Tomas Olsson Group
Clinical and experimental neuroimmunology; focus on Multiple sclerosis
Our research focuses on mechanisms involved in the disease pathogenesis of MS.
Since MS is caused by inflammation, which in principle can be controlled, the disease should be curable and/or preventable to a large extent. Some of the currently available therapies are in fact able to dampen the relapse rates up to 90 %. However, these therapies broadly interfere with the immune system, which is needed for the host defense against infections, and may be risky over a long term prospects. Therefore, the primary goal is to achieve a more detailed knowledge on the exact modes and mechanisms in which the immune system is allowed to attack the nervous system in order to develop much more precise therapeutic interventions.
Both environmental factors and gene variants contribute to the cause of MS. The genes involved are many, and we have been a pivotal part of international efforts to map these gene loci, now in the order of more than 200. The task now to understand the function of these gene loci, in turn a requisite for developing therapies, since the gene variants denote pathways important for disease even if Odds ratios for each variant is low. We use a translational approach integrating molecular genetics and functional studies in samples from humans and in rodent models of MS.
We aim to: 1) Further define, lifestyle/environmental factors and pathways that drive severity/progression, and MS risk alone, providing a basis for treating progressive disease. 2) Decipher gene-environment interactions, and interactions between environmental factors. 3) Define the function of selected MS gene loci and environmental factors. 4) Define the disease relevant T cells, and explore precise tolerogenic strategies 5) Develop MS biomarkers in blood samples for diagnosis, severity, prognosis and disease heterogeneity.
Consortia & networks
Tomas Olsson is part of the International MS genetics consortium, and works closely with deCode (Kari Stefansson) on Iceland. He is also a PI for the nationwide post-marketing follow up of MS drugs.
The group has extensive international collaborations exemplified with Larry Steinman and Bill Robinson (Stanford), Lars Fugger (Oxford).
At Karolinska Instiutet/CMM, the Tomas Olsson Group works closely togehter with the groups of Ingrid Kockum, Fredrik Piehl, Hans Grönlund and Maja Jagodic for which Tomas Olsson supports senior researchers, post docs and provides mentoring.
Tomas Olsson is a Co-PI in the project lead by Lars Alfredsson, “the epidemiology of MS”.
Major Funding from the Swedish research Council, the Swedish Brain Foundation, KAW and Margaretha af Ugglas Foundation, as well as the pharma industry.