Integrative Molecular Phenotyping
INTEGRATIVE MOLECULAR
PHENOTYPING
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY

KI News

Updated: 1 hour 36 min ago

High-sensitivity troponin test reduces risk of future heart attack

Tue, 05/06/2018 - 09:48
The newer high-sensitivity troponin test discovers smaller amounts of heart-specific proteins, troponins, than the older troponin test and thus identifies more myocardial infarction patients than before. A new study from Karolinska Institutet published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology now reports that the risk of a future heart attack is lower in patients diagnosed with the new test. A blood test that measures the presence of heart-specific proteins called troponins is used by emergency clinics to diagnose myocardial infarction in patients with chest pain. For the past few years a newer laboratory method has been used at most hospitals in Sweden that is ten times more sensitive than the conventional troponin test. The high-sensitivity troponin test can discover heart attacks earlier so that treatment can commence, which is thought to improve the patients’ prognosis. “But there is a lack of larger studies examining whether the high-sensitivity troponin test is of any significance for patients with newly diagnosed myocardial infarction in terms of survival or the risk of another heart attack,” says study leader Dr Martin Holzmann, associate professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine in Solna and physician at Karolinska University Hospital. Fewer new heart attacks The study included all patients in Sweden who had had their first heart attack between 2009 and 2013. This gave a study population of almost 88,000 patients, 40,000 of whom had been diagnosed using the high-sensitivity troponin test and just over 47,000 using the conventional troponin test. The researchers found that five per cent more myocardial infarctions were being diagnosed in hospitals that used the high-sensitivity troponin test. A year after the heart attack was registered there was no difference in mortality between the two groups, although the number of new heart attacks was lower in the group that had been diagnosed using the high-sensitivity troponin test. “This surprised us,” says Dr Holzmann. “We didn’t think that the more sensitive test would affect the risk of future heart attacks.” Better risk assessment The use of coronary angiography and balloon angioplasty was 16 and 13 per cent more common, respectively in the patients diagnosed with the high-sensitivity troponin test. In the USA, where the new test was not approved until 2017, there are fears that the more sensitive methods can entail a large increase in the number of examinations with no benefit to the patients. “The increase we observed in our study was less than expected, which means that the high-sensitivity troponin test has enabled doctors to single out the patients who benefit from such intervention. We found no differences in medication between the two groups, so the differences in prognosis with fewer new heart attacks could be attributed to the fact that more coronary angiography and balloon dilation procedures have been performed on the right patients,” says Dr Holzmann, who also believes that the study supports the idea that the handful of hospitals in Sweden that still do not use the high-sensitivity troponin test should start to do so. The study was conducted in association with the Sahlgrenska Academy and Uppsala University. Martin Holzmann receives a grant from the Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation. Per-Ola Andersson has received a lecture fee from pharmaceutical companies Roche, Gilead and Janssen and a consultancy fee from AbbVie, CTI Bipharma and Glaxo-Smith-Kline. Kai M. Eggers has received a consultancy fee from pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca and Fiomi Diagnostics. Martin Holzmann has received a consultancy fee from pharmaceutical companies Actelion and Pfizer. No other potential conflicts of interest have been reported. Text: Inna Sevelius Publication “High-Sensitivity Troponins and Outcomes After Myocardial Infarction” Maria Odqvist, Per-Ola Andersson, Hans Tygesen, Kai M. Eggers, Martin J. Holzmann Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), online 4 June 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.03.515

Lipid molecules can be used for cancer growth

Thu, 31/05/2018 - 17:01
Cancer cells can when the blood supply is low use lipid molecules as fuel instead of blood glucose. This has been shown in animal tumour models by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in a study published in Cell Metabolism. The mechanism may help explain why tumours often develop resistance to cancer drugs that inhibit the formation of blood vessels. Tumour growth and spread rely on angiogenesis, a process of growing new blood vessels that supply the cancer cells with nutrients and hormones, including glucose (sugar). Treatment with antiangiogenic drugs reduces the number of blood vessels in the tumour as well as the blood glucose supply. Many such drugs have been developed and are now used in human patients for treating various cancer types. However, the clinical benefits of antiangiogenic drugs in cancer patients are generally low and the cancers treated often develop a resistance to drugs, especially cancer types that grow close to fat tissues such as breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer and prostate cancers. A new mechanism discovered In collaboration with Japanese and Chinese scientists, a research group at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has discovered a new mechanism by which cancers can evade antiangiogenic treatment and become resistant. The reduction of tumour blood vessels results in low oxygenation in tumour tissues – a process called hypoxia. In the current study, the researchers show that hypoxia acts as a trigger to tell fat cells surrounding or within tumour tissues to break down the stored excessive lipid energy molecules. These lipid energy molecules can when the blood supply is low be used for cancer tissue expansion. “Based on this mechanism, we propose that a combination therapy consisting of antiangiogenic drugs and drugs blocking lipid energy pathways would be more effective for treating cancers. In animal tumour models, we have validated this very important concept, showing that combination therapy is superior to monotherapy,” says Yihai Cao, Professor at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet, who led the study. Explore combination therapy effects Professor Cao’s group now plans to work with drug companies and clinical oncologists to explore whether such a new combination therapy would improve the quality of life and lifespan in human cancer patients. The study was financed by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Foundation, Karolinska Institutet, the Torsten Söderberg Foundation, the Tore Nilson Foundation, the Ruth and Richard Julin Foundation, the Ögonfonden Foundation, the Wera Ekström Foundation, the Lars Hierta Memorial Foundation, National Natural Science Foundation of China, the International Research Fund for Subsidy of Kyushu University School of Medicine Alumni, the Martin Rind Foundation, the Maud and Birger Foundation, the Alex and Eva Wallström Foundation, the Robert Lundberg Memorial Foundation, the Swedish Diabetes Foundation, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund, the European Research Council, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Publication “Cancer lipid metabolism confers antiangiogenic drug resistance” Hideki Iwamoto, Mitsuhiko Abe, Yunlong Yang, Dongmei Cui, Takahiro Seki, Masaki Nakamura, Kayoko Hosaka, Sharon Lim, Jieyu Wu, Xingkang He, Xiaoting Sun, Yongtian Lu, Qingjun Zhou, Weiyun Shi, Takuji Torimura, Guohui Nie, Qi Li, and Yihai Cao. Cell Metabolism, online 31 May 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.05.005

