The influence of fluctuations in BMI on cardiovascular risk factors and endothelial function in obese children and adolescents: is it harmful or protective? 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2021

Abstract

Obesity is a prevalent problem, present in 7% of Belgian children between 2 and 17 years old. Studies have shown that if obese children reach a normal BMI by adulthood, there is no increased cardiovascular risk compared to adults with a normal BMI without a history of obesity. Therefore, weight management during childhood is the most effective form of prevention for subsequent cardiovascular problems. However, due to the frequent weight gain after weight loss and the conflicting hypotheses about its effect on cardiovascular co-morbidities, it is necessary to investigate the influence of these variations in weight.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

V-CALSA – Visual Computer-Aided Lung Sound Analysis. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

Lung auscultation, which is the process of listening to breath sounds, is one of the most commonly used examinations to evaluate respiratory health. Over the last decades computational methods have been developed for the analysis of recorded lung sounds. Computer Aided Lung Sound Analysis (CALSA) aims to overcome limitations associated with standard lung auscultation by removing the subjective component of the process and allowing quantification of lung sound characteristics. To date, no accepted standard for data acquisition and analysis has been set and none of the proposed approaches have been successfully implemented in clinical practice. During this project we will develop a simple but robust visual representation for CALSA, which can be easily interpreted by health care professionals. Several clinical studies described in this project aim to validate this analysis and to study the ability of CALSA to measure the severity of RSV-bronchiolitis and the effects of respiratory therapy. Digital auscultation has the potential to be a sensitive, objective and non-invasive tool by providing regional information associated with local changes in the airways.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

A platform to functionally assess clinically relevant respiratory parameters in small animal models for infectious and non-infectious pulmonary research. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

This application relates to the purchase of new basic infrastructure, more specific a FlexiVent system from Emka Technologies. FlexiVent is a platform for standard respiratory research that can be used across many pulmonary applications and which has major advantages compared to the classical, non-invasive, unrestrained plethysmography because it is accurate, reproducible and proven. FlexiVent is much more capable of detecting pulmonary abnormalities via changes in functional residual capacity, total lung capacity, vital capacity, and compliance of the respiratory system. Furthermore, analysis of pulmonary functions via FlexiVent allows distinction between respiratory diseases in mice by clinically relevant variables and is therefore generally accepted as the standard in the functional evaluation of infectious and non-infectious pathological, respiratory disease models.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Identification of host-virus interactions contributing to immunopathology and disease severity in respiratory syncytial virus infections in children. 01/11/2019 - 09/02/2022

Abstract

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is worldwide the leading cause of serious airway infections. It's so common that most children will be infected by age 2. In adults and older children, RSV symptoms are mostly mild and typically mimic a common cold, but younger children can develop very severe disease. Preventive and therapeutic options are limited and currently it is not clear why some children develop severe disease while others do not. We therefore aim to investigate host- and virus-related factors that influence disease severity. To reach this objective, we will isolate RSV from children with respiratory disease, characterize the isolates and objectify differences between them. Next, we will investigate the effect of different virus isolates on the immunological response induced by a human respiratory epithelial cell line, since epithelial cells are the primary target cells and are implicated in the pathogenic reaction upon RSV infection. Lastly we want to evaluate whether the same clinical isolate induces a different immunological response in respiratory epithelial cells isolated from different patients. We will thus not only gain fundamental insights in the causes of RSV induced disease, but we will finally also correlate the virus- and host-related risk factors identified in the lab with clinical symptoms observed in patients. With this project we aim to identify patients prone to severe disease in an early stage, thus improving therapeutic options and disease outcome.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Exposure of premature neonates to bisphenol A and phthalates at the intensive care unit: accumulation in hair and long-term neurodevelopmentel and pulmonary toxicity. 01/11/2019 - 30/10/2021

