Sep 25, 2017 - Science and innovations

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The unique natural resources of the Far East of Russia will serve as a basis for the work of the new Center for Genomic and Regenerative Medicine, established at the School of Biomedicine of Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU). Researchers will study the biodiversity of the region, including marine organisms, will create a bank of biomolecules for new drugs, and will introduce the innovative diagnostic and treatment techniques into practical medicine.

The FEFU Center of Genomic and Regenerative Medicine has been headed by Alexander Kagansky, one of the world's leading experts in epigenetics. The researcher pointed out that the biodiversity of the Far East is a key advantage for the development of genomic medicine at the university. The region is known all over the world as one of the richest and pristine ecosystems on Earth, and now it is more important than ever to use this potential.

“Healthcare is closely linked to biodiversity—different species contain molecules that are the basis of potential drugs. With the disappearance of biodiversity, we lose several important medicines every year, so we need to explore as many species as possible for their use in medicine. We have already started collecting samples of microorganisms, are studying their impact on human health, and are creating a bank of biomolecules for creating and introducing new drugs,” Alexander Kagansky said.

At present, the center is studying the effect of extracts from several poorly studied Far Eastern organisms on the development of human brain cancer cells. Tumor samples obtained at the FEFU Medical Center are adapted to growth in the form of cell cultures in the laboratory and are exposed to drugs. The study will show how the chemical compounds included in natural extracts affect the molecular mechanisms in tumor cells. Alexander Kagansky pointed out that these studies are largely unique and that such scientific experiments are conducted for the first time in Russia.

“Genomic medicine is making its first steps in Russia. This is an advanced area, it is rapidly developing all over the world, and FEFU has a chance to take a worthy place in the biomedicine of the future,” Alexander Kagansky added. “Our center is the only one in the vast territory of the Russian Far East; it is located in the heart of the Asia-Pacific region, which opens the widest opportunities for international cooperation.”

The FEFU Center for Genomic and Regenerative Medicine is created to develop and implement the latest methods for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human diseases using technologies that work at the gene and cellular levels. The center includes a number of scientific laboratories with equipment that allows to reveal the pathological genomes of all known organisms. International partners are the Synthetic Epigenetics Laboratory, the University of Edinburgh (UK) and the Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, National Cancer Institute (USA).