News: Livsvetenskaper och teknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyThu, 13 Aug 2020 09:01:55 +0200 effect does face masks have against coronavirus?<p><b>​How do particles spread when we cough in a face mask? That will be investigated in a new research project. The goal is to be able to provide guidelines for the use of face masks to prevent the spread of the virus that cause Covid-19.</b></p>​The work is both theoretical and experimental and involves a network of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Luleå University of Technology, the Royal Institute of Technology and Lund Technical University. Through the project, the network of researchers wants to contribute to the knowledge about face masks and the spread of infection. <div><br /></div> <div>“We will conduct experiments and simulations to investigate basic mechanisms that are crucial for setting up guidelines for the use of face masks during airborne pandemics” says Srdjan Sasic who is a professor of fluid dynamics at Chalmers. </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Will describe how mucus and saliva flow from the nose and mouth</h3> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The purpose of the research at Chalmers is to be able to describe how mucus and saliva flow from the nose and mouth during coughing and sneezing. Using simulations, the researchers will study how mucus and saliva get stuck in different types of face masks and how the fluids flow around face masks depending on the thickness and flow rate of the mucus and saliva. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">“We will perform numerical simulations with pathogen drops in different types of face masks. How effective the face mask is will be described by measuring the ratio between infected droplet volumes upstream and downstream of the mask and the amount of air that the mask lets through” says Srdjan Sasic. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">By examining how particles of different sizes move when coughing and sneezing, depending on whether a face mask is used or not, they hope to manage to describe the effect of wearing a face mask. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The research project will run until the autumn of 2021 and has been granted SEK 1.8 million from the Swedish Research Council.</span><br /></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3"><span>Read more</span></h3> <div><span><a href="/en/research/efforts-and-expertise-corona/Pages/default.aspx">Efforts and expertise concerning corona/covid-19​</a><br /></span></div> <div><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/srdjan.aspx">Srdjan Sasic​</a></div> <div></div>Tue, 11 Aug 2020 08:30:00 +0200 the survival of Covid-19 in air<p><b>​When a person infected with Covid-19 coughs, sneezes or talks small particles flow out that can infect a new individual. Researchers at Chalmers will now investigate how long these particles survive outside the body under different environmental conditions.</b></p>​The current recommendations and understanding of the transmission in respiratory infectious diseases are based on a simple model developed ninety years ago to understand the transmission of tuberculosis. <div><br /></div> <div>“I hope that our study can lead to more up-to-date guidelines that can be used by policymakers to more effectively slow down the diffusion of Covid-19 and future respiratory infections” says Gaetano Sardina, assistant professor in Fluid mechanics at Chalmers University of Technology. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The results of the project could, for example, lead to more secure assumptions about the distance that should be kept between individuals, as well as regulations and proposals for humidity in public environments that accelerate the evaporation of the pathogen-bearing droplets. Hopefully, the research can also improve the current epidemiological mathematical models targeting in estimating the diffusion of the pandemic. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Longevity is affected by the surrounding environment​</h3></div> <div>In the project, the researchers will study how the lifetime of pathogen-bearing droplets is affected by whether the person sneezes, coughs, talks or breathes, droplet size and various environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature and air turbulence. The study will use detailed, high-resolution numerical simulations and a new stochastic method to calculate a random drip path. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“From a scientific point of view, we know quite a lot about the spread of the virus, but there is a lack of detailed knowledge about the mechanisms that cause the respiratory droplets from a sick person to reach other individuals. The goal of the study is to close that knowledge gap” says Gaetano Sardina. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The project is funded with computational time from the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe and funds from the Swedish Research Council and Chalmers Area of Advance Information and Communication Technology.</div> <div><br /></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Read more</h3> <div><a href="/en/research/efforts-and-expertise-corona/Pages/default.aspx">Efforts and expertise concerning corona/covid-19​</a><br /><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/sardina.aspx">Gaetano Sardina</a></div>Thu, 06 Aug 2020 10:30:00 +0200's-disease-protein-damages-cell-membranes-.aspx's-disease-protein-damages-cell-membranes-.aspxNew method shows how Parkinson&#39;s protein damages cells<p><b>​In sufferers of Parkinson&#39;s disease, clumps of α-synuclein (alpha-synuclein), sometimes known as the ‘Parkinson’s protein’, are found in the brain. These destroy cell membranes, eventually resulting in cell death. Now, a new method developed at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, reveals how the composition of cell membranes seems to be a decisive factor for how small quantities of α-synuclein cause damage.</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>Parkinson's disease is an incurable condition in which neurons, the brain's nerve cells, gradually break down and brain functions become disrupted. Symptoms can include involuntary shaking of the body, and the disease can cause great suffering. To develop drugs to slow down or stop the disease, researchers try to understand the molecular mechanisms behind how α-synuclein contributes to the degeneration of neurons.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">It is known that mitochondria, the energy-producing compartments in cells, are damaged in Parkinson's disease, possibly due to ‘amyloids’ of α-synuclein. Amyloids are clumps of proteins arranged into long fibres with a well-ordered core structure, and their formation underlies many neurodegenerative disorders. Amyloids or even smaller clumps of α-synuclein may bind to and destroy mitochondrial membranes, but the precise mechanisms are still unknown.</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">New method reveals structural damage to mitrochondrial membranes​</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The new study, recently published in the journal <em>PNAS</em>, focuses on two different types of membrane-like vesicles. One of them is made of lipids that are often found in synaptic vesicles, the other contained lipids related to mitochondrial membranes. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The researchers found that the Parkinson’s protein would bind to both vesicle types, but only caused structural changes to the mitochondrial-like vesicles, which deformed asymmetrically and leaked their contents.</span><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> “Now we have developed a method which is sensitive enough to observe how α-synuclein interacts with individual model vesicles, which are ‘capsules’ of lipids that can be used as mimics of the membranes found in cells. In our study, we observed that α-synuclein binds to – and destroys – mitochondrial-like membranes, but there was no destruction of the membranes of synaptic-like vesicles. The damage occurs at very low, nanomolar concentration, where the protein is only present as monomers – non-aggregated proteins. Such low protein concentration has been hard to study before but the reactions we have detected now could be a crucial step in the course of the disease,” says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, Professor of Chemical Biology at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering. </p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">&quot;Dramatic ​differences in how the protein affects membranes&quot;</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The new method from the researchers at Chalmers University of Technology makes it possible to study tiny quantities of biological molecules without using fluorescent markers. This is a great advantage when tracking natural reactions, since the markers often affect the reactions you want to observe, especially when working with small proteins such as α-synuclein.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> “The chemical differences between the two lipids used are very small, but still we observed dramatic differences in how α-synuclein affected the different vesicles,” says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“We believe that lipid chemistry is not the only determining factor, but also that there are macroscopic differences between the two membranes – such as the dynamics and interactions between the lipids. No one has really looked closely at what happens to the membrane itself when α-synuclein binds to it, and never at these low concentrations.” </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Next step: Investigate proteins with mutations and cellular membranes</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The next step for the researchers is to investigate variants of the α-synuclein protein with mutations associated with Parkinson's disease, and to investigate lipid vesicles which are more similar to cellular membranes.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> “We also want to perform quantitative analyses to understand, at a mechanistic level, how individual proteins gathering on the surface of the membrane can cause damage” says Fredrik Höök, Professor at the Department of Physics, who was also involved in the research.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“Our vision is to further refine the method so that we can study not only individual, small – 100 nanometres – lipid vesicles, but also track each protein one by one, even though they are only 1-2 nanometres in size. That would help us reveal how small variations in properties of lipid membranes contribute to such a different response to protein binding as we now observed.”</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Text: </strong>Susanne Nilsson Lindh and Joshua Worth<br /><strong>Illustration:</strong> Fredrik Höök</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <div><strong>More information on the method</strong></div> <div> </div> <div><ul><li>Vesicle membranes were observed by measuring light scattering and fluorescence from vesicles which were bound to a surface – and monitoring the changes when low concentrations of α-synuclein were added.</li> <li>Using high spatiotemporal resolution, protein binding and the resulting consequences on the structure of the vesicles, could be followed in real time. By means of a new theory, the structural changes in the membranes could be explained geometrically.</li> <li>The method used in the study was developed by Björn Agnarsson in Fredrik Höök's group and utilises an optical-waveguide sensor constructed with a combination of polymer and glass. The glass provides good conditions for directing light to the sensor surface, while the polymer ensures the light does not scatter and cause unwanted background signals.</li> <li>The combination of good light conduction and low background interference makes it possible to identify individual lipid vesicles and microscopically monitor their dynamics as they interact with the environment – in this case, the added protein. Sandra Rocha in Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede's group provided α-synuclein expertise, which is a complicated protein to work with.