Cell and Molecular Immunology
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infects and is carried by 70-100% of the world’s population, but rarely gives symptoms in the healthy population. In immunosuppressed patients, such as organ or stem cell transplant patients, AIDS patients and neonates, CMV may cause very serious disease and even death.
CMV disease in these groups of patients has also high-lightened the role of the virus in the development of other diseases, in particular for vascular diseases, autoimmune diseases and possibly in certain types of cancer. We have developed new sensitive techniques for detection of CMV infection in tissues from patients with various autoimmune diseases, vascular diseases and cancers. We can now detect an active CMV infection in affected organs in a majority of these patients but not in healthy tissue from the same patients or in tissues from control patients.
We know that CMV is able control different cellular and immunological functions and may thereby precipitate disease development. Antiviral treatment strategies may therefore become useful to cure or control a variety of different diseases. Hence, our long-term goals are to further develop an understanding of how CMV is specifically involved in the development of different diseases, and to find new targets for treatment strategies.
New evidence implies a frequent presence of Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a herpes virus that infects and is carried by a large part of the population, is present in inflammatory diseases and cancer. Our goal is to increase the knowledge of the role of CMV in these diseases and to develop new treatment strategies.
Ninety percent of all cancer deaths arise from tumor metastasis, a process that depends on the delamination and spread of tumor cells. Only a minority of the tumor cells, i.e. tumor-initiating cells also referred to as cancer stem cells (CSCs), are capable of successfully seeding a distant site. The CSC hypothesis proposes that only a subset of tumor cells have the ability to self-renew and are thus responsible for driving tumorigenesis, making them ideal targets for cancer intervention. Our research group focuses on the early steps of the metastatic process, i.e. migration and invasion of the tumor cells into circulation through a process known as epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the mechanisms controlling this process. Recent discoveries have provided the compelling evidence that during the process of EMT cells are converted into cancer stem cells (CSCs). Our main interest is to gain a better understanding of cellular changes that induces EMT and conversion to CSCs.