European project "Vaccines and Infectious Diseases in the Aging population" kicks off

Recently, the EU-sponsored Vaccines and InfecTious diseases in the Ageing popuLation (VITAL) project was launched. VITAL will address - in a public-private consortium - the challenges of infections in the elderly and the potential of infection prevention by vaccination.

Within the VITAL project, which will run from 2019-2023, University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht will be the managing entity and scientific lead. The € 12.4 million project is sponsored by the European Union’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) with a grant of € 5.5 million which will be matched by grants in total of € 6.9 million from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries Associations (EFPIA). The consortium academic leader is prof. dr. Debbie van Baarle, professor of Immunology of Vaccinations at UMC Utrecht and Head of the Department of Immune Mechanisms at the Centre for Immunology of Infectious Diseases and Vaccines at the National Institute of Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands.


Three grants for translational research on rheumatic diseases

Three investigators from the Laboratory for Translational Immunology (LTI) at UMC Utrecht have received a grant from the Dutch arthritis foundation (ReumaNederland). The research projects focus on better understanding and improving the lives of patients with rheumatic diseases.

The awarded grants focus on three types of arthritis: systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis and osteoarthritis. Thanks to the support of ReumaNederland, investigators Michiel van der Vlist, Samuel Garcia Perez and Niels Eijkelkamp can carry out their research within the Laboratory for Translational Immunology (LTI)This financial support gives the LTI an extra boost in achieving their goal: to improve the quality of life for patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. The LTI performs translational research at the highest level to improve the treatment of patients.


Antibiotic resistance in the Netherlands under control

Contamination with resistant bacteria in patients admitted to Dutch hospitals does not result in higher mortality than contamination by non-resistant bacteria. Although the problem of antibiotic resistance in the Netherlands currently seems manageable, it is important to remain vigilant in view of the ever-changing epidemiology of resistant bacteria, according to Wouter Rottier, who will be awarded a PhD in Utrecht on February 19.

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem worldwide. Many people in the Netherlands also carry bacteria that cannot adequately be cured with conventional antibiotics. Some studies have suggested that antibiotic resistance is also a problem in the Netherlands and leads to extra mortality. The problem with research on antibiotic resistance is that the context of policies on antibiotic use and diagnostic procedures must also be included in the analysis and interpretation of studies. The way in which this is discounted determines to a large extent the study outcome.


Using the body’s own defense to treat hospital infections

Our immune system protects us through antibodies against pathogenic bacteria. Why does our defense system succeed one time and sometimes not to eliminate such bacteria? That could be related to the functioning of our immune system. Professor of medical microbiology Suzan Rooijakkers investigates this in the hope of developing new immunotherapies that can replace antibiotics. On 22 February she gave her inaugural lecture on this subject.

Bacteria are all around us: in the sea, in the ground and in buildings. But many bacteria also live in your own body. Most of these bacteria are very useful and do not cause problems, but there are also bacteria that can make us sick. The immune system protects our own body against pathogenic bacteria. But if the body does not manage to defeat that bacterium, one can become quite ill. Then medication is needed, such as antibiotics.

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