Researcher - Paediatrics

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Gustafsson, Britt

Studies of potential risk factors and prognostic factors after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in children

Britt GustafssonMD, PhD, Assoc.professor
Britt Gustafsson
Mobil: 073-9660822

Although cure rates in acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL) in children have improved during the last decades with an event free 5-year survival of 85 % it remains a challenge to understand how molecular aberrations influence the prognosis of ALL and thus the choice of optimal therapy. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is an established treatment for certain leukaemias with poor prognosis or relapses. Survival has improved, but there is a high risk for severe complications. Our research include studies concerning molecular aberrations in ALL and clinical studies to identify certain risk factors after HSCT. Finally we want to explore whether music therapy is a suitable therapy form for children after HSCT and if it improves the psychological and overall well being of the patients. Our research projects fall into the following questions/studies:

  • Can certain molecular proteins in the bone marrow predict the prognosis in leukaemia before and after HSCT?
  • Is there a prenatal origin of leukaemia? By investigating Guthrie cards in two approaches: viral studies and searching for leukemic clones we hope to find some answers.
  • Can certain neurotropic viruses cause neurological complications after HOST?
  • Is it possible to identify certain risk factors for children developing severe graft-versus-host-disease  (GVHD) in the gastro intestinal tract after HSCT?
  • Can music therapy affect the physiological and physical recovery after HCT in children?

The research group:
The PhD students working into the above projects are; Emma Honkaniemi, she has fulfilled her half-time seminar and she will defend her thesis in the end of 2014 or in the beginning of 2015.  She has studied molecular proteins in bone marrow samples and she has also investigated certain viruses in prenatal neonatal blood spots. Thomas Mårtensson was registered as a PhD student in May 2013 and he is investigating different risk factors for developing GVHD in the gastrointestinal tract. Kristin Mattson was registered as a PhD student in Nov. 2013 and she continues the studies concerning prognostic factors in bone marrow samples after HSCT and she will also search for certain leukemic clones in Guthrie cards. Lena Uggla is the music therapist and she is investigating if music therapy can reduce anxiety, improve mood, increase quality of life and support the mental health recovery after stem cell transplantation. We plan to register her as a PhD student spring 2014.

Professor J.Winiarski, professor M.Hassan, professor B. Sander, medical doctor G. Bogdanovic, associate professor G. Barbany, associate professor J.Mattson, associate professor T.Casswall, medical doctor K.Ramme, medical doctor B-M Swahn and associate professor B.Wrangsjö are all connected to different parts of the above projects.

Our research has been generously supported by the Swedish Child Cancer Foundation, the Samariten foundation, Mary Béves foundation, the Ekhaga foundation and ALF foundations.