</li> <li>The research project is mainly funded by the Area of Advance for Health Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, and scholar grants from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The researchers’ complementary expertise around proteins, lipid membranes, optical microscopy, theoretical analysis and sensor design from Chalmers’ clean room has been crucial for this project.</li></ul></div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Read the full study in <em>PNAS</em>: </strong></div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /><span style="background-color:initial"><font color="#5b97bf">Single-vesicle imaging reveals lipid-selective and stepwise membrane disruption by monomeric α-synuclein</font></span>​</a><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Read more about the researchers:</strong></div> <div><a href="/en/departments/bio/research/chemical_biology/Wittung-Stafshede-Lab/Pages/default.aspx" title="Link to Pernilla Wittungs reserch group"><span><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></span> Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede</a><br /></div> <div><a href="/en/staff/Pages/Fredrik-Höök.aspx" title="Link to Fredrik Höök's bio"><span><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></span> Fredrik Höök</a><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> ​Thu, 02 Jul 2020 07:00:00 +0200 co-director for Health Engineering<p><b>​He is a solid mechanics researcher with an interest in sports and health. With his broad – and somewhat different – perspective, Martin Fagerström is now starting his new assignment as Co-director of the Health Engineering Area of Advance.</b></p><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Hi Martin! Why did the position as Co-director appeal to you?<br /><br /></strong></span><div>For a number of reasons, but mainly because of its driving force in that research results very often, and in a concrete way, contribute to improved quality of life for many people. It feels great to be able to join and develop Health Engineering Area of Advance, with all the existing power and energy among a large number of researchers, teachers, students and other staff at Chalmers. This, paired with the fact that our combined expertise is so clearly in demand, from both the healthcare system and medical research, simply makes it very exciting. I would very much like to contribute to building and shaping a broad, but welded, Area of Advance. I also value Chalmers’ investment in sports, which I think is a fantastic arena for education, utilisation and research. Chalmers Sports &amp; Technology, and Chalmers’ commitment as one of the country’s National Sports Universities fits well into Health Engineering, I think.<br /><br /></div> <div><strong>Could you tell us a bit about yourself? What do you work with and what’s your background?</strong><br /><br /></div> <div>I came to Chalmers in 1998 to study the Mechanical Engineering programme. Right from the start, I took a great interest in mechanics and solid mechanics, and after I graduated from the bachelor’s programme in material and structural mechanics, I continued as a doctoral student at the Department of Applied Mechanics. After finishing my thesis on numerical methods for predicting crack propagation and failure progression, I left Chalmers to test my wings as a CAE Engineer at a consulting firm. But pretty soon, I realized that I wanted to be in research. Since 2009 I am back at Chalmers, at the division of Material and Computational Mechanics, which is now located at the Department of Industrial and Materials Science.<br /><br /></div> <div><strong>What’s your research about?<br /><br /></strong></div> <div>In my current research I’ve continued to focus on describing the mechanical responses of materials and structures, with the main focus on describing fracture processes in lightweight materials and structures, mainly fiber reinforced polymeric materials. Within this area, I have a fairly wide range of interest with several areas of application, from light weight applications in industrial sectors such as the automotive and aerospace industries, to applications in sports and health.<br /><br /></div> <div><strong>So that’s how you connect to the area of health?</strong><br /><br /></div> <div>Yes. I am very interested in sports and love all kinds of training, and this has also led me to be involved in Chalmers Sports &amp; Technology for quite many years now. My involvement in S&amp;T has increased my interest in research challenges that are closely related to sports, with a focus on health, especially when it comes to sports injuries. In addition, I have recently been able to ascertain the strong driving force in working with challenges that, in one way or another, contribute to increased societal well-being.<br /><br /></div> <div><strong>Why is it important to have an Area of Advance like Health Engineering?</strong><br /><br /></div> <div>Going forward, I believe we are facing major challenges in the area of health. Several of these are probably also difficult to solve if the scientific and engineering perspective is missing. I believe that initiatives such as our Area of Advance make it easier to identify and combine different important competencies, and to address challenges that no individual researcher or research group can handle on their own. As an individual researcher, it is also difficult to always have a good overview of what supplementary competencies exist within Chalmers. Coordination through an Area of Advance is an important enabler. In addition, in my own interaction with researchers from Gothenburg Sports Trauma Research Center within the Sahlgrenska Academy, it has become clear on several occasions  that a close contact and understanding of each other’s research can create ideas and opportunities that had not even been deemed possible in the perspective of an individual field. In this, the Area of Advance also plays an important role in identifying and enabling these meetings between researchers.<br /><br /></div> <div><strong>What will be your main contribution to the AoA?</strong><br /><br /></div> <div>In terms of research, my own ambitions and projects currently lie mainly in sports technology and sports injuries. Apart from that, I am a positive and happy person with a lot of energy, and I believe I have a relatively good ability to engage people to work together and towards common goals. In projects, I like to have everything in order, which can always come in handy. However, it does not appear that way if you were to visit my office…<br /><br /></div> <div><strong>What’s your first priority as Co-director?</strong><br /><br /></div> <div>My first priority will be to get to know all the fine work in building and defining the Area of Advance that has been conducted by our Director Ann-Sofie Cans, the profile leaders, the AoA staff and all committed researchers at Chalmers, and try to get an overall picture of what health at Chalmers really means. For the Area of Advance to be successful, we need to identify and understand the whole picture, as well as ensure that everyone who wants to contribute is included in a good way.<br /><br /></div> <div><strong>What’s most important to do as a newly started Area of Advance?</strong><br /><br /></div> <div>To continue the internal work of constructing and anchoring the AoA, by identifying all the different dimensions of the health area represented at Chalmers. Here, the dialogue with the staff at the AoA, and the profile leaders is a good starting point. It is also important to work actively to meet the evident and great interest, and demand of our competences, from other universities – primarily the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg but of course also others – and from the healthcare providers and the region at large, from companies and from society as a whole. Continuing to establish and strengthen our contacts with these partners becomes an important activity in parallel with internal work.<br /><br /></div> <div>Text: Mia Malmstedt</div> <div>Photos: Marcus Folino, Carina Schultz</div> <div><br /></div>Tue, 30 Jun 2020 10:00:00 +0200 material to protect us from various pandemics<p><b>​A new material that can kill bacteria has now shown early promise in de-activation of viruses, including certain coronaviruses. The material, developed by researchers at Chalmers, is now being evaluated against SARS-CoV-2, which causes covid-19.</b></p><div>​The novel material, recently presented in a doctoral thesis, has proven to be very effective in killing common infection causing bacteria, including those that are resistant to antibiotics such as MRSA and a E. coli superbugs.<br /></div> <div>The basis of the research is a unique and patented technology where microbe-killing peptides are combined with a nanostructured material. So far, it has been targeted towards bacteria, but with the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the researchers started a study to <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Amferia/porträtt_martin_320%20x%20400.jpg" alt="" style="height:229px;width:180px;margin:5px" />understand if the material would work against the virus. <br /><br />“Similar peptides that we work with have previously shown to be effective against various other coronaviruses, including those that have caused the outbreaks of SARS and MERS. Our premise is that the antimicrobial effect of our peptides seen on bacteria can be also be used to inactivate the coronavirus, says Martin Andersson”, research leader and professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers.<br /> </div> <div>Tests with the new material on another human coronavirus has shown promising early results where the material deactivated 99.9 percent of the virus. The researchers now see great potential for it to work on SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. They have initiated collaboration with researchers, based in Gothenburg University/ Sahlgrenska Academy, with access to the SARS-Cov-2.</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Can be produced in various forms - mimics the body's immune system</h2> <div>The material can be produced in many different forms such as surface treatments and as small particles. When microbes such as bacteria and viruses come in contact with the material surface, they are rapidly killed, and further spread is prevented. The material can easily be adapted for use in personal protective equipment such as face masks and medical devices including respirators and intubation tubes. This way, the material may offer reliable protection against the current and future pandemics. The researchers see it as valuable technology for our efforts towards pandemic preparedness.<br />   </div> <div>“A surface layer of our new material on face masks would not only stop the passage of the virus but also reduce the risk that it can be transported further, for example when the mask is removed and thus reduce the spread of infection”, explains Martin Andersson.<br />  </div> <div>The strategy is to imitate how the body's immune system fights infectious microbes. Immune cells in our body produce different types of peptides that selectively damage the outer shell of bacteria and viruses. The mechanism is similar to the effect that soap and water has on bacteria and viruses, although, the peptides have higher selectivity and are efficient while totally harmless to human cells. A major advantage is that the way the material works provides a high flexibility and gives it a low sensitivity to mutations. Unlike vaccines, the peptides continue to inactivate the virus even if it mutates. The idea behind the research is to make us less vulnerable and better prepared when the next pandemic comes.