Immune responses to human virus infections and cancer – Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren group

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.

The group is part of the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM).

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.

SARS-CoV-2 studies

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.

Covid-19 biobank

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

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.

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
  • Vinnova

Staff and contact

Group leader

All members of the group