News: Bioteknikhttp://www.chalmers.se/sv/nyheterNews related to Chalmers University of TechnologyWed, 27 Oct 2021 11:07:16 +0200http://www.chalmers.se/sv/nyheterhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/New-discovery-can-improve-industrial-yeast-strains.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/New-discovery-can-improve-industrial-yeast-strains.aspxNew discovery can improve industrial yeast strains<p><b>​Baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is used industrially to produce a great variety of biochemicals. These biochemicals can be produced from waste material from the agricultural or forest industry (second-generation biomass). During the mechanical and enzymatic degradation of biomass acetic acid is released. Acetic acid inhibits the growth and the biochemical production rate of yeast. Now, researchers at Chalmers have used high-resolution CRISPRi library screening to provide a new understanding of the stress response of yeast, and they found new target genes for the bioengineering of efficient industrial yeast. ​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>“We are presenting a massive dataset that offers an extraordinary resolution of the functional contribution of essential genes in baker’s yeast under acetic acid stress. This was never attempted before,” says Vaskar Mukherjee, researcher at the Division of Industrial Biotechnology at Chalmers, first author of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1128/msystems.00418-21">study​</a>. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Yvonne Nygård is Associate Professor at Chalmers and last author of the study:</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“In the strain library we screened, the expression of all essential genes was altered, something which was very difficult to do before the discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9-technology,” she adds.</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Reduced expression of essential genes using CRISPRi</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) is a powerful tool to study cellular physiology under different growth conditions. With this derivative of the Nobel prize winning CRISPR-Cas9-technology genes are not inserted or deleted, but the regulation of the target gene can be altered. Using CRISPRi technology, the researchers can reduce the expression of the essential genes (i.e., genes that on deletion kills the organism), and thus, reduce the level of the protein encoded by the target gene.  </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“For most of the essential genes, this keeps the organism viable, and we also get to see the functional contribution of that gene at different expression levels under different nutrient or environmental conditions, in this case under acetic acid stress,” says Vaskar Mukherjee.</p> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Proteosomal genes involved in  acidic acid tolerance  ​</span></h2></div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">In the study a CRISPRi library consisting of more than 9,000 yeast strains was used and over 98 per cent of all essential and respiratory growth-essential genes were targeted. The results showed that fine-tuning of the expression of proteasomal genes lead to increased tolerance to acetic acid. The proteosome is protein complexes which degrade redundant or damaged proteins by spending ATP, i.e. an organic compound that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells and particular essential in large amount in yeast cells to cope with acetic acid stress. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The authors proposed that adaptation of proteasomal degradation of oxidized proteins saves ATP and thereby increases acetic acid tolerance. The results are of wide interest, suggesting these genes can be targeted for bioengineering of improved industrial cells. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“Our results allowed us to build rational mechanistic models that expand our current understanding of molecular biology of yeast under acetic acid stress. I am sure our footsteps will be followed by many researchers to screen essential genes under many other different conditions. I believe our dataset will be used by academia or industries to identify novel genetic candidates to bioengineer robust acetic acid tolerant yeast strains,” says Vaskar Mukherjee.”</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">More research on yeast and second-generation biomass</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Currently, the Chalmers’ researchers are working on three different projects where they use similar technologies, among them a project where CRISPRi technology is used to identify novel bioengineering genetic candidates to improve co-utilisation of glucose and xylose during biochemical fermentation using second-generation biomass. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Wild<em> S. cerevisiae</em> cannot metabolize xylose and a xylose utilizing engineered strain of<em> S. cerevisiae</em> prefers glucose over xylose as the primary carbon source. As a result, consumption of xylose is often incomplete in industrial second-generation biochemical fermentation and remains as one of the major bottlenecks for the commercial production of second-generation biochemicals. </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Read the study in mSystems:</strong> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1128/msystems.00418-21">A CRISPR Interference Screen of Essential Genes Reveals that Proteasome Regulation Dictates Acetic Acid Tolerance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae</a></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 /><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Photo: </strong>Martina Butorac</span><span style="background-color:initial;color:rgb(0, 0, 0)">​</span></p> <div> </div>Mon, 18 Oct 2021 07:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Rye-a-better-choice-than-wheat-for-weight-loss.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Rye-a-better-choice-than-wheat-for-weight-loss.aspxRye a better choice than wheat for weight loss<p><b>​Eating whole grain rye products instead of refined wheat alternatives can offer worthwhile health benefits. Researchers at Chalmers​ recently published a study showing that people who ate high-fibre products made from whole grain rye lost more body fat and overall weight than those who ate corresponding products made from refined wheat. </b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P"><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnesp.2021.07.007">​T<span>he new results</span>​</a><span> have been published in the scientific journal Clinical Nutrition. It is the largest study yet designed to evaluate the effects of particular types of grains on body weight and body fat, as well as the first study to focus specifically on rye.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The study included 242 overweight men and women between the ages of 30 and 70 who were randomly assigned carefully adjusted daily amounts of refined wheat or whole grain rye products with the same energy value. All participants also received the same general advice on healthy eating from a dietitian. The participants were examined at the start of the study, halfway through, and at twelve weeks, when the study ended.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/Kia_N_Iversen_foto_martina%20butorac_chalmers_340x400.jpg" alt="Kia Noer Iversen" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:10px 5px;width:240px;height:282px" />“The results were clear ¬ the participants </span><span style="background-color:initial">w</span><span style="background-color:initial">ho received rye products lost more weight overall, and their levels of body fat decreased compared to those who received wheat products,” says Kia Nøhr Iversen, researcher at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science at Chalmers, and lead author of the study, which forms part of her recently presented doctoral dissertation. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Although both the rye and wheat groups lost weight during the study, those who ate rye products lost an average of one kilogram more than those who ate wheat products, with the difference attributable to fat loss.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Opening up for personalized nutrition</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Different people can react to the same foods in different ways, depending on, for example, the particular bacteria present in the gut, and the way they break down. At the Division of Food and Nutrition Science at Chalmers, research is underway into how diet can be better adapted to the individual level, providing precision nutritional advice to yield greater health benefits. The new study offers unique data that can be used to further research in this area.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/LandbergRikard_MB-350.jpg" alt="Rikard Landberg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:10px 5px;width:240px;height:209px" />&quot;​</span><span style="background-color:initial">Although we saw an overall difference in weight loss between the rye and the wheat group, there was also very large variation within those groups. Increasing our understanding of why different people respond differently to the same foods can pave the w</span><span style="background-color:initial">ay for more specifically tailored diets based on individual needs. We are currently investigating whether certain specific bacteria in the intestine might be the explanation behind why some people lost more weight than others who were also on the rye diet,” says <strong>Rikard Landberg,</strong> Professor of Food and Nutrition at Chalmers.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Link to appetite not estab​lished </h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Obesity and excess weight are among the biggest health challenges in the world and require many different measures. One idea is to develop foods that contribute to an increased feeling of fullness and have positive effects on metabolism.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Previous studies have observed that those who eat rye, which has a very high content of dietary fibre, feel more full than those who eat the corresponding amount of energy in the form of refined wheat. One of the purposes of this study was therefore to investigate this potential link between increased intake of rye and weight loss.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“But surprisingly, in this study, we actually never observed any difference in appetite. We think this may be simply because the method we used to measure appetite was not go​od enough. We are therefore working on evaluating and developing the method further,” says Kia Nøhr Iversen.