TTO Flanders is a joint initiative of the five Flemish universities: Ghent University, University of Antwerp, KU Leuven, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Hasselt University. The technology transfer offices (TTOs) of these universities are responsible for the transfer of knowledge and technology from universities and associated university colleges to private and public partners. Is your company interested in collaborating with academic research groups? Then TTO Flanders offers just what you need.


In this session, you will be able to listen to several 5-minute project pitches from all Flemish universities. The selected valorisation projects cover a broad scope of technological innovation, and the teams are actively looking for partners for further development or for potential clients.


11:30    Welcome & intro

11:31    Filip Legein, Valorization Manager - µFlow Cell - Valorization of Microfluidics Research at VUB
A consortium of prof. dr. ir. Wim De Malsche of Department of Bioengineering Sciences (DBIT) and prof. dr. Karine Hellemans of Diabetes Research Centre (DRC) recently launched the µFlow Cell for direct interaction with industry and valorization of research lines with TRL 4-7. The µFlow Cell is focused on medical, pharmaceutical and biotech applications, with the following activities:

  • Design and development of innovative microfluidic solutions,
  • Fabrication and validation of microfluidic devices and microreactors, from prototype to small industrial series; ao unique expertise in developing devices for handling biological matrices
  • Engineering and microfluidic fabrication of functional micro- and nanomaterials; unique expertise in drug-loaded particles.

    The µFlow Cell has an in-house cleanroom equipped with advanced micro- and nanofabrication processes. It makes use of unique instruments such as advanced flow tools for precipitation, 3D imaging of microfluidic processes, and 3D emulsification for production of monodisperse particles.


11:40    Prof. dr. Leo Van Grunsven / Joeri Lambrecht, PhD - The sPDGFR-beta containing PRTA-score is a novel serological diagnostic algorithm for significant liver fibrosis - Liver Cell Biology Lab, VUB
Liver fibrosis can result from obesity, chronic exposure to chronic viral infection or alcohol abuse. Till date, the gold standard for diagnosis of liver fibrosis remains the invasive liver biopsy, which is however associated with multiple drawbacks. We developed a novel fibrosis score, based on levels of PDGFRβ thrombocyte and albumin (PRTA-score) in the blood of patients, which outperforms currently used fibrosis scoring systems. 

Prof. Dr. Sara Lebeer – Probiotic formulations targeting the respiratory tract, UAntwerpen
Did you know that lactobacilli not only play a beneficial role in fermented foods and our intestines? We have found some interesting novel functions for lactobacilli in the nose and nasopharynx. Not only did we isolate and characterize lactobacilli that are specifically adapted to the respiratory tract environment, but we also managed to formulate these strains in a nasal spray and test their activity in various lab models and healthy volunteers. Now we are ready for clinical efficacy tests.

11:58    Dr. Pieter Meysman – MinTR immunoinformatics platform, UAntwerpen
MinTR is an innovative data mining platform to translate T cell receptor sequencing data into functional and actionable medical insights. The platform can be used for clinical monitoring of immunotherapies or vaccines, or as a research platform in the fields of oncology, infectious diseases, and auto-immune disorders.

12:07    Bert Devriendt - APN targeting: Entry portal through the intestinal barrier, UGent
Aminopeptidase N (APN) is a highly efficient entry portal through the small intestinal barrier. APN-specific antibodies are used as a carrier to target (macro)molecules and particles (cargo) to APN leading to a highly effective transport of the carrier-cargo complex through the small intestinal epithelium. This enables efficient delivery of pharmaca and antigens (at low dose) to the intestinal mucosa upon oral administration. This approach successfully triggered intestinal immune responses after oral administration of APN targeted antigens.

12:16    Daisy Flamez - Recombinant extracellular vesicles (R-EV) as reference standard for Biofluid processing and instrument calibration, UGent
Extracellular vesicles (EV), are nanometer-sized vesicles that transmit information between different cell types, organs and even between organisms. The interpretation of extracellular vesicle data remains challenging owing to the complexity of biofluids and the technical errors that are introduced during sample preparation, isolation and analysis. We have developed R-EV that harbor physical and biological traits characteristic of EV and which can be used as a reference material to spike in different biofluids. Use of R-EV will improve the accuracy of EV-based diagnosis and support EV measurements for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic decision making of diseases.

12:25    Dr. Bart Geers - Shifting insights into the pathogenesis & treatment of PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), KU Leuven
Polycystic ovary syndrome has long been seen as a gynaecological disorder. Recent evidence provided by the team of prof. Francis de Zegher and prof. Lourdes Ibanez (at the UZ Leuven and Hospital San Juan de Deu respectively), clearly shows that the pathophysiology of PCOS is related to metabolic changes in females in early puberty, causing female subfertility. Both have also shown that a low-dose combination of used drugs with a well-known safety profile (spironolactone, pioglitazone and metformin) allows reversing this metabolic malfunctioning and restores ovulation (de Zegher et al. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2018). This concept has been patented and if FDA and EMA agree on the clinical endpoints (which are being evaluated and discussed), the team wishes to initiate a phase II clinical trial with the combination. Needless to say that a therapeutic for a condition (for which no drug exists in the market today) that affects 10% of females of reproductive age offers might become a breakthrough therapy.

Dr. Nick Geukens - A profibrinolytic diabody targeting PAI-1 and TAFI for treatment of acute thrombotic disorders
Plasminogen activators are the only thrombolytic agents approved to rapidly revascularize a thrombosed vessel. Reperfusion of the ischemia-affected organ leads to an improved outcome in patients when applied within the first hours after ischemic onset. Despite this evidence-based beneficial effect, current thrombolytic agents remain widely underutilized due to life-threatening bleeding complications, such as cerebral hemorrhages. Therefore, there is an unmet clinical need to explore novel therapeutic avenues to enhance fibrinolysis without plasminogen activator-associated adverse effects. We have developed a bispecific diabody that targets two complementary inhibitors of the fibrinolytic system, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI), resulting in the increase of the activity of endogenous tPA. We have shown in preclinical stroke models that this is a more effective and safe thrombolytic strategy than administration of exogenous tPA.

12:43    Prof. dr. Tim Vanmierlo - Regulation of phosphosdiesterase 4D (PDE4D) as a new approach to stimulate repair in multiple sclerosis, Universiteit Hasselt
Even though the currently available MS therapeutics are reliable, constantly improving, and very effective in the initial stages of MS, they have limited efficacy in preventing the transition towards the progressive phase and are no longer effective in this progressive stage. During these chronic stages, when little inflammation is present, endogenous repair mechanisms become insufficient and cause a gradually worsening of the disability. Hence, we investigate novel targets to induce repair in progressive MS. In this project, we define exactly which cleaving enzymes are responsible for repair processes. Together, our findings will provide an incentive to further develop novel pharmaceutics in the treatment of progressive MS. 

12:52    Prof. dr. Luc Michiels - 
Early inflammation associated biomarkers as a potential diagnostic tool in chronic diseases, Universiteit Hasselt
Chronic early inflammation is known to be associated with the onset of several chronic diseases. However, it is difficult to identify or to measure early, low level chronic inflammation.  At Hasselt University we developed a biomarker based tool that enables us to measure a pro inflammatory response in serum samples of patients suffering from different chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, major depression and rheumatoid arthritis.  The added value as a potential diagnostic tool is discussed.


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