Tina Dalianis' Group

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Some viruses can cause tumours in humans and animals. Of special interest are viruses related to human cancer. One example is the human papillomavirus (HPV) group, which is associated e.g. with cervical cancer and head and neck cancer. Other examples are Hepatitis B and C viruses, which contribute to the development of liver cancer.

The objective of our group is to understand, cure and prevent the process of virus induced tumour development and disease. Our focus is on HPV induced tumours (see below). We also have special expertise on polyomaviruses (PyV) (a virus family related to HPV), where we have recently been involved in the characterisation of a new human PyV: KIPyV. We also use the special qualities of the PyV virus capsid proteins to produce virus-like particles (VLPs) in order to develop preventive and curative vaccines against different types of cancer.

Research projects

1. Studies on human papillomaviruses (HPyV) and cancer

Infections with HPV are extremely common. However, certain HPV types of have been associated with cervical cancer and we have shown that the same types are associated to oropharyngeal cancer and that the presence of HPV is a prognostic favourable factor in this disease. In addition, we have recently disclosed an HPV induced epidemic of oropharyngeal cancer, where tonsillar and base of tongue cancer dominate. We are now investigating if we in the tumours can find additional biomarkers and molecular profiles together with HPV that can predict prognosis in order to individualise patient therapy, increase survival and quality of life. We are also involved in a European 7th framework collaboration ARTFORCE, where we investigate the role of HPV in oropharyngeal cancer in the response to radiotherapy and other treatment modalities.

2. Studies on human polyomaviruses (HuPyV) in cancer and disease

Infections with HuPyV are also very common and until 2007 only two HuPyV were known. From 2007-2010 six new HuPyV members have been identified and we were involved in characterising the first new member KIPyV of this family. Moreover, another new member (MCPyV) was identified in a human tumour Merkel Cell Cancer. We are now investigating if HuPyV play a role in paediatric tumours such as tumours of the brain and neuroblastoma and leukaemia. In addition, we are studying the role of HuPyV in disease in immunosuppressed individuals.

3. Studies on polyomavirus virus like particles (VLPs) as vaccines for cancer

Several vectors have been tried for gene and immune therapy. However, many retain viral genes, or have limited use due to the presence of pre-existing antibodies in humans (e.g. adenovirus). To avoid these problems we have produced virus like particles (VLPs) composed of the murine polyomavirus (MPyV) major capsid protein VP1 in a baculovirus system. Notably, vaccination with VLPs containing a fusion protein between VP2 and part of the Her2/neu oncogene, protects mice against outgrowth of a Her2 expressing tumour and the development of mammary tumours in BALB-neuT transgenic mice, that otherwise spontaneously develop mammary tumours. We can also potentiate the efficacy of our VLPs by adding CpG and dendritic cells (DCs) when vaccinating and use them for therapeutic vaccination. These experimental data suggest that MPyV-VLPs can be useful as vaccines in humans. Currently the group is developing VLPs carrying different proteins such as Her-2, PSA and DR5 and proteins from Hepatitis C virus. These VLPs can be useful for combating different types of human cancer such as e.g. breast, ovarian and prostate cancer as well as Hepatitis virus C induced liver cancer.


Anders Näsman
"Studies of the influence of human papillomaviruses (HPV) and other biomarkers on the prevalence of oropharyngeal cancer and clinical outcome"
May 31, 2013

Mircea Romanitan
"Studies on human papillomaviruses in head and neck cancer"
February 1, 2013

Juan Du
"Occurrence of human papillomaviruses (HPV) types in HPV related cancer and in the genital and oral tracts of young adults"
September 14, 2012

Mathilda Eriksson
"Cancer therapy using viral- and bacterial proteins, as vectors for vaccines or as carriers of cytostatics"
March 30, 2012

Géraldine Giraud
"Studies on polyomaviruses in humans : In relation to haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cancer"
February 26, 2010

Kalle Andreasson
"Vaccination against Her2/neu - expressing cancer using chimeric virus-like particles"
May 15, 2009