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">In order for a food to be marketed with specific health claims, a series of rigorous studies must be carried out to prove the effect. These studies are costly and represent a barrier to obtaining the scientific evidence needed, making it less attractive in turn for food producers to develop and market products that could contribute to reducing excess weight and obesity. </span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Simple advice for consumers</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“A particularly positive aspect of our study is that the rye products we used are easily attainable in normal supermarkets in Scandinavia and most of Europe. Consumers can therefore act on the new results immediately. It does not require particular effort or dedication to have a diet rich in whole grain rye”, says Kia Nøhr Iversen.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The researchers caution that there is more work needed before they can show in detail exactly what mechanisms determine why whole grain rye is good for weight loss at the individual level. But the results of the new study already demonstrate a causal link between rye intake and weight loss through fat reduction, and studies to determine the mechanisms behind this link are already under way. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“As we continue to look for the exact reasons why, our advice is to choose the rye bread instead of the sifted wheat bread,” says Kia Nøhr Iversen.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>More detailed info about the research</strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li>The scientific article <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnesp.2021.07.007">‘A hypocaloric diet rich in high fibre rye foods causes greater reduction in body weight and body fat than a diet rich in refined wheat: A parallel randomized controlled trial in adults with overweight and obesity (the RyeWeight study)’</a> has been published in Clinical Nutrition. It was was written by Kia Nøhr Iversen, Frida Carlsson, Agneta Andersson, Ulf Risérus, Per M. Hellström and Rikard Landberg. The researchers are active at Chalmers and Uppsala University. ​</li> <li>242 males and females classified as overweight or obese, aged 30–70 years, were randomised to consume high fiber rye products or refined wheat products for 12 weeks, while adhering to a hypocaloric diet. They were examined at week 0, week 6 and week 12, with measurements taken including body weight and body composition, collection of blood samples and evaluation of subjective appetite.</li> <li>After 12 weeks the participants in the rye group had lost 1.08 kilo body weight and 0.54 per cent body fat more than the wheat group. There were no consistent group differences on subjective appetite.</li> <li>The main funder of the research project is Formas. Two companies have contributed with products and support for certain analysis.  </li></ul> ​<strong>Text:</strong> Susanne Nilsson Lindh and Mia Halleröd Palmgren<br /><strong>Translation:</strong> Joshua Worth<br /><strong>Photo:</strong> Martina Butorac<p></p> <div> ​</div>Tue, 12 Oct 2021 07:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Hasselblad-Foundation-awards-nanomedicine-research-.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Hasselblad-Foundation-awards-nanomedicine-research-.aspxHasselblad Foundation awards nanomedicine research <p><b>​Alexandra Stubelius, Assistant Professor in chemical biology at Chalmers, is awarded the Hasselblad Foundation grant to female researchers for her research on immunomodulating nano-therapeutics.“I am honoured to be awarded this grant. It is of great importance to find new solutions to medical issues that affect so many people, and this award helps me to continue with my research,&quot; says Alexandra Stubelius.</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>The Hasselblad Foundation annually awards two female researchers at Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg, GU, a grant of 1 million SEK each. This year’s grant is awarded Alexandra Stubelius at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers and Carolina Guibentif, GU, whose research focus is on mammalian developmental hematopoiesis and leukemia, using single-cell profiling.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Develops nanomedicines​</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Alexandra Stubelius</span><span style="background-color:initial">' research is about developing so-called nanomedicines to better treat diseases such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, and fatty liver, which all get worse from inflammation and which affect millions of people around the world. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“The immune system is complex and ​controls many important functions in the body. New nanomaterials allow us to affect many functions simultaneously in a smarter way than today's more blunt systems. The immune system is really smart but sometimes needs some extra help,” says Alexandra Stubelius.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Intelligent therapies ​</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">An overactive immune system can attack the body’s own tissues, causing both allergies and chronic diseases. The most common anti-inflammatory drugs used today inhibit all immune functions – even the good defence mechanism and need to be used at high doses. These high doses result in side effects on other organs.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“In order to use the immune system optimally, more intelligent therapies, that can direct the drugs to the right area, at the right concentration, and at the right time, are needed,” says Alexandra Stubelius. </span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Three different strategies​</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Alexandra Stubelius explains that her team uses three different strategies to develop smarter nanomedicines.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">First, they develop new materials, nanovesicles, that can carry existing anti-inflammatory drugs. The materials are designed to target the inflammation and deliver the drugs without damaging the surrounding tissue. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The second strategy is to create nanomaterials that can modulate the immune system. The nanomaterial acts as active substance that affects the immune response.  </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“With this method, we can fight inflammation in a new way. We aim to interfere with the communication signals of immune cells already in the blood stream. This inhibits more immune cells to be recruited to the affected tissue and prevents the inflammation from getting worse.”</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial">The third strategy is based on the discovery that the immune system not only defends out bodies, but also heals damaged tissue. The researchers examine which components that affects the immune cells in the healing process. The identified components can then be used to continue develop smarter materials for more specific immune-regulating therapies.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“The grant I have been awarded by the Hasselblad Foundation will mainly go towards hiring a postdoc that can help me achieve my goal of smarter immunotherapies,&quot; says Alexandra Stubelius.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Text: </strong>Susanne Nilsson Lindh<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Photo:</strong> Hasselblad Foundation </span><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>More about: </strong></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="/en/departments/bio/research/chemical_biology/Stubelius-lab/Pages/default.aspx">Alexandra Stubelius research</a><br /></span></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="https://www.hasselbladfoundation.org/wp/naturvetenskaplig-projekt/female-scientists/?lang=en"><span>The Hasselblad Foundation grant for female scientis</span>ts</a><br /></span></li></ul> <p></p> <div> </div> <div>​<br /></div> <div> </div>Thu, 30 Sep 2021 08:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Enzyme-researcher-joins-the-Young-Academy-of-Sweden.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Enzyme-researcher-joins-the-Young-Academy-of-Sweden.aspxEnzyme researcher joins the Young Academy of Sweden<p><b>​Johan Larsbrink, Associate Professor in molecular enzymology at Chalmers, is elected one of eight new members of the Young Academy of Sweden.  </b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>&quot;It feels great and I am honored to have been elected. I see it as a possibility to influence the conditions for young researchers in Sweden. It is also a good opportunity to get to know other researchers around the country from completely different research areas,&quot; says Johan Larsbrink. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The <a href="https://www.sverigesungaakademi.se/en-GB/1.html">Young Academy of Sweden​</a> (YAS) is an independent academy which bring young researchers together and provides a </span><span style="background-color:initial">platform </span><span style="background-color:initial">to influence current and future research policy and create new, and unexpected, interdisciplinary collaborations. YAS also aims to spread knowledge and influence society at large. Among other things, the academy’s work is focused on inspiring and educating children and young people.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">&quot;Like all members of YAS, I will contribute with my own experiences and perspectives. The academy is very dynamic, so there are good opportunities to spark new</span><span style="background-color:initial"> ideas,&quot; says Johan Larsbrink.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Enzymes that degrade biomass and dietary fiber</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">His research at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering is about enzymes that various microorganisms use to break down biomass and use it as nutrition. Biomass degradation is an important step in the production of biofuels. Increased understanding of these enzymes can provide more efficient processes and more sustainable fuel production.  </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Johan Larsbrink's research group also study gut bacteria that break down dietary fiber, in order to give a better understanding in how different diets benefit different species in the gut. Some of the enzymes studied could also be used as antimicrobials, by breaking down the protective barriers surrounding harmful microorganisms.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Look forward to </span>interdisciplinary collaborations</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The members of YAS are elected for five years and there are currently 38 members in the academy.