News: Bioteknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyFri, 23 Mar 2018 12:51:34 +0100 with Chalmers to reduce malnutrition<p><b>​Chalmers researcher Ulf Svanberg wanted to devote his time to pressing global problems, like the malnourished population of low-income countries. The cooperation with Tanzania and Mozambique has resulted in unique applications of germinated flour and lactic fermented gruels which have improved the health of women and children.</b></p>​After three years at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Ulf Svanberg was quite tired of heat exchangers and oil refineries and turned to Food and Nutrition Science. But once he got there, he was not particularly interested in finding a smoother way to make ketchup.<br />As early as the mid-1970’s, he was involved in forming a multidisciplinary group, interested in finding out the actual reasons behind malnutrition in the least developed countries.<br /><br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/1-Ulf%20och%20Serafina.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />Ulf Svanberg together with Serafina Vilanculos, PhD student from Mozambique. Photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist<br /><br /><strong>Malnutrition due to lack of food</strong><br /><br />In the 1970’s and -80’s, it was believed that malnutrition was due only to protein deficiency.<br />– Later, we realized that malnutrition was mainly due to the fact that people simply didn’t receive enough amounts of nutritious food, Ulf Svanberg says.<br />– Above all, infants and young children were affected and an important reason was the gruel made of corn. It has to be diluted with a lot of water, and therefore has a low nutritional value. With a smaller amount of water, the gruel becomes more nutritious, but also thicker and much harder for small children to eat.<br /><br /><strong>Magic that porridge becomes gruel</strong><br /><br />Together with the first doctoral student from Tanzania Food and Nutrition Institute, TFNC, Ulf Svanberg found that a nutritious liquid gruel could be made of thick porridge using germinated flour – a flour they named <em>Power flour</em>.<br />– We were standing in the Chalmers lab with the thick porridge that we mixed with a teaspoon of <em>power flour</em>. And we were fascinated to see the porridge turn into a liquid gruel in just a few minutes! The <em>power flour</em>, made of sprouted millet or sorghum, contains activated amylase enzymes that will degrade the starch molecules in the thick porridge, and thereby releases water to make it liquid. The use of germinated flour has been a long traditional practice in Tanzania, not however for making weaning foods, but for local beer production.<br /><table class=" chalmersTable-default " width="100%" cellspacing="0" style="font-size:1em"><tbody><tr class="chalmersTableHeaderRow-default"><th class="chalmersTableHeaderFirstCol-default" rowspan="1" colspan="1">​<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/2-Porridge%20on%20spoon.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /></th> <th class="chalmersTableHeaderOddCol-default" rowspan="1" colspan="1">​</th> <th class="chalmersTableHeaderLastCol-default" rowspan="1" colspan="1"><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/3-Kimea%20gruel%20on%20spoon.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /></th></tr></tbody></table> <p><em>Power flour </em>mixed in porridge to make gruel – before and after. Photo: Ulf Svanberg<br /><br /><strong>The new method introduced by TFNC and UNICEF/WHO</strong><br /><br />– We had the opportunity to visit a village where the method would be taught. A few hundred mothers and children had gathered around a large barrel where traditional thick porridge was prepared. Staff from TFNC stirred a few cups of germinated flour into the porridge, which suddenly became a liquid gruel. Each mother then received a small cup of the gruel to give her child and they thought the whole process was pure magic.<br /><br /><strong>The children were dancing and singing</strong><br /><br />The sprouted flour – <em>Power flour </em>– was given the name <em>kimea </em>in Swahili, which means a sprout that grows big and strong.<br />– Sometimes when we got to the villages, the school children lined up and started to dance and sing: “Mom and Dad <em>Kimea </em>are coming”.<br />The method was spread through radio shows and Maternal Health Clinics that distributed instruction manuals in Swahili, showing mothers how to take care of their children, how to make germinated flour and use it to get a nutritious liquid gruel.<br />– It needed to be easy, the mothers should be able to make the gruel themselves at home in the small hut.</p> <table class="chalmersTable-default " width="100%" cellspacing="0" style="font-size:1em"><tbody><tr class="chalmersTableHeaderRow-default"><th class="chalmersTableHeaderFirstCol-default" rowspan="1" colspan="1">​<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/4-Kimea%20drinking%20child550.jpg" width="550" height="384" alt="" style="margin:5px" /></th> <th class="chalmersTableHeaderLastCol-default" rowspan="1" colspan="1">​</th></tr></tbody></table>  Child drinking gruel made with <em>kimea</em>. Photo: Ulf Svanberg<p><strong><br />Gruel to prevent diarrhea</strong><br /><br />Another result of Ulf Svanberg’s research is a lactic acid fermented gruel which help prevent small children from being infected with diarrheal diseases. Diarrhea is as big a problem as malnutrition, and poses an acute threat to the child, who might die within a few days.<br />In the villages, the population traditionally uses the method of producing fermented gruels, and Ulf Svanberg together with one of his doctoral students developed that technique further by using the germinated flour <em>kimea</em>.<br />– One of our PhD students showed in a number of studies that the most common diarrhea bacteria like shigella, campylobacter, salmonella or toxigenic e-coli did not survive in this fermented gruel. We had then found a way to prevent small children from getting diarrhea due to contaminated gruel.<br /><br /><strong>Traditional methods cures iron deficiency</strong><br /><br />The researchers also discovered that fermentation together with added germinated flour had a unique ability to break down phytic acid in the gruel – an antinutrient that binds iron and makes it unavailable for absorption. By degrading the phytic acid, the iron becomes more accessible.