News: Livsvetenskaper och teknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyMon, 15 Apr 2019 11:26:34 +0200 dexterous hand prosthesis implanted<p><b>​A female Swedish patient with hand amputation has become the first recipient of an osseo-neuromuscular implant to control a dexterous hand prosthesis. In a pioneering surgery, titanium implants were placed in the two forearm bones (radius and ulnar), from which electrodes to nerves and muscle were extended to extract signals to control a robotic hand and to provide tactile sensations. This makes it the first clinically viable, dexterous and sentient prosthetic hand usable in real life. The breakthrough is part of the European project DeTOP.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">The new implant technology was developed in Sweden by a team lead by Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan at Integrum AB – the company behind the first bone-anchored limb prosthesis using osseointegration – and Chalmers University of Technology. This first-of-its-kind surgery, led by Prof. Rickard Brånemark and Dr. Paolo Sassu, took place at Sahlgrenska University Hospital as part of a larger project funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020 called DeTOP. </span><div><br /></div> <div>The DeTOP project is coordinated by Prof. Christian Cipriani at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, and also includes Prensilia, the University of Gothenburg, Lund University, University of Essex, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology, INAIL Prosthetic Center, Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, and the Instituto Ortopedico Rizzoli.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Implanted electrodes provide sensory and motoric control</strong><br /></div> <div>Conventional prosthetic hands rely on electrodes placed over the skin to extract control signals from the underlying stump muscles. These superficial electrodes deliver limited and unreliable signals that only allow control of a couple of gross movements (opening and closing the hand). Richer and more reliable information can be obtained by implanting electrodes in all remaining muscle in the stump instead. Sixteen electrodes were implanted in this first patient in order to achieve more dexterous control of a novel prosthetic hand developed in Italy by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and Prensilia. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Current prosthetic hands have also limited sensory feedback. They do not provide tactile or kinesthetic sensation, so the user can only rely on vision while using the prosthesis. Users cannot tell how strongly an object is grasped, or even when contact has been made. By implanting electrodes in the nerves that used to be connected to the lost biological sensors of the hand, researchers can electrically stimulate these nerves in a similar manner as information conveyed by the biological hand. This results in the patient perceiving sensations originating in the new prosthetic hand, as it is equipped with sensors that drive the stimulation of the nerve to deliver such sensations.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Works in everyday life</strong></div> <div>One of the most important aspects of this work is that this is the first technology usable in daily life. This means it is not limited to a research laboratory. The Swedish group – Integrum AB and Chalmers University of Technology – have previously <a href=";" target="_blank">demonstrated that control of a sentient prosthesis in daily life was possible in above-elbow amputees using similar technology</a> (video). This was not possible in below-elbow amputees where there are two smaller bones rather than a single larger one as in the upper arm. This posed several challenges on the development of the implant system. On the other hand, it also presents an opportunity to achieve a more dexterous control of an artificial replacement. This is because many more muscles are available to extract neural commands in below-elbow amputations.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Bones weaken if they are not used (loaded), as commonly happen after amputation. The patient is following a rehabilitation program to regain the strength in her forearm bones to be able to fully load the prosthetic hand. In parallel,<a href=";" target="_blank"> she is also relearning how to control her missing hand using virtual reality​</a> (video), and in few weeks, she will be using a prosthetic hand with increasing function and sensations in her daily life. Two more patients will be implanted with this new generation of prosthetic hands in the upcoming months, in Italy and Sweden.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Ny%20teori%20om%20fantomsmärtor%20visar%20vägen%20mot%20effektivare%20behandling/max_ortiz_catalan_250px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="Max Ortiz Catalan, foto: Oscar Mattsson" style="margin:5px;width:180px;height:212px" />“Several advanced prosthetic technologies have been reported in the last decade, but unfortunately they have remained as research concepts used only for short periods of time in controlled environments” says Dr. Ortiz Catalan, Assoc. Prof. at Chalmers University of the Technology and head of the Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Lab (@ChalmersBNL)​, who has led this development since its beginning 10 years ago, initially in above-elbow amputations. “The breakthrough of our technology consists on enabling patients to use implanted neuromuscular interfaces to control their prosthesis while perceiving sensations where it matters for them, in their daily life.”</div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Extensive </strong></span><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Swedish participation in international project</strong></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The contribution to this European project in Sweden is extensive. The way in which humans perceive touch, and how machines can replicate such feat, are addressed at the University of Gothenburg by Prof. Johan Wessberg’s group. On the other hand, the way in which humans produce motor control, and the algorithms that can replicate it, are studied by the group of Dr. Christian Antfolk at Lund University. The clinical follow-ups and further surgeries will be conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital by Dr. Paolo Sassu, in collaboration with Prof. Rickard Brånemark now at MIT in USA. The development of the osseo-neuromuscular technology as well as the integration with the Italian prosthesis along with all the other components will occurred in Sweden led by Dr. Ortiz Catalan at Chalmers University of Technology and Integrum AB.</span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read more about the DeTOP project</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read more about Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Lab (@ChalmersBNL)​</a><span style="background-color:initial">,</span></div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Handprotes%20implanterad/Patient-and-Researcher_500px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><div>The patient is instructed by Dr.Max Ortiz Catalan to produce movements as indicated in the virtual hand. Muscular electrical activity captured by the implanted electrodes is displayed in the screen. This information is learned by the artificial limb to then respond to the desired movements.</div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Credits: Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan</span><span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><div><span style="font-weight:700">See videos describing the project</span></div> <div><a href=";" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Patient video: Osseo-neuromuscular interface for below-elbow amputations</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Prosthetic hand video: Sensorized Hand Prosthesis​</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />DeTOP project video​</a></div> <span style="background-color:initial"></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><div><span style="font-weight:700;background-color:initial">For more information, please contact:</span><br /></div> <div>Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan, +46 70 8461065, <a href="">​</a></div> <span style="background-color:initial"></span></div>Tue, 05 Feb 2019 09:00:00 +0100 project to make Swedes eat more whole grain<p><b>Eating more whole grain benefits public health. But nine out of ten Swedes eat too little. A collaborative project, initiated from Chalmers University of Technology, now aims at getting people to eat whole grain in products like bread, pasta and breakfast cereals.</b></p><div>Chalmers University of Technology and ten other participants from the food industry, consumer associations, public partners and nonprofit organizations now start up a new project, funded by the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation System, Vinnova. And more are welcome to join.</div> <br />&quot;The strengths of this new collaboration lie in the fact that it’s based on well-established research, with consistent results on the health effects of whole grain, and that many different players – with different focus and experience – gather around a common goal, namely to improve Swedish public health by increased consumption of whole grain. The mix of partners involved creates good conditions for this to be a success&quot;, says Rikard Landberg, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.