Cecilia Aulin

Cecilia Aulin

Research Specialist

About me

 

I did my undergraduate studies and PhD in Uppsala, in biotechnology engineering and biomaterials. My research was in regenerative medicine, in particular bone and cartilage regeneration. After my disseration I moved to Karolinska and CMM to do my postdoc at the Rheumatology unit with prof Lars Klareskog and prof Helena Harris continuing and extending my cartilage regeneration studies into the field of osteoarthritis and rheumatology.

    Research description

    BIOFUNC

    A prospective, longitudinal clinical and molecular study with the aim to find key drivers of osteoarthritis (OA) disease progression, with subsequent preclinical development of disease modifying therapies.

    Individuals with OA constitutes a heterogeneous population. However, pain and impaired joint function are common denominators for most patients. OA is chronic, and currently no cure exists. In order to identify the molecules active in disease inititation and progression, there is a need to identify how OA is developed over time, which mechanisms are active during disease progression and how we could identify and quantify these factors clinically. Knowing this, we could develop efficient strategies to prevent or treat OA.

    The BIOFUNC project aim to characterize OA patients based on molecular profile (biomarkers), biomechanical joint function and patient reported symptoms (PROMs). Specifically, we aim to

    1. find OA-specific biomarkers that associate with the clinical presentations, in particular pain and joint function
    2. identify patients displaying rapid progression based on biomarkers, joint function and PROMs to be able to implement earlier treatments and better follow-up to slow down the disease
    3. explore OA-specific molecules that could be potential therapeutic targets and could be evaluated in animal models and developed towards new disease-modifying treatments.

    Pre-clinical studies of inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis – Development of local therapies using injectable polymer materials

    Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, with pain and joint destruction as the primary symptoms. Inflammation is a contributing factor to the development of OA, but in contrast to the successful anti-inflammatory treatments established for rheumatoid arthritis neutralization of TNF and  IL-1 have demonstrated modest or no effects in OA. This has led us to study other inflammatory mediators such as alarmins and oxidative stress related products that may contribute to inflammation and enhancing the catabolic processes in the joint. 

    Our overall aim is to develop local therapies targeting inflammation and pain. This is done by utilizing injectable materials, developed in collaboration with Ångström Laboratory in Uppsala. The materials could be designed either to neutralize harmful products by functionalizing the material itself, or by functioning as a drug delivery vehicle for anabolic or anti-inflammatory cues.

    By combining cell studies, mouse models and analysis of patient material, I aim to study the role of inflammatory mediators in OA, their association to pain as well as their neutralization using materials designed as polymeric scavengers as a potential therapy. This is a first step in development of combination therapies directed against alternative inflammatory mediators with the possibility of cartilage regeneration.

    Some of my projects:

    • Study the role of the alarmin HMGB1 in OA and its potential as therapeutic target
    • Investigate the effect of oxidative stress related products in chondrocytes and evaluate their therapeutic potential in experimental OA with regards to pain and joint destruction
    • Develop therapies inducing cartilage regeneration

    Teaching portfolio

    • 2020-2022: Research School Director, National Clinical Research School in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases (NCRSCID). Responsible for planning and organizing a two-year educational program for PhD students in Sweden, including courses, workshops and administration. Funded by the Swedish Research Council.
    • Formal training
      • 2018 “Pedagogy for doctoral supervisors”,
      • 2017 “Doctoral supervision course”,
      • 2007 “Pedagogy for university teachers” and “Pedagogical voice training”
    • Co-supervisor for 5 PhD students (defended Nov 2019, March 2023, April 2023, admitted June 2020, September 2022)
    • Supervisor for master theses in biomedicine/Medicine (7 students, 2007, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2022, 2023)
    • Supervisor for bachelor theses and Erasmus exchanges in biomedicine (4 students, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022)
    • Course responsible for PhD course “Basic Inflammation”, 2018, 2021, 2023, 3 credits, Karolinska Institute
    • Course responsibility for Master level course in Biomaterials 2005-2009 7.5 credits, Chemical engineering program, Uppsala University, Including lecturing, seminars, lab projects, course planning and administration