Abstract

- Premature neonates are extremely vulnerable to external insults. - Bisphenol A and phthalates (DEHP) are plasticizers, used in soft plastics to increase their elasticity and extend their lifetime. - Leaching of plasticizers from indwelling medical devices used in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) might expose neonates to these chemicals at levels far exceeding tolerable daily dose recommendations. - Although awareness of these plasticizers is growing, they are still used in many medical devices in NICU. They are prohibited in the production of toys intended for children under 3 years of age, but legislation about their use in medical devices isn't strict or clear. - The studied plasticizers have toxic effects on neuronal and pulmonary cells, as proven in in vitro and in vivo (animal and human) models. - This project aims to explore the utility of plasticizer levels in an emerging non-invasive matrix (hair) as a diagnostic tool for cumulative and past exposure in the neonatal intensive care unit. - The possibility that this matrix can detect past exposure in this vulnerable population is a novel approach and is expected to provide fresh insights into the detection of past exposure to chemicals. - Based on these pathophysiological effects, we hypothesize that exposure to these plasticizers during the NICU stay contributes to the long-lasting impaired (neurocognitive and lung) development that is frequently observed in neonates after discharge from NICU.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Identification of host-virus interactions contributing to immunopathology and disease severity in respiratory syncytial virus infections in children. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is worldwide the leading cause of serious infections of the lower airways, and nearly all children are infected with RSV by the age of two. RSV is responsible for different clinical presentations, ranging from mild to very severe disease. Limited preventive and therapeutic options are available, and furthermore, it is not clear why some infected individuals develop severe disease while others do not. We therefore aim to investigate host- and virus-related factors that may influence disease severity. To reach this objective, we will divide our research project in four different goals. Firstly, we will isolate RSV from patients and investigate which of two commonly used virus collection methods is best to obtain viable RSV isolates. Secondly, we will investigate the effect of different virus isolates on human respiratory epithelial cells, since these are not only the primary target cells, but also implicated in the pathogenic immune response upon RSV infection. Thirdly, we want to evaluate whether respiratory epithelial cells from different patients, react differently upon infection with the same virus, which may explain differences in disease severity observed in patients. We will thus not only gain fundamental insights in the causes of RSV induced diseases, but we will finally also correlate risk factors identified in the laboratory with clinical symptoms in patients, supporting the translational character of this research project.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Innovative imaging techniques to predict treatment outcome in pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by intermittent collapse of the upper airway during sleep resulting in an abnormal sleep pattern and drops in oxygen concentration. It affects up to 50% of children with specific risk factors including obesity and Down syndrome. It results in neurocognitive impairment but can also augment for instance the obesity-related cardiovascular morbidity. Therefore, a correct treatment is mandatory. Adenotonsillectomy, the classical first line treatment, has a success percentage of only 50% or less. This implies that 50% of these children with OSA are at risk of being exposed to unnecessary surgery. The aim of this research project is to identify markers that could predict the outcome of this surgery in children with OSA. In a first study, we will identify markers that correlate with the severity of OSA in these children. More classical markers include for instance body mass index, neck circumference, tonsil size, etc. We will also use a more innovative approach with parameters obtained from CT-scanning and functional imaging methods to describe more detailed physical characteristics of the airway. Second, we will identify markers that predict the success of treatment. Finally, we will introduce an individualized approach by selecting a treatment a priori based on the airway characteristics of a specific patient. We will also use virtual surgery to determine if a specific child will benefit from surgery

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Respiratory morbidity in former premature infants with BPD. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

This research project will investigate the long-term respiratory complications of premature birth and BPD. It will focus on classical techniques including lung function but will mainly investigate the long-term morbidity using new techniques such as functional respiratory imaging. The correlation between long-term pulmonary morbidity and airway inflammation at birth will also be assessed. This project is supported by the Josephine Neiman Foundation.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Welcome Trail: improving weight control and CO-morbidities in children with obesity via executive function training. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents are prevalent, have several long lasting medical and psychosocial comorbidities and post a serious burden on society. Tackling weight problems at an early age in a sustainable way is therefore of utmost importance. Earlier studies of the UGhent and the UZA research groups, showed that in the short term a multidisciplinary obesity treatment (MOT) focusing on behavioral lifestyle approach, has a positive impact on weight and comorbidities. However, existing therapies have only limited success, specifically at long-term. One explanation for these modest results relates to poor executive functions (EFs, e.g., attention, inhibition) in overweight and obesity. EFs are needed for self-control and resisting temptation. The UGhent group investigates since 2011, as the first group worldwide, the potential of EF-training strengthening self-control capacities in obese youth and proved that a computerized EF-training on top of an evidence-based MOT enhances EFs of obese youth, and increases their capability to maintain weight loss until 8 weeks after treatment. This proof-of-concept for the present project is strengthened by recent international studies showing that training individuals to control responses to high-calorie foods via computerized tasks results in weight loss. We aim to show now that adding computerized EF-training to evidence-based MOT further improves weight maintenance until 6-month after MOT and ameliorates medical and psychosocial comorbidities. We will test this in a multicenter longitudinal, prospective randomized RCT. During the regular MOT, 200 obese youngsters (8-18 years) will be randomized on a 1/1 base to either a 6 week EF-training or an active control condition, followed by 8 weekly (training or control) booster sessions. The effects of the EF-training will be measured immediately after the MOT, at 2 month and 6 month. We expect significant effect of EF-training on 1) weight loss maintenance up to 6-months after MOT, 2) EF and 3) comorbidities and related to health benefits. The project partner's extensive professional network and close collaboration with the different partners from the advisory board (BASO, VVK and Eetexpert.be vzw) allows for the broad dissemination of the project results to different target groups. The EF-training (and manual) will be presented to different MOT centers. A train-the-trainer program will be developed. Press releases, communications to the general public and appropriate stakeholders (e.g., health authorities, medical societies and youth health organizations) and scientific presentations and publications will report on the project's activities and results.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Welcome Trail: improving weight control and CO-morbidities in children with obesity via executive function training. 01/02/2020 - 31/07/2020