<br /><br />Research clearly show that a high intake of whole grain lower the risk of developing many of major non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. In fact, whole grain is the single most important dietary factor in preventing these diseases in Sweden. According to the Nordic Nutritional Recommendations, we need 75 grams of whole grain per day – but nine out of ten eat too little.<br /><br /><strong>Danish predecessor</strong><br />In Denmark, the successful Fuldkornspartnerskabet (Whole grain partnership) has increased the Danes' intake of whole grain from 32 to 63 grams per day since the project began in 2007. The Swedish project will find inspiration in the Danish example, taking into account Swedish conditions for cooperation, eating habits, innovation and communication.<br /><br /><div>The project, called Tomorrow’s cereal consumption, officially started on December 19, when the collaborators met for a first meeting. Karin Jonsson, researcher at the Divison of Food and Nutrition Science at Chalmers, is the project leader:</div> <div>&quot;The next step is to invite more stakeholders. At workshops during the spring we will jointly develop our planned activities, along with the establishment of an action plan for stage two of this collaborative project. It is all about translating well established research findings into consumption patterns that benefit public health and it’s great that we can now start with joint efforts&quot;, she says.<br /><br /><strong>A variety of activities planned</strong><br /></div> The project aims at improving public health through various efforts; through an increase in the development of wholegrain products and services, increased and improved communication about the health aspects of whole grain, and through making whole grain products more accessible.<br /><br />&quot;There’s a lot of benefits in eating more whole grain, and it’s all around us – in our fields, in stores and bakeries. Eating more whole grain should be as natural to us as the use of olive oil in Mediterranean countries. The health potential of whole grain is at least equal to that of olive oil. It is very positive that prominent researchers in the food and health area, and specifically focused on whole grain, have initiated this project&quot;, says Maria Sitell, spokesperson and dietician at The Bread Institute.<br /><br /><strong>FACTS: Initial participants in the project</strong><br />Chalmers University of Technology, The Bread Institute, Fazer, City of Gothenburg – Public meals, The Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, Stockholm Consumer Cooperative Society, Lantmännen, Leksands knäckebröd, The Swedish Food Federation, Nestlé and Pågen.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt/Maria Sitell<br />Photos: Martina Butorac and Pixabay<br /><br />Thu, 20 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0100 year&#39;s Nobel Prize winner on taking control of evolution<p><b>​Frances H. Arnold’s research into the controlled evolution of enzymes was the winner of this year&#39;s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. During her visit to Chalmers, the Nobel laureate explained how her research can help us tailor nature.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">In the lecture, titled &quot;Innovation by Evolution: Bringing New Chemistry to Life,&quot; Frances H. Arnold spoke of her constant fascination with the forces of biology and on the research that led to the Nobel Prize.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial"><br />&quot;We know how to edit DNA, but we cannot create it. I often say it's like a Beethoven symphony, where we're still trying to learn to hold the pen that writes the notes. But it is nature, evolution, that knows how to create DNA. So, I decided that that was the process I would try to imitate in the laboratory.”<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial"><br />It resulted in Frances H. Arnold being awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the &quot;controlled evolution of enzymes&quot;. By shaping enzymes, she has made major contributions in the development of drugs, and to the field of chemistry as a whole. She has developed methods for inducing mutations of the genes encoding the respective enzymes. With her method, it is possible to choose variants of enzyme with a desired trait.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial"><br />After the lecture, the audience got the chance to ask questions of the Nobel Prize winner. Several researchers and students at Chalmers were able to speak with Frances H. Arnold about her research, with the last question of the day asking for her thoughts about perfectionism in research. She responded with a few words about achievement.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial"><br />&quot;It’s been a long time since I stopped worrying about making everything perfect. I'm an expert on the term ‘good enough’!”<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial"><br />In connection with the lecture, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, professor and head of the division of Chemical Biology at Chalmers, was given the opportunity to talk with the Nobel Prize winner. <a href=";">Watch the film of their conversation, about what defines a good idea in research, as well as advice for young researchers​</a>.</span><div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><em>Text: Sophia Kristensson</em></div> Wed, 19 Dec 2018 14:00:00 +0100 for detection of cancer from blood samples<p><b>​His blood analysis could detect several different cancer types at an early stage, when the sickness may be effectively treated. For this work, Francesco Gatto is now rewarded as an “Innovator Under 35” by MIT Technology Review.</b></p>​Cancer is mainly diagnosed and monitored using medical imaging techniques such as x-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. The tests are expensive and could cause harm to patients in the long run. Therefore, these techniques are not to be used to often, which in turn leads to the risk of missing out on an opportunity for early diagnosis.<br /><br /><strong>Metabolites reveal sickness</strong><br /><br />Using a blood or urine sample, it is now possible to test for early detection of cancer – or cancer relapse – much more frequently, opening up options for optimal treatment. Tests like these are today in place for a few types of cancer. Francesco Gatto, guest researcher and alumnus at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, is developing the analysis of blood metabolites – small molecules that reflect a fundamental process of growth in tumour cells – to recognize a larger variety of cancer forms. For this he is now named as an “Innovator Under 35” along with 34 fellow European innovators.<br /><br />&quot;It is a big honor. At first, I did not fully grasp the magnitude of this. But then, when the news went public, the reaction was quite overwhelming&quot;, he says.<br />&quot;The award acknowledges the work of innovators in driving high risk/high impact projects for our society, and is assigned by a distinguished jury assembled by MIT Technology Review.&quot;<br /><br /><strong>Mission: To save lifes</strong><br /><br />In 2017, Francesco Gatto together with Professor Jens Nielsen founded the company Elypta, a spin-off company to Chalmers that is also in close collaboration with the university. Elypta’s mission is to prevent mortality from cancer by developing their liquid biopsy platform for detection as well as monitoring the disease, since the findings also show responses to treatments. The approach is based on the measurement of 19 biomarkers, identified during Francesco Gatto’s doctoral studies at Chalmers, and use of machine learning algorithms to generate a biomarker score, tailored to identify cancer-type specific signatures.<br /><br />&quot;We have now completed over five clinical studies to show exceptional accuracy, not only in our main indication – renal cell carcinoma – but also in multiple other forms of cancer&quot;, Francesco Gatto says, and adds the Elypta is planning to release the diagnostic test for research use in 2019, and activate two multicenter trials in 2020.<br />&quot;There is a lot of evidence to suggest that early detection reduces mortality, which, at the end of the day, is the only thing that matters&quot;, he concludes.<br /><br />Paloma Cabello, member of the jury of “Innovators Under 35” in 2018, comments that Francesco Gatto stands out for his “technical brilliance, creativity, and focus on the transference and implementation capacity”. <br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina ButoracThu, 06 Dec 2018 16:00:00 +0100 joint restores wrist-like movements<p><b>​A new artificial joint restores important wrist-like movements to forearm amputees, something which could dramatically improve their quality of life. A group of researchers led by Max Ortiz Catalan, Associate Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have published their research in the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems &amp; Rehabilitation Engineering.