A Swedish varsity with over 100 Indian research tie-ups

Stockholm, May 26 (IANS) Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet (KI), one of the world’s leading medical universities, is undertaking research-collaboration work with over 100 educational institutions and research institutes in India, with a professor saying it was of “indescribable interest”.

Cecilia Staalsby Lundborg, a professor who is coordinator for KI’s collaboration with India, IANS: “The country is one of the world’s most densely populated countries having one-sixth of the earth’s population. It is undergoing a rapid economic development and is motivated by a robust innovative force…while large numbers continue to live in extreme poverty.

“This is an enormous challenge for India, not the least in the field of health and medical care. The country has, in a large degree, all the global diseases…those (that are) rare in Sweden and to a far greater extent the more common ones, chief among them, diabetes,” Lundborg added.

Karolinska Institutet accounts for over 40 percent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country´s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. Since 1901 the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.

Karolinska Institutet was founded by King Karl XIII in 1810 as an “academy for the training of skilled army surgeons”.

Lundborg said that India “represents a large part of the world and many young vastly successful researchers, which renders research collaboration work with the country of indescribable interest”.

The professor has been extensively involved in various research projects in India, concentrating on antibiotics and antibiotic-resistance.

“KI, indeed, has a long tradition of research work with India.

“Today, nearly a half of all the institutions at the KI have ongoing research-collaboration work with over 100 educational institutions and research institutes in India. Besides this, there is currently an active teacher- and student-exchange between the two countries,” she said.

Docent Anna Nilsson, a senior doctor at the Astrid Lindgrens Children’s hospital connected with KI, has been engaged over the last five years with an Indo-Swedish research work for a project called “Pneumonia in children”.

She has collaborated with Indian colleagues and attempted to understand which are the types of viruses and bacteria that cause lung-inflamation in children, a disease that annually kills 1.4 million children worldwide.

The results of the study totalling test-results of 2,400 Indian patients have been collected and the coordinated results will be presented towards the end of this year.

Anna Norrby-Teglund, another professor at KI, has arrived at exciting results while collaborating with Indian researchers studying the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus.

“This is a commonly appearing bacteria that in the worst scenario case causes an aggresive pattern of dead-tissue in, among other organs, the lungs…a disease that often leads to death. Helped by a large volume of material from bacteria-specimen from infected Indian patients, the researchers have succeeded in identifying two different stafylokock-toxins that kill the cells in the lungs,” said Norrby-Teglund.

“We have, for this purpose, constructed an artificial lung-model, in a laboratory environment where we can study infections. Now we are concentrating on testing different treatments against the toxins and hope to discover an effective medicine,” said the professor.

Lundborg exuded optmism when she said that “our combined hope is to develop new spheres of knowledge and collaboration between the countries and that they will increase in understanding and quality so that the result in turn can lead to changes in the world and come to the assistance of all humanity”.

(Alfred de Tavares can be contacted at alfredtavare[email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)

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