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New modes of treatment through virus research

The Virology laboratory at the University of Tampere Medical School has long experience in viral disease diagnostics and immune response to viruses and vaccines. The laboratory has also established an extensive international research collaboration network in the field of virology and immunology. The Virology laboratory is led by Professor Heikki Hyöty.

 

Unique research data

The Virology laboratory has special expertise in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases and allergic diseases, and is also engaged in research into the interactions between microbes and the innate immune system. It has at its disposal a comprehensive range of methods for virus identification from clinical tissues and other clinical samples. The research conducted by the laboratory is based on unique biobanks which make it possible to identify new microbe-based disease associations. The main research targets of the group include type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, allergy and viruses causing middle ear infections.

 

Type 1 diabetes and enteroviruses

The research group has long explored the connection between type 1 diabetes and enteroviruses. The risk-effect of enteroviruses emerged from clinical studies and thereafter these viruses were also detected in the pancreas of diabetic patients. This research has led to the ongoing development of a vaccine against type 1 diabetes in cooperation with major vaccine manufacturers.

 

Infections and allergy

In addition to diabetes, the occurrence of allergies and asthma is also rapidly increasing worldwide. This could be due to a decrease in infections in early childhood (the hygiene hypothesis). The group is engaged in finding out how these infections promote the regulation of the immune system and if this effect could be utilized to develop new treatments for allergy. The group has discovered that diseases mediated by the immune system (among them allergy, type 1 diabetes and celiac disease) are much less common in Russian Karelia than in Finland, while microbial infections show an opposite trend. The border between the countries constitutes a steep gradient in the occurrence of these diseases and creates an excellent opportunity to research the hygiene hypothesis and detect protective microbial components.

 

Viruses causing otitis media?

The microbe screening of biobanks has also led to the identification of a virus which may account for as many as 40% of middle ear inflammations in small children. This virus has not previously been implicated as a cause of middle ear infections and this new discovery opens up an opportunity to develop a vaccine against otitis media.


The Virology laboratory

Research areas: viral infections, virus immunology, auto-immune diseases, allergies, vaccines

 

Funding

EU framework programs (FP5-FP7)

National Institute of Health (NIH)

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

Academy of Finland

Private Foundations