ComBine educates researchers with interdisciplinary knowledge within biofilms and biointerfaces. The PhD projects comprise broad application areas within health, and the strength of the research school is the multidisciplinary environment as well as the broad range of in house equipment and experimental models. ComBine is financed by the Knowledge Foundation.

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If you are interested in becoming a business partner in ComBine, please contact our project leader Therése Nordström.

PhD projects

Find out more about our PhD students and their projects. 

Enzymatic activity in oral biofilms – biotechnological applications and putative predictive biomarkers for oral disease

PhD student

Fredrik Leo

Partner

Genovis AB

Supervisors

Rolf Lood, Genovis AB, Claes Wickström, Gunnel Svensäter and Mikael Sonesson, Malmö University

Project description

Oral diseases affect individuals several times during a lifetime, with a prevalence of 3.5 billion people, with worldwide societal costs of $544.4 billion in treatment expenditures and productivity losses due to absence from work/school. In the EU, it is responsible for costs of €90 billion, only ranking behind diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While several studies have advanced our knowledge regarding the microbial composition in the oral flora in health and disease, the underlying role of enzymes and their regulation has mainly been disregarded. Herein, we will investigate the impact of glycosidase expression in oral flora during health/disease. The study is expected to lead to the identification of novel biomarkers for oral health and disease, an area in need of novel, rapid and robust methods for diagnosis and novel biotechnological tools as analytical reagents for biopharmaceuticals.

Investigation of the effect and mechanistic action of a novel antiseptic in the oral environment

PhD student

Olivia Aherne

Partner

CR Competence AB

Supervisors

Roberto Ortis, CR Competence and Julia Davies, Malmö University

Project description 

The oral cavity is a highly diverse microbial niche containing around 600 bacterial species. The oral microbiome, which helps to maintain a healthy environment, is found as biofilms on the teeth (dental plaque) and mucosal surfaces. Normally these biofilms are in balance with the host but changes in the oral environment can lead to dysbiosis where biofilms develop virulent properties, leading to diseases such as periodontitis and caries.

To treat disease, recent interest has turned to development of alternatives to antibiotics that can penetrate and selectively kill bacteria. Both acetic and hypochlorous acids have shown promise as effective antiseptics and our goal is to examine their combined action on members of the oral microbiome as well as to understand the mechanisms by which they affect virulence in oral biofilms.

Nanostructured lipid composites for long-acting parenteral drug delivery

PhD student

Jenni Engstedt

Partner

Camurus AB

Supervisors

Justas Barauskas, Camurus AB and Vitaly Kocherbitov, Malmö University

Project description 

The focus of this project is to better understand properties of Camurus FluidCrystal® injection depot technology. The FluidCrystal® injection depot consists of a special combination of lipids and an active ingredient that together can form nanostructured liquid crystalline phases in aqueous environments, in this case, under the skin. Formation of liquid crystalline matrix encapsulates the active ingredient that can be released as the matrix degrades in the tissue. Depending on composition, the release can be controlled from several days to weeks and months.

The aim of this project is to strengthen the knowledge of structure-function relation of injectable nanostructured lipid composites. The ultimate goal is the creation of a predictive model describing the relationship between the in vitro properties and in vivo behaviour of the FluidCrystal® injection depot.

Next generation skin care based on algae

PhD student

Michal Szczepanczyk

Partner

Simris Alg AB

Supervisors

Fredrika Gullfot, Simris Alg AB, Sebastian Björklund and Tautgirdas Ruzgas, Malmö University

Project description

The research project is related to advanced skin care based on active compounds extracted from the diatom microalgae Phaeodactylum tricornutum. This particular algal species is a source for lipid-based health supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids. The lipid fraction is obtained from the algae by supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, while the remaining defatted algae biomass (DAB), containing carbohydrates, proteins, and other compounds, remains unused. Our aim is to explore the possibility to use the DAB fraction as a source for advanced skin care products. To approach this challenge, the focus of the industrial PhD project is to characterize the DAB fraction with the aim to identify interesting compounds that may contribute to skin health and skin care, either as active ingredients or as excipient molecules in topical or transdermal drug formulations.

Periodontitis a pre-stadium to systemic disease: Various methods to diagnose periodontitis by analysis of cell-free nucleic acids in saliva and gingival fluid

PhD student

Roya Darbani

Partner

PEAS Institut AB

Supervisors

Fariba Nayeri, PEAS Institut AB, Bertil Kinnby andGunnel Svensäter, Malmö University

Project description 

In recent years, connections between inflammation in the oral cavity (periodontitis) and systemic diseases have attracted much interest. Although inflammation has been studied profoundly, new mechanisms are still discovered. Recruiting white blood cells is an early step of an inflammatory process. The latest observation describes these cells sending out their gene mass (DNA) as threads to trap and kill microorganisms at the site of injury/infection, a process called Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs). We aim to investigate the presence and role of NETs in the pathophysiology of periodontitis. This knowledge is going to be used to understand the mechanism of disease and also for development of rapid tests that can detect presence of cell free DNA in saliva and thereby diagnosis of ongoing inflammation in the oral cavity.

Technologies for tumour-directed Immuno-oncology therapies

PhD student

Barnabas Nyesiga

Partner

Alligator Bioscience AB

Supervisors

Dr Laura von Schantz, Alligator Bioscience AB and Professor Anette Gjörloff Wingren, Malmö University.

Project description

Currently, Immunotherapy, a type of cancer treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer faces several challenges including severe side effects often combined with lack of efficacious response in many patient populations. To improve this, Alligator, the industrial partner in this project, is committed in developing tumour-directed immunotherapies where the focus is on immune activation of the most relevant parts of the immune system to eliminate tumours and induce immunological memory. The PhD project’s main objective is to develop one or several cutting-edge technologies that can be utilized to generate next generation tumour directed antibody compounds. The long-term goal is to boost the development of more effective and safer treatments that can make a true difference for cancer patients.

Tolerogenic Dendritic Cells as a Therapeutic Approach to Induce Immune Tolerance

PhD student

Gillian Dao Nyesiga

Partner

Idogen AB

Supervisors

Hanne Romedahl, Idogen AB and Lars Ohlsson, Malmö University

Project description

Idogen, a biotech company in Lund, Sweden, has a newly-invented platform technology of immune cell therapy for humans involving tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDCs) generated ex vivo from precursor cells derived from the patient’s own blood. TolDC-treatment is believed to ‘re-program’ a patient’s immune system to tolerise different factors that are otherwise erroneously attacked by the immune system such as: anti-drug antibody formation, for example, to FVIII in haemophilia A, rejection of organ transplants, and autoimmune diseases. With clinical trials approaching in 2021, it is of paramount importance to characterise and document the technology to ensure safety, efficacy and reproducibility. This project focusses on mechanistic cellular immunology, especially from the tolerance induction/DC/regulatory T cell angle to characterise the underlaying mechanisms of the tolDCs, involving both in vitro and in vivo studies.