<br />– More than half of all young children in developing countries suffer from iron deficiency, which put them in risk of life-long problems. We now discovered means to degrade the phytic acid by a simple modification of traditional cooking methods.<br />TFNC has the responsibility to educate Health and Nutrition workers to be placed in the regions at Mother and Child Health clinics, informing about the importance about child care and how to prepare nutritious and safe foods for young children with the use of <em>kimea </em>and improved fermentation techniques.<br /></p> <table class="chalmersTable-default " width="100%" cellspacing="0" style="font-size:1em"><tbody><tr class="chalmersTableHeaderRow-default"><th class="chalmersTableHeaderFirstCol-default" rowspan="1" colspan="1">​<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/5-Tanzanian%20family%20sharing%20meal550.jpg" width="550" height="364" alt="" style="margin:5px" /></th> <th class="chalmersTableHeaderLastCol-default" rowspan="1" colspan="1">​</th></tr></tbody></table> The Tanzanian family shares a meal with corn porridge and vegetables full of vitamin A. Photo: Ellen Hedrén<br /><br /><strong>Former PhD students spread the knowledge</strong><br /><br />From the mid-1980’s to this day, six staff members from TFNC have done their doctoral studies at Chalmers under Ulf Svanberg’s supervision.<br />All six have stayed in Tanzania or another African country after graduation, and have been able to apply their research findings into practical action. The first doctoral candidate became head of the National Food Research Centre in Botswana. The second became head of TFNC and is also the president’s adviser on nutrition issues. A third became Head of the National Research Council for Science and Technology, and several continued working as heads of departments at TFNC.<br /><br />One of Ulf Svanberg’s former PhD students is Generose Mulokozi, a specialist in nutrition and vitamin supplementation and a student at Chalmers from 1998 to 2002. At the same time, she worked at TNFC before becoming responsible for a USAID programme devoted to enrich locally produced baby foods with vitamins and minerals. Generose Mulokozi is now in charge of a new programme, covering a large part of Tanzania that focuses on malnourished children under the age of five.<br />– My research results from Chalmers have been widely used to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in women and children in Tanzania. Among other things, all children between the ages of six months and five years, receive vitamin A twice a year and vitamin enriched foods, she says.<br /><br /><strong>Defining the problems themselves</strong><br /><br />The success of the research projects, and the fact that they made some real change, is partly due to that the researchers in Tanzania themselves were identifying the health problems related to the diet, says Ulf Svanberg.<br />– It’s far too common for us to focus on what we think is an interesting research problem, rather than something of relevance to a developing country.<br /><br /><br />Text: Ragnhild Larsson/Mia Malmstedt<br /><p> </p>Thu, 22 Mar 2018 16:00:00 +0100 researcher gets prize for presentation<p><b>​Is it possible to present one’s research in 400 seconds? Yes, it is! PhD- student Jenny Arnling Bååth did it so well that she received a prize for her efforts.</b></p>​<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/IndBio/PechaKuchaJenny_300.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" />It was before the Swedish Paper and Cellulose Engineers Association, SPCI's, annual conference Ekmandagar 2018, that Jenny Arnling Bååth, PhD student at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, and working within the Wallenberg Wood Science Center, was asked if she would like to go to Stockholm to present her research according to the Pecha Kucha format.<br />– I enjoy doing things like that and saw it more like a fun experience. It wasn’t until I was going up on stage that I realized it was a contest! says Jenny Arnling Bååth.<br /><br />Pecha Kucha is a presentation format where one shows 20 images in 20 seconds each, making the timing and practicing very important. And Jenny Arnling Bååth scored well on all the criteria – a neat, scientific and understandable presentation with good timing as she talked about her research. Very simplified she works with using residual products from the wood industry. And with the help of specific enzymes, breaking chemical bonds between the long polymer chains in the wood, she can get pure polymers, which can be used as building blocks to make materials for packaging, plastics, textile materials, biofuel and chemicals.<br />– I search in nature to find enzymes to cut these chemical linkages. And I've found promising enzymes in bacteria and in filamentous fungi, so I talked about that in my presentation, says Jenny Arnling Bååth.<br /><br />The audience had mentometers and consisted of nearly 200 people from different areas of the pulp and paper industry. The winners were then appointed by a jury and Jenny was awarded the second prize.<br />– They said I was very close to first prize and that the audience really enjoyed my presentation so I’m happy anyway, says Jenny Arnling Bååth.<br /><br />In addition to the honor to receive a second prize, she is also awarded 20,000 SEK from the Gunnar Sundblad Foundation, earmarked for travelling related to her research. But Jenny Arnling Bååth has no set plan for where she will go.<br />– Well, I’m doing my last year as a PhD student now so I'm really going to make use of it, says Jenny Arnling Bååth.<br />– I am discussing with my supervisors to visit another research group somewhere and perhaps do some complimentary analyses for my thesis. I think that could be very inspiring!<br /><br /><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photo: Camilla Herrera/Svensk Papperstidning <br />Thu, 22 Mar 2018 15:00:00 +0100 foods with digital bacteria<p><b>​Can fermented foods be used to amend one’s health through the gut microbiota? The international food company Danone collaborates with Chalmers to improve its dairy products.