</div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Connection between the ongoing pandemic and antibiotic resistance</h2> <div>As covid-19 unfolds, another healthcare threat, what many call the “silent pandemic” caused by antibiotic resistance has been ongoing for decades. According to WHO, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to humanity. Without drastic action, estimates show that more people are likely to die of bacterial infections than cancer by 2050. Unfortunately, there is a worrying link between the ongoing pandemic and antibiotic resistance. Many covid-19 patients develop secondary bacterial infections which must be treated with antibiotics. According to the researchers, the new material may prove efficient for preventing both the viral and bacterial infections. </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Meant to protect health care personnel and individuals</h2> <div>To enable societal benefit from the new technology, the researchers started a company, Amferia AB, with support from Chalmers Innovation Office and Chalmers Ventures. Amferia is based at Astrazeneca BioVentureHub in Mölndal, Sweden.</div> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Amferia/porträtt_saba_320%20x%20400.jpg" width="320" height="400" alt="" style="height:244px;width:190px;margin:5px" /><br />Earlier this year, Saba Atefyekta defended her PhD at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers. She presented the new material in her doctoral thesis titled &quot;Antibacterial Surfaces for Biomedical Applications&quot;. Saba is one of the founders of Amferia and the company's research manager<br />   </div> <div>“If we are not going to meet a dark future, we must prevent infections from happening. We believe that the materials we develop can help prevent future infections and thus reduce the use of antibiotics, so that we can continue to use these life-protecting medicines in the future”, says Saba Atefyekta</div> <div> </div> <div>When the antiviral effect of the material on the SARS-CoV-2 is confirmed, the next step is to make it rapidly available to protect both healthcare professionals and the general public.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><div>Text: Jenny Jernberg</div> <div>Portrait photo  Saba Atefyekta: Mats Hulander<span style="display:inline-block"></span></div> <br /></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Complementary fresh news about Amferia</h2> <div>Tuseday 30 June it was announced that Amferia has been selected as a “one to watch” in this year’s Spinoff Prize, which is organized by Nature Research and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.</div> <div> </div></div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div>Mon, 29 Jun 2020 00:00:00 +0200 to reach new diagnostics<p><b>​Research to develop new techniques for diagnostics is found all over Chalmers. Read about some examples here!​</b></p><em><a href="/en/areas-of-advance/health/news/Pages/New-technology-to-give-more-healthcare.aspx">​These examples are linked to a main article published here.</a><br /></em><div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Combating antibiotic resistance</h2> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Erik Kristiansson at the Department of Mathematical Sciences has developed algorithms to analyse patterns in bacterial DNA. This can pinpoint changes that lead to resistance to antibiotics, thus increasing the chances of effective treatment. </span><br /></div> <div>In partnership with Kristina Lagerstedt and Susanne Staaf, Kristiansson founded 1928 Diagnostics, whose cloud-based software analyses the genetic code of bacteria and provides information about its spread and treatment options.<br /><br /></div> <div>Fredrik Westerlund at Biology and Biological Engineering studies the DNA molecules, called plasmids, that primarily cause the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. To identify plasmids, the scientists attach “bar codes” to them. In combination with the CRISPR gene-editing tool, they can also identify the genes that make bacteria antibiotic resistant. Now the method has been further developed to identify the actual bacterium, which is important as different types of bacteria cause infections of differing severity.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><em>Caption to picture above: Fredrik Westerlund studies the DNA molecules that primarily cause the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. Here with colleagues Gaurav Goyal and Vinoth Sundar Rajan.</em></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Diagnostics using microwaves</h2> <div>Microwaves make it possible to detect patterns that can be used for diagnostics, by passing weak microwave signals through the body and processing them. The pattern created is analysed using algorithms for image reconstruction or AI-based classification.</div> <div> </div> <div>Researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering, along with Sahlgrenska University Hospital and other partners, are applying these methods to stroke diagnostics and mammography. The technology makes it possible to build small, mobile units, which make it easier to make a fast, early diagnosis – which is particularly critical when diagnosing a stroke. </div> <div>The so called “stroke helmet” developed by the research team can be used in an ambulance to determine, even before the patient arrives in hospital, whether a stroke was caused by a blood clot or a haemorrhage. This reduces the time to treatment, allowing more stroke patients to recover with fewer aftereffects. </div> <div>“Many factors indicate that microwave technology has the potential to be a highly efficient diagnostic tool,” says Andreas Fhager.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><em>Caption to picture above</em></span><em>: Andreas Fhager and the “stroke helmet”, which can determine whether a stroke was caused by a blood clot or a haemorrhage.</em></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">AI and diagnostics</h2> <div>Artificial intelligence can provide significant help in making healthcare decisions, and several AI projects are under way at Chalmers.</div> <div>Robert Feldt, Professor of computer science, and Marina Axelson-Fisk, Professor of mathematics, are working with the Clinic for Infectious Diseases at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in a project about sepsis – blood poisoning. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are critical for survival, but modern screening tools have low precision. The aim of the project is to help doctors to make the right diagnosis faster through the use of AI. The method they are developing can also be tested on other diagnoses, and this spring the researchers have particularly looked at whether it can be used on Covid-19.<br /><br /></div> <div>Another field where AI support has potential is in the analysis of medical imaging, in which computers learn to interpret radiological images of human organs. Fredrik Kahl’s research team at Electrical Engineering has partnered with Sahlgrenska University Hospital to develop an AI-based method of assessing tomographic images of the coronary arteries. Cardiovascular diseases are still the most common cause of death in Sweden and worldwide. An AI assessment not only has the potential to be just as accurate as a human, but also goes much faster and is more consistent once the computer has been fully trained. </div> <div>In the next step, AI can help to discover hitherto unnoticed connections and patterns, and thus contribute to creating new medical knowledge.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><em>Caption to picture above:</em></span><em> Fredrik Kahl is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. His research team is developing AI to diagnose medical imaging.</em></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Identifies disease before symptoms arise</span></h2> <div>Rikard Landberg at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering works in the field of metabolomics, an extensive analysis of molecules in biological samples such as blood plasma. Factors that affect health – genetics, lifestyle, environmental pollutants, medicines – make their mark on the metabolome, the pattern of tiny molecules in the sample. By measuring these indicators and relating them to health parameters and diseases, scientists can study the impact of various factors, as well as learning about underlying mechanisms. Research is also under way to find biomarkers that can identify diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes or cancer.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><em>Caption to picture above:</em></span><em> Biomarkers in blood samples can give information on the risks of developing common illnesses.</em></div> <em> </em><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Fast and accurate influenza test</span></h2> <div>At the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience, Dag Winkler and his colleagues are building a small portable device that will be able to diagnose influenza in less than an hour, eliminating the need to send the sample to a lab for analysis. Getting the test results within an hour means that patients with contagious diseases can be isolated in time. The research project is being carried out in collaboration with several partners, including Karolinska Institutet.</div> <div>The project is focused on influenza diagnostics, but the team say the equipment can also be used to diagnose other diseases, such as malaria, SARS or Covid-19. In the past year, the research team has improved the sensitivity of the device to such a degree that they have applied for a patent and are looking into commercialisation.</div> <div><br /> </div> Texts: Mia Malmstedt and Malin Ulfvarson<br /><br /><a href="">These texts are republished from Chalmers Magasin no.1, 2020</a> (in Swedish).</div> <div><a href="/en/areas-of-advance/health/news/Pages/New-technology-to-give-more-healthcare.aspx">The exampels are linked to a main article, published here.​</a></div> <div><br /> </div>Wed, 24 Jun 2020 18:00:00 +0200 technology to give more healthcare<p><b>​Major challenges await Swedish healthcare and the need for new technology to solve them is urgent. Diagnostics is one of the pieces of the puzzle. The healthcare system as a whole, as well as individual patients, can benefit from for example AI and precision diagnostics.</b></p><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="/en/areas-of-advance/health/news/Pages/Working-to-reach-new-diagnostics.aspx"><em>This article is linked to these examples of Chalmers research in the diagnostics area.</em></a><br /><br />Let us begin by emphasising that no, this is not yet another coronavirus article. Even if most every aspect of healthcare and diagnostics in the first half of 2020 has been about Covid-19, naturally there are many other challenges and future development projects for Swedish healthcare, both pre- and post-corona.</span><div><br /></div> <div>There is no question that Swedish healthcare is at the threshold of a major transition. Patient queues, overfilled emergency wards, primary care reforms and lack of staffing flit past our eyes daily in the news flow. Perhaps most of it can be boiled down to one question: Has healthcare become too good?</div> <div> </div> <div>“We can achieve more and more, at ever-increasing ages and with better and better precision,” says Peter Gjertsson, Area Manager at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. He is responsible for Area 4, which includes radiology, clinical physiology and all the laboratories – the majority of the hospital’s diagnostics. </div> <div>“But medical advances and the increasing numbers of elderly people in the population also lead to greater need for medical care. Now we need to turn to technology to help us. We cannot just keep working as we’ve done previously, we need technological solutions that allow us to do more with the same resources.”</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">AI makes diagnostics accurate and saves resources</h2> <div>A clear example of such a solution is AI and diagnostic imaging. If a computer can interpret images using artificial intelligence, the radiologist gets a pre-sorted selection to review; images in which the computer has already identified potential problems. This makes diagnostics more accurate, faster and more efficient. </div> <div>“We also see a development in which technology allows patients to manage more of their measuring and diagnostics at home,” Gjertsson says. “The patients become experts on their own illness, which is an advantage for the individual and saves healthcare resources.”