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Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences

 

Mission statement

The Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences is an internationally recognized research center in all aspects of therapeutics and diagnostics from target to market. It covers expertise in research and teaching spanning the entire drug discovery and development process, carries out studies on the use of medicinal products in society and guides practitioners in the field.

Research profile

The 11 research groups of the department focus each on a different aspect of diagnostics or therapeutics, from design over experimental research to socio-economic facets. They cover a broad range of disciplines with expertise in research and teaching related to the entire drug discovery and development process ‘from target to market’:

 

 

Major areas of Research

target validation - drug discovery - medicinal chemistry - retrovirology - gene therapy - therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies - biocrystallography - pharmacology - toxicology - drug analysis - radiopharmaceutical diagnostics - pharmaceutical technology - biopharmaceutics -  pharmacokinetics - exploratory clinical trials - clinical pharmacy - pharmaceutical care - pharmaco-economics - regulatory affairs

Training and education

The department, comprising about 30 professors and assistant professors
(of which some part-time), provides most of the teaching to all BaMa students of pharmaceutical sciences, and lectures pharmaceutical/pharmacological related topics to many others. Collectively, they lead the research activities and give guidance to approximately 120 PhD students, more than 50 post-docs and 30 FT equivalents of technical personnel and they trained 65 graduate students obtaining a PhD over a 3-year period (2013-2015).

Drug Delivery and Disposition

Patrick Augustijns - Guy Van den Mooter - Pieter Annaert

The main goal of the research at the Laboratory of Drug Delivery and Disposition is to develop new strategies for achieving enhanced and reproducible drug exposure. This includes both pharmacotechnological approaches (i.e. new drug formulations and process technology) and biopharmaceutical approaches (based on knowledge of mechanisms underlying drug absorption and hepatobiliary disposition). In addition, the laboratory is involved in the development of novel preclinical models for ADME profiling and drug-induced liver injury. The laboratory is involved in the Center for Drug Delivery and Analysis and the Center for Bio-analytical research.

Associated networks: CBRL
For more: lab website

Cell Metabolism

Myriam Baes

Our primary aim is to decipher the function of peroxisomes, the most recently identified cell organelles, in different tissues and to investigate pathomechanisms and therapeutic targets in peroxisome deficiency disorders. The general strategy is to generate and analyze mouse models with total, cell type selective and inducible inactivation of peroxisomes or peroxisomal enzymes. In the near future we will focus on how peroxisomes prevent neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration and on their potential contribution to lipotoxicity in β-cells of the pancreas.

For more: lab website

Therapeutic and Diagnostic Antibodies

Paul Declerck - Ann Gils

Our group is active in the field of thrombosis and fibrinolysis with a focus on plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) and thrombin activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI). Diverse panels of monoclonal antibodies, nanobodies and diabodies are being generated and used in in vitro and in vivo research settings as well as for the development of diagnostics and therapeutics. Our group is one of the founders of PharmAbs, a KU Leuven consortium which provides customized antibody production. Our group has an intensive collaboration with the Translation Research in Gastroenterology Disorders group (TARGID) at the University Hospital Leuven and has developed assays to determine trough levels of infliximab and adalimumab.


For more: lab website

Biocrystallography

Sergei Strelkov

We aim at elucidating the fundamental mechanisms of biomolecular function in healthy and diseased state. We use a wide range of structural biology techniques with a particular accent on X-ray crystallography. Our research is mainly concerned with, but not limited to, the three-dimensional structure of intermediate filaments, proteinaceous lysozyme inhibitors, small heat-shock proteins and HIV tegrase co-factors. Our research is carried out in extensive intramural and international collaboration and provides a rational basis for the development of new drugs.

Associated networks: Macromolecular crystallography facility

For more: lab website

Medicinal Chemistry

Piet Herdewyn - Arthur Van Aerschot - Jef Rozenski - Eveline Lescrinier - Mathy Froeyen

The Medicinal Chemistry group located mainly on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Rega Institute for Medical Research, is part of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Since 1990, its interests lay in the field of peptide, nucleoside and oligonucleotide chemistry. New substances are synthesized, analyzed and evaluated for activity in vitro. In addition, molecular modeling, NMR and mass spectrometry facilities are available and these units perform supporting research. The Medicinal Chemistry group has long lasting contacts and cooperation with well respected research units all over the world.

For more: lab website

Toxicology and Pharmacology

Jan Tytgat - Eva Cuypers

Research is focused on 2 areas: 1) analytical and forensic toxicology, and 2) molecular pharmacology and toxicology.
In the 1st domain, SOPs are being developed including validations, new techniques and instruments are being implemented and novel forensic topics explored. The lab also performs extensive forensic analyses at the request of the Ministry of Justice. In the 2nd domain, the lab focuses on drug discovery, starting from bioactive substances (toxins) present in microorganisms, plants and animals. Xenobiotics are characterized and structure-function studies undertaken, using a wide platform of techniques. Pre-clinical testing of lead compounds using electrophysiology, and delivery of diagnostic tools forms part of the service.

