Seminar focusing on Swedish-Indian research

Published 2013-05-24 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:33

[RESS RELEASE 23 May 2013] Karolinska Institutet's scientific collaboration with India is showing some exciting results that might eventually change healthcare for the better. Now, more researchers will be encouraged to enter joint projects through a seminar titled "Karolinska Institutet, Collaboration with India", at which some ongoing Swedish-Indian projects will be presented.

Cecilia Stålsby LundborgPhoto: Ulf Sirborn

Home to a sixth of the global population, India is one of the worlds most densely populated countries. While it is currently going through a period of rapid economic growth driven by the innovative power of various sectors, a great many people still live in a state of extreme poverty. This is an enormous challenge for India, not least its healthcare services. The country has effectively every disease found on the planet, including ones that are rare in Sweden, such as malaria and tuberculosis, and those that are more common, such as diabetes.

"The country represents a large part of the world and has many young, successful researchers, which makes scientific collaborations incredibly attractive," says Professor Cecilia Stålsby Lundborg, coordinator of the universitys collaboration with India.

Professor Stålsby Lundborg has herself been involved in different research projects in India focussing on the use of antibiotics, preserving their effects and preventing resistance. Karolinska Institutet has a long tradition of research collaboration with India, and today, roughly half of Karolinska Institutets departments have projects with over 100 different academies and research institutes in the country. There is also an active teacher and student exchange programme in place between Sweden and India.

Dr Anna Nilsson, associate professor and consultant at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, has spent the past five years on a joint project with India called "Pneumonia in Children", in which she and her colleagues have been trying to ascertain which types of virus and bacteria cause this disease, which annually claims 1.4 million young lives the world over. Samples from 2,400 Indian patients have been collected, and their results will be ready for presentation at the end of the year.

"Already we can see that the number of cases of pneumonia in children caused by bacteria is lower than expected, which means that hospitals and clinics should concentrate more on the viral infections," says Dr Nilsson, who hopes to see the introduction of prophylactic childrens care with nutritious food and basic vaccinations, and ideally a reduction in the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which have no impact on viral infections.

Professor Anna Norrby-Teglund from Karolinska Institutet and her colleagues in India have arrived at some interesting results by studying Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterium that, in the worst of cases, can cause aggressive, often fatal tissue death in the lungs and other organs. Using a large collection of bacterial strains from infected Indian patients, the researchers have managed to identify two staphylococcal toxins that kill the cells in the lung.

"This we've achieved by building an artificial model of a lung in a laboratory environment for studying the infections," says Professor Anna Norrby-Teglund, whose project is presented at the seminar. "We're now testing different treatments for the toxins and hope to find a suitable medicine."

Amongst the audience will be the Indian ambassador, whose presence demonstrates the importance of the research collaboration between the two countries.

"We hope that together we'll be able to develop new fields of knowledge and partnerships between the countries, and that they'll grow in scope and quality so that the results will one day bring about changes in healthcare and benefit humankind the world over," says Professor Stålsby Lundborg.

Seminar: Karolinska Institutet, Collaboration with India

  • When: Tuesday 28 May, 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm
  • Where: Widerströmska huset, Karolina, 2nd floor, Tomtebodavägen 18A

To register for the seminar or for further information, please contact: