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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

The stories of the most outstanding scientific discoveries in Krasnoyarsk

21 October 2019 г. FRC KSC SB RAS

Истории самых громких научных открытий в Красноярске
We usually learn about the achievements of the Krasnoyarsk scientists fr om news and conversations, but sometimes we underestimate the significance of these discoveries. “Newslab” has chosen eight reasons for us to be proud of the Siberian science, which the whole world is already talking about.

Biopolymers for artificial tissues and organs

In the 90s, scientists from the Institute of Biophysics SB RAS developed a new material - bioplastotane. The “natural plastic”, fabricated from the vital products of microorganisms, is designed to create biomedical products - from filaments used for wound sutures (after tissue regeneration, biopolymers are destroyed), to frameworks for living tissue.

Currently, the material is studied both at the Institute of Biophysics and on the basis of the Siberian Federal University. In 2010, a project for the production and research of materials was launched. The supervisor of the study of medical applications is Doctor of medical sciences, chief research associate at the Institute of Biophysics SB RAS, head of the Department at the Siberian Federal University, Ekaterina Shishatskaya. The way to the medical market is a thorny one - biopolymers (structures made of ultra-thin fibers) are to be subjected to dozens of tests, but hopefully, in the coming years, the development of the Siberian scientists will become available to scientists and doctors around the world.

Another application area of biopolymers is  3D printing of bioplastotane implants. The "spare part" is placed in a body instead of a damaged bone, and osteoblasts, and cells intended for restoring and renewing bone tissue, settle on its surface. The polymer is compatible with the body, it is not rejected, but gradually destroyed completely into carbon dioxide and water - as the cells start forming bone tissue and a solid bone structure.

It is worth noting that bioplastotane can be used not only as a medical product, but also for the production of environmentally-friendly plastic. The utilization of products from biodegradable material in natural conditions does not harm the environment.

Bioluminescence Studies

The Krasnoyarsk Region is one of the leaders in studying the processes of bioluminescence in Russia - the emission of light by living organisms which is visible in the dark. This direction was started by  Krasnoyarsk Academician, Joseph Gitelzon. Currently, more than 800 species of luminous living organisms are known, including fish, crustaceans, mollusks, bacteria, worms, fungi and other species.

In 2017, a team of scientists at the Institute of Biophysics SB RAS obtained bioluminescent proteins which can be used in testing new generation drugs. It is noteworthy that the methodology has already been introduced into production by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, in the framework of project cooperation. The Siberian scientists suggest to use proteins isolated from the luminous planktonic crustacean Metridia longa, for analyzing drugs - to check their safety and effectiveness.

Finally, a luminous protein can be used in diagnostics for replacing a radioisotope tag. The protein is introduced into organs, and then a substrate is injected into the body for luminescence. The results allow us to dynamically monitor, for example, a benign or a malignant tumor decreases or increases. The method has already passed preclinical tests in animals.

Martian Chronicles

In the 60-70s, according to the project of the father of cosmonautics Sergey Korolyov and director of the Institute of Physics in Krasnoyarsk, Leonid Kirensky, a bunker was built in Krasnoyarsk in Akademgorodok, which was a space station prototype, wh ere people could live for months without water, air or food supply – similarly to the conditions of colonizing the conditional Moon or Mars.

In the winter of 1976-1977 a four-month experiment was performed, while in November 1983 - April 1984 the last, five-month experiment was made.

The Krasnoyarsk scientists breathed oxygen produced by the plants grown in BIOS, water was also purified inside the system, and the diet consisting mainly of plant food was also produced from what was grown there. The bunker was divided into four equal-sized compartments: residential and other three rooms with plants and algae. The longest and most famous experiment took 180 days - from December 24, 1972 to June 22, 1973. The scientists succeeded in achieving complete closure of the system in oxygen and carbon dioxide and almost complete (95%) in water. The crew received 100% of the necessary plant food (cucumbers, radishes, onions) grown in BIOS.

In the late 1980s, funding for the project almost ceased and BIOS was mothballed. However, the experience of the Krasnoyarsk researchers did not disappear altogether. The Chinese and Europeans are showing their interest to such research. It is the grants of the European Union which became the impetus for the modernization of BIOS.

Decoding the larch genome

At the beginning of 2019, a group of researchers from the Laboratory of Forest Genomics of Genome Research and Education Center of SibFU announced the complete decoding of the larch genome. It is worth noting that conifer genomes are of enormous size, several times the size of the human genome. To date, only two teams of scientists in the world have been able to decipher the conifer tree genome.

