News: Corona related to Chalmers University of TechnologyTue, 26 Jan 2021 10:25:36 +0100 patterns can predict care needs during the pandemic<p><b>​By measuring how much people travel on a regional level, Philip Gerlee et al. have developed a model that can be used to predict the number of patients with covid-19 who need to be hospitalised.</b></p><p>​The transmission of covid-19 is dependent on the number of physical encounters between people, the rate of which has varied during the course of the pandemic due to mandated and voluntary social distancing. One way to measure and predict this transmission is to study our mobility, assuming that the more we move, the more people we encounter.</p> <p>Philip Gerlee and Torbjörn Lundh, Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, have together with several other researchers at universities and university hospitals in Gothenburg, Linköping and Lund compared the number of hospitalised covid-19 patients with mobility data in terms of public transport utilisation and mobile phone usage. This model has been shown to capture the timing of both the first and the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic.</p> <h2>Travel data from regional public transport companies</h2> <p>The comparison with mobile phone data was made for all regions in Sweden and the model turned out to perform somewhat better for larger regions than for smaller, where random effects may have a greater effect. The researchers also received travel data from the regional public transport companies Västtrafik and Skånetrafiken and were able to show that this data provided an even better agreement between model and data.</p> <p>Since there is a time lag between an increased number of infections and hospital admissions, this model can predict the need for hospital care at a regional level three weeks in advance through the access to local traffic data. The preprint “<a href="">Predicting regional COVID-19 hospital admissions in Sweden using mobility data</a>” can be accessed via the web site arXiv.<br /><br /><a href="/en/departments/math/news/Pages/They-predict-the-need-for-care-for-covid-19-patients.aspx">Interview with Philip Gerlee in August about predicting the care need for covid-19 patients &gt;&gt;</a></p> <p>Contact information for <a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/gerlee.aspx">Philip Gerlee</a> and <a href="/sv/personal/Sidor/torbjorn-lundh.aspx">Torbjörn Lundh</a> &gt;&gt;<br /><br /><strong>Text</strong>: Setta Aspström</p>Tue, 05 Jan 2021 10:35:00 +0100 predict the need for care for covid-19 patients<p><b>​Healthcare has a great interest in being able to plan the need for care for patients with covid-19. Two projects at the Department of Mathematical Sciences use different mathematical models and different input data to help with this.</b></p><h2>​How large is the need for care over time?</h2> <p><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Philip Gerlee" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/MV/Nyheter/philipgerlee200x250.jpg" style="margin:5px" />Through various contacts Philip Gerlee, Associate Professor in Biomathematics, was contacted by the Logistics Group at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in the end of March. They asked if he could help with predictions about whether the expected care need for covid-19 patients would increase or decrease over time, when the peak would come and when the number of cases would subside. Philip brought his colleague, Professor Torbjörn Lundh, and together with the logisticians Ingrid Fritzell and Julia Karlsson at Sahlgrenska, they sketched on a model which could answer when the peak would come and how high it would be.</p> <p>– At first, the model was simple. With data from Wuhan and Lombardy, we assumed that 0.2 percent of the population would be admitted to in-patient care. The question was, when? We assumed a normal distribution, but realised that this model perhaps was too rough. In parallel, we also used an infection model (SIR). The prognoses then became somewhat different, and Sahlgrenska used both these and other sources to form a balanced prognosis.</p> <h2>Measurements of infectivity</h2> <p>Now when the peak of the hospital admissions has passed and the need for care need seems to be on the way down, another model is needed. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has used an extended infection model, SEIR, which also includes the phase when a person is infected but not yet infectious, and fit the model for the Stockholm area. During late spring, Philip and Torbjörn used the same model for Gothenburg. In June, they received funding from Chalmers Areas of Advance to continue the development of the model and to develop new methods for measuring the infectivity in the population, which depends on both how many contacts people have each day and the probability that they infect through contact. The idea is that the disease transmission is high in the beginning of the pandemic but decreases when different restrictions causes people to have fewer contacts.</p> <p>Several indicators will be used to estimate the number of contacts. One of them is the number of passengers using the local transport company Västtrafik, since the infectivity in the model of the Public Health Agency matches the decline in travel well. The proportion of positive test results is another, and data from the telephone health care counselling 1177 a third. A study in Östergötland led by Armin Spreco showed that the number of calls to 1177 concerning breathing difficulties for adults could be correlated with the number of hospitalised covid-19 patients 15 days later. The goal is to be able to make better predictions of the need for care. There will also be a follow-up of the prognoses issued in spring in order to see what worked best, to continue to develop this before next pandemic.</p> <h2>Individual data – how serious will it be for the patient?</h2> <p><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="Marina Axelson-Fisk" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/MV/Nyheter/marinaaxelsonfisk200x250.jpg" style="margin:5px" />Marina Axelson-Fisk, Professor in Mathematical Statistics, had previously collaborated with Robert Feldt, Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Lars-Erik Magnusson, chief physician at the infection clinical department of the Östra Hospital. Then it was a matter of being able to distinguish early between blood poisoning (sepsis) and winter vomiting flu (norovirus). The two diseases may have a similar onset with fever, vomiting and dizziness, but sepsis is a serious condition that is important to detect early and not misdiagnose.