</b></p>​<br />The gastrointestinal tract is approximately seven meters long and contains about 1,000 different types of bacteria which together form the so-called intestinal flora, or microbiota. Most bacteria are good and help the body to stay healthy. But many researchers believe that the absence or presence of some bacteria, also could cause different types of diseases, obesity and perhaps even neurological disorders such as autism.<br /><br />At the Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Professor Jens Nielsen and his team have been working for a few years to study and simulate the gastrointestinal bacteria. Not least, to find out how the bacteria interact with, and affect, each other. The group has developed mathematical models that uses digital bacteria, which allows researchers to carry out experiments in the computer instead of in the laboratory.<br />Digital experiments are easier, cheaper and quicker than actual laboratory experiments. For a couple of years, Chalmers has partnered with the global food company Danone to analyze data from their fermented products used in clinical trials. Danone wants to see how consumption of these products can promote health through the gut.<br /><br />The researcher Parizad Babaei is running the project and explains that Danone has chosen five different bacteria that they want Chalmers to investigate.<br />– We look at and simulate how the bacteria work together during fermentation – if any bacterium is stronger and outgrows the others, if some bacteria are faster or slower than the others and so on. And thus we can investigate the potential interaction between these five bacteria with our “digital microbiota”, she says.<br /><br />Professor Jens Nielsen is proud that Danone recognizes the possibilities with these digital bacteria and he is pleased that their cooperation also benefits both parties.<br />– The collaboration with Danone is an excellent example of how our systems biology competences can be applied and also gain detailed insight into production of fermented food products, but also how we can use these technologies to get new insight into the health effects of commercialized products, says Jens Nielsen.<br /><br />So, through the work conducted at Chalmers in collaboration with Danone, the researchers get a greater knowledge of how the bacteria interact with each other and should be able to design products with bacteria that can compete with bad ones and shape more available space for good ones, with the aim to create the best conditions for a stable microbiota, faster recovery and a healthy life. <br />Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:00:00 +0100 Foundation Award presented to Lisbeth Olsson<p><b>​This year&#39;s Foundation Award goes to Professor Lisbeth Olsson at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology. She is one of the most prominent researchers at Chalmers and she has shown great commitment in many areas.</b></p>​Lisbeth Olsson has in a short time established a large research group in industrial biotechnology and her collaborative research, often around innovative ideas whose potentials are not yet known, leading to knowledge building and new practices for her partners which has a great potential for impact.<br /><br />She also shows great commitment in all levels of education, from basic to research level, and to strong leadership in various parts of the Chalmers organization. Already when Lisbeth was recruited to Chalmers, she started discussions with several other Chalmers researchers on cross-border research collaborations. These collaborations have, among other things, led to the creation of the KAW-funded center Wallenberg Wood Science Center, the strategic research program Chalmers Energy Initiative and the Formas-funded cooperation project BioBuF, which engages groups from four institutions at Chalmers and RISE. Her efforts as Area of Advance leader for Energy have been characterized by an engagement for all activities and areas regardless of Chalmers institutional boundaries.<br /><br />The Award comprises a personal payment of SEK 25,000 (before taxes) and an activity grant of SEK 100,000.<br /><br />An important task of the Chalmers University of Technology Foundation is to stimulate the development of the University's activities. For many years the Foundation has contributed to quality and renewal through funding within selected areas. The Foundation Award was established to highlight, in particular, the crucial importance of Chalmers employees to the success of the University and to focus on examples that act as a source of inspiration. The Award is presented once each year and was presented for the first time in 2006.Fri, 09 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0100 biotechnology ten years at Chalmers<p><b>​The research field of industrial biotechnology is celebrating ten years at Chalmers in March. At first, the division consisted of a few people. Today it has grown considerably, and constitutes an important partner in the field of bioeconomy.</b></p><strong>​<br />Lisbeth Olsson, you are a Professor and Head of division at Industrial Biotechnology, and you have been involved since the beginning. How does it feel to celebrate 10 years?</strong><br /><br />–    Great fun, it has been an exciting journey and it’s incredible to work in this field. It is, and has been, inspiring to work with so many people who are passionate about our field of research. Also, the development at Chalmers during these years have enabled industrial biotechnology to form and grow.<br /><br /><strong>How has the division developed during this decade?</strong><br /><br />–    The division, or research group, was born as I was recruited to Chalmers. To begin with, we were a few people who grew into a group of twelve people within the first year. Today the group consists of thirty-five employees. Initially, research focused on bioethanol production from biomass, today the field has evolved and we are now working to design and use enzymes and microorganisms used to produce biofuels, biochemicals and materials in so-called biorefineries.<br /><br /><strong>Tell us about the beginning!</strong><br /><br />–    Today we have outgrown our facilities, but when we started there were empty corridors and empty labs – it seems almost unbelievable now! It has been a great opportunity and inspiration to be allowed to build this division from scratch.<br /><br /><strong>Some special memories from these ten years?