Inefficient fat metabolism a possible cause of overweight

Thu, 31/05/2018 - 17:01
Protracted weight gain can, in some cases, be attributed to a reduced ability to metabolise fat, a new study from Karolinska Institutet published in the esteemed journal Cell Metabolism shows. Sensitive individuals might need more intensive lifestyle changes if they are to avoid becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes, claim the researchers, who are now developing means of measuring the ability to break down fat. Scientists have long sought an explanation for variations in the tendency for people to develop overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Apart from lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity, physiological differences in metabolism – which would eventually lead to differences in weight gain amongst people – is suspected to play a part.  “We’ve suspected the presence of physiological mechanisms in fatty tissue that cause some people to become overweight and others not, despite similarities in lifestyle, and now we’ve found one,” says Mikael Rydén, professor of clinical and experimental fat tissue research at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine in Huddinge.  Analysed tissue samples  In the present study, the researchers analysed tissue samples from subcutaneous fat taken from the stomachs of women before and after a follow-up period of about ten years. What they discovered was that the ability of the fat cells to free fatty acids, a process called lipolysis, in the first tissue sample could be used to predict which women would have developed type 2 diabetes by the end of the study. They also found that these women had reduced activity in a small number of specific genes involved in lipolysis. Lipolysis is the process whereby a fat cell frees fatty acids, which are then used as a source of energy by the muscles. Researchers differentiate between basal lipolysis, which is continual, and hormone-stimulated lipolysis, which is triggered in response to an increase in energy requirement. The fat cells from the women who later developed overweight showed high basal but low hormone-stimulated lipolysis, which gave a 3 to 6 times higher risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes.  “It’s a bit like a car that’s at high revs but that’s lost its ability to get into gear when it needs to,” says Professor Rydén. “The end result is that the fat cells eventually take up more fat than they can get rid of.”  New method The teams first discovered the correlation in a group of 54 women, who gave the first tissue samples between 2001 and 2003 and who were followed up 13 years later. They then repeated the analysis on 28 other women who gave samples in 1998 and were followed up ten years later, with the same results.  One of the researchers’ aims is to find ways of identifying individuals who run the risk of developing overweight and type 2 diabetes. Analyses of fat tissue are, however, relatively resource-demanding and can only be performed by specially equipped laboratories. Consequently, the researchers have developed an algorithm based on simple clinical and biochemical parameters from hundreds of individuals in order to obtain an indirect estimation of the quantity of fatty acids freed by the fat cells and thus predict weight gain. “Our results now need to be corroborated in larger studies and for men as well, but we hope to develop a clinically expedient way of identifying individuals at risk of developing overweight and type 2 diabetes, who might need more intensive lifestyle intervention than others to stay healthy,” says Professor Rydén. The study was financed by the Swedish Research Council, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Swedish Diabetes Foundation, the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes, Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet. Genetic analyses were performed with grants from CLARINS, 92200 Neuilly sur Seine. Publication  “Weight gain and impaired glucose metabolism in women is predicted by inefficient subcutaneous fat cell lipolysis” Peter Arner, Daniel P. Andersson, Jesper Bäckdahl, Ingrid Dahlman and Mikael Rydén Cell Metabolism, online 31 May 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.05.004

Hans Möller appointed new CEO of Karolinska Institutet Holding AB

Thu, 31/05/2018 - 11:23
Karolinska Institutet Holding AB has recruited Hans Möller as the new CEO for the KI Holding Group. Hans Möller will assume his new position as of July 16. He is presently holding the position as responsible for the Edinburgh BioQuarter at the University of Edinburgh.  Hans has extensive experience of working in the interface between academy and industry, including as CEO for Ideon Science Park in Lund and as a founder of Ideonfonden and the incubator Ideon Innovation. Hans acted until April 2018 as chairman of the board for KI Science Park AB. – Hans´ experience and knowledge of how to create good conditions and platforms to explore outcomes of research and education, are extremely valuable, says Karin Dahlman-Wright, Chairman of the Board for KI Holding. – I very much look forward to leading KI Holding into the future. The possibilities and challenges to create the right conditions, to support innovations within Life Science are many. Sweden in general and KI in particular, has a special position when it comes to world leading research in Life Science, says Hans Möller.

Anti-inflammatory strategy stops aggressive childhood cancer

Mon, 28/05/2018 - 16:09
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital have discovered that an anti-inflammatory drug candidate inhibiting the prostaglandin E2 producing enzyme mPGES-1 in the tumour stroma reduces tumour growth in experimental neuroblastoma models. The findings are published in EBioMedicine and open for new treatment strategies for this aggressive childhood cancer. “High-risk neuroblastoma is the most common and deadly cancer in infants. Novel therapies are highly warranted, in particular if they improve survival without adding adverse side effects,” says Professor Per Kogner at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, who led the study together with Professor Per-Johan Jakobsson at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine, Solna. Neuroblastoma is an aggressive nerve cell tumour which is diagnosed early, often before two years of age, and is stratified into different risk categories: low-risk, intermediate-risk and high-risk. Children with high-risk neuroblastoma receive intensive multi-modal treatment that has increased survival over the years but survivors both have high risk of life-threatening relapse and severe life-long side effects. Targeting of the stromal compartment has been suggested as a new strategy to increase survival further and to increase the quality of life of children who survive the disease. Targeting benign cells “We found that the dominant cell type in the tumour stroma, benign cancer-associated fibroblasts, were the main producers of prostaglandin E2 in neuroblastoma,” says Anna Kock, PhD at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health and first author of the study. “These normal cells support the growth of cancer cells and should be targeted since they are more genetically stable than the malignant cells, and therefore less prone to develop resistance.” Assistant professor Karin Larsson at the Department of Medicine, Solna, who has worked on the project for several years, explains: “Prostaglandin E2 not only mediates fever and pain, but also drives inflammation in the tumours, promoting tumour growth. Inhibition of the enzyme mPGES-1, that catalyses the production of prostaglandin E2, resulted in reduced tumour growth in experimental neuroblastoma models.” The researchers believe that the finding could lead to improved survival with fewer side effects for children with neuroblastoma. Begin to understand the mechanisms ”mPGES-1 is an emerging target for treatment of inflammation and pain with cardioprotective properties. NSAIDs, which result in reduced prostaglandin levels, have long been implicated as prophylaxis against certain cancers. Our present study pinpoints mPGES-1 in neuroblastoma and we now begin to understand the mechanisms behind its involvement in cancer growth,” says Professor Per-Johan Jakobsson, who discovered mPGES-1. The work was financed by the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Research Council, The Cancer Research Funds of Radiumhemmet, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Swedish Rheumatism Association and grants from the EU’s seventh framework program. Publication “Inhibition of Microsomal Prostaglandin E Synthase-1 in Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts Suppresses Neuroblastoma Tumor Growth” Anna Kock, Karin Larsson, Filip Bergqvist, Nina Eissler, Lotta H.M. Elfman, Joan Raouf, Marina Korotkova, John Inge Johnsen, Per-Johan Jakobsson, Per Kogner EBioMedicine, online 24 May 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.05.008

