This year's Keynote Speaker was Marie Dacke
Best student presentations
The following three presentations won the prize for best student presentation.
Tor Hansson Frank, Bachelor programme in biology
Saving the Scandinavian arctic fox.
The arctic fox is the only arctic predator in Sweden, and highly endangered. Even though hunting was banned in 1928 the species never recovered, and almost went extinct 30 years ago. The Swedish arctic fox project at Stockholm University has been working hard to save the species by studying its ecology and behaviour. The main efforts today are support feeding and culling of invasive red foxes. Helags in Jämtland and Ammarnäs in Västerbotten are home to the largest arctic fox populations in Scandinavia, and there is where most of the conservation work is being done.
This summer, I took part as a volunteer in the Swedish arctic fox project in Ammarnäs, where my main tasks were inventory of dens and tagging of cubs. Tagging helps identifying individuals, which is important for behavioural studies, understanding migration patterns and identifying factors that affect survival and reproduction. Since the arctic fox is depending on fluctuating rodent populations for their reproduction, they are very vulnerable to the decreased lemming peaks caused by climate change. This year, the lemming population peaked, but crashed during the snowmelt. Even though we found 20 dens with litters, and tagged many cubs, only a handful will survive until next year. Therefore, further studies and continued support feeding is critical to ensure the long-term survival of the Scandinavian arctic fox.
Celine-Lea Halioua-Haubold, exchange student in biology
Cholera Subunit-B to Introduce Foreign Protein in Brain Cancer Cells.
Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most common malignant brain tumor, and also the most lethal. Compounds that are capable of entering cells are of interest for the delivery of potential theraupics in a highly specific manner. We are investigating the use of the B subunit of the Cholera Toxin (CTB) as a method of carrying foreign proteins into GBM cells. Varying GBM cell lines were used in confirming where CTB accumulates in the cell after uptake, and determining if a protein is still functional when attached to CTB. CTB tagged with a fluorescent molecule was observed to enter the less than 20 minutes after it was added to the cell media, and continued to fluoresce for at least one week, retaining within the cells as they divided. Through immunofluorescence staining, it was determined CTB does not accumulate in the nucleus or autophagosomes. In order to verify if a protein carried by CTB remains functional, CTB was conjugated horseradish peroxidase, a protein that increases oxidative damage and subsequent cell death in the presence of H2O2. H2O2 treatment caused a statistically significant increase in cell death in the CTB-HRP treated cells over control cells at the 500 and 1000 μM concentrations, indicating the HRP conjugated to CTB was functional. These pilot experiments confirm our interest in CTB as a cell-specific protein delivery agent, due to its stability and lack of observed cellular toxicity, along with demonstrated efficacy of introducing a conjugated enzyme into a GBM cell line, facilitating its disease modifying activity.
Julia Krüper, Master programme in chemistry
Allsmäktig CSI-maskin har upptäckts – eller hur man kan skilja blodfläckar från ketchup
Har du någonsin undrat över hur den där fantastiska maskinen på TV:ns CSI-program fungerar? Labbpersonalen stoppar in vad polisen än har hittat på brottsplatsen i maskinen och vips – inom loppet av en reklampaus har man fått gärningspersonens namn! Så ser det tyvärr inte ut i verkligheten, utan kemiska analyser kan ta upp till flera dagar att genomföra. Tekniken som presenteras här tar oss dock ett steg närmare en CSI-maskin: Nanospray desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (nano-DESI MS), som den kallas, har inte bara förmågan att upptäcka blodfläckar på vilken yta som helst utan kan även skilja människoblod från djurblod på bara någon minut. Nano-DESI MS är en relativt ny teknik som möjliggör kemiska analyser direkt på olika ytor – istället för att behöva skrapa bort och lösa upp blodfläckar, vilket är både tidskrävande och kan medföra att prov blandas ihop.