</p> <p>A master’s degree project about this with Marina as supervisor began in January, and patient data was to be provided by the Östra Hospital. But then, the corona pandemic broke out and everything was put on hold. Would it be possible to work with input data from patients with covid-19 instead? The issue then became whether the patient has covid-19 or not, but also how early in the process the disease can be discovered and whether it is possible to tell how serious it will become for the patient, preferably a week before the patient needs to be admitted to hospital.</p> <h2>Lots of raw data</h2> <p>The master’s degree projects had to be about the theoretical models for the computations instead, so the basis is ready. Marina applied for and received funding from Chalmers Areas of Advance together with Robert and Richard Torkar, also a Professor at Computer Science and Engineering, so now the work of producing a software that works in reality begins. Lots of raw data has arrived and will now be handled and processed. Marina’s part of the work is to optimise the theoretical models, which are based on so-called Markov Decision Processes and are computionally complex. As they are heavy to handle, it takes approximations and all sorts of computer science “tricks” for healthcare personnel to be able to use it and get results within a reasonable time limit, and this is the main task for the computer scientists.</p> <p>– It would of course be good to have this ready quite soon, many people believe that the need for care may increase again. We therefore take some shortcuts now in the beginning, to build a more complete model in the long run. Even if the work does not have time to make such  big difference for the corona pandemic this autumn, healthcare will benefit greatly from the work in the future in other contexts – but of course we hope to come up with something that is possible to use soon.<br /><br /><strong>Texts and photos</strong>: Setta Aspström</p>Thu, 27 Aug 2020 18:05:00 +0200 investigates face masks<p><b>​How do particles spread when we cough in a face mask? That will be investigated in a new research project. The goal is to be able to provide guidelines for the use of face masks to prevent the spread of the virus that cause Covid-19.</b></p>​The work is both theoretical and experimental and involves a network of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Luleå University of Technology, the Royal Institute of Technology and Lund Technical University. Through the project, the network of researchers wants to contribute to the knowledge about face masks and the spread of infection. <div><br /></div> <div>“We will conduct experiments and simulations to investigate basic mechanisms that are crucial for setting up guidelines for the use of face masks during airborne pandemics” says Srdjan Sasic who is a professor of fluid dynamics at Chalmers. </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Will describe how mucus and saliva flow from the nose and mouth</h3> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The purpose of the research at Chalmers is to be able to describe how mucus and saliva flow from the nose and mouth during coughing and sneezing. Using simulations, the researchers will study how mucus and saliva get stuck in different types of face masks and how the fluids flow around face masks depending on the thickness and flow rate of the mucus and saliva. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">“We will perform numerical simulations with pathogen drops in different types of face masks. How effective the face mask is will be described by measuring the ratio between infected droplet volumes upstream and downstream of the mask and the amount of air that the mask lets through” says Srdjan Sasic. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">By examining how particles of different sizes move when coughing and sneezing, depending on whether a face mask is used or not, they hope to manage to describe the effect of wearing a face mask. </span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">The research project will run until the autumn of 2021 and has been granted SEK 1.8 million from the Swedish Research Council.</span><br /></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3"><span>Read more</span></h3> <div><span><a href="/en/research/efforts-and-expertise-corona/Pages/default.aspx">Efforts and expertise concerning corona/covid-19​</a><br /></span></div> <div><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/srdjan.aspx">Srdjan Sasic​</a></div> <div></div>Tue, 11 Aug 2020 08:30:00 +0200 the survival of Covid-19 in air<p><b>​When a person infected with Covid-19 coughs, sneezes or talks small particles flow out that can infect a new individual. Researchers at Chalmers will now investigate how long these particles survive outside the body under different environmental conditions.</b></p>​The current recommendations and understanding of the transmission in respiratory infectious diseases are based on a simple model developed ninety years ago to understand the transmission of tuberculosis. <div><br /></div> <div>“I hope that our study can lead to more up-to-date guidelines that can be used by policymakers to more effectively slow down the diffusion of Covid-19 and future respiratory infections” says Gaetano Sardina, assistant professor in Fluid mechanics at Chalmers University of Technology. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The results of the project could, for example, lead to more secure assumptions about the distance that should be kept between individuals, as well as regulations and proposals for humidity in public environments that accelerate the evaporation of the pathogen-bearing droplets. Hopefully, the research can also improve the current epidemiological mathematical models targeting in estimating the diffusion of the pandemic. