Medical biotechnology is aiming to develop technology to diagnose, treat or prevent human diseases by applying basic science, medical expertise and advanced methods to living cells or part of cells. Research and teaching in the discipline are based at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology and the Faculty of Medicine.
Medical biotechnology is pursued in diverse research activities at NTNU and the main activities are within inflammation and host defence, cancer research and molecular medicine and medical biopolymers.
Inflammation and host defence
Inflammation is a host defense response that is triggered by harmful stimuli arising during infection and tissue injury. Research in this field is done at the Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research and the researchers are aiming to identify new diagnostic tools and therapeutic targets for inflammatory diseases. Central in this work is the establishment of an understanding of how cells of the innate immune system kill tumor cells and how they respond to microbial products. This has generated new ideas for treatment where inflammation is an essential part of the disease process, in particular on the functions of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in relation to inflammatory responses.
Inflammation plays a key role in psoriasis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and many other chronic diseases. A better understanding of inflammation can impact future treatment of numerous diseases, as the processes of inflammation virtually are the same. The PLA2 group has provided new understanding of inflammatory mechanisms, via identification of new players in the intracellular signaling cascades in human skin cells and blood monocytes, and how these are regulated.
Cancer research and molecular medicine
The activities within this field comprise basic- and clinical research within oncology and mechanisms of cancer development, palliative medicine, haematology, dermatology & venerology, infectious disease, molecular cell biology, physiology, immunology, toxicology, gastroenterology and gastrosurgery, experimental surgery, endocrinology, nephrology, urology and medical ethics. The research is organized in five different research units, each being the home of several research groups. These units are: Unit for molecular biology, unit for cell biology, unit for cancer and dermatology, unit for gastroenterology and unit for applied clinical research.
The work done within research on biopolymers for use for medical purposes is mainly performed at the Department of Biotechnology, and there is a diverse range of research activities ranging from Biopolymer Chemistry and Bionanotechnology, Systems biology and Molecular Biology and Microbiology. One of the groups within this field is the Trondheim Bioencapsulation Group. They develope microcapsules as immunoprotective barriers and the goal is to make functional alginate capsules for cell therapy. The focus of research is on improvement of the alginate capsules and the group possesses competence in alginate tailoring, encapsulation technology, immunology, cell biology and endocrinology.
Programmes of study
Various programmes of study at NTNU can provide competence in medical biotechnology. The following master's programmes are available:
- Biotechnology (natural sciences), 5-year integrated master's degree programme or 2-year master's programme
- Biotechnology (siv.ing)
- Molecular Medicine, 2-year master's programme
All of these also qualify for corresponding PhD programmes of study.