According to a multidisciplinary study at the University of Oulu, contemporary Finns’ vertebrae have not grown in the same proportion to body size compared to people who lived 200–500 years ago. The smaller size of vertebrae may be linked to contemporary back problems.
Despite low back pain being the most common cause of impairment for individuals and of considerable cost to society, its pain treatment has serious deficiencies. According to recommendations, low back pain treatment should take psychosocial risk factors into account. Surveys aimed at people with back pain can identify individuals with clinically significant psychological, social and lifestyle-related risk factors for prolonged pain.
Memory disorders are seen as diseases of the elderly. One third of those over 85 years of age suffer from a memory disorder, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease. However, a memory disorder can manifest itself much earlier on, at the age of 50 to 60.
This year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine will be awarded on 10 December to three researchers studying hypoxia – low oxygen concentrations. The Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine of the University of Oulu has made its significant contribution to the subject.
High home blood pressure variability is associated with an exaggerated blood pressure increase in response to cold temperature exposure, which places a strain on the heart and, at worst, it can increase cardiac arrhythmia, chest pain and heart attacks. The data can be found in a joint study by the University of Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
A major international study revealed that the two most common female reproductive system diseases, uterine fibroids and endometriosis, have common genetic origins. The finding, published in the prestigious Nature Communications journal, drives forward basic research in the field and may open up completely new opportunities for developing drug treatment as well.
A new doctoral dissertation by Lic. Med. Jaana Huhtakangas shows that over 90% of ischemic stroke patients have sleep apnea. The levels of sleep apnea remain high throughout the six-month observation period and became more severe for the majority of patients.
Every year, about 600 Finnish children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The number is the highest in the world in proportion to population. For a total of 25 years already, the DIPP study has been collecting information on factors that may be relevant for the development of diabetes in children. Viruses are suspected to play a great role.
According to a recent study conducted in Oulu, Finland, in young men even light physical activity had beneficial effects on the heart health. Regular exercise increased heart rate variability, which reflects autonomic nervous regulation of the heart and is an indicator of heart health.
The Minerva Foundation’s Medix prize in biomedical basic research has this year been awarded to a research group headed by Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine Gong-Hong Wei at the University of Oulu.
It is already known that smoking during pregnancy affects the child's health in many ways. An extensive birth cohort study has shown that a mother who smokes during pregnancy also impacts the child’s experience of musculoskeletal pain as teenager.
Pollen forecasts appear in weather forecasts around mid-March when alder and hazel start to bloom. It is common knowledge that people with asthma and allergies get symptoms but the APTA project showed that the start of the pollen season also increases mortality due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Prediabetes, the precursor stage before type 2 diabetes, does not increase the cardiac risk of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). An extensive study led by the University of Oulu examined the effects of prediabetes on the cardiac risk of patients with CAD by monitoring the health of approximately 2,000 patients with CAD for six years. It is the first extensive follow-up study on this topic.
Extensive international research reveals an interesting phenomenon in the increasing obesity among world population: the geography of body-mass index (BMI) appears to have changed radically over the last few decades. In 1985, urban men and women in the majority of the countries had a higher BMI than their rural counterparts. However, in approximately 30 years, the situation has practically been reversed.
Finnish researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Oulu have discovered of a new type of gene mutation that reduces fear and anxiety, and increases social interaction. The researchers employed gene manipulation technology to remove the P4h-tm gene from the mouse genome and found an unexpected change in mouse behaviour. P4h-tm knockout mice showed striking courage and a lack of learned helplessness compared to congenic wild-type mice with a functional P4h-tm gene. The results were published in Neuropharmacology.
The Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research (CERH) at the University of Oulu has launched a research project: SAAMI – Adaptation of Saami people to the climate change. The project aims to identify ways for Saami people to adapt to climate change and find out what measures are required. Information produced in the course of the project will benefit decision-makers, the scientific community and Saami people themselves.
According to a recent study, diabetes impairs the body's ability to utilise vitamin D. This observation, made by the researchers of the University of Oulu, provides new information about reasons for the low blood levels of vitamin D that are common in patients with diabetes.