</div> <div>He makes sure to point out that those who cannot use the new technology for whatever reason will still be taken care of with more traditional means.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Precision medicine is another burgeoning field. When genetic diagnostics can point out disease and diagnostic imaging identifies the problem area, treatments can be tailored to the individual.</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Health research nearly all over Chalmers</h2> <div>Chalmers and Sahlgrenska University Hospital have collaborated closely for many years. Researchers from the two institutions have developed advanced medical engineering products, established new knowledge as the basis for better pharmaceuticals and conducted research on environments and architecture in healthcare. In fact, 12 of Chalmers’ 13 departments are conducting health-related research in a wide array of fields.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>It became clear just how multifaceted the research was when Chalmers catalogued all of its research projects in preparation for starting up its new Area of Advance, Health Engineering. The new Area of Advance aims to build a common thread through research at Chalmers, linking it with external partners. It opened its doors in January. <br /><br /></div> <div>“As we did an inventory of our research, we conducted interviews at every department and realised that many issues in the field of health were shared across department boundaries,” says Ann-Sofie Cans, Associate Professor at Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Director of the Health Engineering Area of Advance.</div> <div>“Expertise is in demand, internally and externally, and as it turns out, Chalmers has a lot of it.” </div> <div>Cans thinks Chalmers researchers have developed a habit of working in “silos” for far too long.</div> <div>“Now we’re going to start up activities in which our over 200 health-related researchers at Chalmers can get to know each other, and also increase our external collaborations.”</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Collaboration in Chalmers’ AI centre</h2> <div>One field of collaboration that has already taken steps forward is AI. In December 2019, Sahlgrenska University Hospital signed on as a partner in the Chalmers AI Research Centre, CHAIR. In practical terms, the partnership agreement is a commitment of at least five years, with jointly funded research in AI for health and healthcare. The partners have carved out several challenges that take priority. One of them is diagnostics. With AI, computer systems can process huge amounts of data – measurements, text, images – and learn to recognise symptoms.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Fredrik Johansson, Assistant Professor at Chalmers’ Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is the bridge between the Health Engineering Area of Advance, CHAIR and SU. He and his counterpart at SU are developing a joint research agenda. </div> <div>“Although we have worked together previously, we can coordinate our efforts by partnering within the Area of Advance and CHAIR,” he says. “For example, we can see if several researchers are actually working towards the same goal, so we can improve efficiency and find synergies.”</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Searching for patterns in patient groups</h2> <div>Johansson himself is coordinating a project in which students use collected data about patients with Alzheimer’s disease to have AI search for patterns. Alzheimer’s disease has many different forms of expression and is currently diagnosed using cognitive testing – things like memory tests.</div> <div>“We know that Alzheimer’s patients have plaques that form in the brain. But some patients develop severe symptoms while others don’t, despite having equally extensive plaques. Why is that? We want to develop a tool that can provide a comprehensive look at the patient to determine the cause of the differences. We are looking at factors that can be measured when they are diagnosed, and that can also be monitored over time. The idea is primarily to be able to predict how the disease can be expected to develop, but perhaps in the long term we will also be able to develop a tool that can diagnose subgroups of Alzheimer’s patients.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>There are plans for a shared infrastructure and also for training initiatives. One example is training in ethical review, which has been requested by many Chalmers researchers who have not had to work with this before, and which is of course important in healthcare.</div> <div>“We may need to train our staff in this,” Johansson says. “And vice versa, we are also talking about AI training for researchers at SU.”</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">“We’re here to support them”</h2> <div>Ann-Sofie Cans points out that Chalmers is also supporting the new innovation training course for clinicians that was recently started at SU.</div> <div>“Sahlgrenska wants doctors to be versed in a variety of technologies. We can help them to find the right people to hold a lecture or arrange a study visit, like the one this spring on AI and 3D printing,“ she says.</div> <div>“The healthcare system is realising more and more that they need the skills of engineers – and we’re here to support them. If no one uses our solutions, then they won’t benefit anyone.”</div> <div><br /> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">ABOUT: Chalmers’ Health Engineering Area of Advance</h2> <div>Chalmers’ new Area of Advance covers 12 departments and is organised in five profile areas:<br /><br /></div> <div>• Digitalisation, big data and AI</div> <div>• Infection, drug delivery and diagnostics</div> <div>• Prevention, lifestyle and ergonomics</div> <div>• Medical engineering</div> <div>• Systems and built environments for health and care</div> <div><br /></div> <div>These profile areas were defined based on the research represented at Chalmers, but they have also proven to serve as valuable access points to the university.</div> <div><br />In addition to Sahlgrenska University Hospital, the external partners include the Faculty of Science and the Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, the Västra Götaland region, the AstraZeneca Bioventure Hub, the University of Borås and Sahlgrenska Science Park.<br /><br /></div> <div>The Area of Advance and the partnerships embrace not only research but also education. Chalmers and SU have started a pilot project with a joint graduate school in biomedical engineering. In the long term, it is possible that doctoral students accepted to the programme will be able to earn double degrees. Chalmers has also created the new Biomedical Engineering bachelor’s programme, in which the first students will start this autumn.<br /><br /></div> <div>The Health Engineering Area of Advance has defined three social challenges of focus, in accordance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: <em>Changed population and new diseases</em>, <em>Increased need for healthcare in a society with limited resources</em> and <em>Health, climate and sustainability.</em></div> <div><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br /><br /></div> <div><em>Caption to the picture of the operating theatre:</em></div> <div><div><em>The operating theatre in the Imaging and Intervention Centre at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, fully equipped with nearly 400 medical engineering products for imaging-supported diagnostics or treatment. This is one of the most high-tech, advanced surgical wards in Sweden. There are several so called hybrid theatres in the building, where surgery and diagnostic imaging can be done in the same room. </em></div> <div><em>This year Chalmers’ MedTech West research centre is establishing a collaborative laboratory in the Imaging and Intervention Centre. Clinical trials in microwave-based diagnostics and magnetoencephalography (MEG) are planned to start in 2021.</em></div></div> <div><br /> </div> <div><a href="">This text is republished from Chalmers Magasin no. 1, 2020​</a> (in Swedish).</div> <div><a href="/en/areas-of-advance/health/news/Pages/Working-to-reach-new-diagnostics.aspx">Read related article with examples of Chalmers research in the area of diagnostics here.</a></div> <div>​<br /></div>Wed, 24 Jun 2020 16:00:00 +0200 fortified with a new iron compound could help reduce iron deficiency<p><b>​Iron fortification of food is a cost-effective method of preventing iron deficiency. But finding iron compounds that are easily absorbed by the intestine without compromising food quality is a major challenge. Now, studies from Chalmers University of Technology, ETH Zurich and Nestlé Research show that a brand-new iron compound, containing the iron uptake inhibitor phytate and the iron uptake enhancing corn protein hydrolysate, meets the criteria.</b></p><div><div><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);background-color:initial">Two billion people in the world suffer from iron deficiency. It is mainly prevalent in women of childbearing age, young</span><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);background-color:initial"> children and adolescents. Severe iron deficiency can lead to premature birth, increased risk of illness and mortality for mother and child, as well as impaired development of brain function in children.</span></div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The situation is most serious in low-income countries where the diet is mainly plant-based. Cereals and legumes are rich in iron, but the iron is not available for absorption by the body. This is mainly because these foods also contain phytate, which inhibits iron absorption by forming insoluble compounds with iron in the gut.</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Brand-new iron compound​ was produced</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">One cost-effective way to prevent iron deficiency, especially in low-income countries, is to iron-fortify foods such as bouillons or seasonings. But one problem with this is that iron compounds which are easily absorbed by the gut tend to also be chemically reactive and can therefore affect the colour and taste of the food, and can negatively impact their shelf life.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Conversely, stable iron compounds, such as ferric pyrophosphate, which is used today for iron fortification of bouillons and seasonings are difficult for the intestine to absorb. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“The major challenge lies in finding a compound that can solve this balancing act. Nestlé Research and Chalmers began discussing this a few years ago, which led to Nestlé Research developing a new compound containing monoferric phytate (Fe-PA),” says Ann-Sofie Sandberg, Professor of Food Science at Chalmers University of Technology.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">To make the compound easier for the intestine to absorb, it is bound to amino acids. Previous studies have shown how this helps make iron compounds more absorbable.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“Nestlé Research tested the compound’s stability and effect on taste, colour and odour. Then we at Chalmers examined the iron uptake in human intestinal cells exposed to the bouillon fortified with different variants of the Fe-PA compound,” says Ann-Sofie Sandberg.</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">The iron compound was bound to corn protein hydrolysate</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The result turned out to be very positive. In addition to exposing the intestinal cells to the bouillon where the iron compound is bound to different amino acids, researchers from Nestlé also prepared variants where the amino acids were replaced by hydrolysed protein of corn and soy. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The advantage of these proteins is that they cost less to produce. In addition, corn protein is not associated with allergies, so it particularly suitable for use in food.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“When we compared the rate of iron uptake with the new compound against that of ferrous sulfate, we could see that the iron was well taken up in the intestinal cells exposed to all the different varieties of fortified bouillone. Ferrous sulfate is very readily absorbed, but is unsuitable in food because of its high reactivity,” says Nathalie Scheers, Associate Professor of Molecular Metal Nutrition, who has led the development of the co-culture cell model for studying iron uptake and its regulation.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">In the parallel published human study from Nestlé Research in Lausanne and ETH Zurich, it has been shown that the iron absorption from the fortified bouillon with the hydrolysed corn protein compound was twice the rate compared to ferric pyrophosphate, which is often used today for iron fortification of foods outside Europe. When the new compound was tested in foods containing iron absorption inhibitors, such as corn porridge, the absorption was five times as high compared to ferric pyrophosphate.</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">&quot;Great interest to reduce human suffering&quot;</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The hope is that the new iron compound could be used in bouillons and seasonings in low-income countries to reduce the incidence of iron deficiency – and thereby the rate of disease and mortality, especially in women and children.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“Unless side effects which we have not yet foreseen arise, we are hopeful that food fortified with this new ferric phytate compound could be of great interest in helping to reduce human suffering worldwide. But further research is needed here,” says Ann-Sofie Sandberg.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial;font-weight:700">Text: </span><span style="background-color:initial">Susanne Nilsson Lindh<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-weight:700">Illustration: </span><span style="background-color:initial;color:rgb(51, 51, 51)">Yen Strandqvist​</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong style="background-color:initial"><br /></strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong style="background-color:initial">More about the research:</strong><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li>In the Chalmers-developed cellular co-culture model for iron uptake, the human intestinal cells were exposed to bouillon enriched with the compounds Fe-PA-Histidine-Glutamine (Fe-PA-Hist-Gln) and Fe-PA-Histidine-Glycine (Fe-PA-Hist-Gly), but also compounds where the amino acids are replaced by hydrolysed soy protein (Fe-PA-HSP) and corn (Fe-PA-HCP).</li> <li>The iron uptake was measured indirectly with the marker ferritin and was compared to the uptake of ferrous sulfate.​</li></ul> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> </div> ​<div><div><span style="font-weight:700;background-color:initial">Read the study in </span><em style="font-weight:700;background-color:initial">Scientific Reports</em><span style="font-weight:700;background-color:initial">:  </span><br /></div> <div></div> <div><a href="" style="outline:currentcolor none 0px"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href="">The development of a novel ferric phytate compound for iron fortification of billions (part I)​</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">Read about the human study from ETH Zürich: </span><br /></div> <div><a href="" style="outline:currentcolor none 0px"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><span style="background-color:initial"><font color="#5b97bf"><span style="font-weight:700"><a href=";isAllowed=y">Iron bioavailability from bouillon fortifed with a novel ferric phytate compound: a stable iron isotope study in healthy women (part II)​​</a></span></font></span><br /></div> <div><div><span style="font-weight:700"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">More about the researchers and their research groups:  </span></div> <div></div> <div><a href="" style="outline:currentcolor none 0px"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href="/en/departments/bio/research/food_nutritional/Sandberg-Lab/Pages/default.aspx"><span>Ann-Sofie Sandberg, </span>Professor of Food Science​</a></div> <div><a href="" style="outline:currentcolor none 0px"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />​</a><a href="/en/departments/bio/research/food_nutritional/Scheers-Lab/Pages/default.aspx">Nathalie Scheers, Associate Professor of Molecular Metal Nutrition​</a></div></div> </div> ​Wed, 17 Jun 2020 07:00:00 +0200 of patients explored in research project<p><b>​People living with chronic illness are often responsible for a large portion of their own care in their daily life. This makes them experts on how to live with the disease – a role that should be used to reshape the health care system. And patients can now contribute!</b></p><div>​Chalmers initiates a two-year research project focusing on the patient as an innovator. It is well-known that people living with chronic diseases or long-term conditions, learn how to live with and adapt to their illness. They are forced to learn about complex disease profiles and be diligent when observing symptoms, how they respond to treatment, and learn what it takes to improve quality of life. This experience can lead to innovations, and this group of patients – and their relatives – are an untapped source of knowledge and innovation.</div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Supporting the patient in taking initiative</h3> <div><span><img src="/sv/centrum/chi/Nyheter/PublishingImages/Andreas-Hellstrom.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:150px;height:195px" /></span>This is a research project that takes a totally new perspective, according to Andreas Hellström, research leader at Chalmers.</div> <div> </div> <div>“It has become more common to involve patients when developing processes and services in health care, but this project takes it one step further. We support the patients in taking initiative and taking the lead in the innovation process, which allows for completely new ideas and solutions. This is an area ripe for innovation, just waiting to be used”, says Andreas Hellström.</div> <div> </div> <div>For the patients to get the right conditions to drive innovation with a focus on how to live with chronic illness, there has to be the right structures in places in society, that are open for new ideas. This is exactly what this research project aims to study. </div> <div> </div> <div>“In this project we’re going to develop and evaluate strategies, tools and models to allow for citizens and patients to successfully act as innovators. We are going to document what has to be in place on a structural level to create the right conditions for innovations.”</div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Researcher and living with a disease</h3> <div><span><img src="/sv/centrum/chi/Nyheter/PublishingImages/Sara-Riggare.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:150px;height:195px" /></span>Sara Riggare has Parkinson’s disease, and is part of the project management team. She meets her neurologist twice per year, the rest of the time she is her own primary care giver. Sara Riggare is also a PhD student at Uppsala University and has – among other things – developed a method for monitoring of medication. She is a well-known and outspoken patient advocate, not just in Sweden but also internationally, for enabling patients to contribute to innovations for a healthier life.</div> <div> </div> <div>“Today, there is nowhere to turn to if you want to develop new ideas, and because of this a large portion of patient knowledge is lost. The doctor doesn’t have all the information, and neither does the patient. I would wish for the cooperation between the patient and the health care providers to be more equal”, she says. </div> <div> </div> <div>Health care has a lot to gain from knowledge originating from people’s experiences of living with chronic illness – that is, a holistic view that includes health, everyday life and self-care.</div> <div> </div> <div>“The health care providers also have a role to play in this, it is not just about self-care and everyday life. We will also look for project participants who have ideas about what healthcare could do differently”, says Andreas Hellström.</div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Sharing experiences and learning together</h3> <div>The research project is based on so-called learning by doing. Patients or relatives will be invited to share their own experiences of trying to innovate in their health and selfcare. Together with researchers and innovation coaches they will develop and test strategies for innovation. The researchers will follow each step of the process and explore conditions necessary for good ideas to be tested and utilised.</div> <div> </div> <div><br /><strong>Would you like to participate in this project?</strong><a href=""> Read more here</a>.<br />You are also welcome to send an email to <a href="">Andreas Hellström</a>.<br /></div> <div><em> </em></div> <em> </em><div>The research project <em>Patienten som innovationsledare i välfärdssystemet </em>is funded by Vinnova and run in collaboration between Centre for Healthcare Improvement at Chalmers, Västra Götalandsregionen, the organization Forum Spetspatient, Kraftens hus, Coinnovate and C.S. Combined Services AB.</div> <div> </div> <div><br />Text: Malin Ulfvarson</div> <div>Photos: Carolina Pires Bertuol (Andreas Hellström), Christopher Kern (Sara Riggare)</div>Mon, 15 Jun 2020 12:00:00 +0200 aspects of protein lifecycle<p><b>​Valentina Fermanelli contributes to the development and validation of a mathematical framework to study the lifecycle of apolipoproteins. These proteins are regulators of triglyceride levels, which are important risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, the first cause of death in the world today.</b></p><p>​<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Mathematics applied to solve real-world problems" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/MV/Nyheter/DescriptionValentinaFermanelli250x.png" style="margin:5px" />Biomathematics is an interdisciplinary subject strongly increasing with the development of new algorithms that can be used in new computer software. It describes biological processes in mathematical terms to frame and solve otherwise unsolvable research questions in biology and medicine. Apolipoprotein kinetics is one of the processes that are only possible to study thanks to mathematical modelling.</p> <h2>The effects of fructose on lipid metabolism</h2> <p>In her PhD thesis, Valentina has analysed time series data generated from three experiments with a nonlinear mixed effects modelling framework, where the individuals are considered as a sample of a larger population and the statistical model is already embedded in the parameter situation. One of the datasets studied concerns a fructose intervention in abdominally obese individuals. Since many people today drink fructose-containing soda, the effect of such consumptions on lipid metabolism is an important question. By studying how fast the apolipoproteins are formed and released in the blood and how fast they are removed, the knowledge on lipid metabolism is enhanced. One of the results of the thesis, due to the combination of apolipoprotein and lipoprotein kinetic data, uncovers the cause of why hypercaloric fructose leads to increase in triglyceride levels in the blood.</p> <p><img width="170" height="220" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="Valentina Fermanelli" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/MV/Profilbilder/valentinafermanelli2.jpg" style="margin:5px" />Valentina has a double master’s degree in applied mathematics from Università degli Studi di Camerino in Italy and Technische Universität Clausthal in Germany. It was in Germany that she really discovered applied mathematics, and came to love the fact that abstract mathematics can solve real-world problems through modelling and simulations.