Geir Hetland's research group Transfusion medicine and Immuno-modulation (TRIM)
1) Improve production and preservation of blood products for patients
2) Examine immunomodulatory substances from mushrooms & plants and their use as adjuvant therapy for diseases with poor prognosis or treatment.
The Department of immunology and transfusion medicine produces blood products such as red blood cell, platelet concentrates and plasma from donated whole blood. Except from plasma that is frozen, the short shelf-life of cellular and platelet products is logistically challenging in addition to quality and sterility concerns especially for platelet concentrates. The blood bank therefore focuses on improving production and preservation of blood products. Besides negative immunomodulating effects of transfusions, e.g. MHC alloimmunization, it is well known that the immune system can be modulated in a positive way. By engaging receptors for danger signals such as TLR and dectin-1 on innate immune cells, harmless substances from yeast and edible mushrooms such as β-glucans, may be exploited therapeutically against challenges such as incurable cancers (e.g. hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and multiple myeloma), autoimmune diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)), or for diseases with poor treatment such as allergy and asthma. β-glucans and edible Basidiomycetes mushrooms such as Agaricus blazei Murill (AbM) from Brazilian rain forest, have been shown to have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects in mouse models and may also protect the bone marrow against irradiation. We are studying effects of an AbM-based extract, Andosan, and fractions thereof in vitro and as add-on treatment in clinical settings. Moreover, we are involved in the Danish EU project The Seaweed Biorefinery for high value added products, in which we will examine immunomodulatory properties of substances from seaweed.