Research in the Hakansson laboratory

For information about the ANTI-CANCER activity of human milk and HAMLET. CLICK HERE.



The bactericidal and sensitizing activities of HAMLET -a human milk protein complex

Breast-feeding is well documented to protect against a variety of infections, including strong protection against respiratory tract infections. During my graduate studies I discovered a protein fraction from human milk, HAMLET that induced apoptosis in tumor cells without affecting healthy cells. Besides killing tumor cells, HAMLET effectively kills pneumococci as well as other respiratory tract pathogens by inducing an apoptosis-like death that required a sodium-dependent calcium influx and kinase activity. We have also learned that, using the same mechanism, HAMLET can synergize with common antibiotics to make antibiotic-resistant bacteria sensitive to the antibiotics they are resistant to. Our current projects are aimed at understanding the mechanism of HAMLET-induced bacterial deathas well as bacterial death from physiological stressors, and the potential use of HAMLET in preventing and treating established pneumococcal infections. Understanding these mechanisms may also help us how HAMLET kills tumor cells.



Biofilm formation and colonization by Streptococcus pneumoniae

We are interested in better understanding how the gram-positive, extracellular pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) interact with host mucosa in the respiratory tract. We have reently shown that pneumococci colonize the nasopharynx as a biofilm and have characterized the factors required for optimal colonization and biofilm formation and how these factors promote optimal genetic exchange by this naturally ompetent organism. We are also very interested in understanding the mechanisms behinds transition from pneumococcal colonization to infection. Our studies are focused on bacterial factors that are promote colonization and infection of the human host but also on the strategies used by the host to protect itself from bacterial challenge.

Adam teeth


Human milk and early childhood caries

A fairly recent interest in the lab is the effect of human milk on the development of caries in children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry currently recommends that 'at-will' breast-feeding be curtailed after the eruption of teeth as it has been suggested that breast-milk can be cariogenic. The basis for these recommendations are fairly weak. The epidemiologic studies that have been conducted show no correlation between breast-feeding and caries in children and not enough mechanistic studies have thus far been performed to support any correlation between human milk and caries development. We are therefore trying to better understand the role of breast-feeding and human milk in caries development.