​</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">For patients missing a hand, one of the biggest challenges to regaining a high level of function is the inability to rotate one’s wrist, or to ‘pronate’ and ‘supinate’. When you lay your hand flat on a table, palm down, it is fully pronated. Turn your wrist 180 degrees, so the hand is palm up, and it is fully supinated. </span><div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span><div>Most of us probably take it for granted, but this is an essential movement that we use every day. Consider using a door handle, a screwdriver, a knob on a cooker, or simply turning over a piece of paper. For those missing their hand, these are much more awkward and uncomfortable tasks, and current prosthetic technologies offer only limited relief to this problem. </div> <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;vertical-align:middle" /><br /> <span style="background-color:initial">“A person with forearm amputation can use a motorised wrist rotator controlled by electric signals from the remaining muscles. However, those same signals are also used to control the prosthetic hand,” explains Max Ortiz Catalan, Associate Professor at the Department for Electrical Engineering at Chalmers. “This results in a very cumbersome and unnatural control scheme, in which patients can only activate either the prosthetic wrist or the hand at one time and have to switch back and forth. Furthermore, patients get no sensory feedback, so they have no sensation of the hand’s position or movement.” </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>The new artificial joint works instead with an osseointegrated implant system developed by the Sweden-based company, Integrum AB – one of the partners in this project. An implant is placed into each of the two bones of the forearm – the ulnar and radius – and then a wrist-like artificial joint acts as an interface between these two implants and the prosthetic hand. Together, this allows for much more naturalistic movements, with intuitive natural control and sensory feedback. </div> <div> </div> <div><img alt="A collection of images showing the new technology" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Konstgjord%20led%20ger%20underarmsamputerade%20rörelseförmåga%20tillbaka%20i%20handleden/Kollage_konstgjord_led_750px.jpg" style="margin:5px;vertical-align:middle" /><br /><span style="background-color:initial">Patients who have lost their hand and wrist often still preserve enough musculature to allow them to rotate the radius over the ulnar – the crucial movement in wrist rotation. A conventional socket prosthesis, which is attached to the body by compressing the stump, locks the bones in place, preventing any potential wrist rotation, and thus wastes this useful movement. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">“Depending on the level of amputation, you could still have most of the biological actuators and sensors left for wrist rotation. These allow you to feel, for example, when you are turning a key to start a car. You don’t look behind the wheel to see how far to turn – you just feel it. Our new innovation means you don’t have to sacrifice this useful movement because of a poor technological solution, such as a socket prosthesis. You can continue to do it in a natural way,” says Max Ortiz Catalan.</span></div> <div><div> </div> <div>Biomedical Engineers Irene Boni and Jason Millenaar were at Chalmers as visiting international students. They worked with Dr. Ortiz Catalan at his Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Lab at Chalmers, and with Integrum AB on this project. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“In tests designed to measure manual dexterity, we have shown that a patient fitted with our artificial joint scored far higher compared to when using conventional socket technology,” explains Jason Millenaar.</div> <div><br /> <span style="background-color:initial">“Our new device offers a much more natural range of movement, minimising the need for compensatory movements of the shoulder or torso, which could dramatically improve the day to day lives of many forearm amputees,” says Irene Boni. </span></div> <div> </div> <div>Dr. Marco Controzzi at the Biorobotics Institute, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy also participated in the research.</div> <div> </div> <div>Read the paper <a href="" target="_blank">‘Restoring Natural Forearm Rotation in Transradial Osseointegrated Amputees​</a>’ published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems &amp; Rehabilitation Engineering.</div> <div> </div> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="A closeup of the implants and the artificial joint." src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Konstgjord%20led%20ger%20underarmsamputerade%20rörelseförmåga%20tillbaka%20i%20handleden/Konstgjord_led_hand_750px.jpg" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /><br /></div> <div><strong><br /></strong> </div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">More on the research</strong><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan is an Associate Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and head of the Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory (<a href="">@ChalmersBNL​</a>)</span><strong><br /></strong></div> <div>Irene Boni was a visiting student from the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy, and Jason Millenaar from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.</div> <div> </div> <div>The researchers found that restoring the full range of movement to all degrees of freedom in which the forearm bones can move was not necessary – the key parameter for returning a naturalistic wrist motion is the ‘axial’, or circular, motion of the ulnar and radius bones.</div> <div> </div> <div>“The wrist is a rather complicated joint. Although it is possible to restore full freedom of movement in the ulnar and radial bones, this could result in discomfort for the patient at times. We found that axial rotation is the most important factor to allow for naturalistic wrist movement without this uncomfortable feeling,” explains Max Ortiz Catalan. </div> <div> </div> <div>The development was finalised within the Horizon 2020 framework programme for Research and Innovation under the DeTOP project. </div></div> <div> </div> <div><div><strong>For more information, contact:</strong><br /><span style="background-color:initial">Max Ortiz Catalan, Department of Electrical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, <br />+46 70 846 10 65, <a href=""></a></span><br /></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div>Text: Joshua Worth</div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Images: C</span><span style="background-color:initial">halmers Biomechanics and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory/Chalmers University of Technolog and Oscar Mattsson</span><br /></div></div> ​Wed, 28 Nov 2018 07:00:00 +0100 toxic mercury from contaminated water<p><b>Water which has been contaminated with mercury and other toxic heavy metals is a major cause of environmental damage and health problems worldwide. Now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, present a totally new way to clean contaminated water, through an electrochemical process. The results are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. ​​​</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial">“Our results have really exceeded the expectations we had when we started with the technique,” says the research leader Björn Wickman, from Chalmers’ Department of Physics. “Our new method makes it possible to reduce the mercury content in a liquid by more than 99%. This can bring the water well within the margins for safe human consumption.” </span><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mercury is one the most harmful substances for human health. It can influence the nervous system, the development of the brain, and more. It is particularly harmful for children and can also be transmitted from a mother to a child during pregnancy. Furthermore, mercury spreads very easily through nature, and can enter the food chain. Freshwater fish, for example, often contain high levels of mercury. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>In the last two years, Björn Wickman and Cristian Tunsu, researcher at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers, have studied an electrochemical process for cleaning mercury from water. Their method works via extracting the heavy metal ions from water by encouraging them to form an alloy with another metal. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Today, removing low, yet harmful, levels of mercury from large amounts of water is a major challenge. Industries need better methods to reduce the risk of mercury being released in nature,” says Björn Wickman. </div> <div><br /></div> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Vattenrening_labbsetup1_webb.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;background-color:initial" /><div>Their new method involves a metal plate – an electrode – that binds specific heavy metals to it. The electrode is made of the noble metal platinum, and through an electrochemical process it draws the toxic mercury out of the water to form an alloy of the two. In this way, the water is cleaned of the mercury contamination. The alloy formed by the two metals is very stable, so there is no risk of the mercury re-entering the water. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“An alloy of this type has been made before, but with a totally different purpose in mind. This is the first time the technique with electrochemical alloying has been used for decontamination purposes,” says Cristian Tunsu.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>One strength of the new cleaning technique is that the electrode has a very high capacity. Each platinum atom can bond with four mercury atoms. Furthermore, the mercury atoms do not only bond on the surface, but also penetrate deeper into the material, creating thick layers. This means the electrode can be used for a long time. After use, it can be emptied in a controlled way. Thereby, the electrode can be recycled, and the mercury disposed of in a safe way. A further positive for this process is that it is very energy efficient.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Another great thing with our technique is that it is very selective. Even though there may be many different types of substance in the water, it just removes the mercury. Therefore, the electrode doesn’t waste capacity by unnecessarily taking away harmless substances from the water,” says Björn Wickman. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Patenting for the new method is being sought, and in order to commercialise the discovery, the company Atium has been setup. The new innovation has already been bestowed with a number of prizes and awards, both in Sweden and internationally. The research and the colleagues in the company have also had a strong response from industry. ​ </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We have already had positive interactions with a number of interested parties, who are keen to test the method. Right now, we are working on a prototype which can be tested outside the lab under real-world conditions.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren, <a href="">​</a> </div> <div>and Joshua Worth, <a href=""> ​</a><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Read the article, <a href="">“Effective removal of mercury from aqueous streams via electrochemical alloy formation on platinum”​</a> in Nature Communications.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Read the press release and download high-resolution images. ​​</a><span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Vattenrening_Bjorn_Wickman_Cristian_Tunsu_portratt_750x340_NY.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" />​<span style="background-color:initial">Björn Wickman and Cristian Tunsu</span><span style="background-color:initial"> ​are pr</span><span style="background-color:initial">esenting a new and effective way of cleaning mercury from water. With the help of new technology, contaminated water can become clean enough to be well within the safe limits for drinkability. The results are now published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. ​</span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Image: Mia Halleröd Palmgren</span></div> <div><br /></div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Potential uses for the new method</h3> <div><ul><li>T<span style="background-color:initial">he technique could be used to reduce the amount of waste and increase the purity of waste and process water in the chemical and mining industries, and in metal production. </span></li></ul></div> <div><ul><li>It can contribute to better environmental cleaning of places with contaminated land and water sources.<br /></li></ul></div> <div><ul><li>​It <span style="background-color:initial">can even be used to clean drinking water in badly affected environments because, thanks to its low energy use, it can be powered totally by solar cells. Therefore, it can be developed into a mobile and reusable water cleaning technology. </span></li></ul></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">More on heavy metals in our environment</h3> <div>Heavy metals in water sources create enormous environmental problems and influence the health of millions of people around the world. Heavy metals are toxic for all living organisms in the food chain. According to the WHO, mercury is one of the most dangerous substances for human health, influencing our nervous system, brain development and more. The substance is especially dangerous for children and unborn babies. </div> <div>Today there are strict regulations concerning the management of toxic heavy metals to hinder their spread in nature. But there are many places worldwide which are already contaminated, and they can be transported in rain or in the air. This results in certain environments where heavy metals can become abundant, for example fish in freshwater sources. In industries where heavy metals are used, there is a need for better methods of recycling, cleaning and decontamination of the affected water. <span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div></div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif">For more information</h3> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Björn-Wickman.aspx">Björn Wickman​</a></span>, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 51 79, <a href="">​</a></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><a href="/en/staff/Pages/tunsu.aspx">Cristian Tunsu</a></span>,  Post Doc, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering​, <span style="background-color:initial">Chalmers University of Technology, +46 </span><span style="background-color:initial">31 772 29 45, <a href=""></a></span></div></div> <div><div><div><span style="background-color:initial"></span></div></div></div>Wed, 21 Nov 2018 07:00:00 +0100 imitation reveals how bones grow atom-by-atom<p><b>​Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered how our bones grow at an atomic level, showing how an unstructured mass orders itself into a perfectly arranged bone structure. The discovery offers new insights, which could yield improved new implants, as well as increasing our knowledge of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.</b></p><p>​The bones in our body grow through several stages, with atoms and molecules joining together, and those bigger groupings joining together in turn. One early stage in the growth process is when calcium phosphate molecules crystallise, which means that they transform from an amorphous mass into an ordered structure. Many stages of this transformation were previously a mystery, but now, through a project looking at an imitation of how our bones are built, the researchers have been able to follow this crystallisation process at an atomic level. Their results are now published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. <br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Martin%20150.jpg" alt="" style="height:200px;width:150px;margin:5px" /><br />“A wonderful thing with this project is that it demonstrates how applied and fundamental research go hand in hand. Our project was originally focused on the creation of an artificial biomaterial, but the material turned out to be a great tool to study bone building processes. We first imitated nature, by creating an artificial copy. Then, we used that copy to go back and study nature,” says Martin Andersson, Professor in Materials Chemistry at Chalmers, and leader of the study. </p> <p><br />The researchers were developing a method of creating artificial bone through additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. The resulting structure is built up in the same way, with the same properties, as real bone. Once fully developed, it will enable the formation of naturalistic implants, which could replace the metal and plastic technologies currently in use. As the team began to imitate natural bone tissue functions, they saw that they had created the possibility to study the phenomenon in a setting highly resembling the environment in living tissue. </p> <p><br />The team’s artificial bone-like substance mimicked the way real bone grows. The smallest structural building blocks in the skeleton are groups of strings consisting of the protein collagen. To mineralize these strings, cells send out spherical particles known as vesicles, which contain calcium phosphate. These vesicles release the calcium phosphate into confined spaces between the collagen strings. There, the calcium phosphate begins to transform from an amorphous mass into an ordered crystalline structure, which creates the bone’s characteristic features of remarkable resistance to shocks and bending. </p> <p><br />The researchers followed this cycle with the help of electron microscopes and now show in their paper how it happens at the atomic level. Despite the fact that bone crystallisation naturally occurs in a biological environment, it is not a biological process. Instead, calcium phosphate’s intrinsic physical characteristics define how it crystallises and builds up, following the laws of thermodynamics. The molecules are drawn to the <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Antiope%20150.jpg" alt="" style="height:200px;width:150px;margin:5px 10px" />place where the energy level is lowest, which results in it building itself into a perfectly crystallised structure.</p> <p><br />“Within the transmission electron microscope, we could follow the stages of how the material transformed itself into an ordered structure. This enables it to achieve as low an energy level as possible, and therefore a more stable state,” says Dr Antiope Lotsari, a researcher in Martin Andersson’s group, who conducted the electron microscopy experiments.</p> <p><br />The Chalmers researchers are the first to show in high resolution what happens when bones crystallise. The results could influence the way many common bone related illnesses are treated. </p> <p><br />“Our results could be significant for the treatment of bone disease such as osteoporosis, which today is a common illness, especially among older women. Osteoporosis is when there is an imbalance between how fast bones break down and are being re-formed, which are natural processes in the body,” says Martin Andersson. </p> <p><br />Current medicines for osteoporosis, which work through influencing this imbalance, could be improved with this new knowledge. The hope is that with greater precision, we will be able to evaluate the pros and cons of current medicines, as well as experiment with different substances to examine how they hinder or stimulate bone growth.</p> <p><br />The article “<a href="">Transformation of amorphous calcium phosphate to bone-like apatite</a>” is published now in Nature Communications. <br /></p>Sun, 18 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100 Nielsen new CEO of Bioinnovation Institute<p><b>​Professor Jens Nielsen has been given the position as new Director of the Danish Bioinnovation Institute, situated in Copenhagen, starting on 1 February.“This will give new opportunities to Chalmers, too”, he says.