Healthy Aging

Aging is a progressively increasing problem of the EMR region compared to other West-European regions. The increasing number of elderly is associated with age related chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), asthma, chronic obstructive lung diseases (COPD), neurodegenerative (MS) and cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

EMR is a living lab amongst the several borders where age related health problems manifest faster compared to other regions. Private and academic institutions showing expertise on the level of health, chronic diseases and medical technologies are represented in this living lab, implying great opportunities for this region. This will have a huge impact on the previously mentioned regional health risks.

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Healthy Aging Partners Afbeelding

General Information

It is clear that strategies to identify age related chronic diseases in an early stage, are missing. Hence, patients should be treated more efficiently (70% of the patients does not react properly to therapy) to delay aging. Biomarkers are very important in all these fazes because they are not only a measure for delaying aging but also form an armor to age related diseases.

Academic partners (Universiteit Hasselt, MUMC, GIGA Luik en UKA) and SME’s (Curador, MonaCell, Imomec, GlycoCheck, Phacobel en ptTheragnostic) which are part of the Healthy Aging consortium will use their knowledge and expertise to cope with the expected increase of age related diseases. This will be achieved by:

  • (1) Early diagnosis of immune aging and age related chronic diseases (DIAGNOSE)
  • (2) Personalized intervention in chronic diseases to improve the response (“COMPOUND” DIAGNOSTICS)
  • (3) New and more efficient therapies (better therapies)
  • (4) Nutraceuticals to delay and prevent aging and age related chronic diseases (PREVENTION)

The following video clearly explains the Healthy Aging project

Interreg program and financing

  • Interreg Euregio Maas-Rein

  • Interreg is part of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

This Healthy Aging project is supported by:



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Astel Medica

Leadpartner: BIOMED

The Biomedical Research Institute (BIOMED) of Hasselt University conducts high level multidisciplinary research to advance progress in human life sciences. High-end technology is used to deliver novel insights in three main disease areas: (neuro)immunology, neuroscience and cardiovascular disease. BIOMED aims to translate new scientific discoveries into applications that contribute to a healthy society

As the lead partner of Healthy Aging, BIOMED has extensive expertise at the level of immune regulation and biomarker research, development of immune interventions and mechanisms of immune aging in the context of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS)  and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). BIOMED builds on an elaborate regional network of neurologists and rheumatologists to collect well characterized patient samples in the University Biobank Limburg (UbiLim). Its dedicated lab facilities and its critical mass of professors, PhDs and post docs working on immunology are the ideal setting to successfully develop new biomarkers for healthy and pathological aging.

BIOMEDs spearhead research activities are organized in accordance with the bench to bedside concept. BIOMED thus aims at valorizing newly created knowledge. A spin-off was setup (Apitope) and a license agreement was signed (Innova Diagnostics) in frame of further valorisation of RA and MS biomarkers generated at BIOMED. BIOMED further actively collaborates in innovation projects and contract research for the life sciences industry to help bring candidate drugs to the market.

BIOMED participated in various previous interreg projects, namely Interreg EMR : Alma in Silico (partner), BioMiMedics (partner) , and Interreg Flanders-Netherlands: VariA (partner) and NanosensEU (lead partner) and therefore has good expertise with the management and organisation of European co-financing projects.


Project partner 2: Maastricht Universitair Medisch Centrum (MUMC+)

MUMC+ ranking #45 of best (pre)clinical health centers worldwide (THE), is the number one employee in Dutch Limburg. It is a strategic merger of the University Maastricht (UM) and Maastricht academic hospital (azM) with the ambition to integrate health care, education and translational research. It is renown for the high quality of cardiovascular research and offers all state of the art facilities, cohorts and knowhow required for accomplishment of the Healthy Ageing program. In addition, it presents a guided track for translation of preclinical findings into clinical practice. Embedded in MUMC+, the Cardiovascular Research Institute CARIM is globally recognized for its expert knowledge and knowhow in cardiovascular research. Its particular strength is in the translation and valorization of basic findings regarding therapy and diagnosis of a range of cardiovascular disorders including heart infarct, stroke and heart failure. The two participants, Pathology and Physiology, will deploy their complementary infrastructure and expertise on human heart diseases and its diagnosis as well as on a humanized heart-on-a-chip test platform to not only identify middle aged subjects with a high risk of suffering a cardiovascular event in the near future, but also to screen new nutraceuticals and drugs to treat these patients.