“Neo – a fine example of democracy”

Mon, 28/05/2018 - 10:41
Transparency is the word that best describes Neo, Karolinska Institutet’s new research facility in Flemingsberg, which saw its official opening on 25 May.  The ribbon was cut by Princess Christina, Mrs Magnuson. Neo is a vital part of the Life Science cluster that puts the Flemingsberg campus on the map of world-leading research. “This building is a fine example of democracy,” says Karolinska Institute president Ole Petter Ottersen. “What makes Neo unique is that it’s open access, creating fantastic opportunities and enabling unbeatable interactions. Neo symbolises transparency and collaboration. With so many people of different nationalities and backgrounds, something magical is bound to happen.” Professor Ottersen officially opened Neo in the company of Princess Christina, Mrs Magnuson, honorary doctor of medicine at Karolinska Institutet.  “Officiating at the opening of Neo means so many things to me,” she said. “I was involved in KI’s second-centenary celebrations and made sure that we raised superb proceeds for research. It was my way of saying thank you for the honorary doctorate.”  She went on to talk about the many illnesses she has had in the course of her life, and how grateful she feels to be healthy again.  “I’ve got a feeling that something amazing is happening here at Neo, it’s like a global microcosmos, with all the researchers from at least thirty countries bringing all sorts of experience. It’s a fantastic crucible of knowledge.”  Room for 400 researchers Neo covers an area of 15,000 square metres, with space for around 400 researchers on seven floors. Five thousand square metres consists of laboratory space. Here can be found four of KI’s departments represented:  The Department of Biosciences and Nutrition. The Department of Medicine, Huddinge. The Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society. The Department of Laboratory Medicine. During the opening ceremony, participants were able to attend a number of scientific mini-symposia on different themes, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes research.  An atrium exploding with colour The ground floor of Neo boasts the brilliantly coloured atrium with its eye-catching spiral staircase shaped like DNA spirals. Next to the atrium are two spherical auditoriums built from translucent concrete (butong) modules. The surface is like bubble-wrap. “The new feels newer and more complete when juxtaposed with something broken,” says architect Laila Ifwer Sternhoff at Link Arkitektur. “This is why we’ve used translucent concrete to create a sense of weight and antithesis against the new.” The architects have designed the building along the motifs of “new”, “modern” and “germination”. The sound in the auditoriums is intended to facilitate group work, for example, and the rooms are everyone’s – the departments have access to all parts of the building. “In Neo, we’ve created a positive work environment with no distinct boundaries between departments and research groups,” says Karl Ekwall, head of the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition. According to Jan Bolinder, head of the Department of Medicine, there has always been an open mind here as regards interdisciplinary scientific collaboration. “I’m convinced that this spirit will flourish even more at Neo with its mix of research groups from different departments,” he says. Maria Eriksdotter, head of the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society: “The combination of strong experimental and clinical research in these outstanding new premises, combined with the physical proximity to the hospital and other universities gives us every opportunity to strengthen our already successful research.”   

Aggression neurons identified

Fri, 25/05/2018 - 17:01
High activity in a relatively poorly studied group of brain cells can be linked to aggressive behaviour in mice, a new study from Karolinska Institutet shows. Using optogenetic techniques, the researchers were able to control aggression in mice by stimulating or inhibiting these cells. The results, which are published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, contribute to a new understanding of the biological mechanisms behind aggressive behaviour. Aggression is a behaviour found throughout the animal kingdom and that shapes human lives from early schoolyard encounters to – in its most extreme expression – armed, global conflict. Like all behaviour, aggression originates in the brain. However, the identity of the neurons that are involved, and how their properties contribute to the stereotyped expression that interpersonal conflicts often manifest, remains largely a mystery. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet now show that a previously relatively unknown group of neurons in the ventral premammillary nucleus (PMv) of the hypothalamus, an evolutionarily well-preserved part of the brain that controls many of our fundamental drives, plays a key role in initiating and organising aggressive behaviour. Were able to control aggression in mice Studying male mice, the researchers found that the animals that displayed aggression when a new male was placed in their home cage also had more active PMv neurons. By activating the PMv through optogenetics, whereby neurons are controlled using light, they were able to initiate aggressive behaviour in situations where animals do not normally attack, and by inhibiting the PMv, interrupt an ongoing attack. The mapping of the PMv neurons also showed that they in turn can activate other brain regions, such as reward centres. “That could explain why mice naturally make their way to a place where they have experienced an aggressive situation,” says the study’s lead author Stefanos Stagkourakis, doctoral student at the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet. “We also found that the brief activation of the PMv cells could trigger a protracted outburst, which may explain something we all recognise – how after a quarrel has ended, the feeling of antagonism can persist for a long time.” Aggression is often ritualised Aggression between male mice is often ritualised and focused less on causing harm than on establishing a group hierarchy by determining the strongest member. This can be studied experimentally in the so-called tube test, wherein two mice encounter each other in a narrow corridor, from which observations can be made about submission and dominance. By inhibiting the PMv cells in a dominant male and stimulating the same cells in a submissive male, the researchers were able to invert their mutual hierarchical status. “One of the most surprising findings in our study was that the role-switch we achieved by manipulating PMv activity during an encounter lasted up to two weeks,” says study leader Christian Broberger, associate professor at the Department of Neuroscience. The researchers hope that the results can contribute to new strategies for managing aggression. “Aggressive behaviour and violence cause injury and lasting mental trauma for many people, with costly structural and economic consequences for society,” says Dr Broberger. “Our study adds fundamental biological knowledge about its origins.” The study was financed by the European Research Council, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Brain Fund, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and the Strategic Research Programme in Diabetes at Karolinska Institutet. Publication "A neural network for intermale aggression to establish social hierarchy” Stagkourakis S, Spigolon G, Williams P, Protzmann J, Fisone G, Broberger C Nature Neuroscience, online 25 May 2018, doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0153-x

