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Coming theses from other universities

  • Towards time-resolved molecular interaction assays in living bacteria Author: João Crispim Encarnação Link: Publication date: 2019-12-18 10:48

    Rare and neglected diseases such as multidrug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis, malaria and trypanosomiasis are re-emerging in Europe. New strategies are needed to accelerate drug discovery to fight these pathogens. AEGIS is a Pan-European project that combines different technologies to accelerate the discovery of molecules suitable for drug development in selected neglected diseases. This thesis is part of the AEGIS research area that considers time in a multidisciplinary approach, combining biology, physics and mathematics to provide tools to characterize biological events for improving drug development and information about the target diseases and lead compounds.

    Real-time cell binding assays (RT-CBA) of receptor-ligand interactions are fundamental in basic research and drug discovery. However, this kind of assays are still rare on living cells, especially in the microbiology field. In this project, we apply the same high-precision assay type on bacterial systems and explored the interior of the cell with a time resolved assay.

    The effect of temperature was evaluated in the RT-CBA using LigandTracer to ensure that it was possible to use the technology in a range of temperatures suitable for bacteria. A method for attaching Gram positive and negative bacteria on the surface of a normal Petri dish, showing a high reproducibly and a high cellular viability after 16 h. With these two key steps, an RT-CBA fit for microbiology is available.

    Next, to answer biological questions, intracellular interactions were explored by expression and validation of intracellular proteins with fluorescent tags suitable for RT-CBAs. First, we used the subunit B from the Shiga toxin (STxB) as a model to understand different aspects about the internalization processes. RT-CBAs allowed to discovery new features of STxB binding and mechanism to deliver small molecules or small proteins into cancer cells. Then, for exploring intracellular interactions, insect cells were bioengineered for evaluating the ability of small molecules to internalize and bind to its target. Using Carbonic anhydrase II – sulfonamides as a model system, the molecular interaction in the cytoplasm could be measured using a quencher label approach. The development of this kind of novel RT-CBA tools provide new information about drug candidates for targets that are not properly expressed in bacterial cells.

    The assays in this project can make drug design more efficient. Furthermore, the evaluation of binding activity of the new compounds developed by AEGIS, focusing on rare/neglected diseases, in a biological environment has the potential to accelerate drug discovery for the targeted emerging diseases.

  • Life Strategies, Work and Health in People with Usher syndrome Author: Mattias Ehn Link: Publication date: 2019-12-16 12:49
  • Non-Invasive Characterization of Liver Disease : By Multimodal Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Author: Markus Karlsson Link: Publication date: 2019-12-13 12:14

    There is a large and unmet need for diagnostic tool that can be used to characterize chronic liver diseases (CLD). In the earlier stages of CLD, much of the diagnostics involves performing biopsies, which are evaluated by a histopathologist for the presence of e.g. fat, iron, inflammation, and fibrosis. Performing biopsies, however, have two downsides: i) biopsies are invasive and carries a small but non-negligible risk for serious complications, ii) biopsies only represents a tiny portion of the liver and are thus prone to sampling error. Moreover, in the later stages of CLD, when the disease has progressed far enough, the ability of the liver to perform its basic function will be compromised. In this stage, there is a need for better methods for accurately measuring liver function. Additionally, measures of liver function can also be used when developing new drugs, as biomarkers for drug-induced liver injury (DILI), which is a serious drug-safety issue.

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical imaging modality, which have shown much promise with regards to characterizing liver disease in all of the abovementioned aspects. The aim of this PhD project was to develop and validate MR-based methods that can be used to non-invasively characterize liver disease.

    Paper I investigated if R2* mapping, a MR-method for measuring liver iron content, can be confounded by liver fat. The results show fat does affect R2*. The conclusion was therefore that fat must be taken into account when measuring small amounts of liver iron, as a small increase in R2* could be due to either small amounts of iron or large amounts of fat.

    Paper II examined whether T1 mapping, which is another MR-method, can be used for staging liver fibrosis. The results of previous research have been mixed; some studies have been very promising, whereas other studies have been less promising. Unfortunately, the results in Paper II belongs to the less promising studies.

    Paper III focused on measuring liver function by dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCEMRI) using a liver specific contrast agent, which is taken up the hepatocytes and excreted to the bile. The purpose of the paper was to extend and validate a method for estimating uptake and efflux rates of the contrast agent. The method had previously only been applied in health volunteers. Paper II showed that the method can be applied to CLD patients and that the uptake of the contrast agent is lower in patients with advanced fibrosis.

    Paper IV also used studied liver function with DCE-MRI in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). PSC is a CLD where the bile ducts are attacked by the immune system. When diagnosing PSC patients, it is common to use magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), which is a method for imaging the bile ducts. Paper IV examined if there was any correlation between number and severity of the morphological changes, seen on MRCP, and measures of liver function derived using DCE-MRI. However, the results showed no such correlation. The conclusion was that the results indicates that MRCP should not be used to predict parenchymal function.

    Paper V developed a method for translating DCE-MRI liver function parameters from rats to humans. This translation could be of value when developing new drugs, as a tool for predicting which drugs might cause drug-induced liver injury.

    In summary, this thesis has shown that multimodal quantitative MR has a bright future for characterizing liver disease from a range of different aspects.