Göteborg University has a strong research tradition in studies focused on the mucosal membrane, its immunobiology and the development of mucosal vaccines. There are several examples of patient treatments or pharmaceutical interventions that stem from this work and especially well renowned are drugs or prophylactic therpies targeted at the gastrointestinal tract. The best example of this is omeprazol/Losec, the proton pump inhibitor, developed in close collaboration between Göteborg University, Sahlgrenska University Hospital (especially Lars Olbe) and AstraZeneca. This research has provided a strong background for basic science as well as a fertile ground for exploitation of other patent-secured discoveries in Göteborg.

Another important achievement with worldwide impact and recognition is the development of the first oral cholera vaccine by Jan Holmgren and Ann-Marie Svennerholm, members of the MIVAC group. This vaccine has had significant global impact and has played an important role in the developing countries. Collaboration between these MIVAC scientists and Vietnamese collegues has led to domestic production of the oral cholera vaccine in Vietnam. Moreover, world-leading vaccine adjuvant research has a stronghold in Göteborg, where unique and patent-protected original immunomodulators based on the cholera toxin molecule have been developed by Jan Holmgren and Nils Lycke. Outside the vaccine field, other examples of strong gastroenterological research in Göteborg with significant international reputation, is the development of the continent intestinal pouches by Koch, the understanding of neural mechanism for intestinal fluid secretion by Ove Lundgren and the much appreciated work by Karl-Anders Karlsson, who developed technologies for glycan analysis using mass spectrometry. Also, Lars-Åke Hanson’s work with secretory IgA and its role in breast-milk has attracted international recognition.

Neuroimmune interactions, especially at mucosal membranes, is yet another strong area of research in Göteborg. It is now well established that cholera and related toxins affect the intramural enteric nervous network. Activation of the local immune system per se triggers enteric neurons, which may influence mucosal permeability and result in increased antigen uptake and activation. Significant contributions to our understanding of these processes have been contributed by neurophysiologists at Sahlgrenska Academy.