutic and translational relevance. Subsequent translational studies indicated that therapeutic FIX expression levels could be attained reaching 20-35% of normal levels after AAV-based liver-directed gene therapy in cynomolgus macaques. This study underscores the potential of rational vector design using computational approaches to improve their robustness and therefore allows for the use of lower and thus safer vector doses for gene therapy, while maximizing therapeutic efficacy.Molecular Therapy (2014); doi:10.1038/mt.2014.114.

Aggelis D.G.,Free University of Brussels
Materials and Structures/Materiaux et Constructions | Year: 2013

Elastic wave propagation has been used for decades for assessment of the structural integrity of engineering materials. The advantage it offers is the direct connection to elastic properties, the relatively easy application through commercial equipment as well as numerous empirical correlations between pulse velocity and material strength or quality in general. Advanced features like frequency dependence of wave parameters may further improve the characterization capacity. Concrete materials due to their inherent microstructure, which is enhanced by the existence of damage-induced cracking, exhibit a complicated behavior concerning the propagation of pulses of different frequencies. The different wave lengths interact with inhomogeneities according to their size and therefore, leave their signature on the phase velocity and attenuation versus frequency curves. Although experimental measurements are troublesome in concrete structures, mainly due to attenuation of high frequencies, it is suggested that, whenever possible, application of different frequencies can provide a more detailed insight on the internal condition of the structure. Apart from classical elastic wave studies, the scattering microstructure of concrete exercises strong influence on the elastic signals emitted after cracking events, distorting therefore crucial acoustic emission parameters used for the characterization of the structural integrity. In the present paper experimental evidence of dispersion and examples on how it can be utilized in concrete non destructive inspection are presented and discussed. © 2013 RILEM.

Van den Broeck J.,Free University of Brussels
Journal of Personality Disorders | Year: 2014

In DSM-5, the categorical model and criteria for the 10 personality dis­orders included in DSM-/Vwill be reprinted in Section II. Moreover, an alternative dimensional classification model will appear in Section III. This alternative DSM-5 proposal for the diagnosis of a personality disor­der is based on two fundamental criteria: impairments in personality functioning (Criterion A) and the presence of pathological personality traits (Criterion B). In the maladaptive trait model that has been devel­oped to operationalize Criterion B, 25 pathological traits are organized according to five higher order dimensions. The current study focuses on the convergence of the proposed DSM-5 trait model (as measured by the Personality Inventory for DSM-5 [PID-5]) with the Dimensional As­sessment of Personality Pathology (DAPP) model (as measured by the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology-Basic Questionnaire [DAPP-BQ]) in a sample of older people. A joint hierarchical factor anal­ysis showed clear convergence between four PID-5 dimensions (Nega­tive Affect, Detachment, Antagonism, Disinhibition) and conceptually similar DAPP-BQ components. Moreover, the PID-5 and the DAPP-BQ showed meaningful associations on different levels of their joint hierar­chical factor structure. Methodological and theoretical implications of these initial results for the conceptualization of personality pathology are discussed. © 2014 The Guilford Press.

Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 350.17K | Year: 2014

By exploiting three important new advances in ice sheet modelling, and major new Antarctic-wide datasets, we aim to predict how far and how fast the observed ocean-driven thinning of floating ice shelves will propagate into the interior of the Antarctic ice sheet, and assess the consequences for global sea level over decadal-to-century timescales. Whereas previous studies have used simplified models, idealised forcing, or limited domains, we will use a comprehensively initialised model of ice flow throughout Antarctica, including all mechanical processes that propagate thinning into the interior, to produce a highly-realistic simulation that can predict the response of the grounded ice sheet to the ice-shelf thinning observed by satellite. We will validate the simulations against further satellite observations, before using them with scenarios of ice-shelf melt, guided by ocean models, to produce a probabilistic forecast of the future sea-level contribution from Antarctica to 2100.

Free University of Brussels | Date: 2014-04-23

A portable system for remote diagnosis of a stroke is arranged in a housing provided with a handgrip and comprising audio recording and reproduction means for recording and reproducing sound at the location of a patient. The portable video recording means for recording at least eye and foot movements of the patient is arranged to be set up in such a way that the patient can be captured from head to toe. Measuring means to determine at least a blood glucose value in the patient, and communication means for forwarding the measured blood glucose value and the recorded movements and sound via a wireless network from the location of the patient and for receiving audio data originating from a location where a doctor is provided.

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