Vaccine against vascular disease? In focus: Håkan Nesser. Porsche – the Swedish choice of car?
Vaccine against vascular disease?
A vaccine against arteriosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, may be a reality in a not so far future. In Malmö a group of scientists under Professor Jan Nilsson, is trying to figure out if such a vaccine is possible to develop. “It should be interesting. We know that arteriosclerosis features inflammation and scientists have proven that there are antibodies against some kinds of cholesterol. Some of these antibodies may be good to have. In animal studies we have seen that it is possible to vaccinate against some types of cholesterol. Then we get antibodies that protect against arteriosclerosis,” says Olov Wiklund, Professor Emeritus at Sahlgrenska Akademin in Göteborg. Wiklund is one of the many prominent Swedish arteriosclerosis researchers who, along with colleagues from all over the world, is gathering in Göteborg at the 79th Arteriosclerosis Congress, EAS 2011. Atherosclerosis is the process by which fatty deposits or plaques build up in blood vessels, eventually leading to heart attacks, strokes, intermittent claudication, and other diseases caused by reduced blood flow. Already cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death and disability in Europe. As populations grow older, and as type 2 diabetes and obesity continue to escalate, atherosclerosis will become an increasingly important concern. The Malmö vaccine project is one of many studies that will be presented at the aforementioned congress. “We will see fairly soon weather it is a possible route. It won’t be a question about vaccinating everybody. We have to somehow find what patients would best benefit from it. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but it is a fascinating and exciting perspective,” says Olov Wiklund.
In focus: Håkan Nesser
Swedish crime writer Håkan Nesser is famous for writing about detective Van Veeteren and his doings in a fictitious city called Maardam, said to be located in northern Europe, which is never named but resembles Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany. In an interview with Maria Schottenius for Dagens Nyheter, Nesser talks about his time in New York, what he reads now that he lives in London and how one writes a book.
It was in 2006 when Nesser and his wife left Sweden and settled in New York’s Greenwich Village (where they lived until 2008). There he wrote the first four books of the so-called Barbarotti-quintet and the novel “Makarna på Carmine Street.”
“New York is a passion,” he says. “And London is like a well-functioning marriage. My thought was to write one novel from New York, one from London and one from Berlin. After that we’ll see what happens. But it’s good to tell people ahead of time, which is what I also did with the Barbarotti books; it’s like making up a plan.” Håkan Nesser was a teacher in Uppsala for 25 years before he finally became a full-time writer. He made his debut in 1988 with the novel “Koreografen.”
While living in London, Nesser prefers to read books by Ian McEwan and also Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House,” which has an introduction he calls “extremely modern.”
“But nothing will ever be like ‘Rasmus på luffen’ (a book for children by Astrid Lindgren)—the ultimate reading experience that you want to go back to your entire life.” Swedish authors Nesser admires include: P.O. Enquist, Kerstin Ekman and Åsa Larsson.
When asked about the global success of Nordic crime, Nesser says: “I have several explanations. The Brits, who have always had a high opinion of the ‘Swedish model’ and politics, see Sweden’s fall from grace and think it is fascinating. Germans have a different cultural love for Sweden, a familiarity that has been built throughout the years. They know Bullerbyn, the idyll, and they are watching it go to pieces. Astrid Lindgren built an image of Sweden that crime writers are now brutally destroying. It would be a great vacuum, if you removed Astrid Lindgren from the Swedish history. But that’s only her—I don’t see anyone else.”
Nesser explains that in order to write, you have to make time. “You have to. All winter I sit and write. And walk the dog and watch some soccer. On TV mostly.” He says he needs no discipline, that if he just has a story and knows where it is going, then he can sit down anywhere and write. Nesser writes by hand and believes that writing and reading are closely related. “Authors are also readers,” he says. “And you are immediately transformed into a reader of your own text. If you can read and evaluate what you read, then you can probably write, too.”
Porsche – the Swedish choice of car?
Every day four new Porsches are registered at the Transportstyrelsen (the Swedish Transport Agency), and all of a sudden there seems to be Porsches everywhere in Sweden! All of 17153 Swedes drive a Porsche. “There are some who don’t like this development,” says Peter Vestergren, Chairman of the member’s club Porsche Club Sverige. “Personally I think it is positive because it means there are more opportunities to drive an amazing car.” Altogether nearly 800 cars, both new and privately imported used Porsches, were registered during 2011, and if the trend continues an even stronger increase of newly registered cars is predicted for the tail end of the year. The reasons behind the Porsche boom are many: Better economy for many Swedes as well as the fact that Porsche has begun making a couple of new models that are bigger than both the Panamera and the Cayenne. The Porsche is today the 27th most common car in Sweden today (Volvo being the most common). A Porsche costs around half a million SEK ($78,200), but as Peter Vestergren says: “For that amount of money you really only get the shell.” The sales of Porsches have doubled during the last seven years, and more and more Swedes import used classic Porsches privately, mostly from Germany. Carl Aspenberg, director Porsche Sverige, believes this curve can change direction if it becomes too common: “We want to sell cars that stick out and are exclusive. The market cannot become too watered out.”
A vaccine against arteriosclerosis? A group of Malmö researchers are working on it, presenting their findings at the 79th European Atherosclerosis Society Congress, which is taking place in Göteborg.