Etiology and pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes – Malin Flodström-Tullberg group

Type 1 diabetes is a common, chronic and life-threatening disease. Our research focuses on etiology, disease interception and early biomarkers.

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About our research

Type 1 diabetes is the most common, chronic and life-threatening disease in children. About 1/200 people suffer from the disease in Sweden. Malin Flodström-Tullberg's research group focuses on understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of the disease. The research group is engaged in finding disease causes and contributing to the development and preclinical testing of new disease interventions.

The group studies genetic, environmental and pancreatic beta cell intrinsic factors and how these affect the immune system and contribute to disease development. Of particular interest is the role of the environment including microbial diversity and infections with common viruses, so-called enteroviruses, in the disease process. The group has participated in the generation of and performed preclinical tests of new enterovirus vaccines which are now in phase I trials. In recent years, the group has become interested in disease biomarkers, in particular non-invasive measures to detect beta cell damage, and has built a strong platform for such studies.

The group is also studying altered endocrine and immune functions in the disease Cystic Fibrosis.

Keywords:
Autoimmunity, Beta cell, Coxsackievirus, Enterovirus, Innate immunity, Cystic Fibrosis, Insulin, Interferon, Islets of Langerhans, Protease, Translational Research, Type 1 Diabetes, Vaccine, Virus.

Projects

The group is actively running several projects, many of which are in collaboration with other national and international research groups.

The main projects of the research group are:

  • The role of interferons in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes.
  • Defining the mechanism behind Coxsackievirus induced pancreatic beta cell damage and discovering new biomarkers for type 1 diabetes.
  • Development and testing of enterovirus vaccines and antivirals.
  • Understanding altered endocrine and immune functions in Cystic Fibrosis.

Open positions

We are always interested in recruiting talented PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. Feel free to contact Group leader Malin Flodström-Tullberg for further information on current opportunities.

Meet Professor Malin Flodström-Tullberg

Collaborations

Karolinska Institutet

National

  • Lena Eliasson, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University.

International

  • Aki Sinkkonen, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Charles Rice, Rockefeller University, New York, US
  • Heikki Hyöty, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Ivan Gerling, University of Tennessee, US
  • Minna Hankaniemi, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Noel Morgan, University of Exeter, UK
  • Roberto Mallone, Institut Cochine, Paris, France
  • Sarah Richardson, University of Exeter, UK
  • Varpu Marjumäki, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Vesa Hytönen, University of Tampere, Finland

Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes

nPOD-virus group

Follow us on Twitter

Publications

Selected publications

Funding

  • Swedish Research Council (VR)
  • The Swedish Child Diabetes Foundation (Barndiabetesfonden)
  • The Swedish Diabetes Foundation (Diabetesfonden)
  • The Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation (Hjärt-Lungfonden)
  • Riksförbundet Cystisk Fibros & Erika Lederhausens Minnesstiftelse
  • JDRF (SRA, nPOD-V)
  • Novo Nordic Foundation Denmark 

Members and contact

Group leader

All members of the group

Past members

Martha Castro, Fulbright Scholar
Martha Castro was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in the Flodström-Tullberg group 2021-2022. She studied how drugs used to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases affect the host's antiviral defence mechanisms in the intestine. 

Isabel Diaz Lozano, Postdoc
Isabel Maria Diaz Lozano's research involved the search for new biomarkers that relate to infections by enteroviruses and the development of type 1 diabetes. A special focus was to perform proteomic and transcriptomic studies on extracellular vesicles released in experimental model systems.

Magdalena Mazur, Ph.D., Research Coordinator
Magdalena Mazur coordinated research related to finding novel ways to study the etiology and pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes, with specific focus on viral infections and their impact on the pancreatic beta cell. 

Kylie Burdsall, Fulbright Scholar
Kylie Burdsall was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in the Flodström-Tullberg group 2019-2020. She focused on uncovering new biomarkers indicative of virus-induced cell damage to better understand type 1 diabetes disease progression.

Renata Utorova, Ph.D. 
Renata defended her licentiate degree in 2020 on antiviral defence mechanisms in CF with relevance for respiratory exacerbations and cystic-fibrosis related diabetes. 

Helena Sork, Postdoc
Helena Sork did a postdoc in the Flodström-Tullberg group 2018-2019 and worked on the identification of biomarkers related to enterovirus infection and its association to type 1 diabetes development.

Soile Tuomela, Postdoc 
Soile Tuomela's postdoc period was funded by the Novo Nordisk Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at Karolinska Institutet. Her studies included the identification of enterovirus peptides presented by pancreatic beta cells via MHC class I. She was also involved in examining the role of genetic polymorphism in the development of Type 1 Diabetes.

Sebastian Kapell, Ph.D. 
Sebastian Kapell defended his thesis in 2019. He was involved in research that focuses on describing the mechanisms by which an enterovirus modulates the function of the insulin secreting beta cell and how this relates to innate immunity.

Erna Domsgen, Postdoc
Erna Domsgen did her postdoc in the group until 2017. She was engaged in studies related to the host immune response to picornaviruses and how such viruses evade the innate immune response.

Emma Svedin, Ph.D.
Emma Svedin presented her thesis in 2017. Her Ph.D. studies included aspects of how enterovirus infections result in impaired beta cell functions. She was also studying why patients with cystic fibrosis have a decreased ability to clear viral and bacterial infections.

Pär Larsson, Ph.D.
Pär Larsson worked on the mechanisms that regulate susceptibility to enterovirus-induced type 1 diabetes and with the development and testing of an enterovirus vaccine. He defended his thesis in 2014.

Katharina Lind, Ph.D.
Katharina Lind defended her thesis in 2014. The aims of her Ph.D. studies were to determine how the host cell recognizes enteroviruses, how enteroviruses evade the host immune system and to investigate the role of type III interferons in the host immune response to enterovirus infections.

Olli Laitinen, Ph.D., Senior Researcher
Olli Laitinen worked on projects aiming at unravelling the mechanisms by which enteroviruses cause pancreatic beta cell damage. This work involved the development of new tools to study virus-host interactions.

Terezia Pincikova, M.D., Ph.D.
Terezia Pincikova studied the impact of vitamin D supplementation on the immune response and on glucose tolerance in cystic fibrosis, and defended her thesis in 2014. The results of her research suggest that vitamin D exerts a complex immuno-modulatory effect which may be clinically beneficial for cystic fibrosis patients.

Lakshmikanth Tadepally, Ph.D. Senior Research Fellow
During the years 2010-2012 Lakshmikanth Tadepally worked as a Senior postdoctoral fellow in the Flodström-Tullberg lab on a vaccine development project in collaboration with Vactech Oy, Finland and Sanofi Pasteur, France. His contributions included the first preclinical safety testing of a Coxsackievirus B1 vaccine in NOD mice.

Michael Hühn, Ph.D.
Michael Hühn studied different aspects of the innate immune response to enteroviruses and defended his thesis in 2010. Among other things he demonstrated that the gene ifih1 (mda5) is crucial for the successful host response to enterovirus infections.

Stella Jacobson, Ph.D.
Stella Jacobson was working in the field of transplantation immunology and was the first to show that mesenchymal stromal cells provide protection from allograft rejection. She defended her thesis in 2010.

Monica Hultcrantz, Ph.D.
Monica Hultcrantz defended her thesis on the role of interferons in type 1 diabetes in 2008. One of her major contributions was to show how the pancreatic beta cell regulate type 1 diabetes development by responding to proinflammatory cytokines.