Populærvitenskapelig sammendrag av fremragende originalartikler publisert 2. halvår 2017:

Priser til fremragende forskere

Årets priser til fremragende forskere ved Oslo universitetssykehus er tildelt Pål Aukrust (Excellent Researcher Award), Therese Seierstad og Espen Melum (begge Early Career Awards). 

Publisert: 27.05.2016 09:33:28 av Børge Einrem

Det er sykehusets forskningsutvalg som står bak prisutdelingen, mens sykehusets eksterne Scientific Advisory Board har vurdert kandidatene. Prisene på henholdsvis 300.000 kroner og 150.000 kroner deles ut en gang i året, og er en heder til de beste blant sykehusets etablerte forskere og en påskjønnelse og stimulans til lovende talenter. Prispengene skal benyttes til videre forskning.

Pål Aukrust, professor ved Institutt for indremedisinsk forskning og seksjonsleder ved Seksjon for klinisk immunologi og infeksjonssykdommer, Avdeling for revmatologi, hud- og infeksjonssykdommer er tildelt Excellent Researcher Awardfor sin forskningsinnsats innen flere fagfelt, blant annet betennelser og immunologiske mekanismer.

Årets to Early Carees Awards er tildelt forskerne Therese Seierstad ved Klinikk for radiologi og nukleærmedisin, for sitt arbeid med å kombinere medisinsk avbildning, laboratoriefag og klinikk, og Espen Melum ved Institutt for indremedisinsk forskning, Norsk senter for PSC og Avdeling for transplantasjonsmedisin, for sin forskning på prosesser som regulerer betennelse i galleveiene.

Årets fremragende forskere 2016: Pål Aukrust (Excellent Researcher Award) flankert av  Therese Seierstad og Espen Melum (begge Early Career Awards).

 

Excellent Research Award

Pål Aukrust
- professor II UiO, Institutt for indremedisinsk forskning
- seksjonsleder, Seksjon for klinisk immunologi og infeksjonssykdommer, Avdeling for revmatologi, hud- og infeksjonssykdommer, Klinikk for kirurgi, inflammasjonsmedisin og transplantasjon

Juryens begrunnelse:
Pål Aukrust is a true academician who has reached excellence clinically and scientifically. He is a fine teacher and has as a mentor been responsible for more than 25 PhD students. He has established competent research groups within the dynamic scientific field of inflammation and immunological mechanisms in cardiovascular diseases. Pål Aukrust has also important scientific contributions in the fields of DNA repair and Oxidative stress. He is a dynamic leader with a capacity to lift others.

Hva betyr denne utmerkelsen for deg?

Prisen er en anerkjennelse av den forskningen vi driver, hvor man kombinerer klinikk og basalforskning. Prisen understreker også at OUS vil prioritere at klinikere får muligheten til drive aktivt forskning selv i en travel klinisk hverdag.

Hva går din nåværende forskning ut på?

Betennelse er i utgangspunktet bra for kroppen med tanke på f.eks. å reparere vevsskade og for å bekjempe infeksjoner. Hvis betennelsen blir for kraftig, for svak eller varer for lenge kan det imidlertid skape sykdom. De siste årene har vår forskning vært fokusert mot betennelse som sykdomsframkallende mekanisme ved aterosklerose (åreforkalkning), en karsykdom som er den viktigste årsaken til hjerteinfarkt og hjerneslag. Vi har hatt spesielt fokus på samspillet mellom betennelse, metabolisme og DNA-reparasjon og hvordan en forstyrret interaksjon mellom disse prosessene kan spille en avgjørende rolle for utvikling og progresjon av aterosklerose.

Hvordan vil forskningen komme pasientene til nytte?

Vi tror denne forskningen både på kort og lang sikt vil komme pasientene til gode i form av nye angrepspunkter for behandling og nye biomarkører ved aterosklerotisk sykdom. Som et eksempel har vi nylig i samarbeid med St. Olavs hospital i Trondheim gjennomført en klinisk studie hvor vi viser at en dose av det betennelsedempende medikamentet Tocilizumab, som hemmer effekten av interleukin-6 og som brukes ved revmatiske sykdommer, har en gunstig effekt ved hjerteinfarkt, spesielt hos de som får revaskuleringsterapi (PCI).

Mer om Pål Aukrusts forskning på ous-research.no

Early Career Awards

Espen Melum
forsker ved Institutt for indremedisinsk forskning og Norsk senter for PSC, lege i spesialisering ved Avdeling for transplantasjonsmedisin

Juryens begrunnelse:
Espen Melum has already at the start of his medical education shown an interest in medical sciences and academia. After his PhD, in 2010, at The Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, he spent almost two years in Richard Blumbergs laboratory at Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women´s Hospital. A time well used with high profile publications. He is a scientific leader and has established his own research group which is well funded from external resources. In addition to his research activities he is also well on his way to a clinical specialization.