</p> <p>– I started looking for a PhD project, and when I saw the one in Gothenburg I thought “this is made for me!” After I came back from the second interview I asked my mother, who is a primary school teacher and had been to Sweden through work, what the country was like. She told me about children playing in the snow and that both boys and girls learnt wood craft in school, well that was fascinating! </p> <h2>Developing not only as a scientist</h2> <p>There is much that Valentina has liked about her PhD studies, such as the beautiful work environments and the many wonderful people in the department that have made her feel at home. She also mentions the way PhD students are treated where you can call your supervisor by name, be represented in different committees and where the hierarchies overall are low. And she really liked the GTS (General and Transferable Skills) courses that develop the participants not only as scientists but as persons as well. During her PhD studies she has had the opportunity to visit Japan for ten months in total and work with people in similar research fields. She is grateful for her time here in the Mathematical Sciences department that has opened many doors.</p> <p>But it can also be a struggle to be a PhD student, and to cope Valentina has used EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and laughter yoga. She wants to let more people know these techniques, so she will soon after her thesis defence start a course in laughter yoga at a yoga centre here in Gothenburg. Her dream now is to study the effects of these techniques, through mathematical models of course! That the thesis defence has to be online due to corona restrictions has its advantages, now family and friends from all over the world can easily join.<br /><br /><em>Valentina Fermanelli will defend her PhD thesis “Mathematical aspects of apolipoprotein kinetics, with focus on metabolic diseases” on June 15 at 13.15 via Zoom. Supervisor is Martin Adiels, Sahlgrenska Academy.</em><br /><br /><strong>Text</strong>: Setta Aspström<br /><strong>Photo</strong>: private<br /><strong>Picture</strong>: Valentina Fermanelli, Simplified description of how mathematics is applied to solve real-world problems, such as biological and medical ones</p>Tue, 09 Jun 2020 08:55:00 +0200 professor appointed honorary doctor<p><b>​Bo Håkansson, professor of biomedical engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, has been awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine by Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">Bo Håkansson’s world-leading research on conduction of sound vibrations in human bone has resulted in a hearing device using a skin-penetrating implant anchored in the skull bone, today available globally, that has been of life-changing importance to people with impaired hearing.</span><div><br /></div> <div>He has also been the driving force behind the further development and commercialisation of hearing aids where the loudspeaker is implanted under intact skin, with a clear focus on ensuring that research successes benefit individuals and society.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Bone conduction hearing has engaged me ever since my doctoral studies at Chalmers more than 40 years ago”, says Bo Håkansson. “I am very happy and honored by this appointment. Over the years, it has been a real pleasure for me to collaborate with the colleagues at the medical faculty and the ear clinic.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In its citation for the award, the Board of Sahlgrenska Academy also highlights the collaborative project to develop hand movements subject to voluntary control in arm prostheses, where Bo has been one of the initiators, which has received major international attention.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The citation emphasises that “these research successes have generated industrial expansion in the Gothenburg area, with companies like Cochlear, Oticon Medical and Integrum, to name but a few. The essential foundation for the translational research projects developed in this area at Sahlgrenska Academy has been the close collaboration with professor Bo Håkansson and Chalmers University of Technology.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Technology and health is a vital area of collaboration for Sahlgrenska Academy and Chalmers, in which Bo Håkansson has made very substantial contributions. He’s a highly deserving honorary doctor”, says Agneta Holmäng, professor and Dean of Sahlgrenska Academy, also welcoming a continued cooperation.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><strong>Read more</strong></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Newly appointed honorary doctor at Sahlgrenska Academy</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="/en/departments/e2/news/Pages/40-years-of-bone-conduction-hearing.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />40 years of bone conduction hearing</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="/en/departments/e2/news/Pages/Awarded-for-research-in-prosthetics.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Awarded for research in prosthetics – the 2017 ISPO Brian &amp; Joyce Blatchford Award</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>For more information, please contact</strong></div> <div><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/bo-hakansson.aspx">Bo Håkansson</a>, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 18 07, <div style="display:inline !important"><div style="display:inline !important"><a href=""></a></div></div></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div>Tue, 02 Jun 2020 00:00:00 +0200 spray could deliver vaccine against COVID-19<p><b>​In the the global struggle against the coronavirus, scientists in a new pilot project led by Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have started a project to explore design principles for nasal immunization. If successful it might be useful in future vaccine developments versus viral infections including SARS-CoV-2. Through a broad collaboration between universities and external partners, the researchers are trying to find a new way to tackle both SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that attack our cells.​</b></p><div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/coronavaccin_pilotprojekt_Karin_labb_350x305.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:5px;margin-left:10px;height:249px;width:280px" /><div>“There are several benefits to administering a vaccine directly into the nasal mucosa. It mimics how many viruses often enter the body and can therefore more effectively trigger the immune defence at the point of entry,” says researcher Karin Norling at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Karin Norling recently defended her<a href="/en/centres/gpc/calendar/Pages/Disputation-Karin-Norling-200221.aspx"> PhD thesis in bioscience</a>, and is now in the process of coordinating and preparing the laboratory work for the new pilot project.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><div>By combining several promising concepts developed at Chalmers, the University of Gothenburg, AstraZeneca and internationally, the researchers hope to be able to test a unique vaccination concept against COVID-19. </div> <div>​<br /></div> </div></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">A harmless particle that deceives the body's immune cells</h2> <div><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial"><div>The researchers aim to design a biomimetic​ nanoparticle that deceives the body's immune cells to act as if they had encountered a true virus. In fact, they encounter something known as an mRNA, which is a precursor to a harmless element of the virus. In addition, the artificial particle has been provided with both immune enhancers and a targeting protein, which acts almost as a set of directions – allowing the vaccine to reach only a certain type of immune cell. When activated, the body will hopefully learn to recognise and defend itself against the virus in the future.</div></span><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/350x305_Fredrik_Hook.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;height:132px;width:150px" /><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial"><div><br /></div></span><span style="background-color:initial"><div>&quot;We hope that this multidisciplinary approach will inform how future vaccine platforms for nasal mRNA delivery can be designed,&quot;  says Fredrik Höök, Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and Project Coordinator of the centre <a href="/en/centres/FoRmulaEx/Pages/default.aspx">Formulaex​</a>, where AstraZeneca is the leading industrial partner.</div></span></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span><span>&quot;</span></span>It will take years to develop a vaccine<span style="font-family:inherit;background-color:initial">&quot;</span></h2></div> <div><div><span style="background-color:initial"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Karin_Norling_280x.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:200px;height:177px" /><div>During the pilot project, the researchers will evaluate the prerequisites for a longer and more extensive project to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in nasal spray form. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“It will take years to develop a vaccine but hopefully after this project we will be able to say whether the concept of a targeted nasal spray vaccine is promising enough to warrant further work,” says Karin Norling.​</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="">When the scientific journal Nature recently described different types of vaccine concepts being tested, mRNA technology was included in the list.​</a></div> <div><br /></div></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"></span></div></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>More on the interdisciplinary pilot project</span></h2></div> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/coronavaccin_pilotprojekt_provror350x305.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;height:157px;width:180px" /><div><span></span><div>The new research collaboration also involves Elin Esbjörner Winters and Pernilla Wittung Stafshede from Chalmers, Nils Lycke from the Sahlgrenska Academy, the University of Gothenburg and Lennart Lindfors from AstraZeneca.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The project is funded by the Chalmers Innovation Office, Chalmers Area of Advance Health Engineering, The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF, and the Swedish Research Council (VR). The project is partly performed within the framework of the SSF-funded Formulaex research center.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Fredrik Höök is also a Profile Leader of <a href="/en/areas-of-advance/health/about/Pages/default.aspx">Chalmers’ new Area of Advance within Health Engineering​</a>, which addresses societal challenges by providing innovative technologies and solutions to the medical and health area in collaboration with regional, national and international partners.</div></div> <span></span><div><br /></div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">Text and photo:</strong><span style="background-color:initial"> Mia Halleröd Palmgren, </span><a href=""></a> and Joshua Worth, <a href="">​</a><br /></div> <div><b>Portrait photos: </b>Helén Rosenfeldt (Karin Norling) and Johan Bodell (Fredrik Höök)</div> <div>​<br /></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>For more information, contact: </span></h2></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Doctor <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/karinno.aspx">Karin Norling​</a>, Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 73 045 03 60, </span><a href=""></a><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Professor <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Fredrik-Höök.aspx">Fredrik Höök​</a>, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 61 30, <a href=""></a></div>Thu, 28 May 2020 06:00:00 +0200 effects of fibre rich diets depend on gut microbiota<p><b>​Foods rich in wholegrains have been associated with lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, the content of dietary fibre and bioactive compounds, such as lignans, differ between cereals.  