</b></p>​Bioinnovation Institute, BII, is established by Novo Nordisk Foundation to create a Danish start-up environment. At the institute, basic research will be transformed into practical use, in solutions or products that combat disease, improve health or conserve natural resources. BII also works as an incubator for start-up companies within the biotech area.<br /><br />&quot;It was simply not possible to miss out on this opportunity! The idea to build a completely new institute with focus on the translation of research and on innovation, as well as supporting spin-out of new biotech companies, is very exciting&quot;, says Jens Nielsen.<br /><br />Throughout his career, he has aimed to bridge top-level basic science with translation and innovation, and he has also started several companies.<br />&quot;BII is fully in line with my skills and interests, so having the opportunity to harvest on all that I have learned over the years will be fantastic.&quot;<br /><br />Even though the new positions means moving back to Denmark, Nielsen is optimistic when it comes to the consequences for Chalmers:<br />&quot;This will give new opportunities to BIO and thus to Chalmers. BII does not have basic research, and will therefore rely on solid collaborations with universities. In my new role as CEO I intend to establish close interactions with Scandinavian universities that have a strong position in life sciences, to further strengthen the innovation and competitive environment in Scandinavia.&quot;<br /><br />Jens Nielsen will keep his research group at the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology at Chalmers.<br /><br />&quot;Yes, I will maintain my Chalmers affiliation with 100 percent focus on running the research group, that is, continue my supervision of my many PhD students and post docs.&quot;<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Novo Nordisk Foundation<br />Wed, 31 Oct 2018 16:00:00 +0100 the causes of neurodegenerative diseases<p><b>We are living longer and longer and therefore more and more people are affected by neurodegenerative diseases. This year&#39;s William Chalmers honorary lecture was given by Professor Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede who has dedicated her career to finding the answers to how brains become ill – and she has already come a long way towards better understanding. ​</b></p><div><div>Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede first started to be interested in how key molecules in the body work when she herself was a doctoral student at Chalmers. While doing her postdoc in the USA, she began to investigate how proteins in the body fold to globular shapes in order to function. During the last decade she has become interested in ‘bad’ proteins, probing the reasons they fold incorrectly, start to ‘clump’ together, and thereby cause diseases. </div> <div> “I want to understand, at the molecular level, why proteins become prone to fold incorrectly, which clumps of misfolded proteins are dangerous, and how this kills cells. If we know this, we could be able to prevent and cure illnesses like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS,” she says. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">The answer could lie in the gut</span></div> <div>Some of her discoveries connect to gut bacteria and what food we eat. For example, there is a protein common in fish that was found able to absorb and remove the wrongly-folded protein causing Parkinson, but so far only in the test tube.</div> <div> “We have also observed that in a mice model of Parkinson’s, mice with normal bacteria in the gut get Parkinson’s, but mice without gut germs are protected. This is a clear sign that Parkinson’s, and maybe even other neurodegenerative diseases, might actually start in the stomach and be influenced by what we eat. There is a lot to investigate here – not least when you consider that there are more bacteria in the gut than there are cells in our entire body!” she explains. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">Metals play a role</span></div> <div>Early in her career, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede laid the foundation for a new research direction – by looking at how metal-binding proteins fold and what specific role the metal played in the folding process. Nobody had looked at this before although almost half of our proteins bind a metal ion, and she made several ground-breaking discoveries. Furthermore, she was one of the first to start to mimic the crowded cellular environment in her test tube experiments, and it was found that this crowding effect was an important factor for protein properties. Pernilla’s combined interests in metals and misfolding of proteins may provide synergy in her future research, because metal levels in the brain are often disturbed in neurodegenerative disorders. For example, the level of copper is low in the brains of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s sufferers.</div> <div> “Those who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases often have too little copper in their brains, and they could potentially benefit from copper supplementation,” she says. &quot;However, this is controversial as copper may also be toxic.&quot;</div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">Current medicines don’t address the problem directly</span></div> <div>Both a genuine curiosity and a desire to find cures for neurodegenerative diseases are what drive Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede to look further into protein misfolding mechanisms. For only with basic knowledge, will be able to develop a cure, or, even better, prevent the illnesses in the future. Today’s medicines do not attack the root of the problem, rather they simply improve neurological pathways short term.</div> <div>“My dream is to find something which offers a general solution to all protein-misfolding diseases” she says. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>At this year’s popular-science William Chalmers Lecture</strong>, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede spoke about her research, at the same time as we at Chalmers celebrated our birthday, on the 5th of November. We invited the public for cake and bubbles.  </div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><em>The lecture was also broadcasted (in Swedish) on Chalmer's social channels</em></div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />See the full version of the William Chalmers Honorary Lecture 2018</a></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photograph: Oscar Mattsson​</div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><strong>Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede…</strong></div> <div>…has been professor at the Department for Biology and Biotechnology and Head of the Division for Chemical Biology, since 2015. She leads a research group which focuses on metal-binding proteins and protein misfolding. Previously, she worked as professor at the universities of Rice and Tulane in the USA, as well as at Umeå university. She has published over 220 research articles.</div></div> <div><br /></div> Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200 construction: A new Area of Advance in Health Engineering<p><b>​Our ambition is to mobilize a broad panel of experts from different scientific and engineering disciplines represented at Chalmers, to jointly contribute to solving some of the global challenges regarding the improvement of human health. In this process we will actively seek to engage and collaborate with external partners and stakeholders.</b></p><div>​<span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);font-family:inherit;font-size:20px;background-color:initial">The process so far</span></div> <div> <div>In the first half or 2018, an online survey was performed to assess potential interest of all Chalmers faculty members to contribute to the new area of advance. Over 200 Chalmers faculty members, from 12 different departments, gave a positive response. More than 100 key Chalmers faculty members, named by their respective heads of departments, were invited to in-depth interviews to discuss possible focus areas and challenges to be addressed by the new area of advance. Based on the online survey and the in-depth interviews, as well as strategic input from our key external partners, six &quot;challenge cluster&quot; areas were selected.</div> <div><a href="/SiteCollectionDocuments/SO%20Health/Chalmers%20internal%20survey%20on%20Health%20Engineering.pdf"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />A brief summary of the survey and interview results, including the description of the challenge clusters, can be found here​.</a> </div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/ChemBio/puzzle-2500333_400px.jpg" alt="Syntolkning: Puzzle" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" style="margin:5px;height:264px;width:500px" /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700"><span><br /></span></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial;font-weight:700">On October 4th,</span><span style="background-color:initial"> the entire faculty was invited to a general assembly to discuss how the new Area of Advance in the field of health engineering should be shaped. Not only did this workshop create many fruitful dialogues but the audience also expressed their views via Mentimeter in regards to specific questions. </span><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Please see </span><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />the video</a><span style="background-color:initial"> recorded at the meeting.