Hva betyr denne utmerkelsen for deg?

Jeg setter stor pris på å motta denne prisen fra Oslo universitetssykehus. Det er definitivt motiverende for videre arbeid fremover. Tildelingen er også en anerkjennelse til forskningsmiljøet jeg er en del av på Rikshospitalet og til medlemmene i forskningsgruppen min.

Hva går din nåværende forskning ut på?

Min forskning går ut på å forsøke å forstå hvilke prosesser som regulerer betennelse i galleveiene. Dette er spesielt relevant for alvorlige gallegangssykdommer som primær skleroserende cholangitt (PSC). I tillegg studerer forskningsgruppen min også endel grunnleggende funksjoner til immunsystemet. I de fleste av prosjektene bruker vi dyremodeller og gjør sammenligninger med materiale fra pasienter.

Hvordan vil forskningen komme pasientene til nytte?

Hvis vi får en bedre forståelse av mekanismene som regulerer betennelse i gallegangene kan vi forhåpentligvis kunne identifisere nye måter å behandle gallegangssykdom på. I tillegg vil en økt sykdomsforståelse forhåpentligvis kunne gi indikasjoner på hvordan vi kan forbedre diagnostikk og utredning.

Mer om Espen Melums forskning på ous-research.no

 

Therese Seierstad
forskningsansvarlig i Klinikk for radiologi og nukleærmedisin

Juryens begrunnelse:
Therese Seierstad completed her PhD in 2008 in the field of functional magnetic resonance imaging related to colorectal cancer. Therese Seierstad has also carried out interesting comparisons of functional imaging techniques such as MRI and PET. She has been organizing and designing several clinical trials and the focus of her clinical research has been detection, prediction and follow-up of treatment responses.

Hva betyr denne utmerkelsen for deg?

Prisen er en anerkjennelse av min forskningsstrategi: Jeg søker å kombinere medisinsk avbildning, laboratoriefag og klinikk. Jeg har forsøkt å bygge samarbeidsgrupper på tvers av fag og i stor grad bruke sykehusets egne ressurser. Denne utmerkelsen er en motivasjon for videre satsning.

Hva går din nåværende forskning ut på?

Å bruke funksjonell og molekylær avbildning til å karakterisere kreft for å kunne skreddersy behandling og måle behandlingseffekt tidlig i forløpet.

Hvordan vil forskningen komme pasientene til nytte?

Ved å redusere over- og underbehandling. Det vil si at pasienter med lite aggressive (snille) svulster slipper altfor kraftig behandling og at pasienter med aggressive (slemme) svulster får tilstrekkelig kraftig behandling. Dessuten vil tidlig kontroll av behandlingseffekt gjøre at pasienter kan slippe bivirkninger fra behandling som ikke virker godt nok, eller skifte til annen behandling.

Mer om Therese Seierstads forskning på ous-research.no

Drug for Rare Disorder Linked to Reducing Cholesterol Plaque Compound being tested in a genetic condition showed promise in treating heart disease in mice

Scientist Eicke Latz is studying whether the drug cyclodextrin might help treat heart disease. Photo: Hempel Family

By 

Amy Dockser Marcus

Updated April 6, 2016 4:19 p.m. ET

Cyclodextrin, a compound now in testing to treat a very rare genetic disease, may have a potential use in treating a much more common condition too: heart disease.

Researchers reported Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine that in mice, cyclodextrin was able to reduce plaque and dissolve cholesterol crystals, which some research suggests could play a role in atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries.

Statins and cholesterol-lowering drugs are highly effective in helping prevent heart attacks and stroke, but don’t adequately treat everyone. The cyclodextrin study may help draw attention to cholesterol crystals as a potential target for treatment. The idea is that cholesterol can crystallize and accumulate in arteries, causing inflammation and triggering or contributing to disease. The research is still in its early days, and positive findings in animals don’t always translate to humans.

“This is a potentially promising therapeutic approach,” said George Abela, chief of cardiology at Michigan State University, who has done extensive research on cholesterol crystals but wasn’t involved in the new study.

Dr. Abela said he and other researchers are looking for a way to prevent or dissolve cholesterol crystals by testing agents that include aspirin, statins and alcohol, among others. He said they haven’t examined cyclodextrin for this purpose.

“The question is what is the most tolerable and efficient way to extract the crystals,” Dr. Abela said.

Cyclodextrin has long been used to help dissolve and deliver drugs and wasn’t considered an active drug itself. But efforts by scientists, clinicians and patient advocates to find a therapy for a rare genetic condition called Niemann-Pick Type C led to the realization that cyclodextrin might help treat the fatal cholesterol metabolism disorder.