Associated networks: CBRL
For more: lab website

Pharmaceutical Analysis

Ann Van Schepdael - Erwin Adams - Deirdre Cabooter

The laboratory for Pharmaceutical Analysis has large expertise in LC, CE and GC analysis and studies the development of various new detection techniques in combination with miniaturization (via small particle columns and in-capillary determination), allowing analysis of biological samples.
Besides the existing programs related to method development and validation for the analysis of small molecules, especially antiobiotics, the research group is active in the field of hyphenation of separation techniques with mass spectrometry: LC/MS, GC-MS and CE-MS. In addition,the laboratory is involved in the Center for Bio-analytical Research.

Associated networks: CBRL
For more: lab website

Radiopharmacy

Guy Bormans

The Laboratory of Radiopharmacy develops and evaluates new radiopharmaceuticals for clinical diagnosis, basic an clinical research (molecular imaging) or therapy. The Laboratory of Radiopharmacy is part of the IMIR (In vivo Molecular Imaging Research) KU Leuven centre of excellence and the EU FP7 INMiND research consortium. Research spans from organic synthesis, radiolabelling, purification, formulation, analysis, in vivo and in vitro evaluation, toxicity studies, to clinical evaluation. The laboratory has a close collaboration and participates in clinical studies using both established and new tracers with the Nuclear Medicine division  ('MIRaCLe' consortium) of the University Hospital.


For more: lab website

Molecular Virology and Gene Therapy

Zeger Debyser - Rik Gijsbers

The AIDS pandemic caused by the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) justifies a continued research effort. Molecular Virology and Gene Therapy carries out strategic basic research in the field of molecular virology. We are specialized in the study of viral nuclear import and integration in its cellular context. This research field overlaps with virology, cell biology, genetics and biochemistry. Creative research aims at identifying novel co-factors of HIV replication. Applications are in drug discovery and viral vector technology.  The viral vector technology-platform is primarily based on HIV-derived lentiviral vector technology (LV), a spin-off from our HIV research and on AAV-based vectors. The platform is supported by basic scientific research on the virology of HIV.

For more: lab website

Molecular Biodiscovery

Peter de Witte

The group’s research objective is to identify and validate novel small molecules with significant pharmacological potential. Over the past years the group has built up a zebrafish-based platform for small-molecule drug discovery. Currently available zebrafish bioassays include in vivo models for angiogenesis, inflammation, BMP/Wnt signaling, epilepsy and drug-induced organ toxicities. The group has a strong industrial focus, as exemplified by institutional funding for an industrial research fellow (IOF), and by ongoing collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry for zebrafish-based hepato-, cardio-, and neurotoxicity screening and for identification of neuroactive molecules.

For more: lab website

Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy

Steven Simoens - Gert Laekeman - Veerle Foulon - Isabelle Huys - Minne Casteels - Katelijne De Nys - Jan de Hoon - Corinne Vandermeulen - Ludo Willems - Isabel Spriet

Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy focuses on the relationship between drugs and their safe and efficient use in humans. This group is the result of a recent merger of three research groups, Clinical Pharmacology (http://www.uzleuven.be/nl/centrum-klinische-farmacologie/centrum-klinische-farmacologie/), Pharmacotherapy and Clinical Pharmacy. In our Clinical Pharmacology studies, drugs are frequently still in (early) clinical development and not necessarily used in a therapeutic context. Consequently, mainly healthy subjects or well-defined patient populations are involved. For Pharmacotherapy the focus is on the use of drugs in daily patient care (both ambulatory and in a hospital setting) and this includes the study of regulatory and legal aspects of drug development, reimbursement and post-marketing use. For Clinical Pharmacy , the area of interest is the use of drugs and their interaction in a hospital setting involving often severely ill patient populations with many co-morbidities and concomitant medications. In addition to these research activities, our group also offers expertise on the design and conduct of clinical trials in close collaboration with the Clinical Trial Center of the University Hospitals Leuven (http://www.uzleuven.be/clinical-trial-center/clinical-trial-center).

For more: (http://pharm.kuleuven.be/clinpharmcotherapy)

Our IOF research managers

Within the different research groups of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences three research managers have been appointed by the IOF (Industrial Research Fund, Flanders, http://www.kuleuven.be/industrieelonderzoeksfonds/) to promote innovative, industry focused research within the department, leading basic strategic research projects towards translation and commercialization. All three Research Managers have complementary profiles in the field of small molecule drug development and biologicals including medicinal chemistry, antibody design and production, assay development and compound profiling (in vitro and in vivo) focusing therefore on different aspects of the drug discovery pipeline.
For more information: IOF research managers