</strong><br /><br />–    We have examinated 11 PhD students – each thesis defence is special, since this is the culmination of several years of dedicated work on developing a research area. We received a large grant for “strong research environment” in bioeconomy some five years ago, it was a peak as it has given us the opportunity to work widely within the division concerning a biorefinery concept.<br /> <br /><strong>What has the division’s development and growth meant for Chalmers? And for the field of research?</strong><br /><br />–    Since the area of industrial biotechnology was established at Chalmers, we have been able to become an important partner in the interdisciplinary work of bioeconomy. For example, we contribute within the Chalmers Energy Area of Advance, and Wallenberg Wood Science Center. I believe that the interdisciplinary approach has helped us to be successful and have shaped how we think and work in the area between basic and applied research. We have also recruited younger PIs in recent years, and their competences help to further develop our field.<br /> <br /><strong>How will you celebrate?</strong><br /><br />–    We have a seminar on March 23, and afterwards there’s a party with present and past colleagues. It will be great to reunite.<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina Butorac<br />Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:00:00 +0100 interviewed in Swedish radio<p><b>​Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, professor and Head of Division of Chemical Biology, was interviewed in “Swedish radio”.</b></p>​She talked about her research, the possibility for a future cure for Parkinson’s disease and much more. Here’s a <a href=";artikel=6876280">link to the interview (in Swedish)</a> and also a link to the <a href=";pnref=story">Facebook video</a>.<br /><br /><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photo: Per Dahlberg/Sveriges RadioTue, 13 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0100 fuels are based on baker’s yeast<p><b>​Perfumes, flavours and biofuels from regular baker’s yeast. Now Chalmers makes further breakthrough in the search for more sustainable industrial chemicals.</b></p>Fatty acids form the basis of many industrial chemicals and are included in most plastics, flavours and perfumes, solvents and fuels. While fossil oils, animal fats or plant oils are traditionally used in the chemical production of those types of products, we have, since a few years back, experienced the transition towards more sustainable alternative such as using cell factories, e.g. the regular baker’s yeast, to obtain the necessary fatty acids. However, a common bottleneck arising from these alternatives remains the insufficient production of fatty acids to meet levels of the petrochemical industry. <br /><br />A problem to which Chalmers researchers Paulo Teixeira and Raphael Ferreira in Jens Nielsen’s team at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology are now one step closer to solve. <br /><br />– We have found a way to remove and modify the genes in the yeast cells to start producing large amounts of fatty acids, says Paulo Teixeira. <br />– It was amazing when I saw the first graphs about the amount of fatty acids that we now can bring out. I barely thought it was true! says Raphael Ferreira. <br /><br />While other researchers often invest in adding genes to increase fatty acid production, Paulo Teixeira and Raphael Ferreira have instead chosen to remove certain genes, thus reprogramming the lipid metabolism of the yeast. Paulo Teixeira describes how it works. <br />– Imagine that lipid metabolism is like roads and crossroads and the fatty acids are cars. A car can drive along different roads and come to different places. But by closing certain roads, as we do when we remove certain genes, we force the cars to only drive along the roads we leave open and thus all the cars – the fatty acids – end up in the same place, he says. <br /><br />Now as a confirmation on their pioneering research, their paper is published in the prestigious scientific journal “Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America” – PNAS. <br /><br />– I was super happy when our paper was accepted! says Paulo Teixeira. <br />– Our research proves that you do not necessarily need to add genes. But by modifying and deleting certain genes you can achieve amazing results. <br /><br />– The great thing about this is that these new yeast cells that we created can now be used by other people together with other successful strategies to build even better yeast cells to produce fatty acids and one day reach those industrial levels we all want, says Raphael Ferreira. <br /><br />Read more in the scientific article in PNAS: <a href="">Redirection of lipid flux toward phospholipids in yeast increases fatty acid turnover and secretion</a><br /><br /><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg <br />Photo: Martina Butorac Mon, 22 Jan 2018 11:00:00 +0100 Swedish Research Council believes in Chalmers and Fudan<p><b>​Can specific dietary fiber protect against cardiovascular disease? This becomes a worldwide issue as Chalmers receives money from the Swedish Research Council and intensifies the cooperation with Fudan University in Shanghai.</b></p>​Chalmers and the leading Chinese Fudan university has already begun a study on the importance of dietary fiber for health and disease prevention. Now the Swedish Research Council has allocated SEK 3 million to Professor Rikard Landberg and his research team at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science to develop and deepen the project together with Fudan, who receives the same amount of money from the Chinese Research Council.<br />– The study is based on a previous project where we have already observed that bioprocessed rye fibers (rye bran fermented with a specific bacterial strain) have interesting effects on risk factors for cardiovascular disease, for example the inflammatory marker CRP and on blood lipids, says Rikard Landberg.<br />– With the funding from the Swedish Research Council, we will now move on to investigate whether the effects we have  found can be linked to changes in gut microbiota. In a new study, we will also investigate whether we can find biomarkers in the blood that tell us how individuals respond to a diet rich in dietary fiber that can easily be utilized by the intestinal bacteria. The goal is to be able to use such biomarkers to guide people to a personalized diet optimal for them.