Cyclodextrin is being tested in children with NPC disease in a clinical trial run by Vtesse Inc. A number of other patients with NPC are taking cyclodextrin outside the clinical trial with permission from the Food and Drug Administration.

The idea for the heart-disease study came from a parent of children with NPC disease who are taking cyclodextrin. The parent read a paper about cholesterol crystals and their potential role in heart disease. The parent reached out to one of the authors, Eicke Latz , inquiring whether cyclodextrin might dissolve them.

Dr. Latz, who is the director of the University of Bonn’s Institute of Innate Immunity and principal investigator on the cyclodextrin study, said he believes cyclodextrin makes the cells more efficient in getting rid of cholesterol, lowering the likelihood that cholesterol crystals will form in arteries.

In the mice studied, cyclodextrin worked even when the mice continued to eat a high-cholesterol diet.

Dr. Latz said much more work needs to be done, particularly on dosing if the drug gets to the human-testing stage. In at least some people with NPC disease, cyclodextrin has caused hearing loss.

Write to Amy Dockser Marcus at amy.marcus@wsj.com

In Science, Inspiration Can Come From Unlikely PlacesA mom reached out to a scientist with a novel idea for an experiment. Years later, her hunch has blossomed into a published scientific study.

Eicke Latz gathering data for his cyclodextrin studies. Photo: Chris and Hugh Hempel

By 

Amy Dockser Marcus

Updated April 6, 2016 2:08 p.m. ET

1 COMMENTS 

In science, ideas can come from anywhere. Still, Eicke Latz was surprised to get an email in 2010 from a stranger proposing an experiment.

Dr. Latz and other researchers had just published a study in Nature proposing that cholesterol crystals that form in the arteries may help trigger inflammation and heart disease. The scientists wondered in the paper if finding drugs that might dissolve the crystals could make a difference in treating or even preventing the disease.

One of the readers of Dr. Latz’s paper was Chris Hempel of Reno, Nev., the mother of twin girls with a rare and fatal cholesterol-metabolism disorder called Niemann-Pick Type C disease. Her children were receiving cyclodextrin as part of an experimental treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ms. Hempel wondered if cyclodextrin might work to dissolve cholesterol crystals. Dr. Latz said the idea was intriguing, and he set out to test it.

Years later, Ms. Hempel’s inkling has turned into the focus of a newly published scientific study in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Dr. Latz lists Ms. Hempel as one of the co-authors.

“In the end,” he says, “the question turned out to not be so simple to answer.”

Here are edited excerpts of the conversation with Dr. Latz about how those most affected by a particular disease can end up helping to generate science.

WSJ: Have you ever pursued a suggestion from someone who isn’t a scientist?

Dr. Latz: Typically not. If the concept is maybe written up in a very clear way or it is a simple concept you may actually get ideas from people who are not scientists. Those are sometimes the best ideas, because when you have an education on a certain subtopic you are always a little bit biased. You understand what other people have written about the topic, you understand all the knowledge around the topic, or at least you think you understand it, but then sometimes the most obvious things don’t really stay in your mind. They don’t come out because you think too complicated.

WSJ: Can you expand on what some of the advantages an educated patient advocate, but not a trained scientist, might have in coming up with an idea for an experiment?

Dr. Latz: One thing is they probably have a lot of passion for what they read up on and for what they come up with, just because it affects the lives of their loved ones and this is a driving force, to really grasp everything around the disease. They want to get [at] something novel and…want to find something new so they can have a new therapy for their kids or people that have a disease. So I think it’s a special driving force that is in those people.

WSJ: What would be some of the limitations of working on ideas that come from people who don’t have any specialized science training?

Dr. Latz: I don’t think there is a limitation because, in the end, it is something you can test, in a mouse or a test tube or an experiment. So if the idea is a good idea, it comes out perfectly well and if it is a bad idea or an idea that is not justified, it will not show the answer.

Addison and Cassidy Hempel, twins with Niemann-Pick Type C disease, take an experimental drug now being tested in heart disease too. Photo: Chris and Hugh Hempel

WSJ: What factors limit more widespread collaboration between scientists and the public?

Dr. Latz: The information we typically get is from peer-reviewed journals. That is something that is not typically open to the general public...it is hidden between certain paywalls because people have to pay for viewing those articles. [But] there are more and more open access policies in science publishing so that other people actually can have access to the scientific literature. That is only one layer. The other layer is the language itself sometimes is a little bit cryptic. It is specialized. You always have to assume the reader has a certain knowledge level about what you write about.

Write to Amy Dockser Marcus at amy.marcus@wsj.com

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