Big doctor is watching you

In Body
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 11:18

Intelligent activity monitor observes patients at home

A patient with a chronic heart condition that requires three months of rehabilitation should not just sit around afterwards. Instead, they should remain active to prevent further health problems. The same is true for people with the lung disease COPD and other chronic conditions. To more precisely monitor how active a patient is after being discharged, kinesiologists, technicians and healthcare professionals have jointly developed an intelligent activity monitor: the CAM. This facilitates quicker intervention in the event that a patient cannot or will not be sufficiently active at home.


Smart proteins with all the bells and whistles

In Body
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 08:31

How chemical proteins can detect disease  

Hanging above Tilman Hackeng’s desk are the ‘ten steps to success’ by American chemist Richard Zare. Step six, ‘Never grow up’, seems to have been written specially for him. For Hackeng, chemical biology – and in particular chemical protein synthesis – is essentially a big box of molecular Lego that he can build with to his heart’s content. Hackeng, endowed professor of Chemical Biology at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), recently delivered his inaugural lecture. In it, he outlined the history of protein research and explained why chemical protein synthesis is so important for imaging biomarkers in the human body. Total chemical protein synthesis is a field of study that Hackeng first introduced in Europe at Maastricht University.


'Breathe out please!’

In Body
Thursday, 29 October 2009 08:40

Making a diagnosis on the basis of exhaled air

In the olden days, doctors would smell a patient’s exhaled air in order to ascertain whether he or she was suffering from hepatitis. At that time there would usually be an aroma of fish if the patient was suffering from this condition, due to the fact that the liver produces sulphur in patients suffering from hepatitis. Labradors can differentiate between patients suffering from lung cancer and healthy people on the basis of their exhaled air alone. Diagnosing COPD, asthma or chronic gastroenteritis on the basis of exhaled air is therefore something that stands to reason, after all, the words ‘blow into this bag please’ sound a little more pleasant than an ‘internal examination of the intestines, during which small fragments of tissue will be removed’. Researchers in Maastricht are close to completing a ‘blowing test’ such as this.


Away with ammonia!

In Body
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 08:46

Research into new treatment for liver failure

“You should apply for a Mosaic grant to finance your PhD,” someone said to Liliane Mpabanzi. “A what?” “A grant for ethnic minorities, to encourage them to choose an academic career.” No sooner said than done. On 26 October, Liliane Mpabanzi will receive €200,000 from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to conduct research into a new treatment for liver failure. “While I was studying Medicine, I actually had no idea of what it really meant to do research. Now I know that it nurtures your brain.”


Genes sensitive to stress

In Mind
Thursday, 08 October 2009 11:27

The relationship between sensitivity to stress and symptoms of psychosis

Sensitivity to stress plays a significant role in the development of psychosis. Additionally, stress-sensitivity appears to be genetically determined in part. These are two of the conclusions reached by Tineke Lataster in her thesis entitled ‘On the pathway from stress to psychosis', on the basis of which she is hoping to be awarded a doctorate in the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences at Maastricht University on 14 October.


Tackling plaque with new imaging techniques

In Body
Thursday, 23 April 2009 08:52

€35 million funding for three molecular medicine research projects

The Center for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM) has granted Maastricht University’s institute for cardiovascular disease (CARIM) funding worth €35 million for three research projects. One of these projects (Incoag) focuses on thrombosis, the second (Eminence) on vascular growth and the third (PARISk) on the behaviour of ‘plaques’, which are responsible for coronary and cerebral infarctions. In all three projects, the identification of processes taking place in the body plays prominent role. According to Professor Mat Daemen, new diagnostic techniques could drastically reduce the number of infarctions over the next few years.


The smart hearing aid is on its way

In Mind
Thursday, 02 April 2009 09:05

Psychologist Lars Riecke studies how the human brain processes incoming sound

According to Lars Riecke, how our brains process sound and translate it into information is indeed extremely complicated, but at the same time so logical that it can be applied in technologies. The foundations have been laid, he believes, for a new generation of hearing aids: devices that ‘listen’ to what the wearer wants them to, in the same way that our brains determine which sources of sound to prioritise. This would enable hearing-impaired people to go to a party or concert without being too bothered by background noise.

Half a billion people worldwide suffer from mild to severe hearing loss, and another 200 million are likely to join them in the next five years. These figures explain the explosive increase in the number of people wearing hearing aids; such devices can mean the difference between working or not working, between social isolation and a ‘normal’ life.


Muscle fat and diabetes

In Body
Monday, 03 January 2011 08:58

Vici laureate Patrick Schrauwen

These days, adult-onset diabetes is no longer just reserved for the elderly. People develop Type 2 diabetes mellitus at increasingly young ages; this is the diabetes that is not congenital, but is brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle. Obesity plays a role, but so too, according to some scientists, does inactivity. Several researchers at Maastricht University are convinced that accumulated fat in the muscles plays an important part in the onset of Type 2 diabetes – and that you can prevent the fat in these muscles from having harmful consequences through regular physical exercise.


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