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">”We take huge pleasure in welcoming new members, the number of applicants this year was record high. We look forward to unleashing our energy on new activities together,” says chair Sebastian Westenhoff in a press release from YAS.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">&quot;With the number of applicants, it of course feels very special to have been elected. I applied because I have heard of many positive things about YAS. I now look forward to working with committed people at a similar stage in their careers – but from different research fields,&quot; says Johan Larsbrink.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Focus on researchers' conditions and transparent supervision</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">On his agenda is, among other things, the different conditions for researcher at different universities. For example, the proportion of research grants that can fund the research project and what amount that must cover other costs at the university . </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">&quot;I also think it is important that we strive for a better and more transparent follow-up of supervision, which is typically a very important part of the doctoral education,&quot; says Johan Larsbrink, who was named <a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Larsbrink-research-supervisor-of-the-year-2019.aspx">Researcher Supervisor of the Year</a> at Chalmers 2019.</p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Read more about Johan Larsbrink's research:</strong></span><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Biodiversity-in-Vietnam-leads-the-industry-forward.aspx">Biodiversity in Vietnam leads the industry forward​</a><br /></li> <li><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Unique-enzymes-help-gut-bacteria-compete-for-food.aspx">Unique enzymes help gut bacteria compete for food</a></li></ul> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong style="background-color:initial">Also read: </strong><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li><a href="/en/research/our-scientists/Pages/The-Young-Academy-of-Sweden.aspx">Chalmers Scientists in The Young Academy of Sweden​</a></li></ul> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Text:</strong> Susanne Nilsson Lindh<br /></span><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Photo</strong>: Martina Butorac</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p>Fri, 24 Sep 2021 07:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/energy/news/Pages/Areas-of-Advance-Award-for-a-method-that-enables-full-development-of-RNA-based-medicines.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/energy/news/Pages/Areas-of-Advance-Award-for-a-method-that-enables-full-development-of-RNA-based-medicines.aspxAwarded for a method that enables full development of RNA-based medicines<p><b>​RNA-based therapeutics had their big breakthrough as a Covid vaccine. But in order to also be able to cure cancer and other diseases, a refined technology is needed that increases the uptake of RNA into the cell. Elin Esbjörner and Marcus Wilhelmsson have led a research team that has developed a method that facilitates this development. For this, they now receive the Areas of Advance Award.</b></p>​<img src="/en/areas-of-advance/energy/news/PublishingImages/A_A_Elin-Esbjorner_2.jpg" alt="Elin Esbjörner " class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:5px" /><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>They are from different research areas</strong>, but have shared lunch rooms for many years.</span><div>” We have talked for a long time about collaboration to test if Marcus' fluorescent short <span style="background-color:initial">RN</span><span style="background-color:initial">A could be used in live cells but have never had a platform for it. In 2017, we, together with other researcher at Chalmers and other Swedish universities, received a large research grant that made it possible,” s</span><span style="background-color:initial">ays Elin Esbjörner, associate professor at the Department of Biology and </span><span style="background-color:initial">Bio</span><span style="background-color:initial">locical</span><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial"> Engineering</span><span style="background-color:initial">.</span></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>The FoRmulaEx research center</strong> was formed and a goal was set - if everything went well, they would have a method to produce fluorescent mRNA within six years.</div> <div>It took three.</div> <div>“mRNA is a molecule that assist in translating the genetic code to protein. It is used in Covid vaccines, but it also has great promise for cancer vaccines and to treat different types of genetic diseases. The potential is huge. But for this to work, these large and fragile molecules must become better at getting into the cells and reach their target. The functional uptake into the cells today is at best a few percent.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong><img src="/en/areas-of-advance/energy/news/PublishingImages/A-A_Marcus-Wilhelmsson_I0A4104.jpg" alt="Marcus Wilhelmsson" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" style="margin:5px" />This is where the fluorescent mRNA comes in</strong>. Marcus Wilhelmsson, professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, explains that it behaves like a natural mRNA, even though one of RNA’s own building-blocks here is replaced by a corresponding fluorescent building-block that has been developed by the team.</div> <div>“In this way you can follow mRNA molecules into the cell and see how they are taken up. The method makes it easier for the pharmaceutical industry and academic research groups to accelerate the development of mRNA medicines,” says Marcus Wilhelmsson.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>To ensure that the method is utilized, the researchers have submitted a couple of patent applications and with the support of Chalmers Ventures and Chalmers Innovation Office, a company is being started up.</div> <div>“We are currently looking for a business developer and in a few weeks, the company will be up and running.”<br /><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>So how long can it take before</strong> the new technology can be on the market?</div> <div>“The fluorescent building block could be on the market within a year. Skilled labs around the world could use it to do their own investigations. A kit for the entire technology, which includes information about the production of the long mRNA strand, may take two years, says Marcus Wilhelmsson.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The method has already received a lot of attention, not least since the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) selected the project and the innovation for its annual 100 list. The Areas of Advance Award is another recognition that the results of their research which has also been done in collaboration with AstraZeneca, makes a difference.<br /><br /></div> <span style="background-color:initial"><strong>“Sweden is not known</strong> for having many academic prizes, so it is nice to get that attention. It´s an honor, especially when you think about the talented people who have received the award before. We are very proud”</span><div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Related:</strong><br /><a href="/en/centres/FoRmulaEx/Pages/default.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />The FoRmulaEx research center</a><br /><br />Text: Lars Nicklasson</span>​</div> ​Wed, 15 Sep 2021 17:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/In-memory-of-Stefan-Hohmann.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/In-memory-of-Stefan-Hohmann.aspxIn memory of Stefan Hohmann<p><b>Professor Stefan Hohmann passed away on 2 July 2021 at the age of 64. He is most closely missed by his wife Dorothea, their four children and grandchild. Stefan Hohmann was Head of the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering for five years, and he was one of the European pioneers of yeast genetics and molecular biology.​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P"><span><strong>Professor Stefan Hohmann</strong></span><span> did his PhD study at University of Darmstadt followed by a post doc at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He then continued his European journey to Gothenburg, where he ended up spending the rest of his career. In Gothenburg he had a very strong influence on the yeast and systems biology research community. Shortly after his arrival to Sweden, Stefan was appointed as Forskningsprofessor based on a prestigious grant from Vetenskapsrådet. Shortly after he was appointed as Professor at Gothenburg University, where he played an instrumental role in gathering a number of young yeast researchers and establish a very strong yeast research environment, impressive both by the breadth and the depth of competences. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>​Even today, more</strong> </span><span style="background-color:initial">than 25 years after Stefan’s arrival to Gothenburg, we still see a strong and thriving research environment on yeast genetics, molecular biology, systems biology and metabolic engineering, thanks to the seeds of science and leadership that Stefan planted. The research environment he leaves behind at both Gothenburg University and Chalmers is one of his significant legacies.</span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Stefan’s research was</strong> focused on osmotic stress in yeast, which is important for industrial use of yeast in the production of beer, wine, and bioethanol. Many of his scientific discoveries have had a significant impact on the field and have resulted in improved industrial use of yeast. Stefan’s impact on the research community, however, reaches wide outside his scientific contributions. He was an active editor of several journals, and he chaired several large international conferences in Gothenburg, including the 2003 International Conference on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology, the 2008 International Conference on Systems Biology and the 2010 FEBS conference, all with more than 1000 participants.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Besides serving his </strong>community with science, Stefan also gave his time and talent to serving as a leader. He was for several years Deputy Dean for the Natural Science Faculty at GU and in 2015 he was recruited as Head of Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, a position he held until he had to step down due to his illness. During his tenure the department grew, in terms of faculty, international profile, and internal strength. Stefan was a constant visionary, looking ahead on how the department could further strengthen its profile and international standing.