Monday, March 19, 2018

Mass cytometry kick-off


Mass cytometry kick-off (link)


Andrius Serva, PhD, Field Application Specialist, Europe, Fluidigm
Discovery and Functional Profiling with Mass Cytometry
High order multiplexing of biological samples – from suspension to tissue

 Zhi Chen, PhD, Turku Centre for Biotechnology
Helios Mass Cytometry in Turku

Organized by: Turku Centre for Biotechnology; Fluidigm; AH Diagnostic


As part of the newly established Biocenter Finland Single-cell omics platform, Mass cytometry has been installed at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology. The workshop is to introduce this new technology and how it can be used in your study. This seminar will give you an introduction to mass cytometry, including a tech overview, applications, workflow and reagents, and the Hyperion Imaging System. Additionally, you will get a data presentation description of the technology service in Turku.

Participation is free of charge – no sign-up required. Refreshments will be served.
Welcome everyone!

Further information behind this link

Start: Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 10:00

End: Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 11:30

Location: Turku Centre for Biotechnology, 5th floor seminar room, BioCity B-staircase, Tykistökatu 6, Turku

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A New Immune System Regulator Discovered by TCB Research Group


Academy Professor Riitta Lahesmaa’s research group from Turku Centre for Biotechnology of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Finland, has discovered a new regulator of the immune system, a key factor that controls development of regulatory T cells. The discovery provides basis for new strategies for the treatment of both cancer and immune-mediated diseases.

Regulatory T cells are critical in controllers of the immune response. The majority of T cells boost the immune response enhancing the ability to destroy cancer cells, viruses and bacteria. In contrast, regulatory T cells may suppress the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells, allowing cancer to grow and spread. In these instances, inhibiting or braking the regulatory T cell activity would be needed.

The group discovered that a protein called ‘Hypermethylated In Cancer 1’, or HIC1, serves as the key regulator of regulatory T cells controlling the expression of a large set of genes contributing to T cell function. In addition, with genome-wide methods they showed that HIC1 binds to genomic sites that often contain genetic variations associated with immune-mediated diseases. The results provide new insights into molecular mechanisms that regulate T cell function and immune response in general.

The study was published in the journal Cell Reports on 20 February 2018.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Academy Professor Riitta Lahesmaa was awarded with the title of Knight, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland


Academy Professor Riitta Lahesmaa was awarded with the title of Knight, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland by the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö on the 100th Independence Day of Finland on 6 December 2017.

The Order of the White Rose of Finland is one of the three official orders in Finland, along with the Order of the Cross of Liberty, and the Order of the Lion of Finland. The President of Finland is the Grand Master of all three orders. The honour can be granted for military and civilian merit.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Laura Elo, Riitta Lahesmaa and Tapio Lönnberg receive Health from Science (TERVA) Academy Programme Funding


Starting in 2018, the Academy of Finland TERVA programme will be built around consortia that seek bold, new research initiatives to solve major public health problems in Finland. The Health from Science Academy Programme includes  seven research consortia.

Laura Elo and Riitta Lahesmaa received total of 619 614 EUR funding for 2018-2020. In total Heal-Art consortium received worth 1.5 MEUR of funding. Heal-Art consortium will study the disease mechanisms underlying Rheumatoid Arthritis with the aim of enabling more individualized treatment in the future.

Tapio Lönnberg received 139 392 EUR funding for 2018-2020 at MAP-CAD consortium. The consortium will combine state-of-the-art imaging, genomics and multiscale analysis approaches to develop tools to trace macrophage phenotypes, which could be highly valuable for disease prediction.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Johanna Ivaska receives the A.I. Virtanen Prize 2017


The A.I. Virtanen Prize of 2017 has been awarded to the Academy Professor Johanna Ivaska. The prize committee states that the prize is awarded in recognition of her groundbreaking work to to elucidate the mechanisms underlying cell adhesion and cell migration.

Ivaska has received funding from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) three times. In addition to the Academy Professorship, she has a professorship in molecular cell biology at the University of Turku. She has supervised 13 doctoral theses and received several national and international awards. Ivaska has a number of national and international positions of trust.

More information in Finnish at

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Gadd Research Prize 2017 to Prof. John Eriksson


Prof. John Eriksson was awarded the Gadd Prize 2017 for successful research activities. The prize was bestowed by the Chancellor of Åbo Akademi University, Ulrika Wolf-Knuts, based on specific criteria, such as the supervision of doctoral students, number of own publications, success in raising external funding for research, and special achievements for the benefit of the researcher community. The prize sum of 20,000 euro will be allocated to the research group of the prize winner.

