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Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren group

Our group is conducting translational and clinical studies with a particular focus on the development of next-generation NK cell-based cellular therapies towards human malignancies. The group is also interested in the immunopathogenesis of human viral infections and is developing novel strategies towards human vaccination, in particular towards infections caused by flaviviruses.

In collaboration with a large network of academic as well as industrial collaborators, we opt towards developing “next-generation” highly optimized, precision-based autologous and allogeneic NK cell therapies against a broad range of human cancers. Clinical-grade NK cells will encompass, highly differentiated NK cells, metabolically optimized NK cells, genetically engineered NK cells and/or NK cells stimulated by external modulators for enhanced clinical safety and efficacy.

The overall purpose of the other line of research in the group is to develop novel, more efficient, vaccination strategies against severe flavivirus infections included those caused by Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus and Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus for global implementation. The diseases caused by these viruses are associated with significant morbidities, hospitalization costs, sick-leave associated costs, and loss of productivity. Hence, simpler and more effective preventative measurements through vaccination than currently exist are utterly important.

Keywords: NK cells, innate immunity, adaptive immunity, T cells, virus, cancer, hematology, immunotherapy, vaccine


Pubmed Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren 

Group members

Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren

MD PhD – Professor, group leader

Hans-Gustaf received his MD and PhD from KI between 1982 and 1992. He completed a two-year post-doc fellowship at M.I.T., Boston, USA, from 1992-1994 and then returned to KI and started his own research group at the Department of Microbiology Tumor and Cell Biology in 1994. In 2001, he was appointed Professor at the Department of Medicine (H7), KI and there founded the Center for Infectious Medicine.

Marie Löfling

PhD – Senior Scientist

Marie received her PhD in Transplantation immunology at the Karolinska Institutet in 2004. After a three year Post Doc at the Burnham Institute in San Diego, US, she returned to KI to work as a research coordinator in the Cardiology field. Marie joined the Ljunggren group in 2018 to work with a clinical trial investigating new vaccine strategies against Tick-borne encephalitis and Japanese encephalitis.

Kim Blom

PhD – Associate Professor

Kim received her Ph.D. degree from Karolinska Institutet in 2016. Her focus during the Ph.D studies was to understand the innate and adaptive immune responses elicited during the acute stage of virus infection in humans. Her current work is focused on how to improve already existing vaccines and to understand what elicits a good immune response and immunological memory after vaccination.

Angelica Cuapio

MD, PhD – Post doc

Angelica is an MD with a doctorate from the University of Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany. In 2018, after a 2-year Post Doc at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, she joined the Ljunggren group at KI to study the immunopathogenic effects of natural killer cells in viral infections targeting the central nervous system. Her scientific trajectory has involved natural killer cells in three different scenarios: autoimmunity, cancer and viral infections.

Tyler Sandberg

PhD Student

Tyler received his Master of Science in Immunology and Infection Biology from Uppsala University in 2016, where he worked on understanding vaccine responses in germinal center reactions in non-human primates. He joined the group in 2016 as a PhD student, focusing on B cell responses towards different flavivirus vaccines as well as investigating new vaccine strategies against these infections.

David Wullimann

PhD Student

During his degree project as a master’s student in Molecular Biology with Medical Biology as specialization from Lund University, David studied the molecular effects of exercise on the effector function of CD8 T cells. David joined the Ljunggren group, amidst the covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, as a doctoral (PhD) student to focus his work on understanding the cell-mediated immune response to flavivirus vaccination and advance current global vaccine strategies against flavivirus infection.  