David Lindquist
"Studies on the occurence and effects of human papillomavirus in tumors of the head and neck"
March 28, 2008

Karin Tegerstedt
"Studies on polyomavirus virus-like particles : As vaccines and vectors for immune and gene therapy"
March 31, 2006

Liselotte Dahlgren
"Studies on the presence and influence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in head and neck tumors"
April 8, 2005

Andrea Vlastos Franzén
"Murine polyomavirus VP1 virus-like particles as vectors for gene therapy and as vaccines against polyomavirus infection and tumors"
June 11, 2004

Hanna Mellin (Dahlstrand)
"Human papillomavirus in tonsillar cancer"
November 22, 2002

Peter Priftakis
"Studies on human polyomavirus infection in immunosuppressed patients with polyoma related tumors"
October 12, 2001

Shirin Heidari
"Studies on persistant polyomavirus infection in relation to tumor development and options for vaccine and gene therapy"
June 1, 2001

Group members

Project leaders

Tina Dalianis, professor, Group leader
Torbjörn Ramqvist


Cinzia Bersani
Anders Näsman 

Cecilia Nordfors

PhD students

Lisa Villabona
Nikolaos Tertipis
Nathalie Grün
Lars Sivars
Linnea Haeggblom

Group photo 2012

Group photo 2006

Activities at KI Summer Research School 2005

Selected publications

Incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) positive tonsillar carcinoma in Stockholm, Sweden: an epidemic of viral-induced carcinoma?
Näsman A, Attner P, Hammarstedt L, Du J, Eriksson M, Giraud G, et al
Int. J. Cancer 2009 Jul;125(2):362-6

DNA from KI, WU and Merkel cell polyomaviruses is not detected in childhood central nervous system tumours or neuroblastomas.
Giraud G, Ramqvist T, Pastrana D, Pavot V, Lindau C, Kogner P, et al
PLoS ONE 2009 Dec;4(12):e8239

Prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) types in cervical cancer 2003-2008 in Stockholm, Sweden, before public HPV vaccination.
Du J, Näsman A, Carlson J, Ramqvist T, Dalianis T
Acta Oncol 2011 Nov;50(8):1215-9

Intense CD44 expression is a negative prognostic factor in tonsillar and base of tongue cancer.
Lindquist D, Ahrlund-Richter A, Tarján M, Tot T, Dalianis T
Anticancer Res. 2012 Jan;32(1):153-61

MHC class I expression in HPV positive and negative tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma in correlation to clinical outcome.
Näsman A, Andersson E, Nordfors C, Grün N, Johansson H, Munck-Wikland E, et al
Int. J. Cancer 2013 Jan;132(1):72-81

Prevalence of oral human papillomavirus infection among youth, Sweden.
Du J, Nordfors C, Ahrlund-Richter A, Sobkowiak M, Romanitan M, Näsman A, et al
Emerging Infect. Dis. 2012 Sep;18(9):1468-71

HLA class I and II expression in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma in relation to tumor HPV status and clinical outcome.
Näsman A, Andersson E, Marklund L, Tertipis N, Hammarstedt-Nordenvall L, Attner P, et al
PLoS ONE 2013 ;8(10):e77025

Absent/weak CD44 intensity and positive human papillomavirus (HPV) status in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma indicates a very high survival.
Näsman A, Nordfors C, Grün N, Munck-Wikland E, Ramqvist T, Marklund L, et al
Cancer Med 2013 Aug;2(4):507-18

CD8+ and CD4+ tumour infiltrating lymphocytes in relation to human papillomavirus status and clinical outcome in tonsillar and base of tongue squamous cell carcinoma.
Nordfors C, Grün N, Tertipis N, Ährlund-Richter A, Haeggblom L, Sivars L, et al
Eur. J. Cancer 2013 Jul;49(11):2522-30

Human papillomavirus prevalence is high in oral samples of patients with tonsillar and base of tongue cancer.
Nordfors C, Vlastos A, Du J, Ahrlund-Richter A, Tertipis N, Grün N, et al
Oral Oncol. 2014 May;50(5):491-7