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Longevity is affected by the surrounding environment​</h3></div> <div>In the project, the researchers will study how the lifetime of pathogen-bearing droplets is affected by whether the person sneezes, coughs, talks or breathes, droplet size and various environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature and air turbulence. The study will use detailed, high-resolution numerical simulations and a new stochastic method to calculate a random drip path. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“From a scientific point of view, we know quite a lot about the spread of the virus, but there is a lack of detailed knowledge about the mechanisms that cause the respiratory droplets from a sick person to reach other individuals. The goal of the study is to close that knowledge gap” says Gaetano Sardina. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The project is funded with computational time from the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe and funds from the Swedish Research Council and Chalmers Area of Advance Information and Communication Technology.</div> <div><br /></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Read more</h3> <div><a href="/en/research/efforts-and-expertise-corona/Pages/default.aspx">Efforts and expertise concerning corona/covid-19​</a><br /><a href="/en/Staff/Pages/sardina.aspx">Gaetano Sardina</a></div>Thu, 06 Aug 2020 10:30:00 +0200 material to protect us from various pandemics<p><b>​A new material that can kill bacteria has now shown early promise in de-activation of viruses, including certain coronaviruses. The material, developed by researchers at Chalmers, is now being evaluated against SARS-CoV-2, which causes covid-19.</b></p><div>​The novel material, recently presented in a doctoral thesis, has proven to be very effective in killing common infection causing bacteria, including those that are resistant to antibiotics such as MRSA and a E. coli superbugs.<br /></div> <div>The basis of the research is a unique and patented technology where microbe-killing peptides are combined with a nanostructured material. So far, it has been targeted towards bacteria, but with the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the researchers started a study to <img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Amferia/porträtt_martin_320%20x%20400.jpg" alt="" style="height:229px;width:180px;margin:5px" />understand if the material would work against the virus. <br /><br />“Similar peptides that we work with have previously shown to be effective against various other coronaviruses, including those that have caused the outbreaks of SARS and MERS. Our premise is that the antimicrobial effect of our peptides seen on bacteria can be also be used to inactivate the coronavirus, says Martin Andersson”, research leader and professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers.<br /> </div> <div>Tests with the new material on another human coronavirus has shown promising early results where the material deactivated 99.9 percent of the virus. The researchers now see great potential for it to work on SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. They have initiated collaboration with researchers, based in Gothenburg University/ Sahlgrenska Academy, with access to the SARS-Cov-2.</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Can be produced in various forms - mimics the body's immune system</h2> <div>The material can be produced in many different forms such as surface treatments and as small particles. When microbes such as bacteria and viruses come in contact with the material surface, they are rapidly killed, and further spread is prevented. The material can easily be adapted for use in personal protective equipment such as face masks and medical devices including respirators and intubation tubes. This way, the material may offer reliable protection against the current and future pandemics. The researchers see it as valuable technology for our efforts towards pandemic preparedness.<br />   </div> <div>“A surface layer of our new material on face masks would not only stop the passage of the virus but also reduce the risk that it can be transported further, for example when the mask is removed and thus reduce the spread of infection”, explains Martin Andersson.<br />  </div> <div>The strategy is to imitate how the body's immune system fights infectious microbes. Immune cells in our body produce different types of peptides that selectively damage the outer shell of bacteria and viruses. The mechanism is similar to the effect that soap and water has on bacteria and viruses, although, the peptides have higher selectivity and are efficient while totally harmless to human cells. A major advantage is that the way the material works provides a high flexibility and gives it a low sensitivity to mutations. Unlike vaccines, the peptides continue to inactivate the virus even if it mutates. The idea behind the research is to make us less vulnerable and better prepared when the next pandemic comes.</div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Connection between the ongoing pandemic and antibiotic resistance</h2> <div>As covid-19 unfolds, another healthcare threat, what many call the “silent pandemic” caused by antibiotic resistance has been ongoing for decades. According to WHO, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to humanity. Without drastic action, estimates show that more people are likely to die of bacterial infections than cancer by 2050. Unfortunately, there is a worrying link between the ongoing pandemic and antibiotic resistance. Many covid-19 patients develop secondary bacterial infections which must be treated with antibiotics. According to the researchers, the new material may prove efficient for preventing both the viral and bacterial infections. </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Meant to protect health care personnel and individuals</h2> <div>To enable societal benefit from the new technology, the researchers started a company, Amferia AB, with support from Chalmers Innovation Office and Chalmers Ventures. Amferia is based at Astrazeneca BioVentureHub in Mölndal, Sweden.