Strengthening and developing healthcare science

Tue, 22/05/2018 - 08:18
The future of healthcare science was the topic of discussion at a roundtable meeting held at Karolinska Institutet on 7 May, when deans, healthcare scientists, politicians, patient representatives and healthcare providers gathered to discuss what needs to be done to secure the quality of healthcare science. A Swedish Research Council report shows that healthcare science in Sweden maintains world-class standards, and according to a 2018 ranking, nursing research at Karolinska Institutet (KI) tops the list in Sweden, is third in Europe and is eleventh in the world. But the challenges facing healthcare science are many, hence the discussion, initiated by the management of the healthcare science Strategic Research Area, which is jointly run by KI and Umeå University. Journalist Marianne Rundström was moderator at the meeting, which produced some practical suggestions for improving the conditions of healthcare science. The group discussed the need to develop communication and implementation in healthcare research and to strengthen the academy-clinic partnership. PhDs are to be attracted back into healthcare by being offered more advanced responsibilities in keeping with their scientific competence, and clearer career paths must be created in both the healthcare and academic sectors. “KI will be advertising professorships in strategic areas, of which healthcare science is one,” said Anders Gustafsson, Dean of Research at KI. “Since a majority of healthcare scientists are women, this will also help us reach the 60 per cent target in terms of the proportion of women amongst newly appointed professors.” The discussion also addressed exposing status disparity between different research disciplines. Assessment criteria and processes commonly take a biomedical perspective, at the expense of healthcare science. Jan Hillert, R&D director at Karolinska University Hospital, held that both students and staff active in healthcare must become better at measuring and analysing results and quality in order to enhance the “value” of healthcare science and practice. “Joint appointments are the right way to go, and KI’s managers should take care to ensure that doctoral students and researchers do both clinical and academic work,” said Mikael Ohrling, hospital director for the Stockholm County healthcare area. Anna Starbrink (L), the county council’s Executive Member for Healthcare, said that the great potential for affecting the future of healthcare science lay in revising the council’s strategy along with KI. The benefits of healthcare science Two examples of high quality healthcare science at KI that have benefited patients are the MIMA model, which is used to reduce postnatal injury, and the DöBra-programme, a national research programme focussing on dying, death and grieving. Text: Anna-Maria Loimi and Sabina Bossi Photo: David Lagerlöf

Cell types underlying schizophrenia identified

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 17:00
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and University of North Carolina, USA, have identified the cell types underlying schizophrenia in a new study published in Nature Genetics. The findings offer a roadmap for the development of new therapies to target the condition. Schizophrenia is an often devastating disorder causing huge human suffering. Genetic studies have linked hundreds of genes to schizophrenia, each contributing a small part to the risk of developing the disease. The great abundance of identified genes have made it difficult to design experiments. Scientists have been struggling to understand what is linking the genes together and whether these genes affect the entire brain diffusely or certain components more. By combining new maps of all the genes used in different cell types in the brain with detailed lists of the genes associated with schizophrenia, scientists in the current study could identify the types of cells that underlie the disorder. The genetics point towards certain cell types being much more implicated than others. One finding was that there appears to be a few major cell types contributing to the disorder, each of which originates in distinct areas of the brain. “This marks a transition in how we can use large genetic studies to understand the biology of disease. With the results from this study, we are giving the scientific community a chance to focus their efforts where it will give maximum effect”, says Jens Hjerling-Leffler, research group leader at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at Karolinska Institutet, one of the main authors. Possible treatment development The findings offer a roadmap for the development of new therapies. “One question now is whether these brain cell types are related to the clinical features of schizophrenia. For example, greater dysfunction in one cell type could make treatment response less likely. Dysfunction in a different cell type could increase the chances of long-term cognitive effects. This would have important implications for development of new treatments, as separate drugs may be required for each cell type involved,” says co-main author Patrick Sullivan, Professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet and Yeargan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Genetics and Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. As a result of rapid progress in two separate fields of science; human genetics and single cell transcriptomics, it only recently has become possible to study diseases in this way. In coming years the researchers suggest that the approach should lead to breakthroughs in the biological understanding of other complex disorders such as autism, major depression, and eating disorders. “Understanding which cell types are affected in a disease is of critical importance for developing new medicines to improve their treatment. If we do not know what causes a disorder we cannot study how to treat it,” says Nathan Skene, Postdoc at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at Karolinska Institutet and UCL Institute of Neurology, UK, one of the lead authors. The study was financed by the Swedish Research Council, StratNeuro, the Wellcome Trust, the Swedish Brain Foundation, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the US National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia genetic results were generated with support from the Medical Research Council Centre, Program Grant and Project Grant, and funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (CRESTAR Consortium). The authors report the following potentially competing financial interests. PF Sullivan: Lundbeck (advisory committee). J Hjerling-Leffler: Cartana (Scientific Adviser) and Roche (grant recipient). Publication ”Genetic identification of brain cell types underlying schizophrenia” Nathan G Skene, Julien Bryois, Trygve E Bakken, Gerome Breen, James J Crowley, Héléna A Gaspar, Paola Giusti-Rodriguez, Rebecca D Hodge, Jeremy A Miller, Ana B Muñoz-Manchado, Michael C O’Donovan, Michael J Owen, Antonio F Pardiñas, Jesper Ryge, James T R Walters, Sten Linnarsson, Ed S Lein, Major Depressive Disorder Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Patrick F Sullivan and Jens Hjerling-Leffler. Nature Genetics, online 21 May, 2018, doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0129-5

