Published: 20-06-2012 00:00 | Updated: 18-06-2014 10:06

Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca to open new translational research centre

The development of new drugs and the swifter introduction of new clinical methods and treatments – this is the aim of the new translational research centre to be set up by Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca.

Translational research is based on questions raised within healthcare. The research is done in laboratories and the results are then fed back as new methods of treatment and diagnosis. The new centre is being established to discover biomarkers - biological traces in the blood or tissue that can signal whether as person is ill, or risks becoming so later in life. Identifying and understanding new biomarkers will help scientists prevent disease and produce more effective treatments and new drugs.

Karolinska Institutet has unique population studies at its disposal in the form of biobanks and quality registers, which store large collections of biological samples over long periods. These resources will now be combined with AstraZeneca's development techniques and its focus on industrial research.

Chronic diseases such as dementia, cancer, rheumatism, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders and mental ill-health, which currently account for 80 per cent of the country's health costs, will be the centre's main focus.

The Astra Zeneca Translational Science Centre will be located on the Karolinska Institutet campus and will start operating in July when 14 researchers from AstraZeneca in Södertälje and ten postdocs recruited by the two organisations move in. Some teaching will also be carried out there.

"This project is a great and important step for medical science," said Jan Andersson, vice president of Karolinska Institutet and professor of infection diseases. "It's good for the patients, for the growth of the healthcare sector, and for the future of the pharmaceutical industry in Sweden."

"This new centre makes it possible for us and KI to produce biomarkers for major chronic diseasesmore quickly," said Anders Ekblom, CEO of AstraZeneca in Sweden and head of its Science and Technology Integration Office. "It also means that AstraZeneca will have built a new Swedish platform for neuroscience and other fields of pathology."

AstraZeneca and Karolinska Institutet will initially be running the centre for five years. AstraZeneca will be contributing some 4.5 million US dollars (just over 30 million kronor) per year in research funding.