</div> <div><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/KB/Generell/Nyheter/Amferia/porträtt_saba_320%20x%20400.jpg" width="320" height="400" alt="" style="height:244px;width:190px;margin:5px" /><br />Earlier this year, Saba Atefyekta defended her PhD at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers. She presented the new material in her doctoral thesis titled &quot;Antibacterial Surfaces for Biomedical Applications&quot;. Saba is one of the founders of Amferia and the company's research manager<br />   </div> <div>“If we are not going to meet a dark future, we must prevent infections from happening. We believe that the materials we develop can help prevent future infections and thus reduce the use of antibiotics, so that we can continue to use these life-protecting medicines in the future”, says Saba Atefyekta</div> <div> </div> <div>When the antiviral effect of the material on the SARS-CoV-2 is confirmed, the next step is to make it rapidly available to protect both healthcare professionals and the general public.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><div>Text: Jenny Jernberg</div> <div>Portrait photo  Saba Atefyekta: Mats Hulander<span style="display:inline-block"></span></div> <br /></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Complementary fresh news about Amferia</h2> <div>Tuseday 30 June it was announced that Amferia has been selected as a “one to watch” in this year’s Spinoff Prize, which is organized by Nature Research and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.</div> <div> </div></div> <div> </div> <div><br /></div>Mon, 29 Jun 2020 00:00:00 +0200 rapid change of direction to cope with Covid<p><b>​All planned on-site exams cancelled. All change to exams on home PCs, full access to aids and zero checks. And, at the same time, distance learning off to a flying start. Since mid-March, not much has stayed the same for the university’s students and teachers.​</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">The first exams of the spring semester were only 36 hours away when Chalmers’ Executive Committee for Education realised that the situation was untenable. A meeting was called at short notice. It was a marathon sitting, and one result was a decision that students would take all exams in the imminent exam period on their PCs at home. This was on Thursday, 12 March, five days before the Swedish Government urged higher education institutions and upper secondary schools to provide all further teaching remotely. However, it was already clear that the coronavirus pandemic would have far-reaching consequences.</span><div><div>“We realised what was likely to come, as several of our partner universities started to shut down, including Politecnico in Milan and DTU near Copenhagen,” says Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson, Vice President of Education and Lifelong Learning at Chalmers.<br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/20200101-20200701/Anna-Karlsson-Bengtsson_I0A3713_256x344px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson, Vice President of Education and Lifelong Learning at Chalmers" style="margin:5px 10px" /><br /></div> <div>There were also clear internal signals that radical decisions needed to be made. The most pressing matter was the imminent exams.</div> <div>“A number of students got in touch and wondered whether they should really take their exams, despite having suspected coronavirus symptoms. Some also expressed general doubts about sitting in a large room with other people. And the invigilators started to say they couldn’t attend. Many of them are over 70.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The Executive Committee for Education therefore decided to switch all planned on-site exams to remote exams taken at home. This had rarely been tried at Chalmers before. Teachers were forced to quickly try and adapt the exam questions to the new circumstances. Students had to adapt just as quickly to a different type of exam task than they had prepared for. Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson describes the first examination period as “a bit of a shock for everyone concerned”. However, thanks to the new learning platform Canvas, most of the technical arrangements for home exams were already in place. But remote exams also meant difficult decisions:</div> <div>“It would have been silly to prohibit aids as we had no way of checking. Consequently, we permitted textbooks, the internet and all other aids instead,” she explains.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>However, even with this change it was impossible to check whether anyone was cheating.</div> <div>“We simply had to trust the students. What we can see from the answers is that some students obviously worked together, although that was not allowed.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Ahead of the examination period before Easter, the remote exam arrangements were modified, and checks were made stricter. And for the remote exams after the Walpurgis weekend, checks were made even stricter, involving surveillance via webcam. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Although exams were the issue that was most urgent, it was far from the only one that required action. At virtually the same time, all undergraduate education for the rest of the semester had to be switched over to distance learning.</div> <div>“We had around 300 courses in study period 4. So we asked all the teachers, Assistant Heads of Department and examiners how many of them we could switch to distance learning,” says Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson.</div> <div>“The answer was all of them. We didn’t need to cancel a single course.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>However, she says that this required a huge amount of work, primarily by Chalmers’ teachers.</div> <div>“I can’t even begin to estimate how many extra hours of work went into this. With no preparation at all, they had to handle their own teaching and also develop new working methods for distance learning. I am moved by the effort everyone made.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Perhaps the most important precondition for the transformation to distance learning can be expressed in one word: Zoom. According to Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson, use of this IT platform for video communication, which was previously used very little at Chalmers, has increased almost explosively. It is used not only for teaching but also as an alternative to physical meetings and other get-togethers.</div> <div>“Sunet, which administers Zoom use for all Swedish higher education institutions, increased the number of licences from 20,000 to 250,000 within three or four days, a truly dramatic increase in access to the app.