<br /><br />The project will run for three years and involve 10-15 researchers at different levels from China and Sweden. The Chalmers- team will hire a postdoc to work closely with a corresponding researcher at Fudan, both via the internet and on site in China and Sweden.<br /><br /><strong>What does this funding mean for you and for Chalmers?</strong><br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/rikard_200.jpg" alt="" style="height:195px;width:148px;margin:5px" />– It is very rewarding that we received funding from the Swedish Research Council to continue developing the cooperation we have built with Fudan University. Through this collaboration we get opportunities to do large human studies where we can test our hypotheses in people; which is otherwise very costly to implement in Europe. And because we have already collaborated, we know that everything works and how to deal with different parts of such investigations, which could otherwise be a major challenge in this type of project, says Rikard Landberg.<br />– In addition, the project also enables Chalmers to reach the world and strengthen cooperation with China, not least to attract talented young researchers to Sweden and Gothenburg. I also believe that the project can have major positive benefits for parts of the Swedish food industry that have participated in previous projects and which will now benefit from the results generated by the project.<br /><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photo: and Martina Butorac<br /><br />Mon, 08 Jan 2018 11:00:00 +0100 Cancer Society funds researchers<p><b>​Unique biomarkers for cancer and individualized medication can become reality with Chalmers research. Now, the Swedish Cancer Society supports Chalmers for the first time in more than a decade.</b></p>​The Professors Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede and Jens Nielsen, as well as Associate Professor Fredrik Westerlund at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology, have received SEK 2.4 million each. And they are pleased that the Swedish Cancer Society is supportive of their research.<br />– Funding from the Swedish Cancer Society emphasizes that Chalmers is working with cancer research and it has a strong symbolic value, says Jens Nielsen.<br /><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/Cancerfonden_200.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />The three researchers have different approaches to the fight against cancer. Jens Nielsen's project focuses on the new biomarker that he has identified and now wants to verify, both on a larger group of patients and on different types of cancer. Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede studies copper transport proteins and their role in the emergence of tumors, which in the long term can lead to a whole new way of attacking cancer. Fredrik Westerlund’s project is already ongoing and he is working on a method to predetermine a patient-adapted medicine dose before starting the cancer treatment.<br /><br />And all three researchers see the Swedish Cancer Society participation as a token that Chalmers biological research is important for curing more forms of cancer in the future.<br />– This is great for Chalmers! says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede.<br />– We have spent a long time investing in Life science, and this proves that Chalmers is conducting high-quality cancer research today. To me, it is also proof that the Swedish Cancer Society, as a cancer expert, believes in me and my research group, even though we come from the mechanistic biophysical angle, she says.<br /><br />In addition to the grants making him able to develop his own project, Fredrik Westerlund also hopes that the funding from the Swedish Cancer Society can give the outside world a broader and more diversified view on Chalmers different specialties.<br />– It's great if it makes more people aware that Chalmers doesn’t only just focus on technology but is also conducting outstanding biological research, he says.<br />– And I also hope that more researchers at Chalmers will see that you can apply for this type of grants.<br /><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photo: Cancerfonden/Scandinav/Leif Johansson<br />Wed, 20 Dec 2017 11:00:00 +0100 Landberg Head of division<p><b>​Making Chalmers biological food and nutrition research world famous, develop new forms of cooperation ways to cooperate and sharpen the research. Those are a few things that professor Rikard Landberg wants to focus on as he enters in his new position as Head of Division of Food and Nutrition Science.</b></p><p>​Rikard Landberg is taking over as Head of Division of Food and Nutrition Science by January 2018 as professor Ann-Sofie Sandberg turns 67 in March. And he is looking forward to this new role.<br />– It feels good and and it’s a natural consequence from me being recruited to Chalmers. I have been preparing for this the passing year and have had time to get my research group settled in before I now make plans for the whole department, says Rikard Landberg.<br /><br />Rikard Landberg has been a professor in Food and Health at the department of Biology and Biological Engineering since 2016 when he was recruited from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with the position of Head of division in sight. A quite complicated task.<br />– Ann-Sofie has built this area of research from the bottom up at Chalmers and she is the body and soul of the division which I am now to develop, says Rikard Landberg.<br />– She has also developed a very large network at Chalmers and in Gothenburg through her many important positions throughout the years. So, it's with a great deal of humility that I take over from Ann-Sofie.<br /><br />Ann-Sofie Sandberg is confident that Rikard Landberg will develop the division in the right direction.<br />– I’m stepping down from the position as Head of division with mixed feelings, naturally. The division has been my baby. But I have worked with Rikard during the last year and he’s well prepared for the task. I really feel that the division is in good hands! And I am hoping to get to spend more time on my own research, says Ann-Sofie Sandberg.<br /><br />Rikard Landberg will focus on sharpening the research and the education of the division even more, and he wants to make Chalmers famous for its food and nutrition division worldwide.