</span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">And also the Powerpoint</span><a href="/en/areas-of-advance/lifescience/news/Pages/New-AoA-in-Health-Engineering.aspx"> </a><a href="/en/areas-of-advance/lifescience/news/Documents/AoA%20Health%20Engineering%20General%20Assembly%20Final%20for%20voting%20Results.pptx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/en/areas-of-advance/lifescience/news/_layouts/images/icpptx.png" alt="AoA Health Engineering General Assembly Final for voting Results.pptx" />AoA Health Engineering General Assembly Final for voting ​Results.pptx</a> <span style="background-color:initial">which includs the Mentimeter results.</span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <h4 class="chalmersElement-H4">The roadmap going forward</h4> <div>In the second half of 2018 and during 2019, we will be working on developing the final profiles of the new Area of Advance. This will be a community-building process, driven by teams of cluster leaders (Chalmers faculty members appointed to lead the process).</div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);font-family:inherit;font-size:16px;background-color:initial"><strong>Clusters/Leaders<span><em> </em></span></strong><span><em>(under construction)</em></span></span><br /></div> <div> <div><strong>Digitalization, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence:</strong> Rebecka Jörnsten MV and Robert Feldt CSE</div> <div><strong>Bacteria, Infections and Antibiotics:</strong> Marie Strid ACE and Fredrik Westerlund BIO</div> <div><strong><span></span> BioMedical Engineering:</strong> Mikael Persson E2, Hana Dobsicek Trefna E2, Fredrik Höök BIO, Torbjörn Lundh <span></span>MV </div> <div><strong>Prevention, Lifestyle and Ergonomics for Sustainable Health:</strong> Cecilia Berlin IMS and Rikard Landberg BIO</div> <div><strong>Management of Health and Care:</strong> Andreas Hellström TME and Marie Strid ACE</div> <div> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The aim is to define profile areas within the new Area of Advance. Here, depending on scientific interest, researchers are welcome t<span></span>o participate in one or multiple clusters. If you are interested to join the process, please contact the associated profile leader directly.</span> In parallel with the internal process, we also gather external input on the value of the proposed clusters/profiles as perceived by the key external stakeholders and partners.</div> <div><br /></div></div></div> <div><h4 class="chalmersElement-H4">Contact details</h4> <div>For any general queries about the proposed Area of Advance you are welcome to contact Associate Professor Ann-Sofie Cans <a href=""></a>. For more specific questions, you can approach the cluster leaders directly.<span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div></div> ​Tue, 25 Sep 2018 16:00:00 +0200,-the-first-Henry-Wallman-prize-winner.aspx,-the-first-Henry-Wallman-prize-winner.aspxSabine Reinfeldt, the first Henry Wallman prize winner<p><b>​Sabine Reinfeldt is awarded the newly established prize in medical technology, in the spirit of Henry Wallman, for her research on bone conduction, and for her ability to build bridges between disciplines.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">​Sabine Reinfeldt, Associate Professor and leader of the research group Biomedical Signals and Systems at Chalmers University of Technology, </span><a href="/en/departments/e2/calendar/Pages/Prize-ceremony-for-the-Henry-Wallman-prize.aspx">received the prize at a ceremony at Sahlgrenska University Hospital on 19 September​</a><span style="background-color:initial">. We got the chance to ask Sabine some questions:</span><div><br /></div> <div><div><strong>What does this prize mean to you?</strong></div> <div>“It means a lot to me! I am very honored and pleased to receive it. I see the prize as an acknowledgement that my work is important and that it is well received. Also, I want to say that I feel very humble, because when I started doing my research, I became a part of already existing multidisciplinary collaborations, and my prerequisites to continue collaborating have been most favorable. To receive a prize in Henry Wallman’s spirit is a great honor, and I am very glad that my group’s research is being recognized in this positive way.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>You receive the prize also for your great ability to build bridges between disciplines. Why is cooperation a success factor in research, and what is the key to build well-functioning multidisciplinary teams?</strong></div> <div>“We need to realize that within one discipline, we would never be able to solve the challenges in society, for example in healthcare. We need to cooperate over disciplines to complement each other with our different backgrounds. It is essential to listen to each other’s experiences and knowledge, and to be open minded for new solutions. To develop medical devices that are safe and effective for the patients would never be possible without multidisciplinary collaboration.” </div> <div>“In my opinion, the key to build well-functioning multidisciplinary teams is to include highly motivated people who all have a passion for solving the same problem. Commitment is one key, and that the team members listen to the others. It is necessary to respect the other disciplines and the fact that they have knowledge that complement your own.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Which is the next step in your research?</strong></div> <div>“In our multicenter clinical study of the <a href="" target="_blank">Bone Conduction Implant (BCI)</a>, we have 16 patients with hearing impairment, who have had the implant between nearly two and six years now. In extensive measurements, we are following up their performance in for example audiometric and electrical transmission tests, and we are now in the middle of several three-year and five-year visits. There are still areas involving these patients to be investigated, for example in directional hearing. Are there differences between different types of bone conduction devices? Also, could the attachment and size of the implant affect the outcome?”</div> <div>“In an adjacent field, which we are now moving into, <a href="/en/departments/e2/news/Pages/New-innovation-improves-the-diagnosis-of-dizziness.aspx">bone conduction can be used to diagnose dizziness</a>. Bone conduction has been used before, but not in clinical practice, since today’s bone conduction transducers cannot produce the level needed at the frequency of interest. With a new transducer, which is still a prototype, our preliminary tests show that more patient groups can be diagnosed, and the new method would be more comfortable for the patients. I see several research areas within balance, dizziness and hearing diagnostics where we can contribute with our competence.” </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Read an interview with Sabine Reinfeldt, from April 2018: </div> <div><a href="/en/departments/e2/news/Pages/Bridge-builder-awarded-new-prize-in-medical-technology.aspx">Bridge builder awarded new prize in medical technology</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Sabine%20Reinfeldt%20först%20att%20få%20Henry%20Wallman-priset/Prisutdelning_500px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="Prize ceremony" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><em style="background-color:initial">The prize winner Sabine Reinfeldt accompanied by Bo Håkansson, Bengt-Arne Sjöqvist and Kaj Lindecrantz</em><span style="background-color:initial">.</span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>About the prize</strong></div> <div>The Henry Wallman prize is an innovation prize in medical technology, which from 2018 will be awarded annually, to young researchers or graduate students who, in close collaboration between expertise in technology and health care, successfully have transferred new knowledge from academia to practical medical care. The Foundation for Biomedical Engineering (Stiftelsen Medicin &amp; Teknik) at Chalmers is hosting the prize. The scholarship amounts to SEK 50,000.</div> <div>Henry Wallman came to Chalmers in 1948 and was a pioneer in biomedical engineering research and development.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Contact</strong></div> <div><a href="/en/staff/Pages/sabine-reinfeldt.aspx">Sabine Reinfeldt</a>, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Chalmers</div> <div><a href=""></a></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Photo: Helene Lindström, MedTech West</div></div> ​Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:00:00 +0200 innovation improves the diagnosis of dizziness<p><b>​Half of over-65s suffer from dizziness and problems with balance. But some tests to identify the causes of such problems are painful and can risk hearing damage. Now, researchers from Chalmers have developed a new testing device using bone conduction technology, that offers significant advantages over the current tests.​</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">Hearing and balance have something in common. For patients with dizziness, this relationship is used to diagnose issues with balance. Commonly, a ‘VEMP’ test (Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials) needs to be performed. A VEMP test uses loud sounds to evoke a muscle reflex contraction in the neck and eye muscles, triggered by the vestibular system – the system responsible for our balance. The Chalmers researchers have now used bone conducted sounds to achieve better results.</span><div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Ny%20metod%20ger%20bättre%20diagnos%20för%20yrsel/bo_hakansson_200px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="Bo Håkansson" style="margin:5px" />&quot;We have developed a new type of vibrating device that is placed behind the ear of the patient during the test,&quot; says Bo Håkansson, a professor in the research group 'Biomedical signals and systems' at Chalmers. The vibrating device is small and compact in size, and optimised to provide an adequate sound level for triggering the reflex at frequencies as low as 250 Hz. Previously, no vibrating device has been available that was directly adapted for this type of test of the balance system.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In bone conduction transmission, sound waves are transformed into vibrations through the skull, stimulating the cochlea within the ear, in the same way as when sound waves normally go through the ear canal, the eardrum and the middle ear.<a href=""> Bo Håkansson has over 40 years of experience in this field and has previously developed hearing aids using this technology.</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br />Half of over-65s suffer from dizziness, but the causes can be difficult to diagnose for several reasons. In 50% of those cases, dizziness is due to problems in the vestibular system. But today's VEMP methods have major shortcomings, and can cause hearing loss and discomfort for patients. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>For example, the VEMP test uses very high sound levels, and may in fact cause permanent hearing damage itself. And, if the patient already suffers from certain types of hearing loss, it may be impossible to draw any conclusions from the test. The Chalmers researchers’ new method offers significant advantages.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Ny%20metod%20ger%20bättre%20diagnos%20för%20yrsel/Karl-Johan_Freden_Jansson_200px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />&quot;Thanks to this bone conduction technology, the sound levels which patients are exposed to can be minimised. The previous test was like a machine gun going off next to the ear – with this method it will be much more comfortable. The new vibrating device provides a maximum sound level of 75 decibels. The test can be performed at 40 decibels lower than today's method using air conducted sounds through headphones. This eliminates any risk that the test itself could cause hearing damage,” says postdoctoral researcher Karl-Johan Fredén Jansson, who made all the measurements in the project.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The benefits also include safer testing for children, and that patients with impaired hearing function due to chronic ear infections or congenital malformations in the ear canal and middle ear can be diagnosed for the origin of their dizziness.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The vibrating device is compatible with standardised equipment for balance diagnostics in healthcare, making it easy to start using. The cost of the new technology is also estimated to be lower than the corresponding equipment used today.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>A pilot study has been conducted and recently published. The next step is to conduct a larger patient study, under a recently received ethical approval, in collaboration with Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, where 30 participants with normal hearing will also be included.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><h5 class="chalmersElement-H5">More about the research</h5> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The scientific article <a href="" target="_blank">&quot;VEMP using a new low-frequency bone conduction transducer&quot;</a> has recently been published by Dove Medical Press, in the journal Medical Devices: Evidence and Research.</span><br /></div> <div>Chalmers’ partners in the study are the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, and the Danish audio companies Ortofon and Interacoustics. Grants for this project are received from Vinnova (Swedish Innovations Agency) and Hörselskadades Riksförbund (Hearing Impairment Federation).</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />See the researchers' own presentation of the project</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="/en/departments/e2/research/Signal-processing-and-Biomedical-engineering/Pages/Biomedical-signals-and-systems.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Read more about research on medical signals and systems</a></div> <div><br /></div> <h5 class="chalmersElement-H5">More about Diagnostics for Dizziness</h5> <div>A common method of diagnosing the cause of dizziness is a VEMP test – Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials. The test uses sound stimulation to evoke a muscle contraction in the neck and eye muscles, triggered by a reflex from the vestibular system – the system that is responsible for our sense of balance. The muscular response is measured and provides you information on whether the disorders responsible for the patient’s dizziness are in the vestibular system, or in its pathways to the brain.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In a traditional vestibular investigation, two variants of VEMP tests are used today: air transmitted sound through headphones or bone conducted sounds via a vibrating device attached to the head. When air transmitted sounds are used, high sound levels are required, which is uncomfortable to the patient and there is a risk of hearing damage. For bone conducted sound, the sound levels are lower, but the equipment currently available on the market is large and cumbersome, and therefore difficult to use. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The new method uses new transducer technology, is smaller in size and generates bone conducted sound at a lower frequency than has been possible before (around 250 Hz). At this level, the muscle reflexes are more efficiently evoked. <span style="background-color:initial">The muscle contractions in both the neck and the eye muscles are measured using fairly standardised equipment, so it should be easy to start incorporating it into healthcare systems.</span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Ny%20metod%20ger%20bättre%20diagnos%20för%20yrsel/yrsel_500px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><div><span style="background-color:initial">Bo Håkansson, Professor of Electrical Engineering, undergoes testing using the new compact vibrating device he and the team helped design. </span><span style="background-color:initial">​</span><br /></div></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><h5 class="chalmersElement-H5">​<span>For more information contact</span></h5></div> <div><strong><a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/bo-hakansson.aspx">Bo Håkansson</a></strong>, Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers,</div> <div>031-772 18 07, <a href=""></a></div> <div><strong><a href="/en/staff/Pages/karl-johan-freden-jansson.aspx">Karl-Johan Fredén Jansson</a></strong>, Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers and in charge of clinical studies, 031-772 17 83, <a href="​"></a></div> <div><br /></div> <div>​<br /></div></div> <div>Text: Yvonne Jonsson</div> <div>Translation: Joshua Worth<br />Photo: Johan Bodell</div> <div><br /></div>Mon, 10 Sep 2018 07:30:00 +0200 new theory for phantom limb pain points the way to more effective treatment<p><b>​Dr Max Ortiz Catalan at Chalmers has developed a new theory for the origin of the mysterious condition, ‘phantom limb pain’. Published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, his hypothesis builds upon his previous work on a revolutionary treatment for the condition, that uses machine learning and augmented reality.​</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">Phantom limb pain is a poorly understood phenomenon, in which people who have lost a limb can experience severe pain, seemingly located in that missing part of the body. The condition can be seriously debilitating and can drastically reduce the sufferer’s quality of life. But current ideas on its origins cannot explain clinical findings, nor provide a comprehensive theoretical framework for its study and treatment. </span><div><br /><span style="background-color:initial"></span><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" /><div>​Now, Max Ortiz Catalan, Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, has published a paper that offers up a promising new theory – one that he terms ‘stochastic entanglement’. </div> <div> </div> <div>He proposes that after an amputation, neural circuitry related to the missing limb loses its role and becomes susceptible to entanglement with other neural networks – in this case, the network responsible for pain perception. </div> <div><br />“Imagine you lose your hand. That leaves a big chunk of ‘real estate’ in your brain, and in your nervous system as a whole, without a job. It stops processing any sensory input, it stops producing any motor output to move the hand. It goes idle – but not silent,” explains Max Ortiz Catalan. </div> <div> </div> <div>Neurons are never completely silent. When not processing a particular job, they might fire at random. This may result in coincidental firing of neurons in that part of the sensorimotor network, at the same time as from the network of pain perception. When they fire together, that will create the experience of pain in that part of the body.</div> <div> </div> <div>“Normally, sporadic synchronised firing wouldn’t be a big deal, because it’s just part of the background noise, and it won’t stand out,” continues Max Ortiz Catalan. “But in patients with a missing limb, such event could stand out when little else is going on at the same time. This can result in a surprising, emotionally charged experience – to feel pain in a part of the body you don’t have. Such a remarkable sensation could reinforce a neural connection, make it stick out, and help establish an undesirable link.”</div> <div> </div> <div>Through a principle known as ‘Hebb’s Law’ – ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’ – neurons in the sensorimotor and pain perception networks become entangled, resulting in phantom limb pain. The new theory also explains why not all amputees suffer from the condition– the randomness, or stochasticity, means that simultaneous firing may not occur, and become linked, in all patients.</div> <div> </div> <div>In the new paper, Max Ortiz Catalan goes on to examine how this theory can explain the effectiveness of Phantom Motor Execution (PME), <a href="" target="_blank">the novel treatment method he previously developed​</a>. During PME treatment, electrodes attached to the patient’s residual limb pick up electrical signals intended for the missing limb, which are then translated through AI algorithms, into movements of a virtual limb in real time. <span style="background-color:initial">The patients see themselves on a screen, with a digitally rendered limb in place of their missing one, and can then control it just as if it were their own biological limb. This allows the patient to stimulate and reactivate those dormant areas of the brain.​ </span></div> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="Treatment of phantom limb pain" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/E2/Nyheter/Ny%20teori%20om%20fantomsmärtor%20visar%20vägen%20mot%20effektivare%20behandling/PME_500px.jpg" style="margin:5px" /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /></div> <em> </em><div><br /> </div> <em> </em><div><br /> </div> <em> </em><div><br /> </div> <em> </em><div><br /> </div> <em> </em><div><br /> </div> <em> </em><div><br /> </div> <em> </em><div><em style="background-color:initial"><br /></em></div> <div><em style="background-color:initial">The patient, missing his right arm, can see himself on screen in augmented reality, with a virtual limb. He can control it through the electrodes attached to his skin, which in this treatment called Phantom Motor Execution allows the patient to stimulate and reactivate those dormant areas of the brain. Source: Catalan, Frontiers in Neurology, 2018</em><br /></div> <div> </div> <div>“The patients can start reusing those areas of brain that had gone idle. Making use of that circuitry helps to weaken and disconnect the entanglement to the pain network. It’s a kind of ‘inverse Hebb’s law’ – the more those neurons fire apart, the weaker their connection. Or, it can be used preventatively, to protect against the formation of those links in the first place,” he says. </div> <div> </div> <div>The PME treatment method has been previously shown to help patients for whom other therapies have failed. Understanding exactly how and why it can help is crucial to ensuring it is administered correctly and in the most effective manner. Max Ortiz Catalan’s new theory could help unravel some of the mysteries surrounding phantom limb pain, and offer relief for some of the most affected sufferers.</div> <div> </div> <div><h4 class="chalmersElement-H4">More Information</h4> <h5 class="chalmersElement-H5">Phantom Motor Execution undergoing global trial</h5> <div> <span style="background-color:initial">Dr Max Ortiz Catalan developed Phantom Motor Execution (PME) as a treatment for phantom limb pain, in which phantom movements are decoded from the residual limb using machine learning, and then visualised via virtual and augmented reality. The new hypothesis provides an explanation for the clinical successes observed for this therapy. PME has been shown to reduce phantom limb pain in chronic sufferers, for whom other treatments failed. At present, PME is being tested in clinics around the world, from Canada to Australia, with the majority of patients treated in Europe. A device allowing for this treatment is being commercialized by Integrum AB, a Swedish medical device company, and a large international clinical trial in 7 countries is currently in progress. On-going brain imaging studies on these patients treated with PME will support or challenge Max Ortiz Catalan’s theories. </span></div> <div> </div> <div>See a <a href=";" target="_blank">video presentation of Phantom Motor Execution in action</a>.​</div></div> <div> </div> <div><h5 class="chalmersElement-H5">More on the research</h5> <div>Dr Max Ortiz Catalan is an Associate Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and head of <a href="" target="_blank">the Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory</a>. </div> <div>He has previously attracted international attention, for his pioneering work on osseointegrated bionic limbs, published in <a href="" target="_blank">Science Translational Medicine</a>, and for his Phantom Motor Execution treatment for phantom limb pain, published in <a href="" target="_blank">The Lancet</a>. </div> <div>His new paper, <a href="" target="_blank">‘The stochastic entanglement and phantom motor execution hypotheses: a theoretical framework for the origin and treatment of PLP’</a> is published in the journal Frontiers of Neurology. </div></div> <div> </div> <div><h5 class="chalmersElement-H5">Contact information</h5> <div>Max Ortiz Catalan, Department of Electrical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, +46 70 846 10 65, <a href=""></a></div> <div> </div> <div>Visit the<a href="" target="_blank"> Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory website</a>. </div></div> <div>​<span style="background-color:initial">​Read more about Chalmers´reserach on </span><a href="/en/departments/e2/research/Signal-processing-and-Biomedical-engineering/Pages/Biomedical-signals-and-systems.aspx">Biomedical signals and systems​</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div><div>Text: Joshua Worth</div> <div>Photo of Max Ortiz Catalan: Oscar Matsson​</div></div> </div> ​​Thu, 06 Sep 2018 07:30:00 +0200 big investment to make Chalmers equal<p><b>​Through an investment of several hundred million kronor, Chalmers is considerably stepping up its gender equality work. Through concrete, ground-breaking changes of the system, and direct recruitment of top female researchers, Chalmers will achieve a significantly more equal gender balance within the faculty over ten years.</b></p>​Like other technical universities, Chalmers has a very low share of women at faculty levels. At Chalmers, the share is currently 22 percent. However, research shows that a more equal gender balance leads to greater scientific success, and also to a better work environment, both for men and women.<br /><br />Therefore, Chalmers is now making a great effort to deal with the skewed gender distribution. The investment is funded by the Chalmers Foundation and has a budget of 300 million SEK over ten years.<br /><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/20180101-20180630/StefanBengtsson_170907_150x200.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:145px;height:193px" /><br />“Different studies clearly show that the academy is not equal today – men and women are judged and treated differently. With this powerful investment, in addition to what we already do, we want to correct the imbalance and in addition become a stronger and more successful university. It's about making better use of the competence of the entire population,&quot; says Stefan Bengtsson, president and CEO of Chalmers.<br /><br />Chalmers has been working on gender equality for a long time. But the new investment, named Genie as an abbreviation of Gender Initiative for Excellence, represents a huge move to speed up the changes.<br /><br />Genie consists mainly of two parts. One is concrete work at each department in order to identify and eliminate structural and cultural barriers that impede women's careers. Departments that meet Chalmers’ gender equality requirements will receive a bonus in the internal funding distribution.<br /><br />The second p<span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span>art is direct recruitment of top female scientists, and to ensure that other recruitments, for example due to retirements, result in at least 50 percent women.<br /><span><span><span><span><span><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/20180101-20180630/PernillaWittungStafshede_150x200.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:140px;height:186px" /></span></span></span></span></span><br /><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span>&quot;It is abou<span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span>t bui<span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span>lding a critical mass of women. A small minority has difficulty gaining proper support. But that does not mean that we are lowering our competence requirements –<span><span><span></span></span></span> there are many female researchers who are extremely competent,” says professor<span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span> Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, one of the initiators of Genie.<span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span><br /><span><span><br /><br /><br /></span></span><br />Text: Ingela Roos<br />Photo: Johan BodellFri, 29 Jun 2018 09:00:00 +0200 controls his robotic arm with his mind<p><b>​Ulf Karlsson was far out at sea when a fan tore his arm off and he had to instruct his coworkers on how to stop the bleeding. While some said he could never work again, Ulf wanted to strive on. And through a collaboration between Chalmers, Sahlgrenska and Integrum, Ulf now has a robotic arm attached to his skeletal and nervous system, and he is one out of four in the world who can control and feel with his prosthetic hand as with his real hand.</b></p><p>​The neuroprosthetic tehnology is developed by <a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/max-jair-ortiz-catalan.aspx">Max Ortiz Catalan</a>, <span style="background-color:initial">an Associate Professor </span><span style="background-color:initial">at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers.</span></p> <span></span><p></p>Mon, 28 May 2018 15:00:00 +0200