Research in veterinary biosciences

Research specialities in veterinary biosciences include development of the bovine immune system, developmental physiology of the brain and nervous system, body responses and host-microbe interaction, canine genetic diseases, zoonotic infectious diseases, as well as animal pathology and parasitology. Research conducted at the Department is diverse and multidisciplinary.

The Department provides the following equipment to be used by researchers:

Veterinary pathology and parasitology also provide diagnostic services.

We study developmental interactions:

  • Regulation of the morphogenesis of three-dimensional anatomical structures
  • Development of the immune system and early host-microbe interactions
  • Epigenetic regulation of blood cell differentiation

The research in developmental interactions is led by professor Antti Iivanainen. University lecturer Juha Laakkonen studies macroscopic anatomy utilizing silicone cast models. We have also studied host-microbe interactions in bovine mastitis and the differentiation potential of circulating stem cells.

The main research project in the discipline of physiology investigates synaptic signalling mechanisms in the nervous system. The main focus is on the mechanisms guiding the formation of synapses and the functional neural networks of the brain during development. Particular emphasis is on tonically active kainate-type glutamate receptors (KAR), whose functioning seems to be essential for the development of the nervous system.

Research is conducted from the cellular and molecular level all the way to entire neural networks and animal behaviour. The research is characterised by a firmly integrated approach. In adult animals, the mechanisms under investigation are related to, among other things, the formation of memory traces. In pathophysiology, focus areas include epilepsies and the possibility of pain becoming chronic.  In drug development, finding a completely new receptor mechanism essential to the regulation of nerve cell signalling opens interesting avenues to developing increasingly accurate and efficient pharmaceutical agents.

The research utilises the latest electrophysiological approaches (the patch-clamp technique, multielectrode arrays in vitro and in vivo) in combination with modern methods in molecular biology and genetics.

Sequencing the canine genome has opened unique opportunities in investigating the hereditary diseases, structure, colour, size and behavioural characteristics of various dog breeds. Our aim is to identify gene defects underlying various hereditary canine diseases and traits, develop gene tests to be used in breeding, and apply the findings in the study of human diseases. The ratio of genes and diseases shared by humans and canines is large. Gene findings usually open possibilities in understanding disease mechanisms and lay a foundation for the development of diagnostics and improved treatments.

After the sequencing of the feline genome was completed at the beginning of 2008, feline genetics have opened up to wide-ranging research: it is possible to identify genes that predispose cats to diseases, gain further information on the origins of the domestic cat and the history of various cat breeds, as well as to attain a better understanding of the genetic background of various feline traits.

In tumour research, Professor Antti Sukura leads the study of canine mammary tumours. 

The research group led by Sari Tojkander and financed by the Academy of Finland is focused on investigating the mechanisms influencing the invasiveness of breast cancer and the role of the stroma in breast cancer metastasis.

In addition to the research conducted independently by the discipline, one of its central duties is providing expertise in pathology and parasitology for cooperation projects.

Zoonotic parasites that cause diseases in humans and animals are at the heart of the research in the discipline of parasitology. This research area is led by Professor Antti Sukura in cooperation with University Lecturer Anu Näreaho.

Due to their relevance to food safety, parasite research is focused on the trichinella, echinococcus and toxoplasma parasites. In addition to this, University Lecturer Anu Näreaho is investigating parasites present in companion and hobby animals. The discipline is participating in research projects focused on parasites found in game, reindeer and fish. The research unit of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Ruokavirasto at Oulu is a central and long-time partner in parasite research.