News: Bioteknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyFri, 04 Sep 2020 11:47:23 +0200 Chalmers method sheds light on DNA-repair<p><b>​DNA-breaks can cause great damage to cells, which in turn can lead to cell death or diseases such as cancer. Using a novel method, researchers from Chalmers have now identified a new potential role for the protein CtIP, which is an important component in the process of repairing DNA-breaks in human cells.</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>“CtIP has several functions in the repair of DNA-breaks. The new potential role that we have identified is important for understanding how our cells repair damages to the DNA. Better understanding of the DNA repair process can increase the understanding of how and why we suffer from certain diseases,” says <strong>Fredrik Westerlund</strong>, Professor of Chemical Biology.<img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/ChemBio/FredrikWesterlund_340x400.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="width:300px;height:353px" /></span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span></span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">​Damage to DNA occurs in all kinds of organisms, from bacteria to humans. If so-called double-strand breaks, where the two DNA strands have been torn apart, are not repaired correctly, there is a great risk of mutations in the genome. This can lead to cell death or the initiation of various diseases, such as cancer.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Therefore, all cells have developed different systems for repairing double stand breaks. Knowledge on how these systems work, and why the repair sometimes is incorrect, can provide increased knowledge on different diseases, and can further be used to develop new drugs.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">CtIP important in the DNA-repair</h2> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Previous research studies have shown that the protein complex MRN is an important component in the repair of double-strand breaks. It is also known that the protein CtIP, which is a cofactor of MRN, is important for several of the later stages in the repair process.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“Our recent study shows that CtIP is also involved in the first steps of the DNA-repair, where the free ends of the DNA-molecule are connected,” says Robin Öz, PhD-student at the Division of Chemical Biology and first author of the study, which was <a href="">recently published in PNAS</a>.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​Free DNA-ends can be studied with new method </h2> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The study was made possible by a new method developed in Fredrik Westerlund's research group at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers. The method, which is based on nanofluidics, enables the researchers to study individual DNA molecules using fluorescence microscopy. Freely suspended in solution, the DNA-molecules coils and form structures similar to balls of yarn. However, in the nanochannels, which are thin glass tubes, the long molecules are forced to stretch. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“In most methods for studying single DNA-molecules the DNA is usually tethered at the ends. This means that proteins cannot bind there. Since we can study the free DNA-ends with our method, we can also study different processes that take place at the ends, for example when different proteins are added. This is unique and has allowed us to characterise this specific function of CtIP,” says Robin Öz.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Repair mechanisms important to understanding diseases</h2> <div> </div> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The project is a collaboration with Professor Petr Cejka at IRB in Bellinzona, Switzerland, a biochemist with expertise in DNA-damage repair. He has access to several cleverly designed variants of CtIP that have enabled the Chalmers’ researchers to determine which parts of the protein that are important for connecting the DNA ends. The protein looks very much like a dumbbell, where the two ends of the &quot;dumbbell&quot; allow two different strands of DNA to be held close together.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“Understanding the role of CtIP is a small step towards completely understanding DNA-repair. Knowledge on the repair mechanisms is important to, in the long run, be able to determine why certain diseases occur, such as several different types of cancer. Studies have shown, for example, that CtIP is almost non-existent in tumour cells in certain aggressive forms of breast cancer,” says Fredrik Westerlund.</p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Next step​: Study MRN-involvement</h2> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The next step is to study whether, and how, CtIP interacts with MRN to hold DNA-ends together. It is known that CtIP helps MRN in several other stages of the DNA-repair, but no one has yet studied how they interact in this initial stage.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The study is part of Robin Öz's doctoral thesis, which will be defended on 20 November 2020 and is also the first study related to the ERC Consolidator Grant that Fredrik Westerlund received in 2019 for the project &quot;Next generation nanofluidics for single molecule analysis of DNA-repair Dynamics&quot;. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Text: </strong>Susanne Nilsson Lindh<br /><strong style="background-color:initial">Photo:</strong><span style="background-color:initial"> Marti</span><span style="background-color:initial">na Butorac and</span><span style="background-color:initial"> </span><span style="background-color:initial">Johan Bodell </span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="font-weight:700"><br /></span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="font-weight:700">Read the study in PNAS:</span></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href="">Phosphorylated CtIP bridges DNA to promote annealing of broken ends​</a> </p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="font-weight:700">Read more about Fredrik Westerlund's research: </span></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/ERC-grant-for-next-generation-DNA-repair-analysis.aspx">ERC-grant for next generation DNA-repair analysis</a> </p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <div></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"></span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/His-methods-can-lead-to-better-cancer-treatment.aspx">His methods can lead to better cancer treatment​</a></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> ​Thu, 03 Sep 2020 00:00:00 +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 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 genes the key to more efficient cell factories<p><b>​Cell factories are used for industrial production of various biomolecules. Cost efficient processes require development of robust species with a high production yield. Researchers at Chalmers have discovered that the key to the cell factories of the future may be the evolutionary young genes expressed in yeast in the presence of stress factors.​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>Cell factories, for example different yeasts, can be used industrially to produce bioethanol, pharmaceuticals, or chemicals. Since they grow fast in cheap substrates and can be genetically modified for special purposes, cell factories are cost efficient compared to other processes. The production demands robust microorganisms, though, with high viability and high production rate. </span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"> <span></span><span>​S​tress respons mechanisms enable organisms' adaptation​</span></h2> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">To work optimally, the cell factories must endure the conditions of the industrial production, for example variations in temperature and toxic by-products. </p> <div> </div> <div><p class="chalmersElement-P">“Str​​ess response mechanisms have evolved to enable organisms’ adaptation to new ecological niches. However, some of these stress conditions may also be inherent to industrial processes, for example salinity or acidity of feedstocks and/or elevated process temperatures”, says Iván Domenzain Del Castillo Cerecer, doctoral student at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers.  </p></div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Gene expression in three yeasts analysed​</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Acquiring knowledge about the stress tolerance of the microorganisms on a molecular level provides researchers with tools for designing new strains with the desirable properties. Therefore, the research group from the Department of Biology and Biotechnology has analysed gene expression in three yeast species: <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>, the workhorse for industrial ethanol production; <em>Kluyveromyces marxianus</em>, known for its ability to grow at high rates even at high temperatures; and <em>Yarrowia lipolytica</em>, whose lipid accumulation capabilities make it an interesting host for biofuels production. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The organisms were exposed to a variety of stress factors with the goal of identifying common mechanisms, or system-level trends, in the stress responses of the three species. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“Our study shows that across conditions and species, the most relevant stress-tolerance mechanisms are driven by genes that are less conserved in evolution with unknown molecular functions, says Tyler Doughty, former postdoc at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering. </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​&quot;Stress responsive genes likely to be young genes&quot;</h2> <p></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Fermentations were run in bioreactors using the same setup for the three yeasts (flow rate, glucose concentration and aeration). For all of them, three different stress conditions were induced by increasing temperature in the culture medium, increasing its salt concentration and decreasing its pH. For each organism-condition pair, gene expression levels were compared to those of a reference condition in order to obtain the significant stress-responsive genes. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“We investigated the conservation of all genes across the three yeasts, and amongst dozens of other species in the fungi domain, by comparing individual gene sequences. This allowed us to classify genes according to their presence in the genomes of common ancestors or as “young genes” (for those that have evolved specifically in each of our yeast species). Surprisingly, the obtained stress responsive genes were much more likely to be part of the young genes’ groups rather than evolutionary conserved. This suggests that different budding yeast species have developed their own molecular mechanisms that allow them to occupy new ecological niches,” says Iván Domenzain Del Castillo Cerecer.</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">&quot;New direction when enhancing stress tolerance&quot;</h2> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“T</span><span style="background-color:initial">his study suggests a new direction to look at when thinking on enhancing stress tolerance of cell factories: manipulation of evolutionary young genes which, according to our findings, also happen to be less studied, smaller and less likely to be essential, genes whose deletion is lethal for the cell,” says Tyler Doughty. </span><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Studying stress tolerance to several stressors on different organisms rather than focusing on single condition-organism experimental setups and specific responses, allows the understanding of general evolutionary mechanisms whose rational manipulation might be beneficial for a wider range of industrial biotechnology processes.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Text: </strong>Susanne Nilsson Lindh<br /><strong>Photo:</strong> Private</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Read the article in </strong><em><strong>Nature Communications</strong></em></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><a href="">Stress-induced expression is enriched for evolutionarily young genes in diverse budding yeasts​</a><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p>Thu, 11 Jun 2020 08:00:00 +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 can become a tool for biofuel extraction<p><b>At Chalmers 2D-Tech center researchers utilize graphene to extract the biofuels from cell factories and try to optimize a method for extraction of biofuels in larger scale. What could we in the energy field learn from this new technique? We had an email chat with Dr Santosh Pandit, at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering. He is an expert in energy transitions. His research focuses on graphene antibacterial coatings for biomedical as well as industrial applications.​​</b></p><span></span><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>What is your research about</strong>?<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">Currently many biotechnologists are trying to produce Biofuel and many pharmaceutical compounds from genetically engineered cell factories such as bacteria and yeasts. These cell factories can produce such biofuel, chemical compounds for example by using sugar but could not excrete to external environment by themselves. Hence, we need to extract them from cells. Current extraction method needs toxic chemicals to damage such cells to extract the intracellular compound produced by these cell factories. Here we are planning to use nanoparticles containing vertical graphene spikes which could partly tear the cell membrane to leak-out such intracellular compounds without totally damaging the cells in cell factories. This approach will be doubly beneficial, which gives the re-utilization of graphene coated nanomaterials several times and microbial cells after interaction with graphene will leak out the biofuels and possibly reach back to normal metabolic stage and start producing biofuels again. This will make this process more sustainable and reduce the use of toxic chemical in biotech industries”.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px">Your research on graphen and biofuels a part of the new center for research on two-dimensional materials, 2D-Tech. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px"><strong><img src="/sv/styrkeomraden/energi/PublishingImages/Santosh_Pandit1.jpg" alt="Santosh Pandit PhD" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:5px" />Can you tell us something about this?</strong><br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">In the 2D-Tech consortium we are jointly working with Bio-Petrolia, which is startup company, having various cell factories with potential to produce biofuels and pharmaceuticals in large scale. We will utilize graphene to extract the biofuels from these cell factories and try to optimize our method for online extraction of biofuels in larger scale which could be useful for larger biotech as well as Pharma industries”.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>What has your research found? </strong><br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">Now we are at the primary stage. However, our preliminary results are exiting and driving us forward to utilize this nanotechnological method for the biofuels extraction from microbial cell factories”.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px">With your results, you highlight new opportunities for biofuel production. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>Who could benefit from your research?</strong><br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">Since our approach will be sustainable and ecofriendly, primary beneficiaries will be biotech and pharmaceutical industries who are using cell factories to produce such chemicals. We believe that our approach will be cost effective by decreasing the extraction time and cost that needs in current methods. That will probably reduce the overall price of such biofuels and chemical compounds for end users, which are general public”.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>How can these materials be used in the production of biofuels? </strong><br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">Gr</span><span style="background-color:initial">aphene is lipophilic material and are known to interact with the microbial cell membrane. We have already seen the evidence of the interaction between graphene nanoflakes and microbial cell membrane and protrude intracellular materials. These excellent behaviors of graphene will help us to extract the intracellular biofuels or chemicals from microbial cell factories”. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>What are you and your colleagues hoping for? </strong><br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">I</span><span style="background-color:initial">n long term we are hoping to develop facile and strategic methods which can be used to extract intracellular biofuels from cell factories in larger industrial scale replacing the currently used toxic chemicals to completely damage microbial cells to extract the intracellular chemicals”. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>Do you have any insights that might be interesting to tell us in the energy field?</strong><br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“Currently biofuels are getting much more attention due to the raising concern in environmental sustainability. Here microbial cell factories are providing the excellent platform to produce such energy associated chemicals. With the advancement in the science and technology, there is lots of improvement in the large-scale production of biofuels by using microbial cells, that is quite exciting and give us hope to replace the non-sustainable energy sources with bio-based energy in near future”.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>What is the next step?</strong><br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">Next step is the optimization of graphene coatings which could efficiently extract the intracellular biofuels while being minimally harmful to cells and design online biofuel extraction system which can be useful for biotech industries”, Santosh Pandit concludes. <br /><br /><strong>Read More:</strong><br /><span style="font-size:14px"><a href="/en/departments/mc2/news/Pages/The-major-investment-that-will-take-the-2D-materials-into-society.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />​Major investment to take the 2D materials into the society</a><br /></span><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/pandit.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Santosh Pandit</a></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt">By: Ann-Christien Nordin</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:12pt"><br /></p> <div><br /></div>Mon, 27 Apr 2020 09:00:00 +0200 reduces toxicity of peptides involved in Alzheimer&#39;s<p><b>​Flavin mononucleotide, FMN, is an active form of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and is used in cells as an essential co-factor for different oxidoreductase enzymes. A study led by researchers at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering shows that FMN can reduce the cellular toxicity of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides when they are expressed in yeast. Aβ peptides can form aggregates in the human brain and are involved in early development of Alzheimer’s disease. ​​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>The misfolding and aggregation of amyloid-β peptides (Aβ) are considered early drivers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common neurodegenerative disease. The aggregation and accumulation of the Aβ peptides lead to loss of function and cell death of the neurons in the brain. It is estimated that there are currently 45–50 million people living with this progressive and incurable disease, and with a growing and aging world population, the number of diagnosed patients is predicted to quickly increase even further. </span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Aβ42​ aggregation triggers cell death program<span></span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Aβ42 is one of the two major isoforms of Aβ found in the Alzheimer's patients’ brains and is shown to be more toxic and prone to form oligomers than the peptide Aβ40.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Increased Aβ42 production and aggregation is believed to trigger strong endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the neurons. When the stress levels surpass the buffering capacity of cell, the cell death program is activated to remove irreversibly damaged cells, and parts of the brain die. ​<br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The aggregation of Aβ42 peptides is also involved in aberrant mitochondrial structures and functionality, which can increase the oxidative stress in the neurons. Brain cells are more susceptible to oxidative stress than other cells due to the higher metabolic activity and lower antioxidative activity. Oxidative stress may exacerbate progression of Alzheimer's disease through oxidative damage to cellular structures, proteins, lipids and DNA. ​<br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>FMN ​supplementation increases resistance</span></h2> <p></p> <p></p> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The study, recently published in <em>Nature Communications</em>, shows that in yeast expressing toxic amyloid-β 42 peptide, FMN supplementation reduces the cellular levels of misfolded proteins and increases the cells’ resistance to oxidative stress. <br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“This study was made with the aim to find underlying mechanisms of modulating Aβ aggregation <em>in vivo</em>, in this case yeast cells. There is no known cure for the disease currently, therefor, researchers are looking for potential targets and drugs for early treatment. The faster we find a treatment that can act early on AD onset, the better chances the patients would have. The next step would be to prove that FMN supplementation can also increase the viability of other model organisms, such as <em>C. elegans</em>, mammalian cell lines etc. In the ideal case, a clinical trial would eventually be tested on patients,” says Xin Chen, MD PhD, at the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology, and first author of the study. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">FMN1<span> deletion affects viability of the cells</span></h2> <p></p> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">To identify genes involved in decreasing the toxicity of the Aβ42 peptide the researchers have performed a genome-wide synthetic genetic interaction array (SGA), using baker’s yeast <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>, as the model organism. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">In collaboration with Professor Thomas Nyström and his team at the University of Gothenburg, the team of Dina Petranovic at Chalmers used a yeast deletion mutant library consisting of ~ 5500 strains with single gene deletions, which cover more than 80 per cent of the yeast genome. They created a new library which combined the Aβ42 expression with each deletion strain. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Based on the screen results, around 400 gene deletions were shown to significantly increase the toxicity of Aβ42, and the <em>FMN1 </em>gene was selected for further investigation.<span style="background-color:initial"> </span><span style="background-color:initial"></span><em style="background-color:initial">FMN1 </em><span style="background-color:initial">​encodes a riboflavin kinase, an essential enzyme responsible for catalysing the phosphorylation of riboflavin (Vitamin B2) into one of its active forms, flavin mononucleotide (FMN). </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​&quot;R<span>iboflavin proposed to have potential as a neuroprotective agent​&quot;</span></h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“One of the reasons we focused our main efforts into the riboflavin metabolism is because the</span><em style="background-color:initial"> FMN1</em><span style="background-color:initial"> gene has a human ortholog which was found to be relevant in AD patients. ​Additionally, riboflavin was proposed in other models to have potential as a neuroprotective agent. If this is eventually shown to be relevant in clinical trials, maybe there could be a treatment based on a small molecule, which could be easier, cheaper and more convenient than many other options.” says Xin Chen. </span><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The researchers also showed that the transcription levels of the human ortholog,<em> RFK</em>, are significantly decreased in Alzheimer's patients’ brain tissues, suggesting a conserved evolutionary function of riboflavin kinase in underlying processes that govern proteostasis management in cells. </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">FMN supplementation improved oxidative stress tolerance</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">A wide set up of experiments on yeast Aβ42 strains showed that supplement of FMN to culture medium reduced the Aβ42 induced cellular toxicity with increased viability. Cells with FMN supplementation showed reduced misfolded protein load, altered cellular metabolism and improved cell capacity to resist oxidative stress. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Also, FMN supplementation caused a global transcription response in the cells and significantly changed metabolic pathways related to the increased ratios between reduced and oxidized forms of redox cofactors. The improved redox homeostasis can be beneficial for oxidative stress tolerance and contribute to alleviated Aβ42 toxicity. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The next step in this line of research is to test the beneficial effects of FMN supplementation in other AD model organisms (such as the <em>C. elegans</em>, <em>Drosophila</em>, mice or mammalian cell lines) and further investigate the effects of FMN supplementation in other neurodegenerative disease models, such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Text:</strong> Susanne Nilsson Lindh</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Photo: </strong>Johan Bodell and Martina Butorac</div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Read the study in <em>Nature Communications</em></strong></div> <div> </div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a> <a href="">FMN reduces Amyloid-β toxicity in yeast by regulating redox status and cellular metabolism​</a></div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Also read: </strong></div> <div> </div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href="">Amyloid-β peptide-induced cytotoxicity and mitochondrial dysfunction in yeast </a></div> <div> </div> <div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href=""><span style="background-color:initial">Interplay of Energetics and ER St</span><span style="background-color:initial">ress Exacerbates Alzheimer's Amyloid-β (Aβ) Toxicity in Yeast</span>​</a><br /></div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div>Wed, 15 Apr 2020 10:00:00 +0200 next generation of human metabolic modelling<p><b>​Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed a human metabolic model, Human1, which enables integrative analysis of human biological data and simulation of metabolite flow through the reaction network. The model can be used to predict metabolic behaviour in cells, which can help researchers identify novel metabolic markers or drug targets for many diseases, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>“Human1 will transform the way in which scientists develop and apply models to study human health and disease”, says project leader Jens Nielsen, Professor in Systems and Synthetic Biology, at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, about the model that was recently published in in Science Signaling.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Metabolism is the network of chemical reactions providing cells with the building blocks and energy necessary to sustain life. Studying the individual components of human metabolism and how they function as part of a connected system is therefore critical to improving health and treating disease. To study such a complex system, computational tools such as genome-scale metabolic models have been developed. </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Human1 − ​highest quality genome-scale model</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Human1 is the newest, most advanced, and highest quality genome-scale model for human metabolism. The model consolidates decades of biochemical and modelling research into a high-quality resource with over 13,000 biochemical reactions, 4,100 metabolites, and 3,500 genes comprising human metabolism. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Unlike previous human models, Human1, was developed entirely in a public online repository that tracks all changes to the model. </span><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“The primary aim of this framework is to ensure transparency and reproducibility,” explains co-author Jonathan Robinson, Researcher in the Computational Systems Biology Infrastructure at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, “and to provide a system through which others in the modelling community can contribute and collaborate in real time.”</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">In the study, the researchers integrated Human1 with gene expression data from hundreds of different tumour and healthy tissue cell types. The integration revealed metabolic differences of clinical relevance, such as potential drug targets for cancers of the liver and blood. Furthermore, Human1 was demonstrated to predict the effect of gene disruptions with substantially greater accuracy than previous human models.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">&quot;An advancement in the area of human metabolic modelling​&quot;</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">A major limitation for human metabolic models has been the difficulty in simulating realistic reaction rates due to the infeasibility of obtaining the necessary measurements. However, the authors demonstrated that applying an enzyme-limitation framework to Human1 enabled the prediction of realistic growth and metabolite exchange rates without requiring these difficult measurements. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“This is a considerable advancement in the area of human metabolic modelling,” says Jens Nielsen. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“The framework now unlocks many powerful approaches that have typically only been feasible for studying microbes and it will enable a wide use of the model for studying metabolic diseases.”</p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​Metabolic Atlas provides maps for metabolic pathways</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">In parallel with Human1, the researchers developed Metabolic Atlas, an online resource to explore and visualise the model. The website provides 2D and 3D maps for different cellular compartments and metabolic pathways, and links content to other biochemical databases. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The project was led by Professor Jens Nielsen with a group of researchers in the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, in collaboration with the Human Protein Atlas (HPA) and National Bioinformatics Infrastructure Sweden (NBIS). The work was funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div><p class="chalmersElement-P"><span><span><strong>Read the article in <em>Science Signaling</em></strong></span></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong> </strong></p> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong> </strong></p> <div dir="ltr"><p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P" style="margin:0px;text-transform:none;line-height:22px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;box-sizing:border-box;orphans:2;widows:2"></p> <span style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;box-sizing:border-box;orphans:2;widows:2"></span><p></p> <div dir="ltr"><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="">An a​tlas of human metabolism </a></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /> </p></div></div></div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="font-weight:700">Science for Life Laboratory </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="font-weight:700"></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="font-weight:700"></span><span style="font-weight:700"></span></p> <p></p> <strong></strong><p></p> <ul style="overflow:hidden;margin-top:0px;margin-bottom:10px;box-sizing:border-box"><li style="box-sizing:border-box">Science for Life Laboratory, SciLifeLab, is a research institution for the advancement of molecular biosciences in Sweden. </li> <li style="box-sizing:border-box">SciLifeLab started out in 2010 as a joint effort between four universities: Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Uppsala University.</li> <li style="box-sizing:border-box">The center provides access to a variety of advanced infrastructures in life science for thousands of researchers creating a unique environment for health and environmental research at the highest level.