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson thinks that, with a few exceptions, the switch to distance learning has worked extremely well. However, she also points out:</div> <div>“We could, of course, implement distance learning in a more advanced manner than we do at present. A two-hour lecture via Zoom is more like a computerised version of it and probably not the very best way of making use of the options.”</div> <div>“At the same time, it is clear that teachers, both here at Chalmers and throughout academia, are currently take giant steps towards more digital teaching.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Is there a risk of students suffering and of the quality of their education decreasing because teachers have not yet mastered this new way of teaching?</div> <div>“That may be the case. We will try to monitor developments by talking to both teachers and students.”</div> <div> </div> <div>The many practical features of some programmes are what is mainly at risk.</div> <div>“Being able to be in a lab and do experiments. I am a chemist myself and I am aware that this has been lost for the moment. I hope that the replacement features we have implemented for a while will be adequate.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In the midst of the major switchover to distance learning, the Swedish Government indicated a dramatic increase in the number of places at Swedish higher education institutions. How welcome was this proposal on top of everything else?</div> <div>“We took a deep breath, of course... But the discussion soon turned to <em>how </em>rather than<em> if</em>.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The results of the discussions between the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research and Chalmers were partly to expand the programme of summer courses and partly to more than double the number of places for the engineering preparatory year from 300 now to 670 in the next academic year. The increase, which also means that undergraduate education has 200 additional places from the following year, will largely be implemented in the form of distance learning. Perhaps also with more creative use of the potential of digitisation. Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson thinks that faster development in this direction may be one positive consequence of the coronavirus crisis:</div> <div>“Advanced learning, integrating digital models with standard campus learning. That’s what I believe in for the future.”</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Students missing social life</h2> <div>Additional work for teachers and great self-discipline from students have been two of the consequences of distance learning – and it works. On the plus side, there is greater focus on studying. Tamara-Lea Adzic came to Chalmers from Sydney in the autumn to study for a Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Business Design.</div> <div>“I’m glad I had one and a half semesters of normal student life before all this happened. It would have been so much harder to meet and get to know people if I had come in January.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>She thinks that studying via Zoom has largely worked well, although the dynamics in the dialogue between teachers and students are lost to some extent. She also has more free time now that she does not need to travel to lectures in person. But there is a downside to studying at home of course:</div> <div>“Concentration. I am easily distracted and have to make a real effort not to watch YouTube for four hours.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>To avoid this trap, she has spent much of her time studying in the city library. Exams at home, with full access to the internet and old exams, were something of an eye-opener.</div> <div>“I was lulled into the belief that I didn’t need to revise as much. I didn’t realise that the teachers and examiners would be much tougher in their assessments.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The restrictions have meant particular challenges for programmes with more practical examination formats. Veronica Olesen is a senior lecturer and is head of the Mechatronics bachelor programme. Her first-year students would normally design and build a system for controlling a lift at the end of this spring semester. How is this organised now that physical contact in the lab between teachers and students have to be avoided?</div> <div>“We solved it by letting students work remotely on lifts in a simulated environment,” she explains.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>However, to create a link to reality and check that the students understood what they were doing, the physical lift equipment was also rigged up in the lab. The students then instructed the teacher on how to connect it all up via Zoom. And in most cases, they were also able to see that the control systems actually worked. This arrangement caused a lot of problems and many additional hours of work for Veronica and her colleagues:</div> <div>“We definitely worked twice as much as usual in those weeks,” she estimates.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Lorenzo Björck, a third-year student of industrial economics specialising in IT, is spending a great deal of time on his bachelor’s thesis at the end of the spring semester. He and his colleagues managed to conduct most of their interviews before the restrictions took effect. Consequently, the work was not affected too badly by the pandemic. He sees the cancelled ‘cortège’ (a student parade) and all the other cancelled social activities as a big negative in student life, but still thinks that his studies are going well:</div> <div>“The Zoom lectures work well, the course material is available...” “I’m probably doing more work than I would usually. There’s not much else to do.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>From Chalmers Magasin no. 1 2020</div> <div>Text: Björn Forsman</div> <div><br /></div> <div><em>Chalmers is constantly monitoring the development of the Covid-19 outbreak and is following the recommendations and decisions of Swedish public authorities. Up-to-date information is available at </em><a href="/en/news/corona-virus/Pages/default.aspx"><em></em></a><em>.