Zuckerberg donates $1 million to Leuven research into Parkinson’s

Friday, 07 December 2018 10:25
Zuckerberg donates $1 million to Leuven research into Parkinson’s © Anthony Quintano/Wikimedia
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of internet giant Facebook, has made a donation of one million dollars (€879,000) to research into Parkinson’s Disease being carried out at the university of Leuven (KULeuven).
The work is being carried out by the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) and the tech spin-off IMEC, and aims to replicate part of the brain on a computer chip. “If we are successful, this will allow us to understand Parkinson’s better,” a spokesperson for the project said.

Reckoned to be the fourth-richest person in the world with a fortune of some €45.5 billion, Zuckerberg (photo) is nevertheless – unlike fellow mega-rich men like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet – not known for his philanthropy. The money comes from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a fund for medical research set up by Zuckerberg in the name of his wife, which received 700 applications for funding, of which nine were chosen, including the project from the VIB/IMEC.

Project leader, neurologist Professor Patrik Verstreken of VIB, explained what makes his research different from most Parkinson’s research, which tends to concentrate on treatment. “To find out what has gone wrong, living cells are required, whereas in Parkinson’s patients, those cells have already died off,” he said. “Our project should make it possible to study living cells.”

Over the coming three years, the team will take 16,400 skin cells and re-programme them into brain cells – already an established technique – each of which will be linked up to form a micro-circuit, which is the revolutionary part.

“By bringing the cells in contact with each other, we hope to be able to map the disease process of Parkinson’s,” Prof. Verstreken said. The micro-circuit can then be experimented upon harmlessly. “That could allow a massive leap forward in the development of treatment methods," he said.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times
Google Plus

More Stories

Entrepreneurs lay more than €300 million on table for medical research

Entrepreneurs lay more than €300 million on table for medical research

Urbain Vandeurzen, one of Belgium’s leading business entrepreneurs, has committed to spending €200 million through one of his companies to pay for research into Alzheimer’s disease.

March against Marrakesh can go ahead, says Council of State

March against Marrakesh can go ahead, says Council of State

The so-called March against Marrakesh, planned to take place in Brussels on Sunday, can go ahead despite a ban by the Brussels region, the Council of State has ruled.

Michel wants EU sanctions against people behind disinformation campaigns

Michel wants EU sanctions against people behind disinformation campaigns

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Friday on the margins of a summit in Brussels that he would like the European Commission to be able to conduct investigations and possibly take action against people who carry out disinformation campaigns to try and “destabilise democracies”.