I blod finns det en uppsjö av olika molekyler, bland annat proteinet hemoglobin som transporterar syre i kroppen. Hemoglobinets kemiska sammansättning varierar mellan olika arter och kan därför användas för att särskilja blod från olika djur. Människans hemoglobin är unikt och kan bekräfta att en viss blodfläck har kommit från just en människa. Med nano-DESI MS kan labbpersonalen alltså bevisa att en fläck är människoblod och inte ketchup – inom loppet av en reklampaus!
Foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccine and vaccine engineering
Vaccines are the one of key components of modern life which not only protects in humans and animals. Vaccination is the major strategy to contain and control spread of viruses. However, only a few of them have been eradicated and some of pathogens which used to be controlled are coming back. Furthermore, there are many viruses for which we do not have a vaccine. The current situation requires more rational and safer way for vaccine development. Virus genome is deoptimized in order to make a virus weaker and incapable to recover its virulence. This novel technology is used to develop a vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) which infects commercially important animals and causes considerable economic losses in Africa and Asia. There is no vaccine which would provide long term immunity for animals. My previous work was focused on the secondary RNA structures in FMDV genome and their potential to be used for vaccine development. There are two stem-loop structures at the 3’ untranslated region of FMDV genome and my work showed that these secondary structures are important for different steps of virus life cycle than it was thought before. This work is a part of large project to develop a toolkit for the development of virus strain which could be used to develop vaccine providing long-term immunity.
Mothers, markets and medicine
Traditional medicine is the most common healthcare in Tanzania. Ethnobotanical studies in Tanzania have not explored women’s traditional medicine, with the result that we do not know if women’s usage of medicinal plants create a threat against the biodiversity. Interviews and collections of medicinal plants were carried out in the Dar es Salaam region in Tanzania before identifying the collected specimens by DNA barcoding, literature and morphology in Uppsala. 249 plant species were mentioned for women’s healthcare and 140 for children’s healthcare. Medicinal plants reported frequently during interviews were Cassia abbreviata, Zanthoxylum sp. and Ximenia sp. The informants having most in common were the market vendors, healers and herbalists, the only informants that mentioned vulnerable species. Differences between medicinal plant harvest for domestic and commercial use was observed where the commercial harvesting meant a greater threat to the Tanzanian medicinal plant biodiversity due to unsustainable harvesting methods. An increased commercial harvesting often result in a decreased biodiversity. High population growth and quick urbanization mean that domestic harvesting of women’s medicinal plants will not be able to continue as previously and women in Tanzania will be more dependent on commercial trade for their traditional medicine.
Jorge Laraña Aragón
Entropy and Black Holes
In this presentation, I would like to talk about black hole thermodynamics and in particular, about the question of entropy and the information paradox. This started a discussion consisting of either the information of a physical system would dissapear forever inside a black hole or by contrast, it should be always be conserved, according to the postulates of Quantum Mechanics.
I will try to adress this topic in a very informative way and therefore give the audience basic ideas in order to understand the problem, since this is a very deep topic in modern Theoretical Physics requiring advanced knowledge in the fields of General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and String Theory.
Hamid Reza Reza Zadeh
How do three generations of Neutrinos mix?
For a long time, it was believed that neutrinos were massless, spin-half particles, making them drastically different from their other standard model spin-half cousins such as the charged leptons (e,μ,τ) and the quarks (u,d,s,c,t,b), which are known to have mass. The Standard Model (SM) of Particle Physics is the best evidence proved theory that man has developed yet, to answer “What are the building blocks of the universe?” This model classifies the most fundamental constituent particles of matter based upon their common properties, such as mass, spin, etc.
Evidence for the existence of neutrino mass has been accumulating from the solar and atmospheric neutrino data collected since the 1990s up to the present. However within the context of gauge theories the possibility of a nonzero neutrino mass at the phenomenological level goes back almost into the 1970s and 1980s, long before there was any firm evidence for it. Non-zero mass would mean that neutrinos are more like quarks, the constituents of protons and neutrons, and allows for mixing between the different neutrino flavours leading to the phenomenon of neutrino oscillation. Although the gauge group of the SM could still be valid, massive neutrinos would imply new physics beyond the SM in other ways. For instance, just like for the quarks, there can be a mixing between generations of neutrinos. One consequence of the oscillation between 3 generations of neutrinos is the distinctive possibility that neutrinos might be their own antiparticle, so-called Majorana particles.