Close check on footballing brains

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 13:59
The KI PhD student and psychologist Torbjörn Vestberg has attracted considerable attention for his new book “Hjärnboll” [Brainball] , which he co-authored with the KI researcher Predrag Petrovic and the journalist Thomas Lerner. The book presents reasoning and puts forward hypotheses and knowledge concerning which functions in the frontal lobe are essential in order to become a really successful football player – factors that are of particular interest in the weeks leading up to the World Cup tournament in Russia.  It was not a foregone conclusion that Torbjörn Vestberg would become a psychologist, having previously been a business developer and a Baptist pastor. He originally comes from Norrköping, but it was during his six years as a psychologist in China that he became interested in how the brain functions. In China, his work included developing requirements profiles for managers in the world of trade and industry, and it turned out that in China they conducted measurements differently to how it is done in Sweden.  – I started thinking about what it actually was that we were measuring – how relevant is it to look at how introverted or extroverted a person is when you’re looking for manager material? It actually says nothing about how successful a person can be as a manager, says Torbjörn.  He began his training in psychology after the age of 40. He has previously worked at a recording company that specialised in classical music, and before that he was a pastor in the Baptist church, having studied theology. – It might sound a bit exotic, but you have to remember that the free churches had a lot of followers in Sweden when I was growing up,” says Torbjörn. One of the driving forces for writing the book was actually to show that you can change track and do something sensible even as an old man. Decisions at very high speed The first impulse to investigate how people react to different stimuli came when Torbjörn Vestberg did his practical work as a psychology student at Karolinska University Hospital. He was struck by how people with diagnoses of psychosis, for example, were often worse at dealing with external stimuli rationally, if at all. He started thinking about what group of people could be considered the direct opposite and came up with top-class football players. They are forced to make decisions at very high speeds while being faced with very great demands to be able to adapt to an environment that is changing at breakneck speed – and they need to make the “right” decision in order to be successful. These are all abilities that are described as executive. – The more successful the player, the better his executive capacity, says Torbjörn. He has confirmed that there is a marked difference if you compare players in the Swedish premier league with players in Division one – in other words, two levels down in the series system. He has also tested the football players Andrés Iniesta and Xavi of Barcelona, and they scored even higher. But even the division one players had a higher executive capacity than the normal population. Torbjörn Vestberg is currently devoting his time to a study in which he, together with associate professor Predrag Petrovic, is testing a large group of elite players in order to see how executive functions interact with physical form, technique, mental fortitude, social skills and experience. The specific benefit of the research may be a better understanding of how the brain’s capacity in relation to executive functions drives behaviour in a number of different contexts and professions. It could be a matter of functional impairment as well as above-average ability. With regard to his academic career, Torbjörn Vestberg is in no rush: he intends to complete his doctorate before his sixtieth birthday next autumn – but until then it’s time for the football World Cup. What do you think are the chances for the Swedish team? – In general, I don’t have great hopes for Sweden – there’s usually too much focus on everyone doing well, and I don’t believe that’s a factor for success. I don’t actually like watching football on TV – I’m usually most interested in the players who don’t have the ball, and they’re not usually shown on TV,” says Torbjörn. Interview on TV 4 Interview on SR P1 How the tests work The tests are tried and tested from previous ADHD investigations and from the diagnosis of concussion. The tests are completed using both pen and paper and computers, and they indicate the capacity for, among other things, concentration, cognitive flexibility, general speed, impulse control, working memory and creativity. The tests measure both speed and accuracy, though speed is prioritised. The basis for the book’s research is based on twenty studies that have developed over the last seven years concerning executive functions and performance in sport and working life.  

New disease mechanism in chronic smokers discovered

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 12:53
A new study led by researchers from Karolinska Institutet shows that an immune signalling protein called IL-26 is increased among chronic smokers with lung disease. This involvement reveals disease mechanisms of interest for developing more effective therapy for these hard-to-treat patients. The study is published in the journal Clinical Science. Chronic tobacco smokers have an increased rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis and bacterial lung infections and these disorders respond poorly to available therapies. Previous research has shown that smokers with lung disease have an accumulation of a type of white blood cell, called neutrophils, in their airways. Dr Karlhans Fru Che and Professor Anders Lindén at Karolinska Institutet led a team of researchers from universities in Sweden and Finland to investigate why this is the case. May represent a novel mechanism The researchers found that an immune signalling protein called IL-26 (interleukin-26) is present at high levels in the lungs of these patients. IL-26 levels were higher than normal in the chronic smokers, regardless of whether they had clinically stable COPD. Those who had chronic bronchitis or growth of bacteria had higher levels of IL-26 than those who did not. Moreover, the chronic smokers with exacerbations of COPD had higher levels of IL-26 than those with clinically stable COPD. Upregulation of IL-26 in the airways in response to tobacco smoke may represent a novel mechanism by which neutrophil recruitment to the lung is regulated, according to the researchers. “By showing that IL-26 is involved in the excessive mobilization of neutrophils in chronic smokers with or without COPD and chronic bronchitis, we strengthen the evidence that this cytokine bears potential as a target for monitoring of and therapeutic intervention in airway disorders characterised by neutrophilic inflammation,” says Dr Karlhans Fru Che at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, lead author on the study. More studies are needed The researchers acknowledge that more studies are needed to improve the understanding of the more precise mechanisms of action of IL-26 before this cytokine can be targeted in clinical trials. The study was carried out as a collaboration between Lund University, University of Gothenburg, University of Oulu, Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet. The research was funded by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, Karolinska Institutet, Region Skåne, Stockholms County Council and Region Västra Götaland, among others. This news article is based on a press release from The Biochemical Society, which owns the journal Clinical Science. Publication “The neutrophil-mobilizing cytokine interleukin-26 in the airways of long-term tobacco smokers” Karlhans Fru Che, Ellen Tufvesson, Sara Tengvall, Elisa Lappi-Blanco, Riitta Kaarteenaho, Bettina Levänen, Marie Ekberg, Annelie Brauner, Åsa M. Wheelock, Leif Bjermer, C. Magnus Sköld, Anders Lindén Clinical Science, online 21 May 2018, doi: 10.1042/CS20180057

