Laura Airas
Professor of Neuroimmunology, MD, PhD

Professor, Neurology (Department of Clinical Medicine)

laura.airas@utu.fi
+358 29 450 4746
+358 50 472 8599

Itäinen Pitkäkatu 4
Turku





Areas of expertise
Neurology; Neuroimmunology; Multiple sclerosis; PET-imaging; MRI

Biography

I obtained my medical degree at Turku University in Turku, Finland. I started my PhD work in the laboratory of Professor Sirpa Jalkanen during medical school, and did a basic immunology and cell biology PhD. Part of the PhD work was done at the Glaxo Institute of Molecular Biology in Geneva, Switzerland. I obtained my specialization in neurology in 2001 and a docentship in neurology in 2007, both at the University of Turku. I spent the academic year 2016-2017 as a visiting professor at Yale University, and became the first Professor of Neuroimmunology at the University of Turku on September 1st, 2017.



Research

My main interest is in pathological mechanisms of progressive MS, and I was in 2008 among the first in the world to apply PET imaging to the study of neuroinflammation in MS. I am an experienced clinician and have unique skill sets in the field of neuroimmunology. I am also well connected with scientists of different backgrounds (PET, metabolomics, immunology) and with excellent track records. I spend half of my professional time as a clinical neurologist, mainly consulting for MS-patients, and also actively participate in randomised clinical trials for MS. I am leading a research group, whose aim is to develop treatments for neuroimmunological diseases where no treatment is yet available, such as progressive MS. The group uses here both methods of pre-clinical research (such as animal studies), and clinical PET imaging and MRI imaging in a truly translational way.


Based on neuropathological studies and on in vivo PET imaging studies, it is known that there is an abundance of activated microglial cells in the white matter of MS brain. Microglial activity can be measured in vivo using TSPO-PET imaging. Using TSPO-PET, we have shown that longer disease duration and worse disability of MS patients associates with microglial activation in the CNS white matter. Using PET, this diffuse microglial activation can be measured also outside focal inflammatory lesions, whereas MRI can detect only focal inflammatory lesions. Pro-inflammatory M1 microglia are considered to contribute to cellular damage in the CNS, and to advance disease progression in MS. We have shown in therapeutic clinical studies, that this diffuse, widespread microglial activation can be suppressed using certain MS drugs. We have developed a method to estimate the degree and nature of cerebral pathology by measuring certain biomarkers in blood. This easy-to-use method will be immensely useful for clinical monitoring of neurological patients. We have investigated the mechanisms associated with glial cells that contribute to neurodegeneration. By targeting these processes we can hopefully slow down the progression of MS in the future.



Teaching
As a Professor of Neuroimmunology I am responsible for the neuroimmonological education at the Medical school of the University of Turku. I also teach general neurology to medical students. Currently I have under supervision 6 PhD, 2 master’s thesis and 3 extended studies medical students. I participate regularly in domestic and international scientific congresses as a presenter and organizer.

Publications
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Rituksimabi MS-taudin hoidossa (2019)
Duodecim
Airas L, Nylund M, Mannonen I, Sucksdorff M, Rissanen E
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Enhanced astrocyte responses are driven by a genetic risk allele associated with multiple sclerosis (2018)
Nature Communications
Ponath G, Lincoln MR, Levine-Ritterman M, Park C, Dahlawi S, Mubarak M, Sumida T, Airas L, Zhang S, Isitan C, Nguyen TD, Raine CS, Hafler DA, Pitt D
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Evaluation of microglial activation in multiple sclerosis patients using positron emission tomography (2018)
Frontiers in Neurology
Laura Airas, Marjo Nylund, Eero Rissanen
(
A2 Review article in a scientific journal)

Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in 2 patients with multiple sclerosis treated with alemtuzumab (2018)
Neurology
Mika Saarela, Keerthi Senthil, Joanne Jones, Pentti J. Tienari, Merja Soilu-Hänninen, Laura Airas, Alasdair Coles, Jukka T. Saarinen
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Humoral response to John Cunningham virus during pregnancy in multiple sclerosis (2018)
Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
M. Saraste, S. Atula, K. Hedman, S. Hurme, A. Jalkanen, M. Sneck, H.-M. Surcel, A.H. Maghzi, L. Airas
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Microglial activation, white matter tract damage, and disability in MS (2018)
Neurology, Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation
Rissanen E, Tuisku J, Vahlberg T, Sucksdorff M, Paavilainen T, Parkkola R, Rokka J, Gerhard A, Hinz R, Talbot PS, Rinne JO, Airas L
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Monoklonaaliset vasta-aineet MS-taudin hoidossa (2018)
Duodecim
Airas L, Atula S, Kuusisto H, Nylund M, Soilu-Hänninen M, Verkkoniemi-Ahola A, Tienari P
(
A2 Review article in a scientific journal)