The method of decoding the genome used by Siberian scientists allows one to quickly and accurately study an incredible amount of data - 12 billion nucleotide bases. The results of the study were published in the authoritative journal BMC Bioinformatics.

The results of the decoded genome can be used to create a database of forest genetic resources in forestry - for example, for using trees which are optimally suitable for specific weather conditions and soil to restore forests. In addition, the Krasnoyarsk residents plan to use the data of the decoded genome as a tool to fight illegal wood trafficking.

Aptamers for the diagnosis of cancer

Since 2010, Anna Kichkaylo (Zamay), the head of the laboratory of biomolecular and medical technologies of the Krasnoyarsk State Medical University, and her colleagues have been studying synthetic single-chain DNA molecules - aptamers.

The molecules can be used to diagnose and treat a number of diseases (among them, for example, those of  oncology – lung and breast cancer, brain glioblastoma) - they bind to target molecules and recognize affected cells at the early stages of disease development. A number of successful experiments on laboratory mice have already been performed.

In 2019, the Krasnoyarsk scientists told about the first achievements in the detection of multiple sclerosis using a new method. The researchers at the Krasnoyarsk Science Center SB RAS, together with colleagues from the Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Chemical Biology and those from the Medical University, suggest detecting the disease using aptamers and bioluminescent proteins which interact with blood cells (now the disease is detected using a number of tests and MRI). This will aid in early diagnosing the disease.

The method has already been tested on 177 blood samples taken from healthy and ill people with a confirmed diagnosis. The recognition of healthy patients with negative indicators is 96%. The probability of the patients with positive results actually having the disease is 52%.

Trees and global warming

A huge contribution to world science was made by the Krasnoyarsk dendrologists. In the mid-80s, Evgeny Vaganov and Alexander Shashkin proposed a tree growth model which describes the growth of tree rings, depending on various environmental factors. Today, the model is used for this purpose all around the world.

Research in the field of dendrochronology continues - scientists have learned to make long-term forecasts on the state of forests depending on climate change. It is worth noting that the problem of the trees response to possible climatic changes is one of the main problems in modern forest ecology. Despite a considerable amount of studies, no clear answer has been found yet as to how woody vegetation will respond under natural conditions to these environmental changes, considering different composition of stands in different physiographic zones.

Now scientists have confirmed the hypothesis that it is the soil moisture that plays the main role in the formation of xylem (the tissue which makes up the main beneficial biomass of wood) in cold and dry conditions. But the beginning and end of the period of annual growth is determined by the ambient temperature. there are plans to create a neural network which will help us to predict the development of forests in the Northern Hemisphere.

Treatment using diamonds

Back in the Soviet Union, scientists at the Institute of Biophysics in Krasnoyarsk obtained the first nanodiamonds - a gray powder produced through a series of short bursts of carbon.

Moreover, the scientist Anatoly Staver, engaged in the development of technology for the detonation technology for producing nanodiamonds, received together with his colleagues a state prize of the Russian Federation. They are used in one of the most actively developing areas of modern medicine - the targeted delivery of drugs to biological cells (for example, to the cells of a desired organ or tissue). A nanoparticle and a molecule attached to it interact only with selected cells. This is useful, for example, in creating effective cancer drugs, but without the development of the Krasnoyarsk scientists who came up with a method for producing nanodiamonds, further research would not have been possible.

New stars

The discovery of several hundred new stars is another merit of the Siberian scientists from the observatory located on the roof of the Siberian State Aerospace University which has been working in Krasnoyarsk since 2009. In 2011, Sergei Veselkov, director of the observatory, as well as scientists from the anatomical observatory of the Siberian State Aerospace University, discovered about 200 new stars, and in 2012 another 300.

Unfortunately, the stars discovered by the Siberian scientists cannot be seen with the naked eye - most are of 13th magnitude (the human eye sees up to sixth magnitude), but the known constellations Cassiopeia and Ursa Major are indicative of the position of the new stars.

As scientists specify, stars have been observed for a long time, however, the merit of the Krasnoyarsk experts is that they confirmed their variability - the brightness of stars changes with time as a result of physical processes. After the discovery was confirmed, corresponding marks appeared in the catalogs opposite the stars.

The list of important scientific discoveries and developments of the Krasnoyarsk scientists can be continued – the Siberians invent new medicines, materials and technologies. Unfortunately, the way from the first trials to mass consumption and publications in world-famous journals is thorny, so people in Krasnoyarsk are to hear about many discoveries. What remains is to wait and to be proud of our outstanding citizens.

Source:  Newslab