</li> <li style="box-sizing:border-box">More information <a href="">Science for Life Laboratory​</a>,​</li></ul> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Metabolic Atlas</strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong> </strong></p> <div><ul><li><p class="chalmersElement-P">The Metabolic Atlas is a program run by Prof. Jens Nielsen’s research group at Chalmers University of Technology in collaboration with National Bioinformatics Infrastructure Sweden (NBIS). </p></li> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P">The program started in 2010 with the aim to identify all metabolic reactions in the human body, including mapping of active reactions in cells, tissues and organs. </p></li> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P">The new version of the Metabolic Atlas provides several different resources: </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">(i) an updated genome-scale metabolic model for human cells. This model is based on merging information from several different previous models and is the most comprehensive model of human metabolism to date.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">(ii) a visualisation tool that provides an overview of metabolism in human cells. Through overlay of data from the Human Protein Atlas (HPA) or other sources it is possible to visualise different metabolic functions in different cells, e.g. in cancer cells versus normal cells.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">(iii) an interaction map that visualise how each enzyme is connected with other enzymes through sharing of metabolites.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">(iv) a proteome constrained metabolic model that enables predictive model simulation of human metabolism in different cells and tissues. </p></li> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P">Resources from the Metabolic Atlas has resulted in more than 100 research papers on human metabolism and it has resulted in the identification of novel biomarkers and potential drug targets.</p></li> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P">More information ​<a href="">Metabolic Atlas</a></p></li></ul> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Human Protein Atlas </strong></p> <ul><li><p class="chalmersElement-P">The Human Protein Atlas (HPA) is a program based at the Science for Life Laboratory (Stockholm) and started in 2003 with the aim to map all of the human proteins in cells, tissues and organs using integration of various omics technologies, including antibody-based imaging, mass spectrometry-based proteomics, transcriptomics and systems biology. </p></li> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P">All the data in the knowledge resource is open access to allow scientists both in academia and industry to freely use the data for exploration of the human proteome. </p></li> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P">Version 19 consists of six separate parts, each focusing on a particular aspect of analysis of the human proteins: <br /><span style="background-color:initial">(i) the Tissue Atlas showing the distribution of the proteins across all major tissues and organs in the human body.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">(ii) the Cell Atlas showing the subcellular localisation of proteins in single cells.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">(iii) the Pathology Atlas showing the impact of protein levels for survival of patients with cancer.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">(iv) the Blood Atlas showing the profiles of blood cells and proteins detectable in the blood.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">(v) the Brain Atlas showing the distribution of proteins in human, mouse and pig brain.<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial">(vi) the Metabolic Atlas showing the presence of metabolic pathways across human tissues. </span></p></li> <li>The Human Protein Atlas program has already contributed to several thousands of publications in the field of human biology and disease and it has been selected by the organisation <a href="">ELIXIR</a> as a European core resource due to its fundamental importance for a wider life science community.  </li> <li>More information <a href="">Human Protein Atlas</a></li></ul></div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p>Wed, 25 Mar 2020 07:00:00 +0100 nanoplatelets prevent infections<p><b>​Graphite nanoplatelets integrated into plastic medical surfaces can prevent infections, killing 99.99 per cent of bacteria which try to attach – a cheap and viable potential solution to a problem which affects millions, costs huge amounts of time and money, and accelerates antibiotic resistance. This is according to research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, in the journal Small.​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>Every year, over four million people in Europe are affected by infections contracted during health-care procedures, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Many of these are bacterial infections which develop around medical devices and implants within the body, such as catheters, hip and knee prostheses or dental implants. In worst cases implants need to be removed.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Bacterial infections like this can cause great suffering for patients, and cost healthcare services huge amounts of time and money. Additionally, large amounts of antibiotics are currently used to treat and prevent such infections, costing more money, and accelerating the development of antibiotic resistance.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“The purpose of our research is to develop antibacterial surfaces which can reduce the number of infections and subsequent need for antibiotics, and to which bacteria cannot develop resistance. We have now shown that tailored surfaces formed of a mixture of polyethylene and graphite nanoplatelets can kill 99.99 per cent of bacteria which try to attach to the surface,” says Santosh Pandit, postdoctoral researcher in the research group of Professor Ivan Mijakovic at the Division of Systems Biology, Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Chalmers University of Technology. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​&quot;Outstanding antibacterial effects&quot;</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Infections on implants are caused by bacteria that travel around in the body in fluids such as blood, in search of a surface to attach to. When they land on a suitable surface, they start to multiply and form a biofilm – a bacterial coating.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Previous studies from the Chalmers researchers showed how vertical flakes of graphene, placed on the surface of an implant, could form a protective coating, making it impossible for bacteria to attach – like spikes on buildings designed to prevent birds from nesting. The graphene flakes damage the cell membrane, killing the bacteria. But producing these graphene flakes is expensive, and currently not feasible for large-scale production.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“But now, we have achieved the same outstanding antibacterial effects, but using relatively inexpensive graphite nanoplatelets, mixed with a very versatile polymer. The polymer, or plastic, is not inherently compatible with the graphite nanoplatelets, but with standard plastic manufacturing techniques, we succeeded in tailoring the microstructure of the material, with rather high filler loadings , to achieve the desired effect. And now it has great potential for a number of biomedical applications,” says Roland Kádár, Associate Professor at the Department of Industrial and Materials Science at Chalmers.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​No damage to human cells</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The nanoplatelets on the surface of the implants prevent bacterial infection but, crucially, without damaging healthy human cells. Human cells are around 25 times larger than bacteria, so while the graphite nanoplatelets slice apart and kill bacteria, they barely scratch a human cell. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“In addition to reducing patients’ suffering and the need for antibiotics, implants like these could lead to less requirement for subsequent work, since they could remain in the body for much longer than those used today,” says Santosh Pandit. “Our research could also contribute to reducing the enormous costs that such infections cause health care services worldwide .”</p> <p></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​Correct orientation is the decisive factor</h2> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">In the study, the researchers experimented with different concentrations of graphite nanoplatelets and the plastic material. A composition of around 15-20 per cent graphite nanoplatelets had the greatest antibacterial effect – providing that the morphology is highly structured.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“As in the previous study, the decisive factor is orienting and distributing the graphite nanoplatelets correctly. They have to be very precisely ordered to achieve maximum effect,” says Roland Kádár.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The study was a collaboration between the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, and the Division of Engineering Materials at the Department of Industrial and Materials Science at Chalmers, and the medical company Wellspect Healthcare, who manufacture catheters, among other things. The antibacterial surfaces were developed by Karolina Gaska when she was a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Associate Professor Roland Kádár. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The researchers’ future efforts will now be focused on unleashing the full potential of the antibacterial surfaces for specific biomedical applications.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Read the scientific article in the scientific journal Small</strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><span style="background-color:initial"><font color="#333333"><a href="">Precontrolled Alignment of Graphite Nanoplatelets in Polymeric Composites Prevents Bacterial Attachment​</a></font></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Read the previous news text, from April 2018</strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Spikes-of-graphene-can-kill-bacteria-on-implants.aspx">Spikes of graphene can kill bacteria on implants​</a></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Text:</strong> Susanne Nilsson Lindh and Joshua Worth<br /><strong>Ilustration:</strong> Yen Strandqvist</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p>Mon, 23 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100 cells spread using a copper-binding protein<p><b>​Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have shown that the Atox1 protein, found in higher concentrations in breast cancer cells, participates in the process by which cancer cells migrate. The protein could therefore be a potential biomarker for assessing the aggressiveness of the disease, as well as a possible target for new drugs. The research was recently published in the journal PNAS.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to the survival rate. Most deaths related to breast cancer are due to cancer cells spreading, that is leaving the primary tumour and metastasising in other parts of the body, such as the skeleton, liver or lungs. But the molecular mechanisms behind how cancer cells migrate to other parts of the body are not yet understood.</span><div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Breast cancer coincides with higher levels of copper in the tumours</h2> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Pr<span>evious studies have shown that, like other cancers, breast cancer coincides with higher levels of copper in the blood ​and in </span><span>t</span><span>umour</span><span> cells of the patients, but the use of this extra copper in cancer cells is not known.</span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">​Copper and other metal ions are vital for many biological functions, in small, controlled quantities. Free copper ions are toxic and thus all copper in our body is bound to proteins. Copper is absorbed through food and is then transported to different parts of ​the body by transport proteins. </span><br /></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>​Atox1 is localised at the leading edge of migrating cancer cells​</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span>Re</span><span>​</span><span>searchers at Chalmers have now identified a copper-binding protein that clearly influences breast cancer cell migration. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“</span><span style="background-color:initial">There are clinical trials where they use copper depletion as a therapeutic strategy, but we focus on the copper-binding proteins as potential targets. Using a database, we first identified all the different copper-binding proteins in humans and then we compared the amount of these proteins in cancerous to healthy tissues. Atox1 was one of the copper-binding proteins with a high concentration in breast cancer cells,” says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, Professor of Chemical Biology at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.​​​</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Atox1 is a so-called copper-transporter, a protein that transports copper to other proteins in our cells which require it for their enzymatic functions. The Chalmers researchers recently found that Atox1 is localised at the leading edge of migrating cancer cells, indicating that the protein may be involved in cell movement. This observation was the starting point for the now published study.</span></p></div> <p></p></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​The researchers tracked the movement of cancer cells</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Using adva<span>nced live-cell video microscopy, the researchers were able to observe and track the pattern of movement of hundreds of individual cancer cells, with and without the presence of Atox1.</span></p></div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>&quot;</span><span>No</span><span>body has studied how a copper-binding protein affects migration of breast cancer cells before. This is a high-resolution method and the experimental work has been time consuming, but we got a result that is very pure and informative. We were able to demonstrate that the cells moved at higher speeds and over longer distances when Atox1 was present, compared to the same cells having less of the protein,&quot; says Stéphanie Blockhuys, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Chemical Biology, and first author of the study.</span></p></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​Atox1 drives cell movement</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P">​Further experiments revealed that Atox1 drives cell movement by stimulating a reaction chain consisting of another copper transport protein – ATP7A, and the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX). Atox1 delivers copper to ATP7A which in turn delivers the metal to LOX in a synchronised reaction. LOX needs copper in order to function, and it is already known that the enzyme is involved in extracellular processes facilitating breast cancer cell movement.​</p></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">​“</span><span style="background-color:initial">When Atox1 in the cancer cells was reduced, we found extracellular LOX activity to be decreased. Thus, it appears that without Atox1, LOX does not receive the copper required for its cell migration potential says Stéphanie Blockhuys.</span><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​High Atox1 levels drastically influence survival</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P">​In parallel, the researchers analysed a database of reported Atox1 transcript levels in 1904 different breast c<span>ancer patients, along with survival times. They found that patients having tumours with high Atox1 levels have drastically lower survival times. </span><span>They conclude therefore that the mechanism they identified in their cell culture experiments seems to play a role in the progression of the disease in patients.</span></p></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">This indicates that Atox1 could be a biomarker for assessing how aggressive a breast cancer is. Such information could be used, for example, to determine if treatment to remove copper from the body could be appropriate. Atox1 could also become a target drug for blocking metastasis and thus cancer patient death.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span>​​“W</span><span>hat we have found could be important for all types of cancer. How cancer cells move is a fundamental process of cancer metastasis that we still don’t understand well enough,” says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede.</span></p></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Th</span><span style="background-color:initial">e</span><span style="background-color:initial"> researchers will now transfer the experiments from ​cells to small animal models and investigate whether there are other copper-binding proteins involved.​</span><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>​<br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">​​Read the scientific article in PNAS: </strong><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><div><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a> <a href="">Single-cell tracking demonstrates copper chaperone Atox1 to be required for breast cancer cell migration ​</a></div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">Read also:</strong><br /></div> <div><a href="" style="background-color:rgb(255, 255, 255)"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" /></a><a href="">Evaluation of copper chaperone ATOX1 as prognostic biomarker in breast cancer</a></div> <div><br /> </div></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> <span style="font-weight:700;background-color:initial">Text: </span><span style="background-color:initial">Susanne Nilsson Lindh and Johanna Wilde</span></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><div><span style="font-weight:700">Illustration:</span> David Lamm</div> <div><br /> </div> <span></span><div></div></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> ​</div></div> ​Mon, 09 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100 production of food and fatty acids on IVA&#39;s 100 List<p><b>Three research projects on s​ustainable production of food and fatty acids, connected to the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, are listed on IVA&#39;s 100 List. This year the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, IVA, focuses on sustainability projects with business potential.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">IVA’s 100 List aims to strengthen and increase collaboration between researchers and companies to solve societal challenges. The focus area 2020 is sustainability and the selected research projects, all connected to Swedish universities, have commercial potential.   </span><div><div>The Chalmers researchers Ingrid Undeland, Silvia Hüttner and Florian David, at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, are involved in three of the projects on the 100 List.  </div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Maximised use of marine resources for food</h2></div> <div>Ingrid Undeland, professor of Food and Nutrition Science, is together with her research group recognised for several projects targeting “Maximised use of marine resources for food – a step towards blue circular economy”. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">“Our research aims at converting more of the landed seafood raw materials into food, and/or specific bioactive ingredients, rather than to low value end uses such as mink feed or fish meal. A more ethical use of our marine resources will have a positive impact on the companies’ sustainability profiles. If we can contribute to the development of new “blue bio refineries” along the coastline, we will also contribute to job opportunities and a seafood in</span><span style="background-color:initial">dustry which is less sensitive to the seasonality,” says Ingrid Undeland. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>Approximately 50 per cent of the seafood raw materials that are landed in Sweden ends up as by-products, which currently go to animal feed, or in the worst case, are dumped, even though they are rich in e.g. proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. In several research projects, Ingrid’s group develops techniques to recover proteins and omega-3 fatty acids from more or less complex side-streams from the seafood industry. <span style="background-color:initial">At the same time, methods for maximizing the nutritional value and technic</span><span style="background-color:initial">al functionality of these products are developed. Thus, the research contributes to the ongoing protein shift and meets the high demand for marine omega-3-fatty acids. In addition, it contributes to an overall more sustainable use of marine resources. </span></div> <div><br /></div> <div>“I am delighted that this area of research is highlighted on IVA.s 100 List, not least considering we are located on the Swedish west coast where we have a long tradition of fisheries and seafood production. I hope that, with our projects, we can broaden people’s view on seafood in general, and that we can contribute with new “blue” proteins to the protein shift. I would like to stress that being on the IVA 100 List is due to the hard work and contribution of all members of the Marine research group working on different solutions to increase the value of side streams from the seafood industry,” says Ingrid Undeland. </div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Sustainable production of fatty acids through yeast biotechnology ​</h2></div> <div>Florian David, Assistant Professor at the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology, is working on the project “Sustainable production of fatty acids through yeast biotechnology” .</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The engineering of microbial cell factories is one of the key technologies enabling a circular bioeconomy. The project, started in Professor Jens Nielsen’s group, is focused on the engineering of yeast cell factories for the sustainable and environmentally friendly production of fatty acids and derived products. These can be used in a variety of applications including nutritional supplements, drugs, chemical building blocks and biofuels. The research group develops and uses and use new synthetic biology tools to identify high performing cell factories, thereby significantly speeding up the development cycle to come closer to cost-competitive production. Thanks to a lot of work involving a number of scientists, this research has resulted in high impact publications, patents and founding of the start-up company <a href="">Biopetrolia AB</a>.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>”Biotechnology, and the engineering of microbial cell factories, are key enabling technologies to create a circular bioeconomy. Renewable sugar resources can be used by microorganisms to create valuable products, allowing the shift from a petrol-based to a biobased industry. This technology is more environmentally friendly, easily scalable and holds great opportunities for innovative processes and products to come. The 100 list is a great opportunity for us to network with industry and academia, leverage on synergies and translate research into innovation,” says Florian David. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Florian David is one of the researchers invited to the R2B Summit, Research to business, arranged by IVA in Stockholm 18 March 2020, where selected researchers and representatives from the industry will meet to discover opportunities for future collaborations. </div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Development of sustainably produced, edible fungal protein​</h2></div> <div>Silvia Hüttner is a researcher at the Division of Industrial Biotechnology and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at the biotech company <a href="">Mycorena</a>, which is responsible for the project “Development of sustainably produced, edible fungal protein”. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We are very happy to be in IVA’s 100 list! It is great to be selected among other amazing and important research projects, and for us as a small start-up it's also incredibly important to get more visibility and spread the word about the exciting things we are doing,” says Silvia Hüttner.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Mycorena, one of GU Ventures’ portfolio companies, is developing a new sustainable vegan protein source, using filamentous fungi. The protein, Promyc, is made in a fermentation process, similar to beer brewing, and results in a nutritious and versatile product that can be used in anything from burgers and sausages to shakes and baked goods. The production is highly efficient and uses much less land, water and energy than more traditional protein sources, animal- and plant-based.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The current food production systems clearly need to change to be more sustainable. It is an enormous challenge to feed a growing world population without destroying the planet even more. Our fungi protein can be produced locally, in a very resource efficient way, and in a very short amount of time. At the same time, it's nutritionally complete and tastes great. We believe it's the way forward and we do our best to bring this innovation to consumers”, says Silvia Hüttner. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Text:</strong> Susanne Nilsson Lindh</div> <div><strong>Photo:</strong> Martina Butorac</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Read more about IVA's project</strong> <a href="">Research2Business</a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><strong>More about Ingrid Undelands research:</strong> </div> <div><ul><li>​<a href="/en/departments/bio/research/food_nutritional/Undeland-Lab/Pages/default.aspx">The Undeland lab</a><br /></li> <li>EU-project <a href="">WaSeaBi</a></li> <li>Publication in Food Chemistry: <a href="">Recovery of a protein-rich biomass from shrimp (Pandalus borealis) boiling water: A colloidal study</a></li> <li>Publication in Food and Bioprocess Technology: <a href="">Structural, functional, and sensorial properties of protein isolate produced from salmon, cod, and herring by-products</a></li></ul></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>More about Florian David’s research: </strong></div> <div><ul><li>​<a href="/en/departments/bio/research/systems-biology/david-lab/Pages/default.aspx">The David Lab</a><br /></li> <li>Publication in ACS Synthetic Biology: <a href="">FadR-Based Biosensor-Assisted Screening for Genes Enhancing Fatty Acyl-CoA Pools in Saccharomyces cerevisiae​</a></li> <li>Project: <a href="/sv/projekt/Sidor/CRISPRQdCAS9-mediated-in-vivo-enzyme-engineering-in-yeast-cell.aspx">CRISPR/dCAS9 mediated in vivo enzyme engineering in yeast cell factories </a></li></ul></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>More about Silvia Hüttner’s research:</strong></div> <div><ul><li><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/huttner.aspx">Research at Chalmers</a></li> <li><a href="">Mycorena website</a></li></ul></div> <div></div> <div><br /></div></div> ​</div> ​​Tue, 03 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100 has scaled up AI, autonomous systems and software at Chalmers<p><b>​WASP Chair Sara Mazur and KAW Chair Peter Wallenberg visited Chalmers to gain insight into the activities. The large research program has scaled up the research at several of Chalmers departments.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">During the visit, Sara Mazur and Peter Wallenberg met Chalmers’ WASP researchers and learned about how the programme has developed at the university. They first met three of the research leaders that Chalmers has recruited with funding from WASP.</span><div><br /></div> <div>Professor Ross D. King has been recruited from the University of Manchester. He aims to make science more efficient with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI). At the Department of Biology and Biotechnology, he will continue his work with a &quot;Robot Scientist&quot;. The focus is to understand how cells work - a research area that is so complex that human scientists struggle, and where robotic help is needed.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Christopher Zach, joining recently from Toshiba's research lab in Cambridge, is now a Research Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, and Fredrik Johansson, with a postdoc from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is now an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Christopher's research topic is computer vision and image understanding, and Fredrik's research area is machine learning with a focus on medical applications. With mathematical theory and modelling as a scientific basis, the goal is to develop tools to be used as decision support in autonomous systems and health care. Is it possible to design a system with an ability to reason its way to a correct conclusion?</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Artificial intelligence offers very promising support in radiology, to identify tumours and other abnormalities in tomography or X-ray images. But work remains to be done to make the systems robust to changes in personnel, equipment and patient groups,” says Fredrik Johansson.</div> <div><br /></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">WASP projects at five departments</h2> <div>The WASP program has scaled up the research in AI, autonomous systems and software at Chalmers. Since the start in 2018, approximately 50 PhD students and postdocs have been recruited and further recruitments are planned. The initiative is particularly noticeable at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, according to Daniel Persson, Assistant Professor and supervisor in the WASP program.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Mathematics for AI has increased at the department, not least the collaboration between research groups and with industry. A total of 14 research projects within AI are ongoing at the department today – thanks in large part to the fact that our researchers have been successful in obtaining grants from WASP,” says Daniel Persson.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Chalmers Vice President for Research and Doctoral Education Anders Palmqvist is very pleased with how WASP has spread across the university departments.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We have ongoing WASP projects at five different departments. Chalmers has a strategic ambition to work across departments through its Areas of Advance, and Chalmers' initial work to mobilise for the launch of WASP was handled in collaboration with the Information and Communication Technology Area of Advance,” says Anders Palmqvist.</div> <div><br /></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Successful graduate school</h2> <div>In addition to research projects and strategic recruitments, WASP also runs a graduate school for PhD students with a range of joint courses and network meetings. Christian Berger, from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was involved in building up the graduate school.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The courses and network meetings, both nationally and internationally, offer great value to the PhD students. It was a challenge to develop an educational programme adapted to students from many disciplines, but what we have achieved broadens the students’ expertise and gives them an ability to communicate their research between the disciplines – which is not always easy,” says Christian Berger.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>During their visit to Chalmers, Sara Mazur and Peter Wallenberg also visited Chalmers Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Lab. Director Max Ortiz Catalan demonstrated two types of research projects with assistance from two patients.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>About WASP</strong></div> <div>The Wallenberg Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) is a major national initiative for strategically motivated basic research, education and faculty recruitment in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software development, funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation together with the partner universities and participating industry. The starting point for WASP is the combined existing world-leading competence in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science at Sweden’s five major ICT universities: Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Linköping University, Lund University and Umeå University. Research projects are also conducted at Uppsala University and Örebro University.</div> <div>The aim is to strengthen, expand, and renew the national competence through new strategic recruitments, a challenging research program, a national graduate school, and collaboration with industry.</div> <div><a href=""></a></div> <div><br /></div> <div>At Chalmers, there is an established collaboration between WASP and Chalmers AI Research Centre, CHAIR, to ensure good synergy.</div> <div><a href="/en/centres/chair/Pages/default.aspx"></a></div> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 17:00:00 +0100