New strategy to cure chronic hepatitis B infection

Thu, 17/05/2018 - 12:42
Scientists from Karolinska Institutet and Hannover Medical School have published two studies that provide insights into how the immune system responds and helps to clear a hepatitis B infection after treatment interruption. The findings offer a framework for future tailored treatment strategies and are published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases and Journal of Hepatology. Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV), affects 250 million individuals worldwide. The virus infects the liver and infected patients are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Nucleoside/nucleotide analogues (NAs) are the most commonly used drugs to treat CHB, but this treatment only suppresses the virus and rarely leads to eradication of the infection. Thus, for most patients this is a life-long treatment. The immune system recovers in some patients Because of this, new treatment strategies are continuously evaluated with the aim to achieve elimination of HBV. One involves doing a structured NA treatment interruption in patients that have been on the treatment for a couple of years. In 20-30 per cent of the CHB patients the immune system recovers from being exhausted by the chronic infection and gains the capacity to efficiently fight the virus when it starts to replicate after the treatment has been discontinued. In a clinical trial 15 patients with CHB underwent a structured treatment cessation. Before, during and after, the patients were closely monitored and biological samples were continuously collected for subsequent analysis using flow cytometry. The research focus was on the parts of the immune system that has the capacity to recognise and eliminate virus-infected liver cells. “Interruption of NA treatment significantly boosts the capacity of immune cells to kill HBV-infected cells and this activation was also associated with functional cure in the patients. For patients clearing the infection, we also found that the immune system was less exhausted and that immune cells specific for the virus expanded in vivo,” says PhD-student Christine Zimmer at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet.   Further studies neccessary Even though patient recruitment for this kind of clinical trial is extremely challenging, the findings need to be confirmed in larger studies. “Several questions still remain to be answered such as the identification of the exact component of the immune system needed to achieve a functional cure of CHB following NA interruption, and also identifying patients who will benefit from stopping NA treatment,” says Niklas Björkström, Physician and Associate Professor at the Department of Medicine Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet, one of the main authors. The studies were financed by the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Swedish Society for Medical Research, The Cancer Research Foundations of Radiumhemmet, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Åke Wiberg´s Foundation, the Center for Innovative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet, the Stockholm County Council, and Karolinska Institutet. Some of the authors have received fees and/or grants from pharmaceutical companies. The scientific articles provide more detailed information about potential conflicts of interest. Publications “Increased NK cell function after cessation of long term nucleos(t)ide analogue treatment in chronic hepatis B is associated with liver damage and HBsAg loss” Christine L. Zimmer, Franziska Rinker, Christoph Höner zu Siederdissen, Michael P. Manns, Heiner Wedemeyer, Markus Cornberg and Niklas K. Björkström. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, online 23 April, 2018, doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy097 “Modulation of Hepatitis B virus-specific T cell responses after nucleos(t)ide analogue therapy discontinuation in HBeAg negative chronic hepatitis B” Franziska Rinker, Christine L. Zimmer, Christoph Höner zu Siederdissen, Michael P. Manns, Anke R.M. Kraft, Heiner Wedemeyer, Niklas K. Björkström and Markus Cornberg. Journal of Hepatology, online 11 May, 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2018.05.004

The Torsten Söderberg professorship 2018 awarded to Thomas Perlmann

Wed, 16/05/2018 - 14:19
KI researcher Thomas Perlmann has been awarded the Torsten Söderberg Academy Professorial Chair in Medicine for his “groundbreaking research into the growth of dopamine-producing neurons”. The grant is for SEK 10 million over a five-year period. Is it possible to make the human brain grow new dopamine cells and thus repair itself from serious diseases such as Parkinson’s? This is one of the main questions being investigated by Professor Thomas Perlmann at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, who has just recently moved his research group into KI’s new Biomedicum research building in Solna. “This grant comes at a very good moment, just when we’re planning to take our research in partly new directions. It means a great deal and it will help us to make faster progress,” says Thomas Perlmann in a press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Loss of dopamine cells Thomas Perlmann’s research seeks to understand how nerve cells are formed in utero, and what it is that causes stem cells to become dopamine cells. The loss of dopamine cells is associated with many of the serious symptoms that affect patients with Parkinson’s disease. The dysfunction of dopamine cells is also linked with other serious conditions, such as schizophrenia, autism and drug addiction. “We want to understand why new cells of this type are not normally produced in humans, unlike in some other animal species,” he says. “This is an important fundamental question  in biology but it would also be very exciting if we could make the brain repair itself by re-activating the formation of new neurons. If we could manipulate this mechanism, it would enable us to work on ways to cure or at least improve the prognosis of people suffering from conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.” About the professorship The Torsten Söderberg Foundation awards grants for scientific research, primarily in the fields of medicine, economics and law. The Torsten Söderberg Academy’s Professorial Chair in Medicine is to promote internationally outstanding research in medicine by enabling the incumbent to devote his or her time to research for a five-year period at a Swedish medical faculty. The grant is prepared and decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences following a peer-review process.

Information about a HPV vaccine study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 16:17
Commentary: An article published in the journal Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, authored by an alleged "Lars Andersson, at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet", claims that HPV vaccination could be behind an apparent increase in cervical cancer. Karolinska Institutet strongly rejects this study. The head at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology Håkan Westerblad at Karolinska Institutet says in an interview published in the Swedish journal Läkartidningen (in Swedish only) that there is no such person as “Lars Andersson“ either employed or affiliated with the department. Karolinska Institutet has contacted the Indian journal, which has now removed the link to KI in the article.

“Research in personal assistance is a subject I consider important”

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 09:02
Hello, Lill Hultman, doctoral student at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society. In your doctoral thesis you provide a more in-depth understanding of personal assistance from the perspective of both young assistance users and social workers. The new government directive was recently submitted to the LSS investigation, and it mentioned assistance compensation. What do you think this means for young assistance users and social workers? “The biggest difference is that the savings requirement for personal assistance has been removed, and that the end date for the investigation has been postponed until December. This is good news and feels like a step in the right direction, at the same time that there is still much to be done to put the LSS legislation back on its original footing. Sweden has approved the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” Can you describe some of the results produced by your thesis? “The results show that young people want the opportunity to do the same things and make the same choices as others of their age. For the young people taking part in this study, access to personal assistance was a prerequisite if this is to be achieved. The thesis also shows that young people would rather have skipped the needs assessment meetings because they find it offensive parading their disability in front of others and describing what they can’t do. Young people feel they have no influence on the structure or content of the meetings, nor on the decisions reached that have a huge impact on their circumstances in life.  I have also come to the conclusion that, in the absence of legal norms and case law, social workers turn to themselves and their own values.” Why did you choose to research this particular subject? “Research in personal assistance is a subject I consider important because assistance reform gives rise to dialogue on what we consider to be a good society. Being assured of the right to be able to live one’s life the way others do places huge demands on a functioning welfare state.” What are you going to do now? “After the public defence of my thesis I want to continue my research from a child and young adult perspective. Children and young people with disabilities are a heterogeneous group, and for that reason it is even more important to give them a voice so they can relate their individual experiences. Moreover, previous research shows that what children and young people think often differs from what adults believe children and young people think.” Doctoral thesis “Live life! Young people’s experience of living with personal assistance and social workers' experiences of handling LSS assessments from a child perspective” Lill Hultman, Karolinska Institutet (2018), ISBN: 978-91-7831-062-3 On 24 May Lill Hultman will publicly defend her doctoral thesis at Stockholms sjukhem in the Magnus Huss Aula.

