Tomas Olsson´s research group

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Clinical and experimental neuroimmunology

A large part of our research focuses on mechanisms involved in the disease pathogenesis of MS.

Since MS is caused by inflammation and the inflammation can be controlled, the MS disease should in principal be curable or at least preventable to a large extent. Some of the currently available therapies are in fact able to dampen the relapse rates up to 70 %. 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 likely to be many (the candidate genes are around hundred today) and therefore may differ between different individuals with MS. This has been a working hypothesis for decades, but with recent technological and intellectual developments this can be properly studied.

Our General Aim is to understand the genetic and environmental causes of MS by translational approach integrating molecular genetics and functional studies in rodent models of MS and non- specific CNS damage with large scale studies in clinical MS materials.

Our detailed research plan:

Fine dissection of polymorphic genes regulating rat models of MS and inflammatory neurodegeneration after nerve trauma using advanced intercross lines (AIL), a heterogeneous stock (HS) and recombinant congenic mapping under the assumption that interspecies conserved mechanism may be of relevance for human neuroinflammatory disease.

By comparative genetics, study if the same gene, or genes in the same pathway, are of relevance in human disease.

Functionally dissect these pathways in rodents, and also study potential therapeutic intervention.

Study potential gene-environment interactions in a large ongoing case-control study.

Participate in a large international endeavour on un-biased whole genome scanning of a very large MS case-control cohort (the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, IMSGC). And in follow up studies in the included Swedish material, study relations between genetic variants, gene expression and gene-environment effects.

Research Projects

  • Identification of polymorphic genes regulating rat models of MS and inflammatory neurodegeneration after nerve trauma
  • By comparative genetics, is the same gene/pathway relevant in human disease
  • Study potential therapeutic interventions
  • Study potential gene-environment interactions in a large ongoing case-control study
  • Identification of genes regulating MS in patients (the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, IMSGC) and study relations between genetic variants, gene expression and gene-environment effects

Selected Publications

Genetic risk and a primary role for cell-mediated immune mechanisms in multiple sclerosis.
, , Sawcer S, Hellenthal G, Pirinen M, Spencer C, et al
Nature 2011 Aug;476(7359):214-9

Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis: interaction with HLA.
Sundqvist E, Sundström P, Lindén M, Hedström A, Aloisi F, Hillert J, et al
Genes Immun. 2012 Jan;13(1):14-20

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is associated with increased risk for multiple sclerosis.
Hedström A, Bäärnhielm M, Olsson T, Alfredsson L
Mult. Scler. 2011 Jul;17(7):788-93

White matter disease: Roles of anti-MOG antibodies in demyelinating diseases.
Olsson T
Nat Rev Neurol 2011 May;7(5):248-9

Principles of a new treatment algorithm in multiple sclerosis.
Hartung H, Montalban X, Sorensen P, Vermersch P, Olsson T
Expert Rev Neurother 2011 Mar;11(3):351-62

Group members

Nada AbdelmagidAssociated
Nada AbdelmagidPostdoc
Venus AzharyBiomedical scientist
Rasmus BerglundGraduate Student
Susanna BraunerAssociated
Brinda DevResearch assistant
Anatoly DubnovitskyProject manager
Sevasti FlytzaniPhD student
Sevasti FlytzaniGraduate Student
Linda ForsbergProject coordinator
Lars FuggerVisiting professor
Liisa HopiaGraduate Student
Susanne JohanssonProject coordinator
Mohsen KhademiSenior researcher
Hannes LaaksonenGraduate Student
Åsa LeanderssonProject administrator
Hans LinkAssociated
Marie N DiayePhD student
Marie N DiayeGraduate Student
Nina NordinProject coordinator
Tomas OlssonResearch team leader
Tomas OlssonProfessor/senior physician
André Ortlieb Guerreiro CacaisAssociated
André Ortlieb Guerreiro CacaisAssistant professor
André Ortlieb Guerreiro CacaisPostdoc
Pernilla StridAssistant professor
Susanne SundqvistResearch nurse
Milena Zeitelhofer-AdzemovicAssociated
Milena Zeitelhofer-AdzemovicPostdoc