Abstract

Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents are prevalent, have several long lasting medical and psychosocial comorbidities and post a serious burden on society. Tackling weight problems at an early age in a sustainable way is therefore of utmost importance. Earlier studies of the UGhent and the UZA research groups, showed that in the short term a multidisciplinary obesity treatment (MOT) focusing on behavioral lifestyle approach, has a positive impact on weight and comorbidities. However, existing therapies have only limited success, specifically at long-term. One explanation for these modest results relates to poor executive functions (EFs, e.g., attention, inhibition) in overweight and obesity. EFs are needed for self-control and resisting temptation. The UGhent group investigates since 2011, as the first group worldwide, the potential of EF-training strengthening selfcontrol capacities in obese youth and proved that a computerized EF-training on top of an evidence-based MOT enhances EFs of obese youth, and increases their capability to maintain weight loss until 8 weeks after treatment. This proof-ofconcept for the present project is strengthened by recent international studies showing that training individuals to control responses to high-calorie foods via computerized tasks results in weight loss. We aim to show now that adding computerized EF-training to evidence-based MOT further improves weight maintenance until 6-month after MOT and ameliorates medical and psychosocial comorbidities. We will test this in a multicenter longitudinal, prospective randomized RCT. During the regular MOT, 200 obese youngsters (8-18 years) will be randomized on a 1/1 base to either a 6 week EF-training or an active control condition, followed by 8 weekly (training or control) booster sessions. The effects of the EF-training will be measured immediately after the MOT, at 2 month and 6 month. We expect significant effect of EF-training on 1) weight loss maintenance up to 6-months after MOT, 2) EF and 3) comorbidities and related to health benefits. The project partner's extensive professional network and close collaboration with the different partners from the advisory board (BASO, VVK and Eetexpert.be vzw) allows for the broad dissemination of the project results to different target groups. The EF-training (and manual) will be presented to different MOT centers. A train-the-trainer program will be developed. Press releases, communications to the general public and appropriate stakeholders (e.g., health authorities, medical societies and youth health organizations) and scientific presentations and publications will report on the project's activities and results.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Digital ausculation as an innovative tool to access the effectiveness of ACT and to guide physiotherapists in the treatment of respiratory patients. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

Lung auscultation, which is the process of listening to breath sounds, is one of the most commonly used examinations to evaluate respiratory health. Over the last decades computational methods have been developed for the analysis of recorded lung sounds. Computer Aided Lung Sound Analysis (CALSA) aims to overcomel imitations associated with standard lung auscultation by removing the subjective component of the process and allowing quantification of lung sound characteristics. To date, no accepted standard for data acquisition and analysis has been set and none of the proposed approaches have been successfully implemented in clinical practice. During this project we will cooperate with the Faculty of Applied Engineering to develop a simple but robust visual representation for CALSA, which can be easily interpreted by health care professionals. Several clinical studies described in this project aim to validate this analysis and to study the ability of CALSA to measure effects of respiratory therapy. The latter could be of great interest to evaluate different airway clearance techniques. More particularly, there is a lack of adequate outcome measures appropriate for assessing airway clearance, which has been a barrier for the development of evidence based guidelines. Digital auscultation has the potential to be a sensitive, objective and non-invasive tool by providing regional information associated with local changes in the airways.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Welcome trail: improving weight controL and co-morbidities in children with obesity via executive function training. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents are prevalent, have several long lasting medical and psychosocial comorbidities and post a serious burden on society. Tackling weight problems at an early age in a sustainable way is therefore of utmost importance. Earlier studies of the UGhent and the UZA research groups, showed that in the short term a multidisciplinary obesity treatment (MOT) focusing on behavioral lifestyle approach, has a positive impact on weight and comorbidities. However, existing therapies have only limited success, specifically at long-term. One explanation for these modest results relates to poor executive functions (EFs, e.g., attention, inhibition) in overweight and obesity. EFs are needed for self-control and resisting temptation. The UGhent group investigates since 2011, as the first group worldwide, the potential of EF-training strengthening selfcontrol capacities in obese youth and proved that a computerized EF-training on top of an evidence-based MOT enhances EFs of obese youth, and increases their capability to maintain weight loss until 8 weeks after treatment. This proof-ofconcept for the present project is strengthened by recent international studies showing that training individuals to control responses to high-calorie foods via computerized tasks results in weight loss. We aim to show now that adding computerized EF-training to evidence-based MOT further improves weight maintenance until 6-month after MOT and ameliorates medical and psychosocial comorbidities. We will test this in a multicenter longitudinal, prospective randomized RCT. During the regular MOT, 200 obese youngsters (8-18 years) will be randomized on a 1/1 base to either a 6 week EF-training or an active control condition, followed by 8 weekly (training or control) booster sessions. The effects of the EF-training will be measured immediately after the MOT, at 2 month and 6 month. We expect significant effect of EF-training on 1) weight loss maintenance up to 6-months after MOT, 2) EF and 3) comorbidities and related to health benefits. The project partner's extensive professional network and close collaboration with the different partners from the advisory board (BASO, VVK and Eetexpert.be vzw) allows for the broad dissemination of the project results to different target groups. The EF-training (and manual) will be presented to different MOT centers. A train-the-trainer program will be developed. Press releases, communications to the general public and appropriate stakeholders (e.g., health authorities, medical societies and youth health organizations) and scientific presentations and publications will report on the project's activities and results.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Validation and clinical use of computer assisted lung sound analyses (CALSA) in cystic fibrosis patients and patients with neuromuscular diseases using functional respiratory imaging. 01/07/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

