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Research highlights from the universities in Medicon Valley By Mia Riise Hansen

Tomato genes produce promising results against brain tumours Tomato genes could be used as a future treatment in gene therapy, according to new research results from the Department of Biology, Lund University. Together with colleagues from Karolinska university Hospital in Stockholm and University of Copenhagen, the scientists have published research results on a tomato gene that could be of value in future treatment of brain tumours. Research on gene therapy has been underway for a long time and last autumn the first gene therapy for cancer treatment was launched onto the market by Ark Therapeutics in Finland. The idea of gene therapy is to introduce an alien gene into a patient’s cancer cells. In combination with a specific drug, the introduced gene can cause the cancer cells to die. The tumour does not disappear, but the hope is that the disease can be halted for a couple of years. In the tomato the gene’s actual task is to produce small building blocks for the plant’s genetic make-up, but in combination with the drug AZT the tomato gene appears to kill the cancer cells. AZT is a drug that was first developed in the fight against HIV.

T.J. Ekström et al. Plant thymidine kinase 1: a novel efficient suicide gene for malignant glioma therapy. Neuro-Oncology 2010; 13.

Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defences Scientists from the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defences, and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin the killer cells of the immune system – T-cells – will not be able to react to and fight off serious, life-threatening infections in the body. For T-cells to detect and kill foreign pathogens such as clumps of bacteria or deadly viruses, the cells must first be ‘triggered’ into action and ‘transform’, from inactive and harmless immune

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LifeSciences Insight no 1 - 2010  

LifeSciences Insight is solely devoted to the life science industry. The magazine addresses numerous relevant issues like Economy, Investme...

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