<br />– I will also study how we work internally to make sure that all coworkers have a distinct aim and that they get adequate input and feedback on their work, says Rikard Landberg.<br />– It’s also very important that we recruit and incubate good young researchers.<br />Furthermore, he wants to focus on establishing interaction with the other actors in the region, for example with Sahlgrenska.<br />– Not that many places in Sweden have Food and Nutrition, Microbiology, Medicine and Systems and Synthetic Biology in the same area and I want to take advantage of that, says Rikard Landberg.<br />– Right now we are learning how to create a toolbox for personalized nutrition that may lead to personalized dietary guidelines. Chalmers has a golden opportunity to contribute to the absolute front of this area.</p> <p><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg</p>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 16:00:00 +0100 can be engineered to create protein pharmaceuticals<p><b>​It took several years, but a research team headed by Professor Jens Nielsen at Chalmers University of Technology has finally succeeded in mapping out the complex metabolism of yeast cells. The breakthrough, recently published in an article in Nature Communications, means a huge step forward in the potential to more efficiently produce protein therapies for diseases such as cancer.</b></p>​The market for pharmaceuticals that mimic the body’s own proteins – protein-based therapeutics – is exploding. Some of them are relatively simple to manufacture in yeast-based cell factories. Insulin and HPV vaccine are two examples that are already under production, but other therapies, such as antibodies to various forms of cancer, are significantly more difficult to manufacture.<br /><br /><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/SysBio/news201712_JN.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" width="130" height="159" alt="" style="margin:5px" />“They are currently produced using a cell factory based on a single cell from a Chinese hamster. It’s an extremely expensive process. If we can get yeast cells to do the same thing, it will be significantly cheaper – perhaps 10% of what it costs today. Our vision is to eventually be able to mass-produce and supply the entire world with therapies that are too expensive for many countries today,” says Jens Nielsen, professor of systems biology.<br /><br /><span><span><span><span><span><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/SysBio/news201712_DP.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" width="130" height="160" alt="" style="margin:5px" /></span></span></span></span></span>In collaboration with Associate Professor Dina Petranovic and Mathias Uhlén’s<span><span></span></span> research<span><span><span></span></span></span> team at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Jens Nielsen has been mapping <span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span>out th<span></span>e complex metabolism of yeast cells for four years.<br /><br />“We’ve been studying the metabolism of a yeast that we already know is a good protein producer. And we found the mechanisms that can be used to make the process even more efficient. The next step is to prove that we can actually produce antibodies in such quantities that costs are reduced.”<br /><br />The discussion has mainly been about cancer, but there are many other diseases, for example Alzheimer’s, diabetes and MS, that could potentially be treated by yeast-based protein therapies. How distant a future are we talking about?<br /><br />“Our part of the process is fast, but pharmaceuticals always take a long time to develop. It could be a possibility in five years, but should absolutely be on the market in ten,” Nielsen says.<br /><br />Jens Nielsen has been making headlines the past few months. In addition to his publication in Nature Communications, he has recently received three prestigious awards.<br /><br />On 31 October he received the world’s biggest award for innovation in alternative fuels for transportation – <a href="" target="_blank">the Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister’s Prize</a>, in Israel. Alternative fuels? Yes, plain old yeast can be used for a lot, and Nielsen’s award was for his contribution to processes for producing hydrocarbons from yeast, which will advance new biofuels. Earlier in October he received the prestigious <a href="/en/news/Pages/Energy-award-to-Jens-Nielsen-for-biofuels-from-yeast.aspx" target="_blank">Energy Frontiers Award from the Italian oil company Eni</a> for the same type of research. And just a week before he left for Israel, he was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA)’s gold medal for innovative and creative research in systems biology.<br /><br />“Yeast is a superb modelling system. Almost everything in yeast is also found in humans. We have complete computer models of the metabolism of yeast, and we use the same type of models to study human metabolism,” Nielsen explained when he received the IVA award. <br /><br /><strong>More about making the metabolism in yeast more effective</strong><br />The protein production of yeast cells comprises more than 100 different processes in which proteins are modified and transported out of the cell. Around 200 enzymes are involved, which makes it a very complex system to engineer. In order to optimize protein production, it is necessary to chart how these 200 enzymes function and work. In the study, this has been done by altering the genetic set of certain key genes, using advanced screening methods in combination with modern genome sequencing techniques.<br /><br />Read more about how in the scientific article in Nature Communications: <a href="" target="_blank">Efficient protein production by yeast requires global tuning of metabolism</a><br /><br />Text: Christian BorgMon, 11 Dec 2017 11:00:00 +0100 rain down on Jens Nielsen<p><b>​End of October Chalmers professor Jens Nielsen was awarded the Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister’s Prize – the world’s largest prize for research into alternative fuels. This completed a full hat-trick of prestigious accolades for Nielsen this October.