Researchers from the University of Oulu and Harvard University have found a previously unknown mechanism by which cells in the body sense oxygen. Lack of oxygen had a direct influence on the functioning of genes, and prevented cell differentiation. This observation will open up new opportunities for the development of cancer drugs. The study was published in the prestigious Science journal.
University of Oulu carries out birth cohort studies, which are rare and valued on an international scale. In this project, babies born in Northern Finland in 1966, 1985 and 1986 have been studied extensively already in the mother's womb and approximately every 10 years thereafter. Scientists have used this enormous research material to study a number of different diseases. The results have been applied to, for instance, Current Care Guidelines and prevention of illnesses.
A recent study conducted in Oulu indicates that exercise combined with lifestyle guidance at the very beginning of a weight loss programme enhances severely obese persons’ weight loss, weight management and glucose metabolism. Exercise should therefore be part of obesity treatment right from the start. The study was conducted in cooperation between Oulu Deaconess Institute’s (ODL) exercise clinic, the University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, and it was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal.
Using a method developed by researchers at the University of Oulu, the severity of osteoarthritis can be measured using acoustic, kinetic and thermaldata. Quickly and easily, the method helps to monitor the progress of osteoarthritis and the rehabilitation process following, for instance, a joint replacement operation.
Forms of digital healthcare, such as remote online therapies, are an effective response to the growing demand for healthcare services. Most doctors consider online therapies as an accepted way to provide treatment. Doctors believe they work well to complement early stage treatment but should not be the only option.
The Microelectronics Research Unit (MIC) and the Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology (MIPT) at University of Oulu have received a new funding (about 1 million euros) from EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 for innovative strategies to repair cartilage damage. The RESTORE project joins 9 European partners from 7 countries. The total funding for the 3.5-year project is worth 5.5 million euros.
Research carried out at the University of Oulu indicates that exercising in cold temperatures puts a greater strain on the heart of coronary artery disease patients than exercising in warm temperatures. No other unusual activity was observed in the cardiac and circulatory systems of men suffering from coronary artery disease while they were engaging in a half-hour brisk walk.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDs) are classically known as compounds which exert adverse effects by interfering with hormone-related signalling pathways. The concept of endocrine disruption has recently been extended to metabolic alterations which may result in diseases such as obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease, which constitute an increasing health concern word wide.
Researchers from the University of Oulu are involved in a large-scale international study, which shows that genetic factors partly explain risk behaviour. The effect of individual genes on risk behaviour is low, but the interaction of genes is significant.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common complication of diabetes. Its screening with fundus photography uses a lot of resources. University of Oulu is involved in a project that aims to automate retinopathy screening through machine learning.
The traditional Saami lifestyle and diet have protected the physical and mental health of the Saami people. However, according to the latest study, social and cultural changes have increased the occurrence of lifestyle diseases in the Saami people and created threats to their mental health. Many societal and lifestyle changes have also made the Saami people more vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change.
The University of Oulu’s Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research (CERH) focusses its research on the health impacts of global change. Climate change and traditional air pollutants are in a key role.
A significant 525 000 euro funding was granted by the Future Makers –program by the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation for AIDMEI project, directed by professor Miika Nieminen from the University of Oulu. The goal is to develop a novel artificial intelligence-based workflow for the radiological diagnostics process leading to an accessible, more accurate, and affordable healthcare.
Professor Lauri Eklund and doctoral student Prateek Singh from the University of Oulu together with their European partners have received nearly 3.8 million euro funding for the H2020-MSCA-ITN project called V.A. Cure. The goal is to provide doctoral education for early-stage researchers in the field of vascular biology, and to uncover the disease causing mechanisms to establish novel therapeutic strategies for vascular anomalies.
The web-based weight management program Onnikka, developed by the researchers at the University of Oulu, supports people in achieving permanent lifestyle changes by influencing their thoughts and attitudes. Persons using the program lost weight and, for most of them, their weight remained at the achieved level throughout the two-year control period.
