Leuven.Inc Visionary Seminar 'From DNA sequencing to patient care'


Organised by Leuven.Inc in cooperation with imec

When the first sequencing of the human genome was completed, expectations were very high. 10 years later, most is yet to be realized as there still is a huge gap between having information and understanding it. At first, nobody understood the role of the so-called 'junk-DNA' that made up a large proportion of the genome. And nobody realized how non-deterministic and 'fuzzy' the internal machinery of the cell handles its own program.

After this initial period of deciphering and modeling, we are now ready to start using the code to the advantage of the species. For diagnostics as well as for therapeutical use the impact of this work cannot be overestimated. Moreover, it stimulated the development of faster and more consistent sequencing technologies that result in better data. Better data in turn create new mining methods which result in improved insight into the DNA code itself. This way the circle is closed, and the one who benefits will be the patient, or even the potential patient who can in some cases be prevented from becoming a real patient in the future.

This seminar starts from a historic overview of sequencing technology and a view on next-generation technology. State of the art will be discussed, with a short overview of the current sequencing machine and methods, as well as specific techniques immediately applicable in clinical environments. As sequencing implies imaging at the level of the cell and can as such be complemented with molecular imaging at the level of the body, we will provide a view on how both macroscopic and microscopic imaging can interact and reinforce each other. Finally, we will go into the data mining techniques that need to be applied to make optimal use of this treasure.

Practical aspects

Date: Thursday June 16th, 2011
Location: imec, room -1.A, Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven (Heverlee)


16h30:Welcome coffee
17h00:Welcome by Leuven.Inc
17h20:DNA sequencing from Aristotle to future generation methods
Tim Stakenborg, Senior Scientist Nano-Enabled Systems, imec
17h50:DNA sequencing: State of the art
Kristiaan Vanhercke, Business Unit Manager Molecular Biology, Roche Diagnostics Belgium
18h20:Coffee break
18h50:The informatics challenges of next-generation genomic diagnosis
Bert Coessens, Operations Director, Cartagenia
19h10:Practical and direct use of the DNA molecule
Wim Van Criekinge, Prof., Vice President Science and Technology, MDXHealth
19h30:The role of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in drug development
Luc Mortelmans, Prof., Head Medical Imaging Research Center, Nuclear Medicine, UZ Leuven
19h50:Panel discussion and Q&A
20h10:Drinks and snacks

The interventions will be held in English 


DNA sequencing from Aristotle to future generation methods - Tim Stakenborg, senior scientist Nano-Enabled Systems, imec
The Human Genome Project published the first complete human genome in 2003 after approximately 13 years and $3 billion in funding. The recent advent of completely novel sequencing technologies has enabled far cheaper and faster DNA reads offering unprecedented opportunities to increase our understanding of the functions and dynamics of the human genome. With even more time- and cost-efficient sequencing technologies in development, this trend will likely continue, ultimately, enabling people to have their genome analyzed on-the-fly for tailored medical treatment. In this presentation, we will give a short overview of the basic principles behind current and future sequencing technologies, giving a better understanding of their limitations as well as their potential.

Practical and direct use of the DNA molecule - Prof. Wim Van Criekinge, Vice President Science and Technology, MDXHealth
Methylation Based Biomarkers for Predictive and Prognostic Use
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification in the human genome. These changes can influence gene expression by inhibiting transcription and by doing so promote and define a disease state. MDxHealth has established a multi-faceted technological approach based on it's proprietary Methylation-Specific PCR (MSP) platform to identify DNA methylation-based oncology biomarkers for theranostic applications. MDxHealth utilizes epigenetic sensitization, aka pharmacological unmasking, next-generation sequencing (MBD2_Seq and 454_ BT_Seq), and a pathway-based real-time MSP array approach to exhaustively mine the epigenome for predictive and prognostic profiles. This approach combines a sensitive and specific discovery phase with a smooth transition to analytically validated assays for clinical trial testing. We have been applying these approaches in high throughput mode on samples ranging from model systems like cell-lines and xenografts to primary patient material, in cancer-types ranging from colon, lung, prostate to bladder.


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