</em></div></div>Thu, 18 Jun 2020 11:00:00 +0200 spray could deliver vaccine against COVID-19<p><b>​In the the global struggle against the coronavirus, scientists in a new pilot project led by Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have started a project to explore design principles for nasal immunization. If successful it might be useful in future vaccine developments versus viral infections including SARS-CoV-2. Through a broad collaboration between universities and external partners, the researchers are trying to find a new way to tackle both SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that attack our cells.​</b></p><div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/coronavaccin_pilotprojekt_Karin_labb_350x305.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:5px;margin-left:10px;height:249px;width:280px" /><div>“There are several benefits to administering a vaccine directly into the nasal mucosa. It mimics how many viruses often enter the body and can therefore more effectively trigger the immune defence at the point of entry,” says researcher Karin Norling at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Karin Norling recently defended her<a href="/en/centres/gpc/calendar/Pages/Disputation-Karin-Norling-200221.aspx"> PhD thesis in bioscience</a>, and is now in the process of coordinating and preparing the laboratory work for the new pilot project.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><div>By combining several promising concepts developed at Chalmers, the University of Gothenburg, AstraZeneca and internationally, the researchers hope to be able to test a unique vaccination concept against COVID-19. </div> <div>​<br /></div> </div></div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">A harmless particle that deceives the body's immune cells</h2> <div><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial"><div>The researchers aim to design a biomimetic​ nanoparticle that deceives the body's immune cells to act as if they had encountered a true virus. In fact, they encounter something known as an mRNA, which is a precursor to a harmless element of the virus. In addition, the artificial particle has been provided with both immune enhancers and a targeting protein, which acts almost as a set of directions – allowing the vaccine to reach only a certain type of immune cell. When activated, the body will hopefully learn to recognise and defend itself against the virus in the future.</div></span><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/350x305_Fredrik_Hook.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;height:132px;width:150px" /><span style="background-color:initial"></span><span style="background-color:initial"><div><br /></div></span><span style="background-color:initial"><div>&quot;We hope that this multidisciplinary approach will inform how future vaccine platforms for nasal mRNA delivery can be designed,&quot;  says Fredrik Höök, Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and Project Coordinator of the centre <a href="/en/centres/FoRmulaEx/Pages/default.aspx">Formulaex​</a>, where AstraZeneca is the leading industrial partner.</div></span></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span><span>&quot;</span></span>It will take years to develop a vaccine<span style="font-family:inherit;background-color:initial">&quot;</span></h2></div> <div><div><span style="background-color:initial"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Karin_Norling_280x.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:200px;height:177px" /><div>During the pilot project, the researchers will evaluate the prerequisites for a longer and more extensive project to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in nasal spray form. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“It will take years to develop a vaccine but hopefully after this project we will be able to say whether the concept of a targeted nasal spray vaccine is promising enough to warrant further work,” says Karin Norling.​</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="">When the scientific journal Nature recently described different types of vaccine concepts being tested, mRNA technology was included in the list.​</a></div> <div><br /></div></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"></span></div></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>More on the interdisciplinary pilot project</span></h2></div> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/350x305/coronavaccin_pilotprojekt_provror350x305.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;height:157px;width:180px" /><div><span></span><div>The new research collaboration also involves Elin Esbjörner Winters and Pernilla Wittung Stafshede from Chalmers, Nils Lycke from the Sahlgrenska Academy, the University of Gothenburg and Lennart Lindfors from AstraZeneca.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The project is funded by the Chalmers Innovation Office, Chalmers Area of Advance Health Engineering, The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF, and the Swedish Research Council (VR). The project is partly performed within the framework of the SSF-funded Formulaex research center.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Fredrik Höök is also a Profile Leader of <a href="/en/areas-of-advance/health/about/Pages/default.aspx">Chalmers’ new Area of Advance within Health Engineering​</a>, which addresses societal challenges by providing innovative technologies and solutions to the medical and health area in collaboration with regional, national and international partners.</div></div> <span></span><div><br /></div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">Text and photo:</strong><span style="background-color:initial"> Mia Halleröd Palmgren, </span><a href=""></a> and Joshua Worth, <a href="">​</a><br /></div> <div><b>Portrait photos: </b>Helén Rosenfeldt (Karin Norling) and Johan Bodell (Fredrik Höök)</div> <div>​<br /></div> <div><h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"><span>For more information, contact: </span></h2></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Doctor <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/karinno.aspx">Karin Norling​</a>, Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 73 045 03 60, </span><a href=""></a><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Professor <a href="/en/Staff/Pages/Fredrik-Höök.aspx">Fredrik Höök​</a>, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 61 30, <a href=""></a></div>Thu, 28 May 2020 06:00:00 +0200 opportunities to study at Chalmers<p><b>As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Chalmers will offer summer courses in both English and Swedish this year.