Medical Genetics


MEDGEN is an interfaculty research group which was formed in 2022 after the fusion of 3 research teams (HMG, COGNET and MGENOS) from the faculty of pharmacy, biomedical sciences and veterinary sciences (FBD) and one (MEDGEN) from the faculty of medicine and health sciences (FGGW). This fusion was a formalisation of a long-time existing situation as these groups share space, equipment and expertise since decades. The general aim of MEDGEN is to enhance genetic and epigenetic research in biomedical sciences by application of state-of-the-art technologies on both constitutional and acquired genetic diseases. These include next generation sequencing (NGS), DNA methylation analysis, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), liquid biopsies and gene editing (CRISPR/Cas). The future research within MEDGEN will focus on three major challenges: first, the development of technologies that allow better understanding of the biological meaning of variants in the human genome, coding and noncoding, constitutional and somatic, and genetic and epigenetic, second the use of liquid biopsies to revolutionise diagnosis and treatment follow-up in different types of cancer and finally the translation of these new genetic findings into better diagnostics and treatment. The study of the functional effect of variants will be key in the understanding of disease biology but also necessary for the translation into personalised medicine. It will require robust and efficient systems to explore the functional consequences of these variants by using in vitro cell cultures (especially iPSC) and/or animal models (mouse, zebrafish) that are representative for the human disorder. For the second challenge both new biomarkers need to be developed as well as the technology to analyse these biomarkers in liquid biopsies. To address the final challenge, the consortium will establish collaborations with clinicians and industry to translate the new genetic insights and biomarkers into innovative diagnostics and therapies. To support all this, the research team was selected by the University of Antwerp as a Center of Excellence (GENOMED) and is one of the 6 centers that obtained Methusalem funding.  Furthermore, more recently we became part of an IOF consortium called Precision Medicine Technologies (PreMeT).