The Gadd Prize 2017 went to John Eriksson, Director of Turku Centre for Biotechnology and Professor of Cell Biology at the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The research of John Eriksson focuses on the interactions between cytoskeletal molecules and cell signal processing and how this interaction, in turn, governs and senses cell shape, movements, and interactions with the cellular surroundings. The research requires advanced microscopy and, consequently, Eriksson has worked actively to get world class bioimaging instrumentation to Turku. This instrumentation is at the Cell Imaging Core ( of Turku Centre for Biotechnology, which is also hosting the Finnish service centre ( of the pan-European imaging organization Euro-Bioimaging (

The prize is named after Pehr Adrian Gadd (1727–1797), the first Professor in Chemistry at the Royal Academy in Åbo (Turku). His idea was that everyone should learn chemistry, and a chemist should explore nature in order to find answers to his questions. In accordance with the ideals of what is known as the ‘Age of Utility’, he thought that science served the purpose of being useful, just as is thought today. Therefore, he viewed science from a local perspective and was interested in what could be cultivated, refined, and sold in Finland.

The Gadd prize 2017 was given along with another research prize, the Kristina Prize 2017, which was awarded to Prof. Ria Heilä-Ylikallio. These prizes were nominated by a committee comprised of the Chancellor and four professors, one for each Faculty.

For more details, see:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Academy of Finland awarded Tapio Lönnberg (Finnish Functional Genomics Centre) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 280 000 € for 2017-2020


Academy of Finland awarded Tapio Lönnberg (Finnish Functional Genomics Centre) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 280 000 € for 2017-2020


Single-cell Atlas of human follicular T helper cells in Health and Disease

Generation of protective antibodies results from collaboration of two types of cells: B-cells and Follicular T helper cells (Tfh cells). Tfh cells can be further divided into several subsets, some of which are associated with autoimmune disorders. However, the full extent and functional implications of this subset diversity remain incompletely understood. To date, Tfh cells have been difficult to study in human due to their diversity and localization in lymph nodes.

We are exploiting novel methods enabling the determination of functional states of single cells by measuring gene expression. This allows us to target those rare Tfh cells, which have migrated from lymph nodes to peripheral blood, and are therefore accessible to sampling. By comparing cells from healthy volunteers and Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, we aim to identify disease-associated subsets of cells, providing new targets for therapeutic interventions.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Academy of Finland awarded Guillaume Jacquemet (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 259 054 € for 2017-2020


Academy of Finland awarded Guillaume Jacquemet (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 259 054 € for 2017-2020

Myo10 filopodia and cancer metastasis
The formation of metastases is responsible for 90% of deaths in patients with solid tumours. Consequently, there is a pressing need to develop therapeutic strategies that block the ability of cancer cell to disseminate throughout the body. We and others have made an intriguing discovery that cancer metastasis is associated with the development of specialized cellular protrusions called filopodia. In migrating cells, filopodia are “antenna-like” protrusions, which contain cell-surface adhesion receptors, such as integrins, responsible for constantly probing the cellular environment. At filopodia, integrins modulate signalling pathways that support cell migration, survival and proliferation. Integrins are transported to filopodia via a motor protein called Myosin-X, a regulator of filopodia formation. Based on our breakthrough experiments, we discovered that myosin-X contribute to cancer cell metastases in vitro and in vivo models and that myosin-X is highly expressed in patient samples (including breast, pancreatic, colorectal, glioma and lung carcinoma) where it correlates with poor prognosis. These results clearly indicate that myosin-X is a promising novel target for anti-cancer therapies. Data I accumulated to date clearly demonstrate that myosin-X-mediated transport of integrins, together with integrin signalling in filopodia are two important prerequisites for cancer metastasis. Therefore, I aim to develop strategies to target myosin-X in cancer by 1) generating myosin-X-specific small molecule inhibitors in collaboration with the non-profit organization CD3 (University of Leuven), 2) identifying the regulatory mechanisms by which myosin-X transports integrins to filopodia and 3) assessing the role of Myo10 filopodia in in vivo dissemination of cancer cells using intravital microscopy. If sucessful, our findings will lead to the development of a drug that can inhibit Myo10 function in cancer and thus provide novel and desperately needed therapeutic strategies for treating metastatic pancreatic and breast cancer as well as other cancer forms.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Academy of Finland awarded Maria Georgiadou (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 261 109 € for 2017-2020


Academy of Finland awarded Maria Georgiadou (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 261 109 € for 2017-2020

Project title: Cell metabolism and Tyrosine phosphorylation as novel regulators of integrin activity.