</b></p><div>Chalmers, with support of the government, takes its social responsibility and will offer more chances to be able to study this summer. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We know there will be an urge for something meaningful <span style="background-color:initial">to</span><span style="background-color:initial"> </span><span style="background-color:initial">do</span><span style="background-color:initial"> </span><span style="background-color:initial">during the</span><span style="background-color:initial"> summer</span><span style="background-color:initial"> for people who have not found a summer job or have been laid off. A summer course to complement your education or to get knowledge in a whole new field can be very valuable. And since we are able to, we definitely want to contribute to that”, says Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson, Vice President of Education and Lifelong Learning at Chalmers.</span></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><span style="font-weight:700">Summer courses</span> – We will offer digital, summer courses in fields such as project management and real estate finance. Keep up to date when we open for registration for summer courses via the link below.</div> <a href="/en/education/continuing-education/Pages/Summer-courses.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" /></a><div style="display:inline !important"><a href="/en/education/continuing-education/Pages/Summer-courses.aspx">Read more about our summer courses</a></div> <br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Vedrana Sivac / Helena Österling af Wåhlberg</div>Fri, 15 May 2020 08:00:00 +0200 produce aprons for the healthcare system<p><b>​In a room at Johanneberg Science Park on Chalmers campus, volunteers are making protective aprons for the healthcare system. In two weeks, over 2000 aprons have been produced.“We can see that our initiative is helping,” says Carl Strandby, a student at Chalmers University of Technology.</b></p><div>​<span style="background-color:initial">Förklädeshjälpen (The Apron Help) started 17 April when a group of people came together to try to help the healthcare system during the corona crisis, by producing protective equipment other than visors. They quickly got the opportunity to house the initiative in a newly renovated room at Johanneberg Science Park, and just hours after they had gained access to the room, the production of protective aprons was up and running. One of the initiators is Carl Strandby, who is studying Engineering Physics at Chalmers.</span><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <span></span><div>“Many people are worried and scared when everything feels uncertain, and we want to show how to turn that worry into something productive where we work together to find solutions. There is also a responsibility in this kind of situation, you cannot just rely on others to take care of everything, you need to think about how you can help,” says Carl Strandby.</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Helps health centers and retirement homes</h2> <div>On the first day of production, Förklädeshjälpen produced 100 aprons, and just over two weeks later, they have produced over 2000. The aprons go to health centers and retirement homes that work with corona infected patients. The initiative consists of a core group of about 10 people and, in addition, about 100 people have done at least one shift at Förklädeshjälpen, and three or four new people come every day.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We can see that our initiative is helping. Some people who come here to collect aprons, for retirement homes for example, say that they do not have any aprons at all, so it shows that initiatives such as Förklädeshjälpen are needed,” says Carl Strandby.</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Plastic aprons with &quot;welded&quot; seams</h2> <div>When the volunteers come to help produce aprons, they first have to prepare by washing their hands and using disinfectant. The actual production consists of cutting out patterns from a plastic roll according to a template. They have received the templates from their sister initiative in Stockholm. Heat guns and irons are used to fuse the sleeves in the plastic, and then the aprons are folded together and packed in boxes. They always wait three days before delivering the finished aprons to the health care, to avoid the spread of infection.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In a Facebook group, Förklädeshjälpen continuously shares information about the initiative and this is also where you sign up for shifts.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“There is still a great need for aprons, and we will continue to produce them as long as there is a demand,” says Carl Strandby.</div> <div>​<br /></div> <div><strong>Text: </strong>Sophia Kristensson</div> <strong><div><strong><br /></strong></div> Read more:</strong> <a href="/en/news/Pages/Students-supply-staff-in-the-west-with-visors.aspx" target="_blank">Students supply staff in the west with visors​</a>Wed, 06 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200 supply staff in the west with visors<p><b>​Companies and private individuals are joining forces to meet the urgent need for personal protective equipment in the healthcare system and in care for the elderly provided by the municipalities. Right now students at Chalmers are coordinating the supply of extra face visors for all of Western Sweden. In the first week the healthcare assistance group at Chalmers, Sjukvårdshjälpen, supplied 2,500 face visors. More are being made this week.