Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren group - Immune responses to human virus infections and cancer
We have a strong interest in the human immune system. The group is studying immune reactions towards human viral infections and vaccines, in particular in the field of flavivirus-, hantavirus-, and corona-virus, in particular SARS-CoV-2 virus infections. The group is also interested in improving human immunity against cancer, and to establish novel means of treating human cancer by the development of next-generation NK cell-based cellular immunotherapies.
About our research
In collaboration with a large network of academic and industrial collaborators within a program financed by Sweden’s Innovation Agency (Vinnova), members of the group are contributing towards the development of “next-generation” highly optimized, rapidly accessible and cost-effective, precision-based autologous and allogeneic NK cell therapies against a broad range of human cancers. They 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.
Members of the group are also active in projects studying immune reactions towards human viral infections, in particular against flaviviruses (in particular TBEV, JEV, and YFV), hantaviruses (Puumula and Andes viruses), and SARS-CoV-2. The group is also studying vaccine responses against flaviviruses and SARS-CoV-2. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, vaccine studies encompass studies of immunocompromised individuals.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the group has been very active in building up a large Covid-19 biobank for immediate immunological research efforts and for long-term research. Several studies early on contributed to our understanding of immune reactions towards SARS-CoV-2.
The group has driven, and been involved in, several clinical trials in the fields of adoptive immunotherapies against human cancer as well as in human vaccinations against flavivirus infections and SARS-CoV-2. In the course of the SARS-CoV pandemic, the group leader has taken active responsibility towards a large number of request from media.
Covid-19 Cell Atlas
The research group has contributed to the establishment of the KI/K COVID-19 Immune Atlas which aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the human immune response in COVID-19 disease.
NK cells, innate immunity, adaptive immunity, T cells, virus, cancer, hematology, immunotherapy, vaccine
Interviews with Prof. Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren
Interview about the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Following the announcement, Professor Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren was interviewed by free lance journalist Jan-Olov Johansson about the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Speaking at the World Stem Cell Summit 2018
Video from Day 3 of the World Stem Cell Summit 2018 with the title: Reversing Cancer with Immunotherapies and Exosomes where Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, MD, PhD (Karolinska Institutet) was one of the invited speakers.
Hans-Gustaf LjunggrenMD 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.
Kim BlomPhD – 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 GomezMD, 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.
Puran ChenPostdoctoral researcher
Puran Chen received his Medical Degree from Karolinska Institutet in 2015, and his PhD in 2020. He joined the group as a Postdoctoral researcher, focusing on SARS-CoV-2 research where he have coordinated the efforts for the joint Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital SARS-CoV-2 sample collection as well as several clinical trials in the same context. The research focuses on data-driven translational research in SARS-CoV-2 and aims at improving AI-assisted clinical decision making.
Mira AkberResearch technician
Mira Akber completed her PhD preparatory training from Uppsala graduate school for biomedical research (UGSBR), Uppsala University where she worked on “the Role of Peroxiredoxin II and ICAM3 as Biomarker in NK and DC mediated HIV1 Infection”. She also did her masters in molecular biology with an external thesis from Lund University. During her master thesis work, Mira analyzed the dynamic pattern of the bicoid (bcd) mRNA and protein in various mutant Drosophila fly lines using molecular, genetic and cell biological techniques. She worked at Karolinska institutet since October 2019 as a research assistant in the field of immunology. Currently, Mira Akber is working as a research technician with Covid-19 vaccine sample processing and Biobank.
Tyler SandbergPhD 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 WullimannPhD 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.
Previous group members
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., 2010-12; Kekäläinen, E., 2012-14; Mjösberg, J., Sweden, 2012-13; Marquardt, N., 2013-17; Blom, K., 2016-; Cuapio, A., 2017-, Chen, P., 2020-
Selected collaborators, Karolinska Institutet
Evren Alici, NK cell-based immunotherapies, clinical trials, NK cell-tumor cell engagers, oncolytic viruses, small molecule NK cell modulators
Jakob Michaelsson, Tissue specific immunity, mRNA profiling of innate immune cells
Nicole Marquardt, Tissue specific immunity, flow-cytometry based profiling of innate immune cells
Kalle Malmberg, Development of NK cell-based immunotherapies for treatment of human cancer, clinical trials
Jonas Klingström, Immunity and Immunopathogenesis of human hantavirus infections
Sara Gredmark-Russ, Immunity and immunopathogenesis of human flavivirus and SARS-CoV-2 infection
Karin Loré, Immunity towards flavivirus and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines
Niklas Björkström, Immunity to and immunopathogenesis of human hepatitis and SARS-CoV-2 viruses
Soo Aleman, Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 viruses and vaccines
Kristoffer Strålin, Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 viruses
Marcus Buggert, T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 viruses and vaccines
Johan Sandberg, Innate T cell immunity to SARS-CoV viruses and vaccines
- Swedish Research Council
- Swedish Cancer Society
- Tobias Foundation
- Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
- Karolinska Institutet
- Stockholm County Council