In a new study, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology show that wholegrain rye lowers serum LDL-cholesterol compared to wholegrain wheat. The effect was linked to the composition of the gut microbiota of the individual. There was no difference in glucose metabolism between wheat and rye diet, and lignan supplementation did not affect any parameter. ​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>High wholegrain intake is associated with lower risk of developing non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In a new study, recently published in <em>The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em>, effects on metabolic parameters and risk factors was assessed between wholegrain wheat and rye for the first time, in subjects with so-called metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome have increased risk of cardiovascular disease and have elevated risk factors such as high blood pressure, high levels of blood cholesterol, obesity or abdominal obesity.</span></p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>​Lignan supplements to rye diet<br /></span></h2> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">There is a difference of dietary fibre quality in wholegrain wheat and rye, and the cereals also have different contents of bioactive compounds. Rye has the highest content of both dietary fibres and bioactive compounds. For example, wholegrain rye is rich in lignans, so-called phytoestrogens, which are substances that are similar to the hormone oestrogen. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Various studies have shown that lignans have protective effects against the risk of developing hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. Recently, several studies have also shown that the levels of enterolactone and entradiol, molecules formed by the gut microbiota when degrading plant-based phytoestrogens, are strongly linked to reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">&quot;We wanted to see if supplementation of lignans could enhance the effect of wholegrain rye. We added more lignans to the subjects' rye diet than any other study has done so far, and we measured the highest levels ever detected of enterolactone and enteradiol in humans. Despite this, we saw no effects on glucose turnover and metabolic risk factors. This is an indication that phytoestrogens are not enhancing the positive effects of the rye,&quot; says Rikard Landberg, Professor of Food and Nutritional Science at Chalmers.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Lower cholesterol levels dependent on gut microbiota</h2> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The researchers showed, though, that cholesterol blood levels can be lowered with the intake of wholegrain rye. This has also been confirmed in recent, unpublished, studies. In addition, they discovered that the decrease of cholesterol levels was dependent on the subjects’ gut microbiota in the beginning of the trial. This provides a possible mechanistic link between dietary fibre-rich foods, microbiota and lipid metabolism.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">&quot;More studies are needed to investigate the mechanisms behind these results. Interestingly, only one of three enterotypes, (i.e. the sets of microorganisms found in the gut), was linked to lowering cholesterol levels. This may be the result of high levels of short chain fatty acids generated by this enterotype. <span style="background-color:initial">There have been drug development studies where the gut microbiota was shown to boost the effect of lipid-lowering drugs. But the exact role of gut microbiota in the cholesterol turnover is still to be unrevealed a</span><span style="background-color:initial">nd more studies are needed,&quot; says Rikard Landberg.</span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The cholesterol levels of the subjects were, however, back to normal after four to eight weeks.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">&quot;We have seen this in other studies as well. This may be due to the subjects getting tired of eating the intervention diet, in other words lack of compliance. It might also happen because, for some reason, you get an adaptation effect,&quot; says Rikard Landberg.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Want to investigate the potential of enterotype adapted diet</h2> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">New studies focus on screening individuals with different enterotypes and evaluating the effects of fermentable fibres compared to non-fermentable fibres on metabolic risk factors across enterotypes. The researchers hope this will confirm the results from the recently published study. They will also get an estimate of how much greater the potential for prevention is with a diet adapted for the gut microbiota compared to diet that is not.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The current study was a collaboration between researchers at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at Chalmers University of Technology, the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, Uppsala University and Aarhus University, Denmark.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span><strong>​Text: </strong></span><span>Susanne Nilsson LIndh​</span></p> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>The study</strong></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <ul><li>40 men with a risk profile for metabolic syndrome were randomly assigned diets of wholegrain rye or wholegrain wheat in an 8-week crossover study, in which all subjects received both treatments but in reverse order.</li> <li>The rye diet was supplemented with additions of lignans at weeks 4–8.</li></ul> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Read the article in </strong><em><strong>The America Journal of Clinical Nutrition</strong></em></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href="" style="background-color:rgb(255, 255, 255)"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51)"> </span><a href="" style="background-color:rgb(255, 255, 255)">Effects on whole-grain wheat, rye, and lignan suplementation on cardiometabolic risk factors in men with metabolic syndrome: a randomized crossover trial</a><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong style="background-color:initial">Also read </strong><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href="" style="outline:0px"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><span style="background-color:initial"> ​</span><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Wholegrains-important-for-preventing-type-2-diabetes.aspx">Wholegrains important for preventing type 2 diabetes</a></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div>Thu, 07 May 2020 16:00:00 +0200 prostheses that “feel” for real<p><b>For the first time, people with arm amputations can experience sensations of touch in a mind-controlled arm prosthesis that they use in everyday life. Three Swedish patients have lived, for several years, with this new technology – one of the world’s most integrated interfaces between human and machine. ​</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">The advance is unique: the patients have used a mind-controlled prosthesis in their everyday life for up to seven years. For the last few years, they have also lived with a new function – sensations of touch in the prosthetic hand. This is a new concept for artificial limbs, which are called neuromusculoskeletal prostheses – as they are connected to the user’s nerves, muscles, and skeleton.</span><div><br /> </div> <div><a href="" target="_blank">A study in the New England Journal of Medicine</a> reports that these prostheses have a natural function in the patients' daily lives.</div> <div><br /> </div> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Max Ortiz Catalan" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Ny%20teori%20om%20fantomsmärtor%20visar%20vägen%20mot%20effektivare%20behandling/max_ortiz_catalan_250px.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:215px;height:252px" /><div>The research was led by <a href="/sv/personal/redigera/Sidor/max-jair-ortiz-catalan.aspx">Max Ortiz Catalan</a>, Associate Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, in collaboration with <a href="" target="_blank">Sahlgrenska University Hospital​</a>, <a href=";disableRedirect=true&amp;returnUrl=" target="_blank">University of Gothenburg</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Integrum AB</a>, all in Gothenburg, Sweden. Researchers at <a href="" target="_blank">Medical University of Vienna</a> in Austria and the <a href="" target="_blank">Massachusetts Institute of Technology​</a> in theUSA were also involved.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Our study shows that a prosthetic hand attached to the bone and controlled by electrodes implanted in nerves and muscles can operate much more precisely than conventional prosthetic hands. We further improved the use of the prosthesis by integrating tactile sensory feedback that the patients use to mediate how hard to grab or squeeze an object. Over time, the ability of the patients to discern smaller changes in the intensity of sensations has improved,” says Max Ortiz Catalan. </span><br /></div> <div><br /> </div> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="Patient with a prosthetic arm" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Tankestyrda%20armproteser%20med%20känsel%20har%20blivit%20en%20del%20av%20vardagen/patient_340x500px.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:260px;height:388px" /><div>“The most important contribution of this study was to demonstrate that this new type of prosthesis is a clinically viable replacement for a lost arm. No matter how sophisticated a neural interface becomes, it can <span style="background-color:initial">only deliver real benefit to patients if the connection between the patient and the prosthesis is safe and reliable in the long-term. Our results are the product of many years of work, and now we can finally present the first bionic arm prosthesis that can be reliably controlled using implanted electrodes, while also conveying sensations to the user in everyday life&quot;, continues Max Ortiz Catalan.</span></div> <div><br /> </div> <div>​Since receiving their prostheses, the patients have used them daily in all their professional and personal activities.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><br /> </div> <div><em style="background-color:initial">One of the patients in the study has had his mind-controlled arm prosthesis since the beginning of 2017, with artificial sensation since September 2018. </em><br /></div> <div><div><em>“The prosthesis has changed my life a lot,” he says. “The traditional socket prosthesis I had before was a tool I wore. The new prosthesis does not feel like something I wear but as part of me. I use it all day, so for me it's so natural, it's not something I really think about.”</em></div> <div><br /> </div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">This makes the prosthesis unique</strong><br /></div></div> <div>The new concept of a neuromusculoskeletal prosthesis is unique in that it delivers several different features which have not been presented together in any other prosthetic technology in the world:</div> <div><ul><li>It has a direct connection to a person's nerves, muscles, and skeleton.</li> <li>It is mind-controlled and delivers sensations that are perceived by the user as arising from the missing hand.</li> <li>It is self-contained; all electronics needed are contained within the prosthesis, so patients do not need to carry additional equipment or batteries.</li> <li>It is safe and stable in the long-term; the technology has been used without interruption by patients during their everyday activities, without supervision from the researchers, and it is not restricted to confined or controlled environments.