Quality of life

Research and education at UM have been thematic, multidisciplinary, and inspired by social themes. UM distinguishes itself by focusing on three main research themes (i.e. ‘Quality of life’, ‘Europe and a Globalising World’, and ‘Learning and innovation’) which are studied on the basis of different disciplines at all relevant levels.

Quality of life is an interdisciplinary research programme that focuses on the well-being of individuals in the context of a safe, healthy, sustainable and financially secure society. An important infrastructure of this research programme is situated on the Maastricht Health Campus. This Campus is home to the largest academic health science cluster in Europe, which serves the entire health continuum from top referral and top clinical care to prevention and rehabilitation. The research excels in four key areas: cardiovascular diseases,mental health and neurosciences, metabolic aspects of chronic diseases, and primary care and health sciences.

Allergies: prevention and incidence

In Body
Monday, 05 March 2007 00:00

Results from KOALA Birth Cohort Study

Hay fever was so rare in the nineteenth century that only a few cases have been documented. It was a disease that cropped up occasionally in towns and cities, and most sufferers came from the higher social classes. Nowadays, summer news bulletins are followed by an extra weather forecast for hay fever patients. This is a good illustration of the enormous increase in the incidence of this allergic disorder. It is now reported that thirty percent of the western population suffers from one type of allergy or another, including hay fever, eczema or asthma. So what is behind this massive increase?

The molecule as undercover informer

In Body
Tuesday, 05 September 2006 00:00

Molecular imaging can alert to increased risk of heart attack

In Westerners, plaque usually begins to form in the blood vessels (a process known as arteriosclerosis) at around the age of ten. Although some people will never experience problems with this plaque, in others it can become ‘unstable’ and tear, causing blood clots to form. If one of these blood clots blocks a blood vessel, it can lead to a coronary or cerebral infarction. But why do some people with plaque live to a hundred without any problems, while others become very ill? A powerful MRI scanner will hopefully bring researchers in Maastricht a little closer to answering this question.

Great interest in PhD study

Every cream, shampoo or soap has to be tested before it goes on the market. For more than sixty years, the cosmetic industry has used the Draize Test for this purpose. This entails applying a product to the eyes of rabbits to see whether they become irritated. Researcher Dr Bart De Wever recently attained his doctorate on research into an alternative method that gives comparable and perhaps even better results, namely cultured human tissue.

‘Just a prescription is undertreatment’

In Body
Thursday, 01 December 2005 00:00

COPD research that will change the care practice

You ride your bicycle against the wind and you notice that you have less air than six months ago. A bit later you are also out of breath when you simply climb the stairs. When you are younger than 45 and you smoked a lot in the course of your life, then there is a big chance that you suffer from COPS. COPD stands for pulmonary emphysema and chronic bronchitis. At present, COPD is the third cause of death in the Netherlands behind cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In the next fifteen years this patient population will grow by 40%.

Biomaterials: the new generation

Tuesday, 06 September 2005 00:00

UM, azM and DSM join forces in Bioterials consortium

A real revolution is going on in the world of biomaterials. ‘Passive’ biomaterials, such as artificial hips, stents and silicon prostheses have been used since the fifties. Their most important quality is that they react as little as possible to their environment in order to prevent rejection. They make room for a new generation that, on the contrary, does interact with the surrounding tissues. Polymer technologists of DSM and scientists of UM/azM have joined their forces in the Bioterials project. In the next four years they will develop biomaterials for a better treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Prof. dr. ir. Leo Koole, extraordinary professor of Biomaterials and project leader from UM/azM, can hardly wait to get going.

Computer model with 'sure instinct'

Tuesday, 07 June 2005 00:00

Artificial Intelligence helps pathologist with classification of breast cancer

Each year ten thousand Dutch women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It is the most common type of cancer in European women. For the determination of treatment patients are classified in the category ‘high risk’ (heavy treatment) or ‘low risk’ (light treatment) on the basis of several examinations. And yet some tumours out of the low risk group turn out to be less innocent than they appear at first sight: thirty percent of the patients in this group still die within five years. It is of great importance to science that these ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ can be identified and that consequently the diagnosis (and therefore the prognosis) of breast cancer can be improved. Artificial Intelligence appears to offer a solution.

Good news for Bechterew patients

In Body
Tuesday, 31 August 2004 00:00

Promising outcomes of research into new therapy

Bamboo spine. That is what they call the phenomenon that patients with Bechterew's disease have to face. Bechterew's disease (spondylitis ankylopoëtica, SA) is a rheumatoid inflammatory disease that affects the spine and causes bony ankylosis of the vertebral joints. Bechterew patients suffer from pain and stiffness and are therefore limited in their everyday functioning. This chronic disease is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). These drugs repress the inflammatory processes as a result of which the complaints usually become less but the inflammation itself does not disappear. Presently, the pharmaceutical industry is developing a promising medication: TNF-a-blockers. Two types of these TNF-a-blockers have already been registered by the Medicines Evaluation Board. Only recently, health insurance companies have started to reimburse one type of these drugs.

Where science and business meet

In Body
Monday, 28 June 2004 00:00

Vaccination against lung cancer

It is not likely that in about three years the newspaper headings will say 'the ultimate medicine against comes from Maastricht'. This concerns an additional therapy. However, the expectations are high, according to prof. dr. Frans Ramaekers, head of the department of Molecular Cell biology of Universiteit Maastricht. "Absolutely. It is a promising development. There have been very good experiences with the treatment of, for example, melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer. Scientists have succeeded to define recognition proteins of this cancer. This means that you can start a treatment that specifically focuses on one certain type of cancer. We now think that we can define the recognition proteins of a few types of lung cancer. With this knowledge you can create a therapeutic vaccine that fights lung cancer by activating the own immune system."

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