</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Besides being respected</strong> for his science and leadership, Stefan was appreciated for his integrity, humor, love of his family and their animals, love for Africa, good wines and football. In his love for football Stefan showed not only the love of the game but also his caring personality, as coach within Lerum IS and goalkeeper coach within IFK Göteborg’s Football Academy, a “hobby” that he took greatly to his heart. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Stefan was a</strong> caring, engaged, dedicated and loving person and we will all miss him tremendously, for his science, his leadership, his friendship, his humanity, and his humor. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Professor Jens Nielsen<br /></strong><strong style="background-color:initial">Professor Lisbeth Olsson <br /></strong><strong style="background-color:initial">Professor Fredrik Westerlund<br /></strong><strong style="background-color:initial">Professor Rikard Landberg<br /></strong><strong style="background-color:initial">Dr. Thomas Svensson</strong></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> ​</p>Wed, 08 Sep 2021 08:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Graphene-binds-drugs-which-kill-bacteria-on-implants.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Graphene-binds-drugs-which-kill-bacteria-on-implants.aspxGraphene binds drugs which kill bacteria on implants<p><b>​Bacterial infections relating to medical implants place a huge burden on healthcare and cause great suffering to patients worldwide. Now, researchers at Chalmers, have developed a new method to prevent such infections, by covering a graphene-based material with bactericidal molecules. </b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​​<img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/SysBio/Santosh_Pandit_340x400px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Santosh Pandit" style="margin:5px 10px;width:240px;height:282px" /><span>“Through our research, we have succeeded in binding water-insoluble antibacterial molecules to the graphene, and having the molecules release in a controlled, continuous manner from the material. This is an essential requirement for the method to work. The way in which we bind the active molecules to the graphene is also very simple, and could be easily integrated into industrial processes,” explains <strong>Santosh Pandit</strong>, researcher at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, and first author of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89452-5">study which was recently published in Scientific Reports​</a>.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Certain bacteria can form impenetrable surface layers, or ‘biofilms’, on surgical implants, such as dental and other orthopaedic implants, and represent a major problem for healthcare globally. Biofilms are more resistant than other bacteria, and the infections are therefore often difficult to treat, leading to great suffering for patients, </span><span style="background-color:initial">and in the worst cases, necessitating removal or replacement of the implants. In addition to the effects on patients, this entails large costs for healthcare providers.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Graphene is suitable as an attachment material​<br /></span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">There are a variety of water-insoluble, or h</span><span style="background-color:initial">ydrophobic, drugs and molecules that can be used for their antibacterial properties, but in order for them to be used in the body, they must be attached to a material, which can be difficult and labour intensive to manufacture.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“Graphene offers great potential here for interaction with hydrophobic molecules or drugs, and when we created our new material, we made use of these properties. The process of binding the antibacterial molecules takes place with the help of ultrasound,” says Santosh Pandit.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">In the study, the graphene material was covered with usnic acid, which is extracted from lichens, for example fruticose lichen. Previous research has shown that usnic acid has good bactericidal properties. It works by preventing bacteria from forming nucleic acids, especially inhibiting of RNA synthesis, and thus blocking protein production in the cell. Usnic acid was tested for its resistance to the pathogenic bacteria <em>Staphylococcus aureus</em> and <em>Staphylococcus epidermidis</em>, two common culprits for biofilm formation on medical implants.  </span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Simple method paves way for future drugs</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The researchers’ new material displayed a number of promising properties. In addition to successful results for integrating the usnic acid into the surface of the graphene material, they also observed that the usnic acid molecules were released in a controlled and continuous manner, thus preventing the formation of biofilms on the surface. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“Even more importantly, our results show that the method for binding the hydrophobic molecules to graphene is simple. It paves the way for more effective antibacterial protection of biomedical products in the future. We are now planning trials where we will explore binding other hydrophobic molecules and drugs with even greater potential to treat or prevent various clinical infections,” says Santosh Pandit.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>More about the study</strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li>Read the full scientific article <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89452-5">Sustained release of usnic acid from graphene coatings ensures long term antibiotic film protection </a></li> <li>The research project is run by <a href="/en/departments/bio/research/systems-biology/mijakovic-lab/Pages/default.aspx">Professor Ivan Mijakovic's group</a> at the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at Chalmers University of Technology and is funded by Formas and the Swedish Research Council.</li></ul> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div><strong>Text: </strong>Susanne Nilsson Lindh &amp; Joshua Worth<br /><strong>Illustration:</strong> Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers<br /><strong>Photo (Santosh Pandit):</strong> Johan Bodell/Chalmers</div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><strong>Read more: </strong></div> <div><ul><li><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Graphite-nanoplatelets-on-medical-devices-prevent-infections-.aspx">Graphite nanoplatelets prevent infections</a></li> <li><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></li></ul></div></div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div>Mon, 09 Aug 2021 07:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/materials/news/Pages/Protein-structure-at-atomic-level.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/materials/news/Pages/Protein-structure-at-atomic-level.aspxProtein structure at atomic level<p><b>​During his first period as a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Martin Andersson and his research team were the first in the world to analyze tissue using an atom probe. He is now developing a method of determining the exact structure of proteins using the same tool. This may open new doors in drug development.</b></p><a href="https://kaw.wallenberg.org/en/research/protein-structure-atomic-level"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />​Re​ad the interview with Martin Andersson on kaw.wallenberg.org</a>Thu, 22 Jul 2021 00:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/chem/news/Pages/Breakthrough-fortracking-RNA-with-fluorescence-.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/chem/news/Pages/Breakthrough-fortracking-RNA-with-fluorescence-.aspxBreakthrough for tracking RNA with fluorescence<p><b>​Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have succeeded in developing a method to label mRNA molecules, and thereby follow, in real time, their path through cells, using a microscope – without affecting their properties or subsequent activity. The breakthrough could be of great importance in facilitating the development of new RNA-based medicines.</b></p><div>RNA-based therapeutics offer a range of new opportunities to prevent, treat and potentially cure diseases. But currently, the delivery of RNA therapeutics into the cell is inefficient. For new therapeutics to fulfil their potential, the delivery methods need to be optimised. Now, a new method, recently presented in the highly regarded Journal of the American Chemical Society, can provide an important piece of the puzzle of overcoming these challenges and take the development a major step forward.<img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Marcus%20Wilhelmsson%20spåra%20RNA%20i%20celler/Marcus%20Wilhelmsson_320x320.jpg" alt="" style="height:189px;width:189px;margin:5px" /><br /></div> <div> </div> <div>&quot;Since our method can help solve one of the biggest problems for drug discovery and development, we see<br />that this research can facilitate a paradigm shift from traditional drugs to RNA-based therapeutics,&quot; says Marcus Wilhelmsson, Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, and one of the main authors of the article. </div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Making mRNA fluorescent without affecting its natural activity</h2> <div>The research behind the method has been done in collaboration with chemists and biologists at Chalmers and the biopharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca, through their joint research centre, <a href="/en/centres/FoRmulaEx/Pages/default.aspx">FoRmulaEx</a>, as well as a research group at the Pasteur Institute, Paris.</div> <div> </div> <div>The method involves replacing one of the building blocks of RNA with a fluorescent variant, which, apart from that feature, maintains the natural properties of the original base. The fluorescent units have been developed with the help of a special chemistry, and the researchers have shown that it can then be used to produce messenger RNA (mRNA), without affecting the mRNA’s ability to be translated into a protein at natural speed. This represents a breakthrough which has never before been done successfully. The fluorescence furthermore allows the researchers to follow functional mRNA molecules in real time, seeing how they are taken up into cells with the help of a microscope.</div> <div> </div> <div>A challenge when working with mRNA is that the molecules are very large and charged, but at the same time fragile. They cannot get into cells directly and must therefore be packaged. The method that has proven most successful to date uses very small droplets known as lipid nanoparticles to encapsulate the mRNA. There is still a great need to develop new and more efficient lipid nanoparticles – something which the Chalmers researchers are also working on. To be able to do that, it is necessary to understand how mRNA is taken up into cells. The ability to monitor, in real time, how the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA are distributed through the cell is therefore an important tool.