Back to nature - KI Devreg Salon no.3

Medical research and innovation by mimicking nature.

At our third TED-inspired salon event, we gained a better understanding of how studying and mimicking nature as part of medical research could lead to important breakthroughs and new innovations. The themes were explored by listening to talks on the subject followed by an open-minded campfire discussion with the speakers.

By biomimicry, seeking sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, researchers could find answers on complex questions and contribute to important innovations. The core idea of biomimicry is that nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. There are many examples of what we can learn from millions of years of evolution. How do bears for instance stay fit and healthy during hibernation and what are the potential uses of the unique properties of spider silk? 

After a thorough introduction to the topic by professor Peter Stenvinkel our excellent speakers followed. 

Johanna Painer, PhD, DVM, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Johanna is a researcher and wildlife veterinarian with special interest in Ultrasonography and Reproduction in Wildlife, Wildlife Anaesthesia and Wildlife Crime. She is also a consultant veterinarian for the Orsa Predator Park in Sweden. She is part of a team investigating how mammals rely upon scent for intraspecific communication. She presented parts of her research and shared her thoughts about what and how we could learn from nature and wildlife. 

Janne Johansson, Professor, Karolinska Institutet
Janne is head of a research group working on mechanisms of protein aggregation in disease, development of protein drugs, and protein assembly in spider silk formation. This broad approach has so far generated for example synthetic proteins for treatment of lung disease. Janne talked about how they succeed in finding a method to make artificial spider silk and how it could be used in biomedical applications.

 

Below you can find Peter Stenvinkel's last review in collaboration with Johanna Painer: Novel treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease: insights from the animal kingdom.