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Coming theses from other universities

  • High-grade spondylolisthesis in young patients : Long-term results of in situ fusion Author: Anders Joelson Link: Publication date: 2019-12-10 14:10
  • Genetic and molecular alterations in aldosterone producing adenomas Author: Ravi Kumar Dutta Link: Publication date: 2019-12-10 09:42

    Aldosterone producing tumors (APA, also known as Conn tumors) are adrenal tumors that overproduce aldosterone, a hormone that regulates the sodium levels in blood and contributes to blood pressure (BP) regulation. Excessive production of aldosterone causes hypertension and approximately 5-15% of hypertensive patients have hyperaldosteronism, known as primary aldosteronism (PA). Major causes of PA are bilateral adrenal hyperplasia (BAH) or aldosterone producing adenoma (APA) and about 30% of PA patients have APAs. In most cases, the disease is unilateral, in rare case bilateral. Patients with APA are often detected when they have elevated blood pressure (BP>160/100mmHg) or when BP cannot be controlled with drugs. Surgery dramatically normalizes or lowers BP in patients with APA.

    In this thesis, we first explored the mutation frequency in susceptibility genes in sporadic APAs. About 60% of APAs displayed complementary mutations in the KCNJ5, ATP1A1, ATP2B3, CTNNB1, CACNAID and CLCN2 genes (Paper I, II & III). Copy number variation analysis of 35 APAs identified amplification of chromosome 10q24.31 in two tumors, where CALHM1-3- genes encoding for potential calcium ion channels are located. Only CALHM2 is expressed in adrenals and sequencing of CALHM2 revealed three different heterozygous sequence variants; c.341_42delCT (CALHM2P114Rfs*12), c.286G>A (CALHM2A96T) and c.580G>A (CALHM2V194M) in 5 APAs. CALHM2 is expressed in the mitochondrial membranes and Ca2+ imaging revealed that CALHM2 has selection of another ion rather than Ca2+. The genetic variant CALHM2V194M converts CALHM2 into a non-selective channel and results in higher Ca2+ conductance in mitochondria. We further found that loss of CALHM2 function upregulates REELIN/LRP8 signaling activating β-catenin dependent transcription of target genes (Paper II). In Paper IV, we investigated Scandinavian APA cases (n=35) and Swedish controls (n=60) for GWAS and discovered a susceptibility locus on chromosome Xq13.3 in a 4 Mb region to be significantly associated with APAs. Significance level was still same after genotyping the sentinel SNP rs2224095 in a replication cohort of APAs (n=52) and controls (n=740). Sequencing of an adjacent gene of the sentinel SNP, MAGEE1, identified a rare variant in one APA, which is complementary to other mutations in our primary cohort. In Summary, our studies have increased the knowledge of molecular genetic events in APAs. The results may contribute to find future non-surgical treatments for APAs.  

  • Dried blood sampling and digital readout to advance molecular diagnostics Author: Johan Björkesten Link: Publication date: 2019-11-28 13:23

    A drastically increased capacity to measure large sets of molecular features in numerous patient samples in great detail will be required to fulfill the vision of precision medicine and wellness, which may characterize molecular diagnostics in the 21st century. Also sampling procedures need a renaissance to permit continuous sampling at population levels at reasonable cost.

    Blood sampling is typically performed via venipuncture to draw several milliliters of blood for plasma isolation. This is inconvenient, time-consuming and costly, as well as hard to standardize. The effect on plasma protein profiles by pre-centrifugation delay was investigated in Paper II, demonstrating time- and temperature-dependent release of proteins from blood cells upon delayed plasma isolation, but almost no protein degradation as analyzed by two 92-plex protein panels (Olink® Proteomics). An alternative sampling method, where blood drops from a finger stick are collected dried on paper, is relatively non-invasive, potentially home-based and cheap. Dried blood spots can also be shipped via regular mail and compactly stored. The effect of drying and long term storage stability of a large set of proteins from dried blood spots was investigated in Paper I using Olink® technology. The main findings were that drying slightly but consistently influenced the recorded levels of blood proteins, and that long-term storage decreased the detected levels of some of the proteins with half-lives of decades.

    Some molecular diagnostic investigations require great accuracy to be useful, arguing for digital enumeration of individual molecules. Digital PCR is the gold standard but Paper III presents an alternative approach based on rolling circle amplification of single molecules. Another instance where extreme assay performance is required is for rare mutation detection from liquid biopsies. Paper V presents a new method offering essentially error-free genotyping of individual molecules by majority-vote decisions for counting rare mutant DNA in blood. Yet other diagnostic investigations require very simple assays. Paper IV presents a novel one-step method to detect nucleic acid sequences by combining the power of rolling circle amplification and the specificity of DNA strand displacement in a format simple enough to be used at the point of care.   

    Altogether, the thesis spans technologies for advanced molecular diagnostics, from sample collection over assay techniques to an improved readout.