</div> <div> <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Marcus%20Wilhelmsson%20spåra%20RNA%20i%20celler/Elin%20Esbjorner%20320x320.jpg" width="320" height="194" alt="" style="height:181px;width:181px;margin:5px" /></div> <div>“The great benefit of this method is that we can now easily see where in the cell the delivered mRNA goes, <br /><br />and in which cells the protein is formed, without losing RNA's natural protein-translating ability,” says Elin Esbjörner, Associate Professor at the Department for Biology and Biotechnology and the second lead author of the article.</div> <div><div> </div></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Crucial information for optimising drug discovery</h2> <div>Researchers in this area can use the method to gain greater knowledge of how the uptake process works, thus accelerating and streamlining the new medicines’ discovery process. The new method provides more accurate and detailed knowledge than current methods for studying RNA under a microscope.</div> <div> </div> <div>“Until now, it has not been possible to measure the natural rate and efficiency with which RNA acts in the cell. This means that you get the wrong answers to the questions you ask when trying to develop a new drug. For example, if you want an answer to what rate a process takes place at, and your method gives you an answer that is a fifth of the correct, drug discovery becomes difficult,” explains Marcus Wilhelmsson.</div> <div> </div> <div>On the way to utilisation – directly into IVA’s top 100 list</div> <div> </div> <div>When the researchers realised what a difference their method could make and how important the new knowledge is for the field, they made their results available as quickly as possible. Recently, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) included the project in its annual 100 list and also highlighted it as particularly important for increasing societal resilience to crises. To ensure useful commercialisation of the method, the researchers have submitted a patent application and are planning for a spin-off company, with the support of the business incubator Chalmers Ventures and the Chalmers Innovation Office.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2021/04/05/watching-mrna-do-its-thing-in-living-cells">The research was also featured in the academic journal Science Translational Medicine's popular &quot;In The Pipeline&quot; blog as a particularly exciting contribution to the field of research</a></div> <div> </div> <div><a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jacs.1c00014">Read the scientific article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS)</a></div> <div> </div> <div>For more information, contact:</div> <div> </div> <div>Marcus Wilhelmsson, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, <span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space:nowrap">+46 31 722 3051<a title="Ring: +46 31 722 3051" href="#" style="overflow:hidden;border-width:medium;border-style:none;border-color:initial;height:16px;width:16px;vertical-align:middle;white-space:nowrap;float:none;margin:0px;display:inline;position:static !important"><img title="Ring: +46 31 722 3051" alt="" style="overflow:hidden;border-width:medium;border-style:none;border-color:initial;height:16px;width:16px;vertical-align:middle;white-space:nowrap;float:none;margin:0px;display:inline;position:static !important" /></a></span>, marcus.wilhelmsson@chalmers.se</div> <div> </div> <div>Elin Esbjörner, Associate Professor, Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Chalmers University of Technology, <span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space:nowrap">+46 21-772 51 20<a title="Ring: +46 21-772 51 20" href="#" style="overflow:hidden;border-width:medium;border-style:none;border-color:initial;height:16px;width:16px;vertical-align:middle;white-space:nowrap;float:none;margin:0px;display:inline;position:static !important"><img title="Ring: +46 21-772 51 20" alt="" style="overflow:hidden;border-width:medium;border-style:none;border-color:initial;height:16px;width:16px;vertical-align:middle;white-space:nowrap;float:none;margin:0px;display:inline;position:static !important" /></a></span>, eline@chalmers.se</div> ​​Wed, 30 Jun 2021 08:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Versatile-enzymes-prevent-protein-aggregation.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Versatile-enzymes-prevent-protein-aggregation.aspxVersatile enzymes prevent protein aggregation<p><b>​Peroxiredoxin enzymes slow down aging in yeast, worms, fruit flies and mice. Researchers at Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg have compiled current research on how the enzymes function as molecular chaperones, proteins that help other proteins retain their shape. The chaperone function is central in aging since misfolded proteins that aggregate cause neurodegenerative diseases and other diseases.</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>Many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, are characterised by protein aggregation, clumps of misfolded proteins. Currently these diseases cannot be cured, and the mechanisms causing them are not yet fully understood. Cells mobilise, however, so-called chaperones, important proteins that can prevent other proteins from misfolding and clumping together into aggregates. Some chaperones are known to also break up aggregates.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span></span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif">&quot;Thorough investigation to look at chaperon function&quot;​</h2> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">By carefully scrutinising a handful of studies from several different projects around the world, researchers at the Departments of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers and the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine at the University of Gothenburg, have compiled data on the chaperone function of peroxiredoxins in various organisms.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">​“We have made a thorough investigation to lo<span>ok at what characterises this 'new' and relatively uncharacterised function of peroxiredoxins at the molecular and structural level. In this review we spotted great similarities, but also important differences to previously known chaperones,” says Mikael Molin, researcher in systems biology at Chalmers.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Two molecule structure exposes necessary surfaces<span><br /></span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">A certain type of molecular chaperones, so called small heat-shock proteins, can change their shape in a controlled fashion. So do the peroxiredoxins. Under normal conditions, 10 enzyme molecules associate to form a ring. However, under certain conditions, two rings can assemble into oligomers containing 20 molecules. Previous studies have linked these double rings to the chaperone function.</span><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“In our review, we could see that the formation of double ring structures is not enough to induce the chaperone function. Instead, data from both our own research and that of others, suggest that the double rings must also fall apart, into multiple structures containing only two molecules. These structures may expose surfaces that are needed to bind other proteins and to prevent them from aggregating,” says Mikael Molin.</span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">In the short term, Mikael Molin believes that this provides ideas for new hypotheses about how the peroxiredoxins could slow down neurodegenerative diseases and aging. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">In the long term, this research can generate knowledge that could be used in drug development or the development of biomarkers that with higher precision will find dietary and lifestyle factors stimulating healthy aging (i.e. free from dementia and cancer).</span></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Text: </strong>Susanne Nilsson Lindh</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>More about the chaperon function</strong></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong> </strong></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <ul><li>In terms of structure and function peroxiredoxins mostly resemble the small heat-shock proteins (Hsp), a class of small chaperones that carry out important functions under heat-stress </li> <li>In terms of function chaperones can be divided into holdases and foldases. Holdases bind unfolded parts of proteins and prevent them from sticking together, while foldases use energy from the cells’ energy currency ATP in different ways to counteract protein aggregation.</li> <li>Similar to some small heat-shock proteins peroxiredoxins assemble into oligomers that have been associated to chaperone activity. They can also, like holdase chaperones, bind unfolded parts of proteins and in this way prevent them from aggregating.</li> <li>Dissociation of the high molecular weight peroxiredoxin oligomers seems to be necessary for efficient resolution of aggregated proteins and dissociation is linked to the function of an ATP-dependent enzyme called sulfiredoxin. Further studies are, however, necessary to ascertain the exact structural changes involved in the function of peroxiredoxins as chaperones. </li></ul> <br /><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>R</strong></span><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>ead the scientific article: </strong></span><span></span><strong><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.str.2021.04.007">Structural determinants of multimerization and dissociation in 2-Cys peroxiredoxin chaperone function</a></strong><div><b><br /></b><strong><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.str.2021.04.007"></a></strong><div><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);background-color:initial"><strong>Read more: </strong><strong><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Cell-ageing-can-be-slowed-by-oxidants.aspx">Cell aging can be slowed down by oxidants</a></strong></span><br /><ul> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> </ul> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p></div></div>Wed, 23 Jun 2021 11:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Dipping-solution-turns-the-whole-fish-into-food.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Dipping-solution-turns-the-whole-fish-into-food.aspxNew dipping solution turns the whole fish into food<p><b>​​When herring are filleted, more than half their weight becomes a low-value ‘side stream’ that never reaches our plates – despite being rich in protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Now, scientists from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have developed a special dipping solution, with ingredients including rosemary extract and citric acid, which can significantly extend the side streams’ shelf life, and increase the opportunities to use them as food.  ​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>Techniques for upgrading these side-streams to food products such as minces, protein isolates, hydrolysates and oils are already available today, and offer the chance to reduce the current practices of using them for animal feed, or, in the worst cases, simply throwing them away. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">However, the big challenge is that the unsaturated fatty acids found in fish are very sensitive to oxidative degradation, meaning that the quality starts to decrease after just a few hours. This results in an unpleasant taste, odour, colour and texture </span><span style="background-color:initial">in the final product. The reason why side stream parts from the fish such as backbones and heads are so sensitive is because they are rich in blood, which in turn contains the protein haemoglobin, which accelerates the fatty acid degradation process.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Solution including rosemary and citric acid </span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/Ingrid%20Undeland_I0A0740_350x305.jpg" alt="Photo od Ingrid Undeland" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:5px;width:250px;height:218px" />“Our new technology offers a valuable window of time for the producer, where the side-streams remain fresh for longer, and can be stored or transported before being upgraded into various food ingredients,” explains<strong> Ingrid Undeland</strong>, Professor of Food Science at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The new technology is based on a dipping solution containing ingredients including for example rosemary extract and citric acid. Within the frame of a European project called WaSeaBi, and together with colleagues Haizhou Wu and Mursalin Sajib, Ingrid Undeland recently published a scientific study exploring the possibilities of the method.  </span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Recycling the solution up to ten times</span></h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The results showed that dipping the side stream parts from the herring filleting process into the solution, prior to storage, significantly extended the time before rancidity developed. At 20 degrees, the storage time could be extended from less than half a day to more than 3 and a half days, and at 0 degrees, from less than 1 day to more than 11 days.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“And because the dipping solution covers the surface of side stream parts with a thin layer of antioxidants, these are carried over to the next stage of the process, providing more high-quality minces, protein or oil ingredients,” explains Ingrid Undeland.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">To make the technology cost-effective, the possibility of re-using the solution was also investigated. Results showed that even after reusing the solution up to 10 times, rancidity was completely inhibited at 0 °C. In addition, it was found that the solution kept the fish haemoglobin in a form that was more stable and less reactive with the fatty acids, which the researchers believe explains the decrease in oxidation.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Photo of Ingrid Undeland:</strong> Anna-Lena Lundqvist/Chalmers</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> <span><strong>More on the study, and the possibilities of side-streams </strong></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li>The study, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2021.107963">Controlling hemoglobin-mediated lipid oxidation in herring (<em>Clupea harengus</em>) co-products via incubation or dipping in a recyclable antioxidant solution</a>, was published with open access in the journal Food Control. </li> <li>It was based on herring side-streams from Sweden Pelagic, however, results obtained with dipping of cod-side streams from Royal Greenland also confirm that rosemary-based antioxidant mixtures are good at protecting against oxidation. This means that the solution can be used to prevent rancidity of different kinds of fish side-streams.</li> <li>Examples of valuable side streams from fish include, for example, the backbones and heads, which are rich in muscle and therefore suitable for fish mince or pr<span style="background-color:initial">otein ingredients. As the belly flap and intestines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they can be used for oil production. The tail fin has a lot of skin, bones and connective tissue and is therefore well suited for, for example, the production of marine collagen, which is a much sought-after ingredient on the market right now. In addition to food, marine collagen is also used in cosmetics and ‘nutraceuticals’ with documented good effects on the health of our joints and skin.</span></li></ul> <br /><p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>About the project</strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <ul><li><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="https://www.waseabi.eu/">WaSeaBi ​</a>is a four-year project that aims to optimise the utilisation of seafood side-streams by developing new methods to produce nutritious and tasty ingredients. The project brings together an interdisciplinary team of 13 partners from five European nations which include Technical University of Denmark, Food &amp; Bio Cluster Denmark, Chalmers University of Technology, AZTI, EIT Food, Sweden Pelagic, Royal Greenland, Alfa Laval, Pescados Marcelino, Jeka Fish, Barna, Nutrition Sciences, Ghent University</span></li> <li>The project receives funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837726. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Bio Based Industries Consortium. </li></ul> <div><strong>Read more: </strong><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/More-of-the-catch-to-end-up-on-the-plate.aspx">More of the catch to end up on the plate​</a><br /> <p></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div><br /></div></div>Thu, 10 Jun 2021 08:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Monitoring-mRNA-to-time-its-great-escape-perfectly.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Monitoring-mRNA-to-time-its-great-escape-perfectly.aspxMonitoring mRNA to time its great escape perfectly<p><b>​​The ease by which mRNA-based drugs are taken up by cells in tissues is crucial to their therapeutic effectiveness. Now, a new detection method developed by researchers at Chalmers and AstraZeneca could lead to faster and better development of the small droplets known as lipid nanoparticles, which are the main method used to package mRNA for delivery to the cells.​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P"><span><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/ChemBio/michael.munson@astrazeneca.com-001350x305.jpg" alt="Photo of Michael Munson" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:5px;width:250px;height:218px" />“We have developed an automated process to monitor and test large numbers of different lipid nanoparticles simultaneously, which we hope will streamline the development of new medicines,” says <strong>Michael Munson</strong>, Postdoctoral Fellow at AstraZeneca R&amp;D, who is affiliated to the research centre FoRmulaEx, and is the first author of the study that was recently published in the journal Nature Communications Biology.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span>Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is the code used by cells to produce proteins. When it is introduced as a drug or a vaccine, it is interpreted by the cells as a set of instructions, to then use their own systems to produce the desired proteins.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">mRNA-based technologies are</span><span style="background-color:initial"> being explored for their potential to help treat chronic diseases in various ways, such as by encoding therapeutic proteins, and potentially be tailored for specific tissues, for example to replace incorrect proteins or regulate cellular malfunctions that cause disease.</span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>mRNA molecules are packed into lipid nanoparticles ​</span></h2> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span>But the</span><span>re are several major challenges associated with this new technology. First, the cells must be ‘tricked’ into taking in the mRNA molecules. One of the most advanced ways of doing this is to pack the mRNA into a small droplet, known as a lipid nanoparticle. The nanoparticles enter cells in a large bubble called an endosome, which transports its contents to the cell's ‘lysosomes’, or degradation stations. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span>The lipid nanoparticles containing the mRNA must exit the endosome at just the right moment, to reach the cell's cytoplasm, where the proteins are made, before the endosome reaches the degradation station. Otherwise, the mRNA will break down and no longer be able to work. This vital step is called ‘endosomal escape’ and timing it correctly is the most decisive factor for mRNA-based medicines to work. </span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Tracking the escape</span></h2> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The new study describes a method that the researchers developed to screen lipid nanoparticles for optimization of mRNA delivery. The method makes it possible to monitor the cell uptake, endosomal escape and delivery of mRNA in hundreds of samples at a time. To achiev​e this, the researchers combined fluorescence reporters to track the movement of the lipid nanoparticles through the cell, for protein expression and the endosomal escape events. The endosomal escape marker consists of a fluorescent variant of the protein Galectin-9 which accumulates at ruptured endosomes and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15300-1">was adapted from work published by a research group in Lund​</a>.</p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“Instead of just seeing which lipid nanoparticles work best, we can now also understand what makes them work optimally, and use that knowledge to develop and test new improved nanoparticle formulations,” says Michael Munson.</span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>Endosomal escape must be optimally timed​</span><span><br /></span></h2> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Elin Esbjörner</strong>, Associate Professor of Chemical Biology at Chalmers and co-author of<img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/ChemBio/Elin%20Esbjorner_1_350x305.