Tag Archives: IKM

I am the herd

Signe ÅsbergBlogger: Signe Åsberg,
PhD student at CEMIR


In December last year an outbreak of measles started when a family that was not vaccinated visited Disneyland California. I’m currently a visiting graduate student here in Los Angeles and I’d planned to go to Disneyland to get some of that Christmas magic-feeling that the decorated palm trees couldn’t convey.

I never went though. Before I even knew it Christmas had passed, January gone and nearly a hundred persons had been infected with measles after the outbreak that started in Disneyland.

… people who choose not to vaccinate their kids for religious or “personal reasons”

Ei jenter får vaksine. Foto: iStockPhoto

Measles are effectively prevented by vaccination and there is no cost involved (Photo: iStock)

In the following months the disease spread and 2015 is expected to be a record year in the number of cases since measles was declared eradicated in the US in 2000. What I find especially aggravating is that measles are effectively prevented by vaccination and there is no cost involved. The vaccine is part of the vaccination program, as it is in Norway, yet there are several schools and kindergartens in California where dangerously few children are vaccinated. Their parents are mainly wealthy and well educated people who choose not to vaccinate their kids for religious or “personal reasons”. Parents need only a signature from a doctor or other type of health care provider to exempt their kid from vaccination and it seems like this signature is given out too easily.

The debate following the outbreak has to a large extent focused on parents right to choose and there is a strong tradition for valuing freedom of choice in the US. But when it comes to diseases such as measles, polio and whopping cough the parents that «feel vaccination is not for them» are putting more vulnerable individuals at risk. For herd immunity to be efficient against measles at least 95-97% of the population needs to be vaccinated. This is enough to prevent an outbreak and protect those who can’t be vaccinated due to health reasons, such as the very young or old, cancer patients or people with reduced immune function.

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When the immune system causes damage

Eivind Ottersen Samstad

Foto: Hanne Strypet

On Friday 6 February, Eivind Ottersen Samstad from CEMIR research centre defends his doctoral thesis. He has been researching crystalline substances in the human body, such as quartz, cholesterol and uric acid crystals.

– The immune system is activated when the body attempts to get rid of these crystals, but sometimes our bodies react the wrong way. The response is so powerful that it causes damage to cells and tissue, Samstad explains.

This can cause diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, gout, heart attack or stroke.

Through their research, Samstad and his colleagues have attempted to understand the mechanisms in play when the immune system overreacts and in fact causes disease instead of preventing it.

Samstad started his research when he was still a student in the NTNU Research Programme, and continued his work at CEMIR. In addition to his research, he has lately been working as a doctor at Ålesund Hospital.

CEMIR was started in 2013 and was awarded Centre of Research Excellence (CoE) status by the Research Council.

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Filed under Inflammatory and Immune System, NTNUmedicine, Research

What I love about my job

Signe ÅsbergBlogger: Signe Åsberg
PhD student at CEMIR

This blog post was originally posted on Åsberg’s science blog Furby in the lab


Let me give you a list of all the aspects of my job as a PhD student that I love. It really is a great ride but also incredibly difficult and I find myself easily sucked into the dark thoughts of how this will never work out, I’m the worst scientist in history and my project is not worth doing. I think it is time to will myself out of the dark places and focus on what I enjoy:

– First of all I get to think. A lot. Almost all the time, every day. I think, ponder, question, wonder. It’s a privilege.

– I get to look closely at microscopic organisms. I love looking at things. There’s just nothing better than looking at something amazing with your own eyes. I get to see cells, bacteria and even proteins. Or I get to see the light that the fluorophores I attached to those proteins emit when I excite them.

– This brings me to attaching fluorophores to proteins. I’m excited about that. I get to glue molecules together!

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Filed under Inflammatory and Immune System, NTNUmedicine, Opinions, Research, Student life

Could Trophoblasts be the Immune Cells of Pregnancy?

Line TangeråsGuro StødleBlogger: Guro Stødle and Line Tangerås
PhD students, CEMIR


In the human body, infections (caused by bacteria or virus) and tissue injury may set off an inflammatory response, in which immune cells, blood vessels, proteins and other mediators work together to eliminate the threat and repair the damage.

Gravid magePregnancy is a delicate setting where the mother and fetus must adapt properly to each other to coexist, and an inflammatory response can disturb this delicate balance and cause complications. This is seen in preeclampsia, a potentially severe inflammatory pregnancy disorder threatening both the mother and fetus.