Cardiology researchers at the University of Oulu have found a number of genetic alterations that might explain sudden deaths among young adults in Northern Finland. The observation of the hereditary nature of cardiac fibrosis helps researchers understand the mechanisms that lead to other serious cardiac diseases.
World Health Organization has redesignated the Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research (CERH) as a WHO Collaborating Centre in Global Change, Environment and Public Health for a new four-year term starting from May 20, 2018. The director of the WHO collaborating centre is the director of CERH, Professor of Public Health Jouni Jaakkola. CERH at the University of Oulu is the only university based research unit in Finland serving as a WHO collaborating centre.
Physical activity levels of young adults who were born preterm are clearly lower compared to their peers who were born at term, and those born preterm also have weaker muscles. Low levels of physical activity and fitness can increase the risk of chronic diseases later in life, so those born preterm should particularly be encouraged to be physically active.
The Kipuriihi tool developed at the University of Oulu assesses the effectiveness of treatments for lower back pain using wisdom of the crowds. In April, Kipuriihi will be introduced in Canada at the world's premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction.
Even today, health care resources are wasted on unnecessary examinations and ineffective and even harmful treatments. These are the conclusions of 3 extensive review articles published in the respected scientific journal The Lancet, in which 31 leading experts from 13 countries have compiled research evidence on the causes, risk factors and treatment of low back pain. Professor Jaro Karppinen from the University of Oulu is one of the contributors.
People born in Northern Finland in 1966 and between July 1985 and June 1986 can consider themselves to be in a privileged position. Their health and well-being have been followed already from the foetal stage. This has continued through the present day at ten years intervals. The result has been an extensive research data referred to as the Northern Finland Birth Cohort. The collection of new information is beginning this year.
A new doctoral dissertation shows that many men carrying hereditary breast cancer gene feel that necessary support is not available to them. Despite an increased cancer risk, there is no consistent preventive cancer screening organised for these men.
Skin diseases among middle-aged people are more common than previously thought. The doctoral thesis research of Suvi-Päivikki Sinikumpu, Licentiate of Medicine, revealed that 60% of the subjects had a skin disease requiring treatment.
Before reaching fifty, Finnish smokers already show warning signs of serious cardiovascular events. Support for quitting provided by doctors is a cost-effective method of preventing the realisation of serious health risks, but Finnish doctors feel that a lack of time and inadequate treatment paths prevent them from offering sufficient support.
A unique study has been launched in Finland that will deepen our understanding about the origins of diseases and their treatment. The FinnGen study plans to tap into 500 000 unique blood samples collected by a nation-wide network of Finnish biobanks. The study is expected to continue for six years, securing funding of 59M€.
Genetics has made its way into the mainstream and is now within the reach of everyone. Currently we are already genuinely at the individual level in research, and we all have the possibility to test ourselves genetically if we wish. The increasing amount of information increases our self-knowledge, but the development also raises some fears. The opportunities and future challenges of increasing genetic information were discussed at the “Fascinating Genes” seminar at the University of Oulu in late November.
Professor Miika Nieminen has received a large funding of 1,018 M€ from Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation for the project “Structure-specific MRI characterization of articular cartilage in osteoarthritis”. This is a continued funding for a project previously supported by the same foundation.
The results of a recent study emphasize the role of cytokine Interleukin 6 (IL-6) in the pathogenesis of asthma and imply that certain IL6 genotypes increase susceptibility to the adverse effects of tobacco smoking on the risk of the asthma. The research was carried out in the University of Oulu, at the Center for Environmental and Respiratory Research (CERH) by docent Taina K. Lajunen, Professor of public health Jouni J.K. Jaakkola and Professor of pulmonary medicine Maritta S. Jaakkola.
Seventy-two new genetic variants that contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer have been identified by an extensive, international team of researchers. The findings were reported in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics. Genetic studies pave way for understanding the pathogenesis of breast cancer.
The material of the cardiology researchers from Oulu can be considered unique on the global scale. This material is used to study what factors influence development of fibrosis that leads to cardiac diseases and sudden death.