Positron emission tomography imaging in evaluation of MS pathology in vivo (2018)
Multiple Sclerosis
Heidi Högel, Eero Rissanen, Anna Vuorimaa, Laura Airas
(
A2 Review article in a scientific journal)

Serum glial fibrillary acidic protein correlates with multiple sclerosis disease severity (2018)
Multiple Sclerosis
Heidi Högel, Eero Rissanen, Christian Barro, Markus Matilainen, Marjo Nylund, Jens Kuhle, Laura Airas
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Severe neutropenia after rituximab-treatment of multiple sclerosis (2018)
Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Eero Rissanen, Kari Remes, Laura Airas
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Vascular adhesion protein-1 is actively involved in the development of inflammatory lesions in rat models of multiple sclerosis (2018)
Journal of Neuroinflammation
Elo P, Tadayon S, Liljenback H, Teuho J, Kakela M, Koskensalo K, Saunavaara V, Virta J, Veres TZ, Kiviniemi A, Saraste A, Marjamaki P, Airas L, Jalkanen S, Roivainen A
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Botulinum toxin alleviates dysphagia of patients with inclusion body myositis (2017)
Journal of the Neurological Sciences
Schrey A, Airas L, Jokela M, Pulkkinen J
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Evaluation of the Effect of Fingolimod Treatment on Microglial Activation Using Serial PET Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis (2017)
Journal of Nuclear Medicine
Sucksdorff M, Rissanen E, Tuisku J, Nuutinen S, Paavilainen T, Rokka J, Rinne J, Airas L
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Fertility and Assisted Reproductive Techniques in Women with MS (2017) Health Issues in Women with Multiple Sclerosis Hellwig K., Brzosko B., Airas L., Smith E.K.
(
A3 Book chapter)

Imaging of microglial activation in MS using PET: Research use and potential future clinical application (2017)
Multiple Sclerosis
Airas L, Rissanen E, Rinne J
(
A2 Review article in a scientific journal)

In Vivo PET Imaging of Adenosine 2A Receptors in Neuroinflammatory and Neurodegenerative Disease (2017)
Contrast Media and Molecular Imaging
Anna Vuorimaa, Eero Rissanen, Laura Airas
(
A2 Review article in a scientific journal)

Ocrelizumab versus Placebo in Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (2017)
New England Journal of Medicine
Xavier Montalban, M.D., Stephen L. Hauser, M.D., Ludwig Kappos, M.D., Douglas L. Arnold, M.D., Amit Bar-Or, M.D., Giancarlo Comi, M.D., Jérôme de Seze, M.D., Gavin Giovannoni, M.D., Hans-Peter Hartung, M.D., Bernhard Hemmer, M.D., Fred Lublin, M.D., Kottil W. Rammohan, M.D., Krzysztof Selmaj, M.D., Anthony Traboulsee, M.D., Annette Sauter, Ph.D., Donna Masterman, M.D., Paulo Fontoura, M.D., Ph.D., Shibeshih Belachew, M.D., Ph.D., Hideki Garren, M.D., Ph.D., Nicole Mairon, M.D., Peter Chin, M.D., and Jerry S. Wolinsky, M.D
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Anti-JC virus seroprevalence in a Finnish MS cohort (2016)
Acta Neurologica Scandinavica
Kolasa M, Hagman S, Verkkoniemi-Ahola A, Airas L, Koivisto K, Elovaara I
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)

Effect of Fingolimod-Treatment on Blood Lipid Profiles of Multiple Sclerosis Patients (2016)
Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Hovi A, Airas L
(
B1 Journal article)

Natalizumab treatment leads to an increase in circulating CXCR3-expressing B cells (2016)
Neurology, Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation
Saraste M, Penttilä TL, Airas L
(
A1 Journal article – refereed)


Last updated on 2019-24-07 at 02:21