In preeclampsia, inflammation in the placenta contributes to poor placental development, later leading to systemic inflammation in the mother, manifesting as high blood pressure and protein in the mother’s urine.

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Filed under NTNUmedicine, Reproductive Health and Childbirth, Research

Honorary doctorate to Nobel Laureate Bruce Beutler

Professor Bruce Beutler

Professor Bruce Beutler.
Photo: Holger Motzkau / Wikimedia Commons

The Board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, has decided to award Professor Bruce Beutler an honorary doctorate, the degree of doctor honoris causa. The appointment of Beutler recognizes his significant contributions to understanding how innate immune cell receptors regulate inflammatory responses.

Butler was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2011 for his research on innate immunity. He shared the prize with med Jules A. Hoffmann and Ralph M. Steinman.

Bruce Beutler’s groundbreaking discoveries about sensors in our innate immune system that recognize bacteria have led to an explosion of research on this theme.  Beutler’s work has greatly inspired scientists at NTNU’s Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research (CEMIR) working in the same field as him.

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Filed under Inflammatory and Immune System, NTNUmedicine, Research

The Black Death bacteria continues to kill

Egil Lien med verneutstyr

Egil Lien wearing safety gear at the lab.

It took almost six months for Egil Lien to get permission from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US to study the plague bacteria that, in its time, killed half of Norway’s population. Now, an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria has been found.

As the bacteria responsible for killing a large part of Europe’s population during the Black Death, the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis has a long kill list on its conscience.

Read more at Gemini.no

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Filed under Inflammatory and Immune System, NTNUmedicine, Research

Early markers of a potentially dangerous type of prostate cancer

Morten Beck RyeBloggers: May-Britt Tessemansattebilde.may-britt.tessem and Morten Beck Rye

As we speak there are no accurate methods to diagnose potentially dangerous prostate cancer in an early stage of cancer.

From a pathologist’s point of view, aggressive cancers look totally similar to harmless subtypes in the beginning of development. As a consequence, the patients will be at high risk of overtreatment in the majority of cases where prostate cancer is detected. We urgently need new tools and markers to sort out the potentially dangerous types of prostate cancer from the non-dangerous in early disease. Most importantly, this will save the patients from reduced quality of life due to unnecessary surgical interventions, and also be economically beneficial for society.

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The Integrated University Hospital improves patient care

Blogger: Bjørn GustafssonBjørn_Gustafsson_blid_Foto_GeirMogen
Dean of Research, The Faculty of Medicine, NTNU

Last week one of our research groups, led by Professor Duan Chen, published a comprehensive scientific study showing promising results in treating gastric cancer, by blocking the tumor nerve supply. The article was published in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine.

From left: The Knowledge Center, Chun-Mei Zhao, Gøran T. Andersen (in the background), Duan Chen bottom right

From left: The Knowledge Center, Chun-Mei Zhao, Gøran T. Andersen (in the background), Duan Chen bottom right (Photo: Helsebygg/Geir Mogen)

The term “translational medicine” involves transferring new knowledge from basic research on for instance cell culture or animal models to practical use in patient care; also coined with the term “from bench-to-bedside”.

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Filed under Cancer, NTNUmedicine, Opinions, Oral and Gastrointestinal, Research

CEMIR seminar in Trondheim, September 4, 2014

The Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research, CEMIR, will hold the annual scientific seminar on inflammation research on September 4, 2014.

Speakers include the renowned professors

Cemir collage seminar

Clockwise from top left: Alan Aderem, Göran Hansson, Stefanie Vogel and Douglas Golenbock

The invited speakers will relate to the inflammation research area in different ways.

The seminar is open for all and you do not need to register in avance to participate.

CEMIR was established in 2013 as a Centre of Excellence appointed by the Research Council of Norway. The vision of CEMIR is to lay the foundation for identifying new therapeutic targets and developing new diagnostic tools for inflammatory diseases through an integrated 10-year programme of research and research training in molecular innate immune responses. CEMIR is hosted by the Faculty of Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Please find the full seminar program and see the titles of the talks here: CEMIR seminar 2014 programme (pdf)

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Filed under Inflammatory and Immune System, NTNUmedicine, Research

Treating cancer with botox

Gøran Andersen og Duan Chen.

Gøran Andersen and Duan Chen. (Foto: Geir Mogen)

In laboratory tests at The Faculty of medicine, NTNU, Botox proved highly effective at suppressing gastric cancer in mice.

The promising results have led to the launch of an early clinical trial involving human patients with stomach cancer in Norway and St. Olavs Hospital.

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Filed under Cancer, NTNUmedicine, Research