The group's research is about the herpes virus and its role in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
For almost 20 years, the core of Fredrik Elgh's research has been to detect microorganisms, both viruses and bacteria, even in small amounts and in places in the body where they should not be. In recent years, the research group has focused on the herpesvirus and its role in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Elgh combines his work as consultant at the clinical microbiology laboratory at the University Hospital of Umeå with research at Umeå University. Laboratory medicine is primarily a matter of routine verification of which infecting microorganism has given rise to the presentation of disease in a patient. Factors such as reliable analysis methods, accuracy in execution and capacity to handle large amounts of samples are of central importance for this work. This is an area that is developing rapidly with new technology and it is a great privilege to be part of that journey.
Fredrik Elgh's research is based on a laboratory medical approach where it became clear at an early stage that the methods used clinically are also very useful when it is suspected that a virus causes disease but where the connection is not completely obvious nor determined with certainty. For example, it may be an infection from which the individual has recovered but where the virus has started bodily processes that give rise to symptoms much later. The group's research is conducted largely in collaboration with other clinically active specialists who have a well-founded suspicion that there is a link between some form of infection and a certain disease.
In recent years, Fredrik's research group has been very involved in a project initiated by Associate Professor Hugo Lövheim at the Geriatric Centre in Umeå. The project is about the herpesvirus as a contributing factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease (AS). The team has been able to show a connection between herpesvirus infection and the development of AS in large biobank materials, including the large Betula material produced for geriatric research and the Medical Biobank which is based on the project Västerbotten Health Survey project, both located in Umeå.
Using other clinical materials consisting of, among other things, tissue samples, the team identifies and characterises the herpesvirus genetically.
Since the herpesvirus can be tamed with antiviral drugs that have now been known about and used for many decades, it is important to investigate whether these medications have an effect on the development of AS disease. Therefore, the team has recently conducted and completed a clinical treatment study on Swedish patients from Umeå, Skellefteå and Uppsala that has given promising results and is now preparing to participate in a similar but much larger international multicentre study where the diagnostic tools that can now be used are and will be very important in order to move ahead with this research front.