Supercentenarians: An In vivo model of decelerated senescence
Supercentenarians are people over 110 years old, only 1 in 700 people aged 100 survive to that age. These people seem to age very slowly and often avoid "normal" agerelated diseases like cancer and dementia, Interestingly, an acceleration of mortality, the "death wall", occurs in people aged 114-115. 98% of people turning 110 die before 115, autopsies often show cardiac failure due to TTR amyloidosis.
Do these "supercentenarians" have something special that other people do not have? Why do humans not live longer than this? Can we learn to circumvene this "death wall" by future biotechnology?
Att leta efter toxiner i skaldjur
Skaldjur filtrerar mängder av vatten, på så sätt lagras toxiner (gifter) från våra hav i djuren. Så kallade PSP toxiner är sådana gifter. Dessa kan vara dödliga för människor. Därför är det viktigt att kontrollera så att förgiftade skaldjur inte säljs i mataffärer.
Detta kontrolleras idag med mustester. Det är ifrågasatt, både ur etisk och vetenskaplig synvinkel. En kemisk analysmetod, vätskekromatografi med masspektrometri, är en föreslagen metod som kan ersätta mustesten. Den tros vara mer exakt och reproducerbar. Jag deltog i ett projekt där jag undersökte metoden. Jag kommer presentera den, hur den kan påverka de analyserade resultaten man får och hur resultaten kan feltolkas.
How can clathrin-mediated endocytosis of receptors be used in targeted cancer therapy?
Clathrin is a protein forming coated vesicles with its functional unit called triskelion (three footed-in Grek) that has heavy and light chains. Triskelion binds calcium molecules where three legs join together. Clathrin coated vesicles are involved in endocytosis of receptors then transport them to endosome. Endocytosis is the form of active transport in which molecules are transported into the cell. There are three kinds of endocytosis; phagoctyosis, pinocytosis and receptor-mediated endocytosis. We focus on receptor mediated endocytosis of receptor for drug delivery.
IGEM Uppsala 2015, Cecilia Ålander, Fredrik Lindeberg
Synthetic biology is a cross-disciplinary field of science with limitless potential where the main aim is to create new biological parts for useful purposes. By cutting, pasting and mixing genes stemming from different organisms you can create new biological systems, from bioluminescent plants to bacteria that cheaply and efficiently produce drugs. iGEM (international genetically engineered machine) is an annual prestigious international competition in synthetic biology organized by MIT (Massachusettes Institute of Technology). Student teams from all over the world plan and execute their own research projects, which are presented and judged in Boston. Uppsala's iGEM team is back again to present this year's project, which is about degrading PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) carcinogenic toxins. This is done using special enzymes produced by Escherichia coli bacteria. For the seventh time, Uppsala is participating in iGEM and two students from the team, which consists of 24 students, will give you a brief introduction to synthetic biology as a field, iGEM and this year’s project.
Pathways and proteins involved with the embryonic development of sea urchins
As cells multiply and develop after fertilization, they specialize and form different tissue layers that give rise to a specific body organization. The mass of cells express different genetic transcripts at different time points of their development, and this study aims to target specific transcription factors that determine how an organism developments. Specifically, we looked at one of the major polarities that form during development, the animalvegetal pole. This critical pole is what differentiates animals that display left-right symmetry (a body pattern that exists in most organisms today) and those that do not. It has been noted that the animal-vegetal axis is modulated or regulated by a canonical pathway (Wnt/β catenin pathway); as a result, our study examines the major players in this pathway to better understand embryonic development with the ultimate goal of elucidating the evolutionary progression that has given rise to the diverse, complex body plan organizations that exist today.