</b></p>​Nielsen was handed his third and final prize of the month by the Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis during an official ceremony in Tel Aviv on 31 October. The Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister’s Prize has been awarded for five years to researchers who lead the world in the development of alternative fuels. Nielsen, who is Professor of Quantitative Systems Biology at Chalmers, was rewarded for his work on the production of hydrocarbons from yeast, thus developing new biofuels. He shared the $1 million prize money with this year’s other prize-winner: Jean-Marie Tarascon from the Collège de France.  <br /><br />“My research team has had great success in redirecting the metabolism in ordinary baker’s yeast to produce chemical components that can be used in biofuel for cars, diesel for trucks and jet fuel for aircraft. Our research covers the entire spectrum, which I think played a significant role in the winning of this award,” says Nielsen. <br /><br />Earlier in October he was presented with the “Energy Frontiers Award” by the Italian oil company ENI for the same type of research. And only a week before the trip to Israel he was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) for his innovative and creative research in systems biology. Three prestigious prizes in one month. A complete hat-trick – how does it feel?<br /><br />“It’s fantastic, so overwhelming that you can’t put it into words. I found out that I was going to be awarded the Israeli prize a month or so ago. It all went really quickly.” <br /><br />He also thinks that the yeast-based production of new biofuels, which could compete with petroleum-based fuels, could be brought to the market relatively rapidly.<br /><br />“We’ve got quite far with our research. Industrial implementation is more dependent on political decisions and economics than on technological development. If a decision were made to do this, we could have a product out on the market in five to eight years,” he says.  <br /><br /><strong>Read more: </strong><br /><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />The Eric and Sheila Samson Prize 2017</a><br /><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Press release about IVA’s Great Gold Medal 2017</a><br /><a href="/en/news/Pages/Energy-award-to-Jens-Nielsen-for-biofuels-from-yeast.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Energy award to Jens Nielsen for biofuels from yeast</a><br /><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Jens-B-Nielsen.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Jens Nielsen</a><br /> Fri, 24 Nov 2017 11:00:00 +0100 step closer to a cure for adult-onset diabetes<p><b>​In healthy people, exosomes – tiny structures secreted by cells to allow intercellular communication – prevent clumping of the protein that leads to type 2 diabetes. Exosomes in patients with the disease don’t have the same ability. This discovery by a research collaboration between Chalmers University of Technology and Astrazeneca takes us a step closer to a cure for type 2 diabetes.</b></p>​Proteins are the body’s workhorses, carrying out all the tasks in our cells. A protein is a long chain of amino acids that must be folded into a specific three-dimensional structure to work. Sometimes, however, they behave incorrectly and aggregate – clump together – into long fibres called amyloids, which can cause diseases. It was previously known that type 2 diabetes is caused by a protein aggregating in the pancreas.<br /><br />“What we’ve found is that exosomes secreted by the cells in the pancreas stop that process in healthy people and protect them from type 2 diabetes, while the exosomes of diabetes patients do not,” says Professor Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, who headed the study whose results were recently published in the <a href="">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS</a>.<br /><br />What we know now is that “healthy” exosomes bind the protein that causes diabetes on the outside, preventing it from aggregating; however, the results do not explain why. We also don’t know if type 2 diabetes is caused by “sick” exosomes or if the disease itself causes them to malfunction.<br /><br />“The next step is to make controlled models of the exosomes, whose membranes contain lipids and proteins, to understand exactly what component affects the diabetes protein. If we can find which lipid or protein in the exosome membrane leads to that effect, and can work out the mechanism, then we’ll have a good target for development of treatment for type 2 diabetes.”<br /><br />The study is actually a part of industrial doctoral student Diana Ribeiro’s thesis work, and a collaboration between Chalmers and Astrazeneca.<br /><br />“She came up with the idea for the project herself,” says Wittung Stafshede, who is also Ribeiro’s academic advisor at Chalmers. “She had done some research on exosomes before and I had read a bit about their potential. It’s a fairly new and unexplored field, and honestly I didn’t think the experiments would work. Diana had access to pancreatic cells through Astrazeneca – something we’d never had access to before – and she conducted the studies very thoroughly, and this led us to our discovery.”<br /><br />This is the first time that Wittung Stafshede has worked with Astrazeneca.<br /><br />“We ought to collaborate more. It’s beneficial to them to understand what molecular experiments we can carry out, and it’s valuable for us to be able to put our research into a wider medical-clinical perspective. In the search for a future cure for type 2 diabetes, it’s also good for us to already be working with a pharmaceutical company.”<br /><br />Read the article in PNAS:<br /><a href="">Extracellular vesicles from human pancreatic islets suppress human islet amyloid polypeptide amyloid formation</a><br /><br />Text: Christian Borg<br />Photo: Anna-Lena LundqvistTue, 24 Oct 2017 10:00:00 +0200 award to Jens Nielsen for biofuels from yeast<p><b>​Professor Jens Nielsen is awarded the prestigious &#39;Energy Frontiers Award&#39; by the Italian oil company ENI for research on the engineering of microorganisms that open new solutions for the production of fuels and chemical products from renewables.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">&quot;It is a very prestigious award to receive. Among the earlier winners are Nobel Prize laureates, and I am extremely proud to receive this prize for the research on how to produce hydrocarbons in yeast,&quot; says Jens Nielsen, professor in systems biology at Chalmers University of Technology.