<br /></li></ul> <div><div>The newest part of the technology, the sensation of touch, is possible through stimulation of the nerves that used to be connected to the biological hand before the amputation. Force sensors located in the thumb of the prosthesis measure contact and pressure applied to an object while grasping. This information is transmitted to the patients’ nerves leading to their brains. Patients can thus feel when they are touching an object, its characteristics, and how hard they are pressing it, which is crucial for imitating a biological hand.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>“Currently, the sensors are not the obstacle for restoring sensation,” says Max Ortiz Catalan. “The challenge is creating neural interfaces that can seamlessly transmit large amounts of artificially collected information to the nervous system, in a way that the user can experience sensations naturally and effortlessly.”</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The implantation of this new technology took place at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, led by Professor Rickard Brånemark and Doctor Paolo Sassu. Over a million people worldwide suffer from limb loss, and the end goal for the research team, in collaboration with Integrum AB, is to develop a widely available product suitable for as many of these people as possible.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>“Right now, patients in Sweden are participating in the clinical validation of this new prosthetic technology for arm amputation,” says Max Ortiz Catalan. “We expect this system to become available outside Sweden within a couple of years, and we are also making considerable progress with a similar technology for leg prostheses, which we plan to implant in a first patient later this year.”</div></div></div> <div><br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Max Ortiz Catalan with a patient" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Tankestyrda%20armproteser%20med%20känsel%20har%20blivit%20en%20del%20av%20vardagen/Max_och_patient_750x500px.jpg" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /><em>Max Ortiz Catalan in a follow up appointment with one of the patients, at the Chalmers Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory.</em><br /></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">More about: How the technology works</h2> <div>The implant system for the arm prosthesis is called e-OPRA and is based on the OPRA implant system created by Integrum AB. The implant system anchors the prosthesis to the skeleton in the stump of the amputated limb, through a process called osseointegration (osseo = bone). Electrodes are implanted in muscles and nerves inside the amputation stump, and the e-OPRA system sends signals in both directions between the prosthesis and the brain, just like in a biological arm.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The prosthesis is mind-controlled, via the electrical muscle and nerve signals sent through the arm stump and captured by the electrodes. The signals are passed into the implant, which goes through the skin and connects to the prosthesis. The signals are then interpreted by an embedded control system developed by the researchers. The control system is small enough to fit inside the prosthesis and it processes the signals using sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms, resulting in control signals for the prosthetic hand's movements.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The touch sensations arise from force sensors in the prosthetic thumb. The signals from the sensors are converted by the control system in the prosthesis into electrical signals which are sent to stimulate a nerve in the arm stump. The nerve leads to the brain, which then perceives the pressure levels against the hand.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The neuromusculoskeletal implant can connect to any commercially available arm prosthesis, allowing them to operate more effectively.</div> <div><br /> </div> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="An illustration of the mind-controlled prosthesis with sensation" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Tankestyrda%20armproteser%20med%20känsel%20har%20blivit%20en%20del%20av%20vardagen/Tankestyrd_protes_illustration_eng_400x311px.jpg" style="margin:5px" /><div><div><span style="background-color:initial"><em>The neuromusculoskeletal prosthesis has a direct connection to a person's nerves, muscles and skeleton. The neural interfaces are electrodes wrapped around the severed nerves. The muscular interfaces consist of electrodes implanted on the biceps and triceps muscles. The skeletal interface comprises a titanium screw that is osseointegrated within the bone – meaning that the bone cells are directly attached to it, providing mechanical stability. Part of the skeletal interface extends out of the body through the skin and connects to the prosthetic arm. Electrical connectors embedded in the skeletal interface provide bidirectional communication between the prosthesis and the electrodes implanted in nerves and muscles.</em></span><br /></div></div> <div><br /> </div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">More about: How the artificial sensation is experienced</h2> <div>People who lose an arm or leg often experience phantom sensations, as if the missing body part remains although not physically present. When the force sensors in the prosthetic thumb react, the patients in the study feel that the sensation comes from their phantom hand. Precisely where on the phantom hand varies between patients, depending on which nerves in the stump receive the signals. The lowest level of pressure can be compared to touching the skin with the tip of a pencil. As the pressure increases, the feeling becomes stronger and increasingly ‘electric’.</div> <div>​<br /></div></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">More about: The research</h2> <div>The current study dealt with patients with above-elbow amputations, and this technology is close to becoming a finished product. The research team is working in parallel with a new system for amputations below the elbow. In those cases, instead of one large bone (humerus), there are two smaller bones (radius and ulna) to which the implant needs to be anchored. The group is also working on adapting the system for leg prostheses.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>In addition to applications within prosthetics, the permanent interface between human and machine provides entirely new opportunities for scientific research into how the human muscular and nervous systems work.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>Associate Professor Max Ortiz Catalan heads the<a href="" target="_blank"> Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory​</a> at Chalmers University of Technology and is currently establishing the new Center for Bionics and Pain Research at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, in close collaboration with Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg, where this work will be further developed and clinically implemented.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The research has been funded by the Promobilia Foundation, the IngaBritt and Arne Lundbergs Research Foundation, Region Västra Götaland (ALF grants), Vinnova, the Swedish Research Council, and the European Research Council.</div></div> <div><br /> </div> <div>Chalmers University of Technology develops its collaboration with health care and medical research through the <a href="/en/areas-of-advance/health/Pages/default.aspx">Health Engineering Area of Advance​</a>.<br /></div> <div>​<br /></div> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="The sensations of touch in a mind-controlled arm prosthesis " src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Tankestyrda%20armproteser%20med%20känsel%20har%20blivit%20en%20del%20av%20vardagen/mindcontrolled_prosthesis_750px.jpg" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /><em>With the prosthesis, the patients can feel when they are holding an object, and how hard they are gripping, which is essential for imitating a biological hand.</em><br /></div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">​<span>For more information, please contact</span></h3></div> <div><a href="/sv/personal/redigera/Sidor/max-jair-ortiz-catalan.aspx">Max Ortiz Catalan</a>, Department of Electrical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, +46 70 846 10 65, <a href="">​​</a></div></div> <div><br /> </div> <div><div><em>Text: Johanna Wilde<br /></em></div> <div><em>Portrait photo of Max Ortiz Catalan: Oscar Mattsson</em></div> <em> </em><div><em>Film and other photos: Johan Bodell</em></div> <em> </em><div><em>Illustration: Sara Manca /Yen Strandqvist</em></div></div>Wed, 29 Apr 2020 23:00:00 +0200 Award for naturalistic control of prostheses<p><b>​The Chalmers Foundation Award 2020 goes to Max Ortiz Catalan, for his work with naturalistic control of prostheses through osseointegrated implants.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">The Chalmers Foundation Award 2020 goes to Max Ortiz Catalan, Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, for his work with naturalistic control of prostheses through osseointegrated implants.</span><div><br /> </div> <div>The Award consists of a personal grant of 25000 kronor, and 100,000 kronor to finance an event presenting various initiatives at Chalmers within the recipient’s research area. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The Foundation’s motivation for the Award is as follows:</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><em>“The Chalmers Foundation was formed in 1994, with the task of supporting Chalmers to carry out research and education at a high educational level. Chalmers has developed in a positive direction since then and our vision – Chalmers for a sustainable future – permeates all of our operations. </em></div> <div><em>This vision encompasses several research fields, not least the meeting points between technology and medicine. The Chalmers Foundation Award is given annually to someone connected to Chalmers, for worthwhile, recent results, which have clearly contributed to the University’s development. </em></div> <div><br /> </div> <div><em>This year’s Award recognises the continuation of a world-leading collaboration between Chalmers and Sahlgrenska, that started in the 1970s when PI Brånemark invited Chalmers into the dynamic research going on regarding osseointegrated titanium implants. Award winner Max Ortiz Catalan has succeeded, through his ability to collaborate with others, and putting patients’ needs foremost, in using the full potential of new technologies to improve the quality of life for those who have suffered accidents.  </em></div> <div><br /> </div> <div><em>This year’s Award winner has worked successfully to ensure research results achieve their full potential. That also entails a responsibility to attract media attention to tell the story of important advances. Through active, skilful communication, this year’s Award winner has helped spread awareness all around the world of these important advances happening at Chalmers. He himself has also contributed greatly to the advances. He has been one of Chalmers’ foremost spokespersons in international media for several years and his work constitutes an important aspect of Chalmers’ international reputation”. </em></div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The Chalmers Foundation’s board made the decision based on work by a jury consisting of: </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>Per Olof Arnäs, Chalmers Faculty Senate and Chalmers Foundation Board, Claes Niklasson, Chalmers Alumni Association, Anna Dubois, First Vice-President and Jonathan Sjölander, Chalmers Student Union, assisted by Christian Borg, Head of Media Relations and Mattias Königsson, Chalmers Foundation.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div><strong>Text:</strong> Erik Krång</div> <div><strong>Photo: </strong>Anna-Lena Lundqvist</div> Thu, 16 Apr 2020 09:00:00 +0200