Current KI Collaborators

(*shared supervision for graduate students)

Evren Alici*, Development of next-generation NK cell-based immunotherapies for treatment of human cancer, clinical trials in patients, NK cell-tumor cell engagers, oncolytic viruses, small molecule NK cell modulators

Jakob Michaelsson, Tissue specific immunity, in particular mRNA profiling of innate immune cells in the human lung

Nicole Marquardt, Tissue specific immunity, in particular flow-cytometry based profiling of innate immune cells in the human lung, innate immunity to viral infections in human lung

Kalle Malmberg, Development of next-generation NK cell-based immunotherapies for treatment of human cancer, clinical trials in patients

Andreas Björklund, Development of next-generation NK cell-based immunotherapies for treatment of human cancer, clinical trials in patients

Jonas Klingström*, Immunopathogenesis and treatment of human hantavirus infections

Anna Smed Sörenssen, Immunopathogenesis of human hantavirus infections

Sara Gredmark-Russ*, Immunopathogenesis of human flavivirus infection and flavivirus vaccination

Karin Loré*, Flavivirus vaccination

Niklas Björkström*, Immunopathogenesis of human HBV/HCV/HDV virus and Dengue virus infections

Previous Group Members

PhD students, main supervisor* (year of dissertation)

Zhou, X., 1994; Glas, R., 1995; Salcedo, M.*, 1997; Liu, T.*, 1997; Wolpert, E., 1998; Sandberg, J., 1999; Freland, S.*, 1999; Wang, H.B., 2000; Yrlid, U., 2001; Kambayashi, T., 2002; Backström, E., 2003; Assarsson, E.*, 2003; Wallin, R.*, 2003; Aronsson, F., 2003; Luhr, K., 2004; Donati, D., 2005; Guven, H., 2006; Alici, E., 2006; Nagy, N., 2006; Konstantinidis, K., 2006; Wagner, C., 2007; Thilo, C., 2007; Bryceson, Y.*, 2008; Gonzalez-Munoz, V., 2009; Persson, C., 2009; Huhn, M., 2010; Jeron, A., 2010; König, S., 2010; Riese, P., 2010; Stegmann, K., 2010; Hammarfjord, O., 2011; Björkström, N.*, 2011; Sutlu, T., 2012; Andersson, S., 2012; Nyström, S., 2013; Lunemann, S, 2014; Björklund, A., 2014; Chiang, S., 2015; Malone, D., 2016; Tauriainen, J., 2016; Blom, K.*, 2016; Gupta, S., 2016; Muller, M.L., 2016; Hengst, J., 2017; Forkel, M., 2017; Theorell, J., 2017; Schlums, H., 2017; Voigt, J., 2018; Vashist, N., 2018; Strunz, B., ongoing; Sola Riera, C., ongoing; Maleki, K., ongoing; Mazzurana, L., ongoing; Perinetti, G., ongoing; Varnaite, R., ongoing; Sandberg. J.T.*, ongoing, Susek, K., ongoing; Karvouni, M.*, ongoing

Post docs (years)

Algarra, I., 1990-92; DeFries, R., 1994-95; DiPalo, D., 1994-96; Chambers, B., 1994-98; Norbury, C., 1996-97; Diehl, A., 1997-99; Shi, F.D., 1999-2001; Berglund, P., 1999-2001; Wilson, J., 1999-2001; Wang, H.B., 2000-01; Screpanti, V., 2002-04; Applequist, S., 2000-06; Donati, D., 2002-06; Achour, A., 2002-04; Malmberg, K.J., 2003-06; Guimaraes, F., 2004-06; Wacnik, P.W., 2004-06; van Hall, T., 2005-06; Waering, M., 2004-07; Baumann, B., 2004-06; Fauriat, C., 2006-09; Bryceson, Y., 2008-10; Wood, S, 2009-; Anthoni, M., 2009-11; Braun, M., 2010-; Darmanin, S., 2010-2012; Kekäläinen, E., 2012-14; Mjösberg, J., Sweden, 2012-13; Marquardt, N., 2013-2017; Blom, K., 2016-; Cuapio, A., 2017-

Financial support

  • Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Cancer Society
  • Tobias Foundation
  • Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Stockholm County Council
  • Vinnova