Bissen Brainwalk Contributes SEK 750,000 to Brain Research

18 November 2019

Fundraising organisation Bissen Brainwalk is distributing SEK 750,000 to brain research into epilepsy, strokes and autism. The projects in question are being led by Anna Rostedt Punga, Pär Nyström, Karl Sjölin and Joachim Burman at Uppsala University.

The awards ceremony will take place at 13:00 on 20 November at Köping Town Hall and it is three research projects being conducted at Uppsala University that will share the SEK 750,000 collected by Bissen Brainwalk.

Epilepsy treatment

Anna Rostedt Punga, a consultant and associate professor in clinical neurophysiology, has been awarded a grant for her research project into creating a “brain-on-a-chip” as a personal treatment strategy for neurological diseases, especially epilepsy and neurological autoimmune diseases.

The aim of the research project is to acquire knowledge of the detailed causes of chronic dysfunction in neurological disorders. The research team has established a globally unique system using pioneering microtechnology to perform detailed analyses of communication between brain cells. They have also developed the ability to stimulate brain cells and to see how they interact.

“I am delighted to have been awarded this grant by Bissen Brainwalk,” says Anna Rostedt Punga. “Research funding from this type of fund is special recognition of the research we are, and hope to continue, conducting. I am extremely impressed by the passionate souls who run this foundation and it is an honour to be a part of that positive spirit to further develop knowledge of diseases of the brain.”

Early autism detection

Pär Nyström, a researcher at the Department of Psychology, has been awarded a Bissen Brainwalk grant for a research project aimed at developing new methods for the early detection of autism.

Autistic traits present gradually during the first two to three years of life, making it impossible to tell if a newborn child will eventually be diagnosed with autism. The research project utilises new methods for analysing video recordings of blink behaviour to discover early signs of autism during the first year of life. The project helps both those researching the causes of autism and the families of autistic children, who can receive timely support and aid to adapt.

“This grant from Bissen Brainwalk means a great deal to me personally,” says Pär Nyström. “We will be able take important strides towards a usable method that can be implemented outside the research laboratory. As the method can be applied on a large scale, it can make a real difference. Our ultimate goal is to provide tangible social benefits, just as Bissen Brainwalk does.”

Blood tests to identify strokes

Joachim Burman, consultant and associate Professor of neurology, and Karl Sjölin, MD and doctoral student in neurology at the Department of Neuroscience, have been awarded a grant by Bissen Brainwalk for research into using blood tests to diagnose strokes.

What if we could run a quick test in the ambulance to determine whether a patient is having a stroke and, if so, how serious it is? Or, in the event of unexplained unconsciousness, be able to determine whether or not the brain has been seriously affected? If we could, then it would have major implications for emergency healthcare in situations where quicker answers lead to quicker and better treatment. The aim of this project is to discover a protein that leaks into the bloodstream during a stroke and that can ultimately be used as a ‘stroke blood test’.

“We are deeply honoured and pleased to be awarded a grant from Bissen Brainwalk,” says Karl Sjölin. “The objective we have set ourselves demands a great deal of work and the road there will not be straight but we are determined to succeed; grants like this only spur us on further!”

“It is particularly pleasing to have the opportunity to work on methods that may actually make a practical difference in healthcare,” continues Joachim Burman.

Seven million collected for research

It was elite bandy player Mathias Bissen Larsson who started Bissen Brainwalk in 2011. Since then, the fundraising organisation has contributed SEK 7 million to brain research.

“Despite my own health struggles, I am happy that we are once again able to contribute a substantial sum to important brain research,” says Mathias Bissen Larsson. “Bissen Brainwalk energises me as I know that the money we collect makes a difference and my competitive instinct means that I constantly develop the Bissen Brainwalk Fund.”