Project description: Integrins are cell adhesion receptors playing essential roles in health and disease, by regulating cell migration, survival, proliferation, differentiation. Integrins are expressed at the plasma membrane both in a low-affinity “inactive” state and in a high-affinity “active” state. Integrin activation leads to enhanced signalling and inappropriate integrin activation has been linked to several diseases, including cancer. Hence, understanding how integrin activity is regulated is of major clinical relevance. In an effort to identify novel integrin activity regulators Johanna Ivaska’s laboratory (host laboratory) has performed RNAi screens in several cancer cell lines. In those screens the metabolic sensor AMP-kinase (AMPK) and many other genes involved in metabolism were identified as potential regulators of integrin activity. The aims of the project are twofold: (1) to identify the cellular signalling pathways involved in ?1-integrin tyrosine phosphorylation and their role in integrin activity and matrix formation in fibroblasts; and (2) to characterize the role of metabolism in regulating integrin activity, migration and invasion in cancer cells.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Researchers invented a tools to decode and control signalling circuits in living cells with flashes of light


Researchers at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology have invented new tools to decode and control signalling circuits in living cells with flashes of light. In principle, any cellular circuit can now be targeted with their method. Using this approach, they discovered that major biological signalling circuits can be made to resonate when driven at their resonant frequency.

Resonance is a familiar concept in music, physics and engineering and underlies technical approaches in chemistry, biology and medicine.
– Our discovery that signalling circuits of mammalian cells can made to resonate, is new and is likely to have relevance to disease. With this information we may control, when the signalling pathway is on or off, senior researcher Michael Courtney from Turku Centre for Biotechnology says.

The team developed optogenetic inhibitors of protein kinases such as JNK, a central regulator of cell function.
– JNK protein in the cell cytoplasm was not thought to regulate gene expression in the nucleus and continuous inhibition in the cytoplasm is ineffective. However, the team found that delivering a specific frequency of inhibition pulses to JNK in the cytoplasm drove inhibition of gene expression in the nucleus. This indicates that cell signalling circuits can be controlled in previously unforeseen ways once the appropriate time-code has been identified, Courtney says.

He explains that not only might cell circuit resonance play an unexpected role in degenerative disease processes, but it could even guide the discovery of new therapeutic approaches. Interestingly, the only previous report on cell circuit resonance in the scientific literature showed it can be used to prevent microbial cells from growing. The new finding of similar behaviour in mammals suggests it could potentially be used to stop cancer cells growing.

– Currently, the development of resistance to new drugs is a major problem in cancer, as new drugs cost billions of dollars to develop and approve and yet they can rapidly become ineffective in patients. With new research, we can perhaps consider to change the frequency of inhibition instead of using the same drug continuously, and in this way, achieve a better outcome, Courtney says.

The Turku team’s newly discovered phenomenon of circuit resonance in mammalian cells might offer a way to avoid or work around drug resistance. The researchers have now assembled a research consortium which has applied for funding to begin the evaluation of this idea.
The team started developing the light-regulated tools while at the University of Eastern Finland funded primarily by the Academy of Finland Photonics programme. The mammalian circuit resonance was discovered and characterised by the team after moving to the University of Turku, with support from the Turku Bioimaging Screening Unit and grants from the National Cancer Institute in US, the EU-Marie Sk?odowska Curie programme and Finnish foundations including the Magnus Ehrnrooth, Alfred Kordelin, Instrumentarium and Orion Foundations.

This work was published in the journal Nature Communications on the 12th of May 2017.
Original publication: Melero-Fernandez de Mera RM1, Li LL1, Popinigis A, Cisek K, Tuittila M, Yadav L, Serva A, Courtney MJ (2017) A simple optogenetic MAPK inhibitor design reveals resonance between transcription-regulating circuitry and temporally-encoded inputs. 1equal contribution. Nat. Commun. 8, 15017 doi: 10.1038/ncomms15017.
Read the article:

More information: Senior Researcher Michael Courtney, University of Turku, Turku Centre for Biotechnology, tel. +358 (0)504649827 , e-mail