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Photo of Elin Esbjörner" style="margin:5px;width:250px;height:218px" /> the study, explains the importance of delivering the mRNA to the target cells as precisely as possible: </span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“To redu</span><span style="background-color:initial">ce the risk of side effects, such as the immune system being triggered by the lipid particles, we want to use the lowest possible dose. This is particularly true for diseases which require long term treatment. In those cases, it is vital that the moment of endosomal escape is optimally timed, to allow the mRNA to get out into the cytoplasm with maximum effect,” she says. </span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">In addition to allowing the researchers to evaluate a large number of lipid particles at the same time, the new method can also help examine how efficiently the lipid particles are delivered and how well they function in different types of cells. This could allow for tailoring the drugs to target specific tissues, such as in the lungs or the liver.</span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“The lipid nanoparticles work differently in different cell types. A formulation that works well for delivery to liver cells, for example, could be significantly different in lung cells. Our new method could help us understand why such differences exist, and to harness this knowledge to design new lipid nanoparticles tailored for different targets in the body,” says Elin Esbjörner.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="font-weight:700">Photo of Michael Munson: </span>AstraZeneca<br /><span style="font-weight:700">Ph</span><span style="font-weight:700">oto of</span><span style="font-weight:700"> Elin Esbjörner: </span>Mikael WInters​<span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Read the scientific article: </strong><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-021-01728-8#Sec9">A high-throughput Galectin-9 imaging assay for quantifying nanoparticle uptake, endosomal escape and functional RNA delivery</a></span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong style="background-color:initial">About FoRmulaEx:</strong><span style="background-color:initial"> <br /></span><a href="/en/centres/FoRmulaEx/Pages/default.aspx"><span>FoRmulaEx ​</span>​</a><span style="background-color:initial">is an industrial research center for functional RNA delivery. The three academic partners are Chalmers University of Technology, the University of Gothenburg and the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, carrying out research in close collaboration with AstraZeneca, Vironova, Camarus and Nanolyze. The purpose is to contribute the foundational knowledge required to design safe and effective drug deliveries for the next generation of nucleotide drugs.</span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p>Wed, 09 Jun 2021 09:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Chalmers-Robot-Scientist-ready-for-drug-discovery.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Chalmers-Robot-Scientist-ready-for-drug-discovery.aspxChalmers' Robot Scientist ready for drug discovery<p><b>The robot scientist Eve has been assembled and is now operating at Chalmers University of Technology. Eve’s f​irst mission is to identify and test drugs against covid-19.​</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P">​<span>A robot scientist is a laboratory system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate scientific research. It autonomously forms hypothesis, plans experiments, executes the experiments using laboratory automation equipment, analyses the results, and repeats the cycle. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/SysBio/RossKing_191003_02_350x305px.jpg" alt="Professor Ross King" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="width:250px;height:218px" />AI systems now have superhuman scientific skills that are complementary to human scientists.</p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">​Human scientists free to make creative leaps</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“My vision when developing robot scientists  is not to replace human scientists, but rather to make them orders of magnitude more productive through collaborating with AI systems,” says <strong>Ross King</strong>, Professor of Machine Intelligence at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, continuing: </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“This will free human scientist to make the high-level creative leaps at which they excel, and thus contribute to solving societal challenges.” </p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">The first machine to discover scientific knowledge</h2> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">His first robot scientist, Adam, was the first machine to autonomously discover scientific knowledge. Eve was developed for automatic early-stage drug development and has previously discovered novel drugs against several tropical diseases including malaria. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">Moving Eve from the University of Manchester to the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology at Chalmers has enabled Ross King to collaborate with Per Sunnerhagen, Professor at Gothenburg University, to search for drugs against covid-19. </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">“It is deeply shocking how little effort large pharmaceutical companies have put into finding drugs against covid-19. If such drugs were available now, they would save many lives in places such as India,” says Ross King.</p> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">New robot scientist under development​</h2> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">The new robot scientist Genesis, which is under development,  is funded by the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program. It is designed to better understand how human cells work.​<br /><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Text:</strong> Susanne Nilsson Lindh<br /><strong>Photo of Ross King: </strong>Johan Bodell<br /><strong>Photo of Eve and researcher </strong><strong>Ievgeniia Tiukova (below): </strong>Martina Butorac</p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/SysBio/robotscientist_750.jpg" alt="Chalmers' Robot Scientist ready for drug discovery" style="margin:5px;width:650px;height:379px" /><br /></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong><br /></strong></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>About Eve</strong></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <ul><li>Eve is a laboratory automation work cell with equipment for liquid handling, drug maintenance, yeast growth profiling brough together by robotic arms. </li> <li>Eve has vacuum sealed mechanics of robotic arms which can operate in six axis orientation and were designed for continuous use under heavy loads for months at a time. </li> <li>Eve has an intelligent drug discovery mode using algorithms of active machine learning to untangle quantitative structure/activity relationship. </li> <li>Eve enables ultra-precise, reproducible, and high-throughput experimentation to facilitate early drug discovery and assists researchers with repetitive tasks.</li> <li>Watch <a href="https://youtu.be/zY6enJr0QiM" style="background-color:rgb(255, 255, 255)">Eve at work</a></li></ul> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Read more:</strong></p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"></p> <div> </div> <ul><li><a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/I-want-to-transform-the-way-science-is-done.aspx"><span style="background-color:initial">&quot;I want to transform the way science is done”</span>​</a><span style="background-color:initial"> </span></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="/en/news/Pages/43-Chalmers-researchers-receive-funding-for-more-research.aspx">43 Chalmers researchers receive funding for more research​</a><br /></span></li></ul> <div> <strong></strong></div> <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"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P">   </p> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> ​</p>Thu, 03 Jun 2021 11:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/health/news/Pages/Bilberries-and-oats-in-study-with-heart-patients.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/health/news/Pages/Bilberries-and-oats-in-study-with-heart-patients.aspxBilberries and oats in study with heart patients<p><b>​Bilberries and oats are already proven to be healthy for your heart. But do you get an additional positive effect if you combine them? This will now be investigated in a large study, which includes 900 heart attack patients.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">Researchers from Chalmers, in collaboration with clinics in Örebro, Karlstad, Lund and Umeå, will after the summer launch a study, where patients with acute myocardial infarction will be recruited for a diet trial. The patients will be given bilberries – the kind of blueberries that grow in Sweden – and oats.</span><div>“They are recruited within five days after undergoing balloon dilation in connection with their infarction. The procedure usually takes place immediately when they arrive at the hospital, or within a couple of days”, says Rikard Landberg, Professor at Chalmers’ division of Food and Nutrition Science, and adds:<img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Health/Udda%20format/Rikard_Landberg_300.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br /></div> <div>“It is important to know that this is not an alternative treatment, but of course an addition to the standard medical treatment they will receive by their care givers”.</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Healthy but in different ways</h2> <div>No previous study has been performed on the combination of oats and bilberries. But their separate health effects have been shown, and the effects of bilberries have been investigated in a pilot study by the research group involved in the new trial.</div> <div>“We were able to demonstrate great effects, even though the patients were already on drug treatment. This is what stimulated us to design this study”, says Rikard Landberg.<br /><span style="background-color:initial">Oats and </span>bilberries <span style="background-color:initial">seem to have positive effects on risk factors via different body mechanisms. Dietary fibre in oats has well-known cholesterol-lowering effects, and certain polyphenols in bilberries – substances that give the berry its color, taste and smell – have positive effects on blood pressure, as the polyphenols have bo</span><span style="background-color:initial">th a vasodilating and an anti-inflammatory effect. That is why the researchers believe that the two together can give a synergy effect, or at least an added effect.