KI’s new honorary doctors celebrated in historic ceremony

Mon, 07/05/2018 - 20:44
4 May was an historic day for Karolinska Institutet. For the first time in its history, all the new honorary doctors celebrated in Stockholm City Hall, along with the university’s new PhDs, were women. Bringing science to the people is a passion they all have in common. The City Hall was at its most beautiful. The Blue Hall was bathed in sunlight and the gold in the Golden Hall sparkled as all the new doctors of medicine were saluted with cannon fire from the waterfront. The first ones to descend the marble stairs were the three new honorary doctors of medicine at Karolinska Institutet. Journalist Suzanne Axell, science writer Yvonne Enman and doctor Ingrid le Roux were all noticeably moved and clearly overwhelmed by the award. “Sometimes you do unsexy things – I had just emptied the cat’s litter tray when the call came,” says Suzanne Axell, presenter of the popular SVT programme ‘Fråga doktorn’ (Ask the Doctor). “It was a fantastic feeling.” “It was 4.30 in the afternoon and I had just closed and left the office, as I always do for security reasons, when Dean of Research Anders Gustafsson called,” says Ingrid le Roux, who works in South Africa. “It’s such an honour.” “It was a Friday afternoon and I was in the Coop foodstore,” says Yvonne Enman, who also teaches at Karolinska Institutet. “I wasn’t going to answer at first, but I saw it was a KI number so I did and what a surprise!” ”Bringing science closer to the general public” The ceremony kicked off with a formal address by KI Vice-President Karin Dahlman-Wright, who praised the important work done by the new honorary doctors in bringing science closer to the general public, stressing the value of patient-centred work and of reaching out comprehensively in a global world. “Our new honorary doctors are role models with it comes to reaching patients and involving the whole of society, and they are also role models for women for generations to come,” she said, and thanked them for all they had achieved. Professor Dahlman-Wright also talked about how important it is to protect scientific facts in a world in which information easilycan be distorted. Dean of Research Anders Gustafsson, who conferred the actual honorary titles at the ceremony, developed the theme: the importance of attaining a solid partnership between society and the healthcare sector and of global health work. A close to many years of doctoral study “It pleases me greatly that for the first time our new honorary doctors are women, all of whom have made a great difference to humanity and each of whom has her own way of bringing health issues to the fore. Suzanne Axell by presenting the latest medical research to a broad general public in ‘Fråga doktorn’; Yvonne Enman by working together with teachers, patients and researchers and using her own time as a patient to ensure that research is put to practical medical use – she really understands the patient experience; and Ingrid le Roux through her outstanding work for women and children in Africa.” The PhDs in medicine were conferred by the Dean of Doctoral Education, Marianne Schultzberg. One by one they received their doctoral hat and diploma. The conferment ceremony – the grandest of all academic ceremonies – brings to a close many years of doctoral study. The entertainment during the ceremony and subsequent banquet in the Golden Hall was provided by soprano Paulina Pfeiffer, baritone Karl Magnus Fredriksson and dance Lilly Zetterberg, accompanied by Roland Pöntinen on the piano. The ceremony was rounded off with an exit parade to the strains of Suite Gothique.  

Nordic brain researchers in cerebral function collaboration

Mon, 07/05/2018 - 16:04
From the 16th to the 18th of May, the international MEG Nord conference is being held at the Karolinska Institutet (KI). The venue is also the home of the organiser, NatMEG, the Swedish National Facility for Magnetoencephalography. Nordic brain researchers will be collaborating to jointly expand the boundaries of research into cerebral function.  The conference’s objective is to strengthen collaborations between Nordic brain researchers. It is hoped that their initiatives will lead to even higher resolution imaging of the brain’s work. This has the potential to increase the clinical benefit of examining epilepsy patients. It would also increase understanding of changes in brain activity patterns in neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. By measuring the very small magnetic fields formed when brain cells are activated, magnetoencephalography (MEG) monitors brain activity with a unique richness of detail. The method can help researchers follow the rapid sequences of activity patterns when the brain is responding to thoughts, impressions or treatments. It is an unusual method and there is only one MEG laboratory in Sweden.    

Unexpected discovery gives new model for studying brain networks

Fri, 04/05/2018 - 15:10
The same kind of neurons can have completely different wiring diagrams in the rat and mouse, as mice lack intercellular molecular channels known as gap junctions, researchers at Karolinska Institutet report in the scientific journal eLIFE. The unexpected discovery gives the researchers a new model for studying the role of gap junctions in the brain. The brain consists of neuronal networks, which process and transfer information. Therefore, scientists need to understand how the links between the neurons work and to determine their interaction, in order to understand the workings of the healthy and unhealthy brain. The research group studied a cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus, the brain structure that governs basic survival functions such as appetite, reproduction and aggression. These so-termed TIDA (tuberoinfundibular dopamine) neurons control the release of hormones from the pituitary gland. Rat TIDA neurons also exhibit what are known as robust oscillations in their electrical activity that are perfectly synchronised between neurons, so that when a wave starts in one TIDA neuron, it also starts simultaneously in all the others. The cells also have exactly the same frequency, be it between different neurons or even different animals. Rat and mouse TIDA neurons behaved differently Unexpectedly, the researchers discovered that rat and mouse TIDA neurons behaved dramatically differently from each other. Unlike in the rat, the oscillations in the mice were irregular, faster and more varied in frequency from animal to animal and cell to cell. This turned out to be because mouse TIDA neurons lack “gap junctions”, which are a kind of protein tube found in the central nervous systems of mammals (including humans) that serve as molecular channels between nerve cells. The rat TIDA neurons, however, were connected by very strong channels. “We often assume that the brain is similarly organized between related species like rats and mice, but in this case they have fundamentally different wiring diagrams for similar groups of neurons,” says study leader Christian Broberger, senior researcher at the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet. Gap junctions operate in parallel with the more classic, synaptic neuronal connections in the brain. This discovery gives the researchers a new model for studying the importance of gap junctions, since the same kind of neurons in rodents can now be studied in the absence of presence of these connections. Earlier methods were limited by, for instance, the fact that the chemical substances used to block receptors interact with many other proteins. The new model has enabled the researchers to show that the gap junctions are important not only for synchronising cells in one and the same oscillation, but also for determining the exact frequency of the oscillation. “The discovery is important since oscillations in neuronal activity are very common in many different parts of the brain,” says Dr Broberger. “They contribute to sleep, memory, the interpretation of sensory information and the regulation of hormone secretion, and are also observed in diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s.” The study was financed with an ERC starting grant and grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Strategic Research Programme in Diabetes at KI, the Swedish Brain Fund, the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Karolinska Institutet’s foundations and funds. Publication ”Network Oscillation Rules Imposed by Species-Specific Electrical Coupling” Stefanos Stagkourakis*, Carolina Thörn Pérez, Arash Hellysaz, Rachida Ammari and Christian Broberger. eLIFE, online 3 May 2018, doi: 10.7554/eLife.33144

