Pontus Boström, October 6

SciLifeLab The Svedberg seminar series

Monday, October 6


Pontus Boström

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Pontus Boström received his PhD degree in Medicine from Sahlgrenska Akademin at Gothenburg University 2008. Following postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Bruce Spiegelman at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, he joined the department of Cell and Molecular Biology at the Karolinska Institute 2013, where he is now an Associate Professor. His research focuses on the effects of exercise on adipose tissue. His work has, amongst other things, led to the discovery of the hormone Irisin, which is released from muscle during exercise and promote the conversion of white fat to brown fat.

Inter organ signaling in exercise protects from metabolic disease

Obesity and type II diabetes contribute to cardiovascular disease which is the main cause of death in the western world. It is therefore worrisome that both obesity and diabetes are rapidly increasing in prevalence worldwide, reaching pandemic proportions. Thus, there is an urgent need for new treatments to combat this development, preferentially preventive.

Exercise is known to reduce most of the risk factors underlying cardiovascular disease. For example, endurance exercise has the capacity to reduce the diabetes risk by almost 50%. We therefore aim to harness the power of exercise to treat subjects at risk for obesity and diabetes. We currently focus on the recently discovered exercise-induced hormone Irisin (Boström et. al. 2012). Irisin promotes the formation of so called brown-fat-like cells which in turn increases the intrinsic caloric usage and protects against diabetes in rodents. Our main focus is therefore to produce bioactive Irisin as a protein therapeutic.

We have identified another gene product which we named “Irisin2”. Irisin2 is more than 82% identical to Irisin and is 100% conserved between human and rodents. Moreover Irisin2 is synthesized in a similar fashion. Interestingly, Irisin2 produces well in mammalian expression systems and remains stable. In direct comparisons, Irisin2 display more than 10-fold higher cellular affinity than Irisin and might therefore be a more suitable therapeutic approach. Another advantage with Irisin2 is that it is not limited by current patents. In fact, there are no publications whatsoever on neither the gene nor the gene product. Given success, this will lead to a lead candidate for a novel protein therapeutic.

Host: Olof Idevall