Our 10 most-read science news stories of 2021

From abdominal pain after eating certain foods to experimental hearing implants: in this overview, we present the most-read news items about research at KU Leuven in 2021.

10. KU Leuven develops very potent antiviral against dengue

6 October Researchers have developed an inhibitor of the dengue virus. The antiviral molecule is effective against all known dengue variants and could be used for therapeutic and prevention purposes.

9. Main gland in hormonal system ages due to process that can potentially be slowed down

15 June Researches have discovered that the pituitary gland in mice ages as the result of an age-related form of chronic inflammation. It may be possible to slow down this process or even partially repair it.

8. Experimental hearing implant succeeds in registering brain waves

30 March Researchers at KU Leuven have succeeded for the first time in measuring brain waves directly via a cochlear implant. These brainwaves indicate in an objective way how good or bad a person’s hearing is. The research results are important for the further development of smart hearing aids.

7. Researchers discover how the brain learns from subconscious stimuli

15 March Researchers uncovered for the first time what happens in animals’ brains when they learn from subconscious, visual stimuli. In time, this knowledge can lead to new treatments for a number of conditions.

Some antibiotics appear to be effective against a form of skin cancer known as melanoma. KU Leuven researchers examined the effect of these antibiotics on patient-derived tumours in mice.

5. 3D printing lays the foundation for a new range of diagnostic tests

10 May Researchers at KU Leuven have developed a 3D printing technique that extends the possibilities of lateral flow testing. With the new printing technique, advanced diagnostic tests can be produced that are quick, cheap, and easy to use.

4. Scientists switch on tissue repair in inflammatory bowel disease

8 February Researchers have developed a method that instructs immune system cells to help repair damaged tissue in the intestine.

3. Scientists reveal mechanism that causes irritable bowel syndrome

13 January KU Leuven researchers have identified the biological mechanism that explains why some people experience abdominal pain when they eat certain foods. The finding paves the way for more efficient treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.

2. International team identifies genetic link between face and brain shape

5 April An interdisciplinary team has identified 76 overlapping genetic locations that shape both our face and our brain. What the researchers didn’t find is evidence that this genetic overlap also predicts someone’s behavioural-cognitive traits or risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Five KU Leuven researchers awarded with ERC Advanced Grant

22 April The European Research Council (ERC) has again awarded its Advanced Grants for ground-breaking research. ERC Advanced Grants are awarded to established researchers with an outstanding track record in the past ten years. Five KU Leuven researchers received the prestigious grant this year.

Press and Policy Communications unit