Published: 29-10-2012 00:00 | Updated: 13-02-2014 15:35

Björn and Lena Ulvaeus donate SEK three million to medical research

Musician and composer Björn Ulvaeus and his wife Lena are to donate a total of SEK three million to a research project at Karolinska Institutet. The donation will be divided over three years to finance research into blood diseases at the Haematology and Regenerative Medicine Centre (HERM).

Blood cancer is the umbrella term for several different cancer-like diseases of the bone marrow, including leukaemia. Every year, over 2,000 people in Sweden develop some kind of blood cancer. While the causes vary, a feature shared by the most common forms of leukaemia is that for reasons yet unknown the white blood cells mutate and propagate at an uncontrolled pace.

"I'm delighted that we are to receive this donation, as it will enable us to develop and carry out new research projects," says Professor Eva Hellström Lindberg, who will be leading the project with a group of researchers at HERM. "All forms of cancer are caused by cell mutations. Here we want to go into depth and study which sub-categories of bone marrow cells carry different mutations in order that we can develop better and more targeted treatments."

Two principal categories of blood cancers are acute leukaemia, which is found in all ages, and chronic leukaemia, which mainly affects the elderly (more than half the patients are over 60). These categories are then divided into sub-categories with different causes and pathological processes.

"We understand how complex these diseases are and that there is so much more for research to uncover," say Lena and Björn Ulvaeus. "So we're particularly pleased to be able to make this very concrete contribution to the research."

Karolinska Institutet's Haematology and Regenerative Medicine is located on the universitys Huddinge campus, and is a so-called translational research centre, integrating basic and clinical research.

"The centre is an important strategic initiative for Karolinska Institutet," says university president Professor Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson. "We're therefore delighted that Björn and Lena Ulvaeus have drawn attention to these combined efforts in haematological research and decided to give their support to the research being done there."