Updated on 22 May 2012
What are some of the breakthrough developments of 2011 and how was it effective in putting the Netherlands on the life sciences global map?
Ms Rancuret: Dutch biotechnology company, to-BBB gained worldwide rights for the development and commercialization of G-Technology that enables potential treatment for devastating brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, viral encephalitis, stroke and brain tumors, to safely cross the neuroprotective blood-brain barrier (BBB). An exclusive license agreement was signed between the biotech company and the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) of Taiwan in November 2011. An expert team of drug delivery scientists from the ITRI, Taiwan, pioneered this promising technology.
More than 30 million people worldwide suffer from major neurological diseases with hardly any hope for cure. For the brain drug targeting company, to-BBB, this worldwide license agreement opens a gateway to deliver new treatment options to millions of patients suffering from currently non-treatable brain diseases.
Also, experts at Medsim in Eindhoven have created the world's first medical birth simulation lab. It is a controlled environment with preset scenarios where gynaecologists can hone their skills and practise complicated deliveries. Medsim will further develop its training program into its software. The lab has already received reservations from medical teams across the world. Medsim is now looking abroad to expand its training simulations beyond the Netherlands.
Then, researchers at two Dutch universities, TU Eindhoven and Maastricht UMC+, have come up with a solution for helping surgeons to re-connect damaged or severed nerve endings. Until recently, nerve damage caused in deep cut-wounds was extremely difficult to treat. The healing process involved great pain and discomfort for patients. Now, scientists working at the Dutch Polymer Institute have developed a biodegradable polymer that can restore damaged nerve-endings and facilitate re-connection. To improve the healing process, the nerve ends are placed in a tube with biodegradable polymer material that attracts growth-supporting cells to speed up the process. By the time the nerve-endings heal, the tube breaks down naturally within the patient's body.