Physicist elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

​Fredrik Höök, Professor of Physics at Chalmers University of Technology, is a new member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He is one of six new members elected to the Academy and the only one from Chalmers to be selected.​
“I am looking forward to contributing to the important task of the Academy – to promote science and strengthen its role and influence in our society. I am deeply honoured and look forward to exchanging experiences and ideas with the other members when I will be able to meet them,” says Fredrik Höök, Professor and Vice Head of Utilisation at the Department of Physics at Chalmers. 

Fredrik Höök is conducting research within biological physics and he is the academic leader of the industrial research centre Formulaex. The project focuses on encapsulating biological pharmaceuticals into nanoscale carriers in order to reach the body’s cells and treat severe diseases.

In his research, Fredrik Höök is studying the role of the cell membrane in cellular communication, which play a key role in many biological processes and diseases. The membrane is essential for the cell’s ability to communicate with its surroundings and is the entry site for viruses. Sometimes particles of membrane can also detach to form “communication capsules”, (microvesicles), which transport molecular information to other cells. 

Fredrik Höök and his research group have developed new methods for microscoping combined with handling small quantities of liquid. One of their main aims is to analyze the microvesicles – exosomes – used by cells to communicate with each other. 

To make maximum use of the sensitive measuring methods, the researchers have designed structures that behave in the same way as cell membranes. This enables them to biophysically study how cell membranes interact with nanoparticles of various kinds, such as viruses and exosomes.

Fredrik Höök’s research group uses artificial cell membranes to carry out in-depth studies of individual nanoparticles that have been attached to the membrane. The researchers also develop a bioanalytical tool capable of measuring the size, structure, and optical properties of individual particles. This will enable the research team to make detailed analyses of complex biological samples, and they also hope to be able to sort nanoparticles according to their properties.

The aim is to better understand how the nanoparticles work, and what enables them to penetrate the cell. Höök wants to use that knowledge to design artificial exosomes as drug delivery vehicles.

“Hopefully, this could lead to improved disease diagnostics and inspire new ways of developing and administering medication. Findings from the research may also answer fundamental questions about the properties of nanoparticles and how they interact with cell membranes. This may also be of benefit in the field of nanosafety, and in many other areas,” says Fredrik Höök. 

Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren,
Image: Johan Bodell​

All the new members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences:

At the General Meeting on 11 March Fredrik Höök, Chalmers University of Technology, and Martin Malmsten, University of Copenhagen were elected Swedish members of the Academy’s class for technical sciences, Taija Mäkinen and Staffan Svärd, Uppsala University and Martin Högbom, Stockholm University were elected members of the class for biological sciences and Barbara Canlon, Karolinska Institutet, was elected foreign member of the Academy’s class for medical sciences.

Published: Wed 24 Jun 2020.