Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Finnish Scientists Analysed the Proteome of T Helper 17 Cells


​A network diagram of the transcription factors identified from Th17 cell proteome

​Proteins are one of the major biomolecules that form the functional and structural entity of a living cell. Mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics can be used to determine the set of proteins expressed by a cell, tissue, or organism at a certain time.

The immune system defends the body against harmful pathogens and tumours, and also provides self-tolerance. T helper cells are major components of the adaptive system, and they play critical roles in controlling immune reactions.

During her postdoctoral study at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, Dr. Zhi Chen started working on Th17 cells, a subset of helper T cells with an important role in autoimmune inflammation.

The label-free quantitative proteomics technology has been established at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology. Using this technology, Chen’s research team in collaboration with computational scientists from Aalto University and scientists from the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University and the University of Maryland generated a resource that was used to identify over 4000 proteins expressed in Th17 and iTreg cells.

– We also combined analysis of proteome and gene expression data and discovered protein expression changes that were not associated with changes at the transcriptional level, says Chen.

– These identified proteins can potentially be targeted in immunotherapy, especially in disease conditions like cancer and autoimmunity, believes Chen.

The research is funded by grants from Academy of Finland and TEKES.

The study is published in the journal PLoS Biology.

Link to press release

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Academy of Finland grant to John Eriksson


John Eriksson receives a grant from Academy of Finland for the project: “Integrating tissue homeostasis and regeneration – Cytoskeletal intermediate filaments as a signaling hub.

Intermediate filaments (IFs) have received significant attention due to the broad range of diseases they have been shown to be associated with. The IF-related diseases are associated with compromised tissue homeostasis as well as failing tissue regeneration and healing.

The overriding hypothesis of the proposal is that IF-mediated signaling maintains tissue integrity and homeostasis. The proposed novel concept is that tissue-integrating signaling is linked to a major cytoskeletal system, which in turn can take cues from other signaling pathways, cell shape, migration, and biomechanics. The project aims to uncover how signal processing is managed in concert with tissue organization and biomechanics.

The molecular knowledge gained by this study provides great potential for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic approaches to tackle several relevant disease conditions, including regular and chronic wounds, internal injuries, regeneration or degeneration, different fibrotic diseases, and cancer.

The project links to the strong community of cytoskeletal and adhesion research in Turku and both gains strength from and strengthens this community.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Laura Elo received For Women in Science Award


Adjunct Professor Laura Elo received the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award Finland 2018. Laura Elo works as Research Director in Bioinformatics and Group Leader in Computational Biomedicine at Turku Centre for Biotechnology.
The international L’Oreal -UNESCO For Women in Science Award was initiated in 1998 to promote equality in science. In Finland, the Award was launched in 2006.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lea Sistonen elected as new EMBO member


Lea Sistonen, who is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Biology at Åbo Akademi University and an Affiliated Group Leader at Centre for Biotechnology, has been elected as a new member of the prestigious life science organization EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization). As defined by the organization, election to EMBO Membership is recognition of research excellence and the outstanding achievements made by a life scientist.

She joins the other two previously elected EMBO members from Turku, Professors Sirpa Jalkanen and Johanna Ivaska.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

International Collaboration between U.S. and Finnish Researchers Identifies New Approach for Treating Neuropathic Pain


Neuropathic pain is the chronic, pathological pain that continues even when the cause of pain is removed. Causes include damage to nerve cells and medicines used to treat cancer. A collaboration between research groups from Indiana University in Bloomington, USA and Turku Centre for Biotechnology in Finland has discovered an experimental molecule that appears to interrupt the signaling cascades in the body required for multiple forms of neuropathic pain.

The adaptor protein NOS1AP in a microscopic image.

​Neuropathic pain is extremely common, affecting up to 5-10% of the population globally, and no cures or effective treatments are currently available. Moreover, chemotherapy-induced pain can be so extreme that it causes some patients with cancer to discontinue treatment and greatly impairs quality of life in survivors.

Prior to this study, researchers were aware that pathological pain is triggered by a biological pathway that is activated by binding of the excitatory transmitter glutamate to receptors called NMDARs. This process then triggers activation of an enzyme neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) that generates nitric oxide gas that plays a role in aberrant pain sensation. However, experimental drugs designed to block either the NMDAR receptor or the nNOS enzyme can cause intolerable side effects, such as memory impairment and motor dysfunction.

Now, researchers from Indiana University in Bloomington, USA and the Turku Centre for Biotechnology in Finland have demonstrated that an experimental molecule reduces neuropathic pain in rodents resulting from either nerve damage or a common chemotherapy drug.

The team in Finland was able to design the molecule after discovering that a protein, NOS1AP, that is downstream of nNOS, triggers several biological pathways that are associated with abnormal glutamate signaling, including neuropathic pain.

The Indiana University group demonstrated that an experimental molecule designed by the Turku group to prevent nNOS signalling to NOS1AP reduced two forms of neuropathic pain in rodents. These forms of pain develop as result of either chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel or nerve damage.

The treatment also disrupted markers of nociceptive signaling in the spinal cord when the test drug was injected at that site into mice. Importantly, the NOS1AP inhibitor did not cause typical motor side effects observed with previous experimental molecules that directly target NMDARs.

– Importantly, the chemical that prevents this signalling did not cause the negative side effects observed in previous experiments. Our studies suggest that the nNOS-NOS1AP interaction site is a previously unrecognized target for pain therapies”, says Professor Andrea Hohmann from the Indiana University in Bloomington.

The results suggest that the protein NOS1AP might be a valuable novel target in the development of more effective medicines to treat neuropathic pain.

– NOS1AP should be studied in more detail to find the best way to prevent this protein from contributing to chronic pain, said Senior Researcher Michael Courtney from the University of Turku.

This research is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute ( held jointly by Andrea Hohmann at Indiana University and Michael Courtney in Turku.

This study appears in the journal Pain

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