</span><br /></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Individualized treatment a goal</h2> <div>The cholesterol levels, but also other metabolic risk factors of the 900 patients, will be monitored. Stool tests will show if the intestinal bacterial flora is affected, and if it modifies the effect of bilberries and oats on the risk factors studied. The research team will also follow metabolites, the body’s markers in the blood, to possibly find specific molecules that can be linked to the individual’s response to the dietary supplement. Bilberries​ are compared to oats, the combination of bilberries and oats in a special made beverage (picture), and to a placebo product.</div> <div>“Our study opens up for a more specific, individualized preventive treatment of people who have had a myocardial infarction”, Rikard Landberg says.<img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Health/Udda%20format/Blåbär-havre-dryck_300.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br /></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Food an important factor</h2> <div>He is hoping for preliminary results in 2023. And Rikard Landberg is happy to be able to contribute to future evidence-based additional treatment and prevention for a large group of patients:</div> <div>“Each year, a large number of individuals suffer heart attacks. Eating habits are one of the most important factors, but as of today, we lack evidence to show how we should relate to this. This research is an example where we from Chalmers can contribute with specific competence and experience, while we also must collaborate with medical expertise as the study is performed on patients. Together, I hope we can contribute to future improved healthcare for myocardial infarction patients”, he concludes.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Mia Malmstedt</div> <div>Photo: Shutterstock, Annika Söderpalm (picture of Rikard Landberg), Rikard Fristedt (picture of the beverage used in the study)</div>Tue, 01 Jun 2021 15:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Unique-enzymes-help-gut-bacteria-compete-for-food.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Unique-enzymes-help-gut-bacteria-compete-for-food.aspxUnique enzymes help gut bacteria compete for food<p><b>​The bacterial composition of the human gut can affect health. To investigate this, researchers need increased knowledge of this diverse bacterial ecosystem. In a recently published study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers at Chalmers investigated the strategy used by one bacterial species in the gut to compete for nutrients in dietary fibre. The study was selected as one of the journal’s top ranked publications, the so-called Editors’ Picks.</b></p><p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The systems and strategies used by gut bacteria to digest dietary fibre in our food varies between different species. Research has shown connections between bacterial composition to both health and different diseases. Thus, basic understanding of how the “good” gut bacteria work is important, for example how well they compete with other bacteria for nutrients in the gut.</span><br /></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Protective groups complicates degradation of dietary fibre</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">​In</span><span style="background-color:initial"> the gut, bacteria use enzyme</span><span style="background-color:initial">s, proteins that catalyse chemical reactions, to break down the complex polysaccharides, i.e. long carbohydrate chain</span><span style="background-color:initial">s, in dietary fibre into simple sugars. However, some of these polysaccharides are prot</span><span style="background-color:initial">ected by chemical groups, that hinder enzymatic degradation. </span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“How gut bacteria handle these protective groups has not been studied in detail. In our study, we have explored how the gut bacter</span><span style="background-color:initial">ium </span><span style="background-color:initial"><em>Dysgonomona's mossii</em> </span><span style="background-color:initial">degrades the complex plant polysaccharide xylan. This is an important compone</span><span style="background-color:initial">nt in dietary fibre, but the carbohydrate chains are protected by several chemical groups that make them difficult to degrade,” says Johan Larsbrink, Associate Professor of Industrial Biotechnology at the Department of Biology and Biotechnological Engineering.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"></span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif">Found three enzymes used to remove protective groups </h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"><em>Dysgonomonas mossii </em></span><span style="background-color:initial">belongs to in the phylum Bacteroidetes, which is a dominant group in the gut microbiota of humans, and they are considered &quot;good&quot; bacteria. Previous research has shown that in these species, the genes encoding enzymes for degrading carbohydrate chains are often found in large gene clusters in the DNA, so-called polysaccharide utilisation loci (PULs).</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">“We found three interesting enzymes, carbohydrate esterases, with different properties in a PUL in the bacterium, and we have shown how they are used to remove protective groups from xylan,” says Cathleen Kmezik, doctoral student at the Department of Biology and Biotechnological Engineering.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The PUL with the esterase genes also contains several other enzymes which degrade complex xylan chains. The clustering of the studied esterases with these other enzymes indicates that the ability to remove protective groups from carbohydrate chains is important for the bacteria to obtain nutrients.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"></span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif">Solved one enzyme's 3D structure</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">One of the esterases consists of two fused, catalytic, domains, which is rare. If you compare an enzyme to a pair of scissors that cuts specific chemical bonds, this esterase consists of two pairs of scissors physically connected to each other.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial">“This enables the esterase to cut different chemical bonds that are situated very close to each other. However, one part of this enzyme was not very active on the molecules we tested in our lab experiments, but Scott Mazurkewich, a post-doctoral researcher managed to solve its 3D structure by X-ray crystallography. This means that we can see exactly what the enzyme looks like down to a tenth of a nanometre scale and provides us with a better understanding of what the enzyme is actually doing in the gut,” says Cathleen Kmezik.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial"></span></p> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2" style="font-family:&quot;open sans&quot;, sans-serif">Removal of protective groups may be important for survival</h2> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">The ability to remove protective groups from polysaccharides may be important for survival in the gut, according to the researchers. More research is needed, though, to determine which niches different bacteria have in terms of what they can eat in the gut − and whether it leads to increased survival and persistence under certain conditions.</span></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><span style="background-color:initial">Future studies could allow different species of bacteria to grow simultaneously on different carbohydrates with many or few protective groups and compare wh</span><span style="background-color:initial">o &quot;wins&quot; the battle for nutrition. There is also potential for the enzymes to be used industrially to accelerate the enzymatic degradation of plant biomass in the production of biofuels.</span></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>Read the article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry</strong>: <a href="https://www.jbc.org/article/S0021-9258%2821%2900276-3/fulltext"><span>A</span><span> polysaccharide utilization locus from the gut bacterium <em>Dysgonomonas mossii </em>encodes functionally distinct carbohydrate esterases</span></a></p> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/IndBio/Scott%20Cathleen%20Johan_750x340.jpg" alt="Scott Mazurkewich, Cathleen Kmezik and Johan Larsbrink at IndBio" style="margin:5px;width:650px;height:295px" /><br /><br /><span style="background-color:initial">F</span><span style="background-color:initial">rom Chalmers the researchers <span></span><strong>Scott Mazurkewich, </strong></span><span style="background-color:initial;font-weight:700">Cathleen Kmezik </span><span style="background-color:initial">and <strong>Johan Larsbrink</strong> (above)from the Division of Industrial Biotechnology, <strong>Alexander Idström</strong> from Applied Chemistry, and <strong>Marina Armeni</strong> and</span><span style="background-color:initial"> <strong>Otto Savolainen</strong> from CMSI, participated in the study.</span></p></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><br /></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong>More about the esterases:</strong></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p class="chalmersElement-P"><strong> </strong></p> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><ul><li><p class="chalmersElement-P"><em>Dm</em>CE1A: enzyme from carbohydrate esterase family 1 (CE1), active on acetyl esters and cleaving coumaryl-like molecules of unknown structure from plant biomass.</p></li> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P"><em style="background-color:initial">Dm</em>CE1B: enzyme consisting of two fused CE1 domains – <em>Dm</em>CE1B_nt and <em>Dm</em>CE1_ct, connected through a carbohydrate-binding module. Out of the three enzymes, <em>Dm</em>CE1B_nt is the only one with clear activity on feruloyl esters, which can crosslink xylan polysaccharides, and it was also active on acetyl esters. <em>Dm</em>CE1B_ct was only weakly active on acetyl esters. Its 3D structure was solved together with the carbohydrate-binding module. The structure indicates that the enzyme targets larger molecules than those tested in the lab (see figure).</p></li> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> </p> <li><p class="chalmersElement-P"><em style="background-color:initial">Dm</em>CE6A: enzyme from carbohydrate esterase family 6 (CE6), with significant activity on acetyl esters, both in model substrates and in complex biomass. The enzyme was shown to strongly contribute to a faster xylan degradation by enzymes targeting the polysaccharide itself (xylanases).</p></li></ul> <p class="chalmersElement-P"> <strong>Text:</strong> Susanne Nilsson Lindh<br /><strong style="background-color:initial">Illustration:</strong><span style="background-color:initial"> Scott Mazurkewich<br /><strong>Photo: </strong>Martina Butorac</span></p></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>Thu, 20 May 2021 09:00:00 +0200