</b></p>​​<span style="background-color:initial">Two weeks ago Isak Jonsson, a research engineer at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, saw how 3DVerkstan in Stockholm had produced drawings of printed frames. Combining this with standard overhead film, they created a face visor approved for use in healthcare. </span><div><br /><div>Jonsson contacted 3Dteamet, the 3D printing team in the Physics Building – twelve students with the ability to put them into rapid production. Edward Hadziavdic and Marcus Toftås got their group in the Physics laboratory going, with the full support of Lars Hellberg, who is responsible for the Physics Department’s experimental laboratory where much of the equipment is located. Meanwhile Jonsson adjusted the design, making it more robust and more suitable for manufacture and added a support so that it would fit staff with different head sizes. 3Dteamet rewrote the code that everyone is now using.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>On Sunday 29 March Chalmers made an initial test shipment of 230 visors to hospitals in Western Sweden.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The region got in touch on Monday and asked us to continue with production of the approved design. We don’t have the capacity to manufacture 100,000, which is what they really need, according to Region Västra Götaland (VGR),” says Hadziavdic, who is now VGR’s contact for the visors and who is coordinating all the new volunteers that offer their services to help tackle the lack of visors in the short term. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>VGR uploaded a direct link to the Chalmers’ team on its website, for anyone who was interested in contributing via their own production. Every day has brought streams of new producers. Toftås rapidly became the ‘production manager’ and is handling the logistics from private producers, other workshops at Chalmers and large industrial companies. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Right now we are gathering everything in our laboratory in the Physics Building which is where VGR brings trucks to make collections several times a week,” says Toftås.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Now on the ninth delivery day, VGR has received a total of 2,500 visors from Chalmers, and just as many are in progress or already completed and awaiting collection.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We are incredibly grateful for all the hard work that all the volunteers have put in. It is very much appreciated,” says Jonas Anselmby who is coordinating external suppliers in Region Västra Götaland during the COVID-19 outbreak. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Chalmers appointed a contact for VGR early on in order to help coordinate donations of the personal protective equipment that may be required. In addition to visors, Chalmers has sent lab coats and produced hand sanitiser, mainly from the Chemistry Department. So far several hundred litres of hand sanitiser have been dispatched. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“A dialogue in currently under way to find out how we can help with other items. I am convinced we can do a lot more than visors,” says Jan Froitzheim, Associate Professor of Chemistry, who is coordinating Sjukvårdshjälpen from Chalmers.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>But visors are what VGR has asked Chalmers to address urgently at the moment, and that is what is being delivered.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The last few days have been devoted to making contact with and coordinating across producers. We’re currently working with the majority of manufacturers in Västra Götaland and there are around 250 different producers involved, 50 of which are companies. In addition, we have numerous collaborations under way with further interested parties. This includes everything from the labs here at Chalmers, private individuals and laid-off workers, small companies and larger ones such as both Volvo companies,” says Haziavdic.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Last Thursday a link was established with the group Visor Aid Göteborg, launched by Fredrik Säfsten, which focuses on deliveries to the City of Gothenburg. All production is now being channelled though VGR which has overall regional responsibility for coordinating resources for the municipalities of Western Sweden in connection with the epidemic. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>VGR is of course responsible for the cleanliness of the equipment used, but Sjukvårdshjälpen is trying to assist by adopting strict procedures, cleaning and disinfection, and using sealed packages, before delivering the items.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“So many people are currently making a heroic effort in a short time frame. But, in parallel with this, we have passed on contacts to VGR to get started with the industrial production of larger volumes in the near future, by working with suitable companies,” says Froitzheim.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Text:</strong> Christian Borg</div> <div><br /></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">The following are currently providing assistance in producing visors</h3> <div>Around 250 companies and home-based manufacturers are currently involved. At Chalmers the following producers have been mobilised:</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />3Dteamet in the Physics Section and GU Physics</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />XP, the Mechanical Engineering Section’s Workshop Association</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />CreaTD, Industrial Design Engineering</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Chalmers Robotics Society</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />CASE Lab, Department E2</a></div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />ETA (E-Sektionens teletekniska avdelning), the electronics and ham radio community​</a></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Would you also like to help?</h3> <div>Region Västra Götaland provides a comprehensive Help page setting out how they can accept help here:</div> <div><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Region Västra Götaland: Would you like to help?</a></div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Läs mer</h3> <div><a href="/en/news/Pages/Volunteers-produce-aprons-for-the-healthcare-system.aspx" target="_blank"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Volunteers produce aprons for the healthcare system​​</a><br /></div> </div>Thu, 09 Apr 2020 00:00:00 +0200