MUMC applicants (and in extremis the MUMC as a whole) are frequent partner in and has broad experience with multicenter cofinancing programs, at national (MKMD, CTMM Circulating Cells, Parisk, Queens of Heart, Molecular Cardiology program) and European level, including Interreg previous programs (VARIA, BioMIMedics, PACTII).


Project partner 3: Respiratory Medicine, GIGAi3 Research group, University of Liege (GIGA)

Created at the University of Liège in October 2003, the center originally had around twenty research laboratories working in different fields using genoproteomic approaches.

Currently, the GIGA-Research is structured in the form of 9 thematic research units that total close to 600 people from 6 different Faculties (Medicine, Sciences, Applied Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Agro Biotech, Psychology), distributed in about fifty laboratories.The research within GIGA is revolving around 4 main axes: cancer, cardiovascular diseases, all the diseases related to Immunity, Inflammation and Infection and the neurosciences

The pneumology research unit is part of the GIGA research center. It works in close collaboration with the University Hospital of Liege (CHU) and is therefore an ideal setting for translational research. The pneumology research unit is an established center at international level for its research on  inflammation in asthma and COPD. The research unit  has all the facilities to undertake basic research being part of GIGA and may rely on the patient cohorts of the biggest pneumology department of Wallonia at Liege CHU.

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Project partner 4: Universitätsklinikum Aachen (UKA)

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IBMB) at UKA contributes with two innovative and original molecular technology platforms to the project, namely receptor fusion proteins (RFPs) for the inhibition of cytokines and a SNAP-tag based strategy.

Cytokines are hormone-like substances that regulate the activity of the immune system. Chronic inflammatory diseases and immune ageing are mainly a result of deregulation of the cytokine network. IBMB at UKA has years of experience in the development of RFPs. Within this project new RFPs will be developed to develop new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and redirection of immune ageing.

For the discovery and detection of biomarkers a technological platform will be offered and developed within this project. This technique has a very highspecificity and sensitivity.

The administration of the UKA has broad experience in handling and processing of Interreg projects as well as other cofinanced projects funded by EFRO.

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Project partner 5: DNAmito

DNAmito is a spin-off company of Maastro clinic and MUMC+. DNAmito is on the mission to personalize cancer treatment planning based on genomics. The expertise combines different disciplines in multifactorial decision support systems, risk prediction, DNA sequencing analysis, data modelling,software programming… All together, DNAmito is the service company for patient stratification in imprecision medicine. The stratification is mainly based on mitochondrial biomarker signatures and our multifactorial decision support tool.

These signatures and further studies have shown preliminary results towards COPD. Participation in this consortium will expand our company portfolio towards cardiovascular and chronic diseases. By using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA signatures, the risk of developing these diseases can be predicted

DNAmito has experience with a Marie Curie training network and a SME phase 2 grant. Furthermore the researchers on the company bring in several years of experience of co-financing and EU grants, prior to joining this company.

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Project partner 6: GlycoCheck

GlycoCheck has developed a fully automated, noninvasive measurement system to assess the condition of the endothelial glycocalyx in patients and healthy individuals, based on microscopic imaging analysis of videos of the sublingual microvasculature using patented glycocalyx analysis software.

The glycocalyx is an important compartment of the luminal surface of the vascular endothelial lining that mediates interaction with circulating blood cells and that protects our circulatory system against pathogenic challenges like cholesterol and hyperglycemia.

The glycocalyx measurement system is used in over 40 international clinical studies and demonstrated that glycocalyx damage reflects early vascular vulnerability in patients exposed to cardiovascular risk factors. Furthermore, it has become clear that glycocalyx health is affected by aging and that age dependent modification of the glycocalyx can be used as a marker to monitor the impact of inflammatory disease and immune aging.

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IMOMEC (institute for material research in Microelectronics) is an associated lab of IMEC (Interuniversity Micro Electronics Centre, Leuven). IMOMEC has an integrated and intensive collaboration with IMO, the research center of Hasselt University. Imec performs leading research in Nano electronics. Imec combines its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of worldwide partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy.

The joint activities of IMO-IMOMEC concentrate on wide band gap materials, organic materials for electronic applications, biosensors, nanophysics and electrical, physical and chemical characterization.

Within the field of biosensor research, IMOMEC has a profound track record. Research groups within IMOMEC have demonstrated the ability to selectively and specifically trace small molecules in different matrices such as urine, saliva, bowel fluids, blood plasma, blood… Furthermore, with similar techniques they also demonstrated SNP detection with DNA functionalized electrodes which led to the identification of cells. The institute is also owner of several patents within the field.

Biosensor development is one of the spearheads of the institute. The institute has a leading role in the development of sensors based on a heat-transmission method of impedance spectroscopy. Within this project the obtained expertise can be used and expanded to bring a technology on the market that proved its use in a lab setting.

IMOMEC already participated in different interreg projects such as BioMiMedics, Organext and NanosensEU. Therefore, IMOMEC has the appropriate expertise on the level of managing and organizing European co-financing projects.


Project partner 8: Curador

Curador is a small company focusing on research/development and production of innovative plant extracts for food nutraceuticals through innovative extraction techniques and optimization of formulation for health supplements. Of interest are Oenothein B, glucosinolates derivatives such as isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, phytobilliproteins  and organic silicium.

The company is positioned on biological targets through original selection of less known natural compounds and focused on ways to get whole “totum” extracts but with certified levels of active principles. This approach leads to innovative products interesting to test and to further develop into food supplements.

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Project partner 9: My®Health

The team of MY®HEALTH has extensive experience in the development of innovative food supplements to improve health (nutraceuticals), based on scientific and clinical research. By applying an evidence based approach, MY®HEALTH has developed a portfolio of scientifically validated nutraceuticals.

Furthermore, MY®HEALTH is highly skilled in the commercialization of nutraceuticals and has an experienced marketing and sales team. The aim of MY®HEALTH is to cure and especially prevent chronic diseases, which are often only treated with acute drugs, by addressing the underlying cause in a safe and efficient manner. In this way MY®HEALTH wants to support general health into old age.

MY®HEALTH has developed a new portfolio of nutraceuticals that support our intestinal microorganisms (gut flora) and our immune system, since both systems are sensitive to aging. Perturbations in these systems can lead to chronic metabolic and immune diseases like metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer and multiple sclerosis (MS).

The nutraceuticals of MY®HEALTH fight disturbances in the gut flora (dysbiosis) and restore the balance of the immune system. They are composed of natural ingredients and were notified by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain.

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Project partner 10: Astel Medica

15 years ago, Astel Medica developed and started the marketing of Probiotical, a product completely innovative for this time. In the area of the product containing living bacteria, Probiotical is still today the leader of the Belgian Market.

Astel Medica displays its own production line for the majority of its product and among them Probiotical/Probiotical D. So, we have the required capacity within our company to produce and supply the products required for this European project.

If our product is selected for further steps of clinical development,  we also could provide an interesting support to establish the clinical study as we have performed clinical study with our product in the past.

To make the difference with the numerous competitors present on the market Astel Medica works with an evidence based medicine approach. Every product has been developed according to the data published in the scientific literature. Each of the probiotic strains was selected regarding its specific properties. The knowledge of these properties is fundamental for the study of the mechanisms of action and the clinical effect of the final product

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Healthy Aging in the picture

23 Niet Ondersteboven

Symposium - 'Veerkrachtig ouder worden' - KULeuven, Belgium February, 1st 2020 Oral presentation by lead partner BIOMED

22. Karinna Chouman

Cytokines meeting - Vienna October, 20-23rd 2019 Poster presentation by project partner UKA

19 Niet Ontersteboven

Happy aging day October, 17th 2019 Innovationmarket (BIOMED, IMEC, GlycoCheck en MyHealth). GlycoCheck became second in the price for the most innovative project

14. Symposium 13 Juni

Symposium - “aging from a genetic and immunologic perspective” - Hasselt University, Belgium June, 13th 2019 IMEC won the poster price

13. Cathérine Moermans ATS

ATS meeting - Dallas May, 17-19th 2019 posterpresentation by project partner GIGA

12. Sophie Graff ATS

GSK meeting - Brussels May, 8th 2019 Posterpresentation by project partner GIGA

11A. Openbedrijven Dag

Participation 'Openbedrijvendag' Oktober 2018

Healthy Aging Niet Ondersteboven

Happy aging day October, 18th 2018 Presentation Healthy Aging project on innovationmarket

9. Target Groups Picture Sophie Graff At GSK Award

ATS conference USA May, 18-23rd 2018 Posterpresentation by project partner GIGA

Healthy Aging In The Picture

GSK partnering day April, 19th 2018 Presentation of the project by the lead partner BIOMED


Symposium - The microbiome - Jessa Hospital, Belgium March, 10th 2018 Project partner MyHealth presents the Healthy Aging project on the infomarket

6. Ralf Raue Award

BIOMEDICA May, 10th 2017 Ralf Raue award - poster presentation

Healthy Aging Partners Afbeelding

Kick-off Healthy Aging March, 23rd 2017