Many respiratory diseases require a physiotherapeutic treatment whit a focus on clearance of excessive mucus from the airways. Although patients report a subjective benefit, there is little objective evidence regarding the effect of airway clearance techniques. This contradiction exists due to a lack of good outcome measures that are specifically related to the interventions employed. Electronic auscultation coupled with computerized lung sound analysis (CALSA) has the potential to improve the clinical evaluation of pulmonary disorders in both clinical and research settings. In other words, CALSA could be a valid instrument for the evaluation of physiotherapeutic treatments. In this project, we want to validate CALSA and recorded lung sounds in patients with cystic fibrosis and neuromuscular diseases by comparing it with CT-based functional respiratory imaging. In the second part, we want to evaluate the effect of airway clearance techniques by using changes in CALSA and comparing it with classic outcome measures.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Lecture Chair "Transition and PK Care Pathway Program". 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

This project concerns patients with hemophilia. - The patients will have 4x/year a contact with the hemophilia treatment centre by means of a consultation (with doctor and/or dedicated nurse and/or psychologist). - Use of interdisciplinary (12x/year) & multidisciplinary (4x/year) meetings at several specific time points for discussing the transition within a systematic follow-up protocol (together with the consultations/ultrasound imaging/PK studies). - Systematic assessment of hemophilic arthropathy through the validated ultrasound scales (HEAD US scoring system). The six joints (2x elbow, 2x knee, 2x ankle) will be examined (1 a 2x/year) in a systematic way according to the developed ultrasound-protocol specific for the assessment of arthropathic changes in hemophiliac joints (HEAD US scoring system). - Systematic assessment of PK-studies through the WAPPS-HEMO web service (1 a 2x/year)

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Functional respiratory imaging to predict treatment outcome in obese children with obstructive sleep apnea. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by intermittent collapse of the upper airway during sleep resulting in an abnormal sleep pattern and drops in oxygen concentration. It affects up to 50% of obese children and can be considered as one of obesity's most important complications. It results in neurocognitive impairment but can also augment the obesity-related cardiovascular morbidity. Therefore, a correct treatment is mandatory. Adenotonsillectomy, the classical first line treatment, has a success percentage of only 50%. This implies that 50% of obese children with OSA are at risk of being exposed to unnecessary surgery. The aim of this research project is to identify markers that could predict the outcome of this surgery in obese children with OSA. In a first study, we will identify markers that correlate with the severity of OSA in these children. More classical markers include for instance body mass index, neck circumference, tonsil size, etc. We will also use a more innovative approach with parameters obtained from ultra low dose CT-scanning and functional imaging methods (computational fluid dynamics) to describe more detailed physical characteristics of the airway (volume, cross sectional area, resistance). Second, we will identify markers that predict the success of treatment. Finally, we will apply virtual surgery on these images to determine if a specific child will benefit from surgery.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The interaction between OSAS and obesity in children: towards a better understanding of the role of the adipose tissue. 01/04/2014 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand UZA. UA provides UZA research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Innovative imaging techniques to predict treatment outcome in pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to identify markers that could predict the outcome of this surgery in obese children with OSA. In a first study, we will identify markers that correlate with the severity of OSA in these children. More classical markers include for instance body mass index, neck circumference, tonsil size, etc. We will also use a more innovative approach with parameters obtained from CT-scanning and functional imaging methods to describe more detailed physical characteristics of the airway. Second, we will identify markers that predict the success of treatment. Finally, we will introduce an individualized approach by selecting a treatment a priori based on the airway characteristics of a specific patient. We will also use virtual surgery to determine if a specific child will benefit from surgery.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)