Weekday for operation does not affect survival from lung cancer

Thu, 03/05/2018 - 15:00
The day of the week on which a patient has a lung cancer operation has no significance for their survival. This has been demonstrated by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in a new study published in the journal Chest. The team of researchers wanted to find out if the day of the week on which a patient had a lung cancer operation has any importance as regards survival as earlier studies have pointed in different directions. One study for example showed that the weekday for heart surgery had no significance for survival while another showed a better prognosis for patients who underwent surgery for oesophageal cancer on a Monday or Tuesday than those who had operations at the end of the week. “We do not know why there are patient groups who have poorer survival the later in the week they have their operations. One possible explanation is that surgeons, who perform very demanding operations, are more tired at the end of the week and that fewer specialists and fewer staff at the weekend lead to poorer care,” says Veronica Jackson, thoracic surgeon at Karolinska University Hospital and post-doc at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet, who led the study. Patient data for the present lung cancer study was taken from the Register for General Thoracic Surgery in Sweden (ThoR). The study included all patients in ThoR who had undergone an operation for lung cancer between 2009 and 2015. Of the approximately 4,500 patients, most, 25 per cent, had their operations on a Monday and the lowest number, 11 per cent, on a Friday. When in April 2017 the researchers followed up on whether the patients were still alive using the Swedish National Population Register, they found no connection or significant differences in long-term survival linked to the day of the week of the operation. “Our findings are important because they indicate that there is no reason to restructure the system so that more lung cancer operations are performed at the beginning of the working week. But it is still of course possible that the day of the week for other kinds of surgery in general has an impact on the prognosis. If such a connection exists, it can have sizable consequences for both patients and healthcare as regards planning operations and allocating resources,” says Ulrik Sartipy, thoracic surgeon at Karolinska University Hospital and associate professor at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet, one of the researchers behind the study. The study lacks specific financing, but the researchers receive funding from The Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, The Mats Kleberg Foundation, Karolinska Institutet Foundations and Funds, The Swedish Heart and Lung Association, The Åke Wiberg Foundation, The Magnus Bergvall Foundation and the regional ALF agreement between Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet. Publication “Weekday and survival after pulmonary resections for lung cancer – a Swedish nationwide cohort study” Jackson V, AL-Ameri M, Sartipy U Chest, online 3 May 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2018.03.022

Research building Neo will officially open in May

Wed, 02/05/2018 - 16:20
On 24 May, the new research building Neo will officially open on KI’s Campus Flemingsberg. However, researchers are already able to move in. “It feels wonderful! The potential here is enormous,” says Eva Hellström-Lindberg, professor of haematology and head of the newly relocated Center for Hematology and Regenerative Medicine (HERM). Located just across the road from the main entrance to Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, beside Novum, is Karolinska Institutet’s new research building, Neo. The officially opening will take place on 24 May, although almost all researchers have already moved into the building, among them researchers from the Center for Haematology and Regenerative Medicine (HERM), a unit of the Department of Medicine, Huddinge. “Until now, we have been somewhat isolated in terms of location. This move may lead to new collaborations and a more dynamic environment. It’s also a beautiful building; It inspires happiness whenever I enter,” says Eva Hellström-Lindberg. Neo has space for approximately 400 researchers. Members of four of KI’s departments will be relocating to the facility: the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition in its entirety, the HERM centre from the Department of Medicine, parts of the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, and a smaller part of the Department of Laboratory Medicine. Lennart Nilsson, professor of molecular modelling and deputy head of the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, confirms the location of Neo’s laboratories at the centre of the building offers an invitation to spontaneous meetings and creates significantly increased proximity. “Everything is turned inwards towards the centre, so we see each other across the light garden,” he explains. In addition, research group leaders are gathered at the gable ends of each floor. The background to this is that previous staff surveys have shown that this group feels isolated and lacking in a sense of community. as Lennart Nilsson explains: “We have now placed group leaders together, further from their research groups but closer to one another. The idea is to attempt to create more lines of contact there as well,” he says. Collaboration and flexibility have been watchwords in planning the building. The facility has a common staff canteen and meeting rooms. In principle, the facilities belong to everyone – no department has preferential rights to any part of the building. The intention is that it should also be relatively easy to alter the nature of the various laboratory facilities. According to Lennart Nilsson, the challenge now is to encourage research groups to come together in a beneficial manner. A joint retreat was held at the end of last year and efforts are now underway to arrange joint seminar activities. “We also hope that, now we are in such close proximity, researchers will begin to attend one another’s seminars. Then, we need to attract greater numbers of skilled researchers. We have the building and now it’s up to us and our organisation to ensure that this is an attractive place to come,” says Lennart. For HERM, the relocation means an expansion phase and, even if the increased rent presents a temporary challenge, Eva Hellström-Lindberg is optimistic about the future. “Spaces are efficiently planned and, looking only a few years forward in time, the relocation will eventually offer us better value for money. In the end, renewal is inevitable, and it is important to KI in the long term that we have functional environments,” she says. Core facilities at NEO: Bioinformatics and Expression Analysis Cryo Electron Microscopy Live Cell Imaging facility Flow Cytometry Facility KI stem cell and tissue bank

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