</span><div><br /></div> <div>To create a society that can do without fossil fuels, it is necessary to make it possible to sustainably produce chemicals that can be used as fuel for cars, trucks and aircraft. Biotechnology offers the opportunity to design microorganisms for the production of such chemicals, which can be integrated directly into the existing energy infrastructure of our society. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Professor Jens Nielsen’s research on yeast in renewable fuel and chemical production has shown that through the engineering of the metabolism of baker’s yeast – already used industrially for bioethanol production – it is possible to improve the traditional production process, but also to produce chemicals that can be used as drop-in fuels for use with diesel and jet fuel. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We have succeeded in redirecting the metabolism in yeast so it can produce these new compounds in small scale, suitable for the production of jet fuel and other fuels, but also antibiotics, dietary supplements and other chemicals interesting for the food and life science industry,” says Jens Nielsen.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>A technical-economic analysis has shown that biotechnology-based production of new biofuels could, if developed further, compete with petroleum-based fuels and make a significant contribution to the development of future energy solutions and a more sustainable society, according to the prize jury.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <h5 class="chalmersElement-H5">About the Eni Award</h5> <div>The prestigious ENI Award has been handed out by the Italian oil company ENI since 2007. Reflecting the ongoing energy transition the award is from 2017 given in eight different categories, with focus on research projects aiming at sustainable use of resources, reducing CO2 and promoting natural gas and renewable energy. <a href="">Read more about the Eni Award​</a></div> Tue, 10 Oct 2017 00:00:00 +0200 in the blood prove strong role of food for type 2 diabetes<p><b>​A pioneering method, developed at Chalmers University of Technology, has demonstrated its potential in a large study showing that metabolic fingerprints from blood samples could render important new knowledge on the connection between food and health. The study finds that diet is one of the strongest predictors of type 2 diabetes risk in older women.</b></p>​Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have found that several diet and nutrient biomarkers – molecules that can be measured in blood that are related to diet – are linked with both risk to have type 2 diabetes and future risk of developing diabetes. <p>The study, published in the leading nutrition research journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was carried out on 600 women from Gothenburg where diagnosis of diabetes was made at the start of the study, at their age 64, and again after 5 ½ years.<br /><br /></p> <p>The results underline that diet is an important factor when it comes to risk for developing type 2 diabetes, with fish, whole grains, vegetable oils and good vitamin E status found to be protective against type 2 diabetes, while red meat and saturated fat increased the risk for developing the disease. <br /><br /></p> <p>“What is really important is that we were able to reach these conclusions without having any additional information on diet from the subjects”, said lead author Doctor Otto Savolainen, who works at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science and the Chalmers Mass Spectrometry Infrastructure at Chalmers University of Technology.<br /><br /></p> <p>The blood samples were analysed at Chalmers, where a unique metabolic fingerprint, including many different diet biomarkers, could be linked to each woman at the specific time the sample was taken. Using this method it was possible for the first time to objectively determine the impact of key dietary components on future type 2 diabetes risk, as well as to find differences in dietary patterns between women with and without type 2 diabetes.<br /><br /></p> <p>“Collecting information about diet can be complicated and time consuming, and is always biased by what people remember and think they should report. Dietary biomarkers don’t have this problem, and highlight that dietary recommendations to avoid red meat and saturated fat and increase intake of plant-based oils and whole grains do seem to hold true, at least in this group of women”, says Associate Professor Alastair Ross, responsible senior researcher at Chalmers, at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science.<br /><br /></p> <p>“The new method has allowed us to measure several markers of diet and nutrient status at the same time in a large number of people, which we believe is the first time this has been done”, he says.<br /></p> <p>Although the role of diet is often discussed as a preventative measure for developing type 2 diabetes, this new research provides strong support for dietary guidelines, and underlines the importance of changing diet to improve health. <br /><br /></p> <p>“New methods such as ours will help to improve how we measure diet and understand in more detail how dietary patterns relate to disease”, says Alastair Ross.<br /> <br /><strong>Video: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">We know what you eat!</a></strong><br />See short video on researchers’ new ability to objectively measure what people eat, and the impact this cutting edge technology may have for individuals, researchers and society at large: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">We know what you eat!</a></p> <p><strong><br />More about this research</strong><br />Read the article published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Biomarkers of food intake and nutrient status are associated with glucose tolerance status and development of type 2 diabetes in older Swedish women</a> </p> <br />The study was made in the Diwa cohort (Diabetes and Impaired glucose tolerance in Women and Atherosclerosis), an earlier study run by Björn Fagerberg and Göran Bergström, Institute of Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. <br /><br /><br /><br />Text: Christian Borg<br />Photo: Johan Bodell Thu, 14 Sep 2017 15:00:00 +0200