Geir Hetland's research group: Transfusion, Immunomodulation and Allergology (TRIAL)
Department of immunology and transfusion medicine is responsible for blood products such as red blood cell, platelet concentrates and plasma from donated whole blood, also for laboratory diagnostics of allergic diseases. Aims: 1) Improve production and preservation of blood products for patients, 2) Examine immunomodulatory substances from mushrooms and their use as adjuvant therapy for diseases with poor prognosis or – treatment, and 3) Develop basophil and platelet activation tests for allergens. The short shelf-life of cellular and platelet products is logistically challenging in addition to quality concerns; oxidative storage damage of red cells and optimal function of platelets. The blood bank therefore focuses on improving production and preservation of the blood products. Besides negative immunomodulating effects of transfusions, e.g. MHC alloimmunization, it is well known that the immune system can be modulated in a positive way. By engaging receptors for danger signals such as TLR and dectin-1 on innate immune cells, harmless substances from yeast and edible mushrooms such as β-glucans, may be exploited therapeutically against challenges such as cancers (e.g. intestinal cancers and multiple myeloma), autoimmune diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel diseases), or for diseases with poor treatment such as allergy and asthma. We and others have shown that β-glucans and edible Basidiomycetes mushrooms such as Agaricus blazei Murill (AbM) from Brazilian rain forest, have anti-tumor and anti-allergic effects in mouse models, which is partly explained by to amelioration of skewed T helper cell 1/Th2 balance. We are now studying effects of an AbM-based extract, AndosanTM, as add-on treatment in clinical trials.