STUDENT. Mikael Boberg, who is now graduating from the pharmacy program, was recently praised for his poster presentation at the ASPET annual meeting in San Diego. In addition, he received the ASPET Graduate Travel Award scholarship to present the results of his thesis at the Experimental Biology annual meeting, which is one of the world’s largest in life sciences.
The thesis dealt with children’s ability to absorb, distribute, break down and excrete drugs, a subject that is not explored as much as drug metabolism and adults.
“I studied children’s levels and activities of the enzymes carboxylesterases, or CES. There are several types of CES-enzymes, the first and foremost of which is CES1 that is found in the liver, which is the main organ in the body for metabolizing drugs,” said Mikael Boberg, who did his master’s thesis work at the University of Washington, Seattle in the northwestern United States with Assistant Professor Bhagwat Prasad as his supervisor.
Predicting exposure to drugs
The results showed that children have lower levels of CES1 than adults. They were also able to show that CES1 levels developed along with the child’s age – the older the child, the higher the level of the CES1-enzyme.
The thesis also resulted in a computational model that can be used to predict children’s exposure to the drug oseltamivir, which is used to treat influenza. The drug must be activated by CES in order to be transformed into the active ingredient that has pharmacological effects in the body.
“These discoveries could be used in future research on drugs that are metabolized by CES specifically, and they can also be used for future development of similar computer-based models that can predict the exposure of new medicines in children,” said Mikael.
On the advice of his supervisor, Mikael sent a scientific summary of his thesis to ASPET’s annual meeting committee, which resulted in him being invited to present his thesis with a poster at the annual meeting in San Diego in April 2016.
“It was nerve-wracking, exciting and at the same time extremely enjoyable to present the thesis and poster. It is a very interesting situation, where the people who ask questions can either be very familiar with the topic and come up with very detailed questions or have a more fresh perspective of the field and have more basic queries and ideas,” said Mikael.
An unforgettable experience
He was also nominated to participate in a presentation contest, which was held during one of the evenings in a relatively festive, social setting, and Mikael was awarded the “Graduate Student Best Presentation Award Honorable Mention”:
“To be included in the presentation contest was an unforgettable, thrilling experience, and is something I will take with me going forward as a future pharmacist.”
ASPET (The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics) is a broad organization for pharmaceutical research, which promotes the development of drugs and other treatments and publishes several scientific journals in the field. Mikael also received the ASPET Graduate Travel Award, a scholarship that is awarded to outstanding students in order to enable them to present their work at one of the world’s largest life science conferences: Experimental Biology.
“It was extremely rewarding and challenging to present at the ASPET annual meeting, and it is something I would be more than happy to do again,” said Mikael, who now has an interesting future as a licensed pharmacist:
“I have had an extremely stimulating time studying in the pharmacy program at Sahlgrenska Academy and I am extremely grateful for the five years I spent studying at Medicinareberget. I am optimistic about the opportunities and challenges that are ahead now.”
BY: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN