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Infection and immunology


The Broliden group works within the field of Infection-Immunology and is divided into teams headed by Professor Kristina Broliden, Professor Anna Färnert (malaria), Associate Professor Annelie Tjernlund (HIV), Doctor Lars Öhrmalm (infections in immunosuppressed patients), Doctor Christopher Sundling (vaccine immunology) and Doctor Muhammad Asghar (infections and ageing biology). The group is located within the CMM facility at the Karolinska University Hospital in Solna. All members of the group are affiliated to the Department of Medicine Solna, Karolinska Institutet and have a close association with the Department of Infectious Diseases, Karolinska University Hospital. The two main projects, malaria and HIV, are also closely associated to research institutes and universities in Kenya, Tanzania, USA and Canada and have attracted significant international funding.



Malaria remains a major global health problem and new tools are needed to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality and eventually reach the goals of elimination.


Development of an efficacious vaccine will require further understanding of how natural immunity to malaria is acquired and maintained. Our group is particularly interested in the importance of the extensive diversity of parasite antigens and mechanisms involved in the maintenance of protection. The molecular and sero-epidemiology of malaria is studied in a longitudinal population cohort in areas of varying transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, immune responses are studied in depth in a cohort of patients successfully treated for malaria and prospectively followed in Sweden, thus without risk of reinfection. Immunological memory is studied in the context of different infections and vaccines. In addition, we assess long term effects of malaria and other infections on the host including ageing biology. In a nationwide study of malaria in Sweden we investigate host factors, such as comorbidities, in relation to the risk of severe malaria, with aim to improve the clinical management and prevention of malaria.



Genital mucosal barriers against HIV infection

Environmental factors including hormonal contraceptive use, genital infections and seminal fluid itself affect the susceptibility to HIV infection as demonstrated in epidemiological and experimental studies. The molecular mechanisms behind these findings are however poorly defined. Our group aims to study how the human female genital tract is affected by these factors by assessing tissue samples and cervicovaginal secretions from large cohorts of Swedish and Kenyan women who are sexually exposed to HIV infection. Genital samples are defined by expression of epithelial junction proteins, distribution and density of HIV target cell receptors, presence and function of tissue-resident memory T cells as well as innate immune proteins by using imaging, tissue explants models and proteomics. By exploring some of the underlying mechanisms for a dysfunctional mucosal barrier we hope to contribute to the development of topical prophylactic compounds and to the prescription of optimal contraceptive methods to women.

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