Department of General Virology

Managed by Doctor of Biological Sciences M.R. Bobkova.

Leukemia Virus Laboratory

Managed by Doctor of Biological Sciences M.R. Bobkova.

The team and the area of the laboratory's activities were formed more than twenty years ago, when studies of the molecular epidemiology of HIV infection in Russia were just beginning and were based on the use of now outdated methods, including serological analysis, which gives only an approximate and inaccurate assessment of the spread of HIV variants, and heteroduplex DNA analysis. Since then, the laboratory has come a long way in improving the material and technical base, methodological approaches, staff, and work content.

The laboratory now has its own sequencing equipment and the necessary software. Therefore, all work on genotyping is carried out only on the basis of sequencing the sequences of the HIV genome, which makes it possible to fully assess the features of the HIV genome, and to carry out phylogenetic and philodynamic analysis. This resulted in a transition to a modern level of research, comparable to that in Western laboratories.

The works of recent years have been devoted to the analysis of genetic variants of HIV at a new stage in the development of the epidemic, when its scale has become threatening, and almost all groups of the population have become vulnerable to infection. The studies were carried out both in different geographic regions of Russia and the CIS countries, including those previously not surveyed (the Far East, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan), and in different risk groups of infection (drug addicts, heterosexuals, men who have sex with men). The main genomic target of research was the structural genes of HIV – gag, env, and pol. In the past few years, the laboratory has been actively involved in the problem of HIV drug resistance. It has been shown that a unique genetic variant of HIV-1 subtype A, originating from Central Africa, predominates in most areas; however, the pattern of the variants distribution shows marked tendencies to change. The main one is the increasing spread of recombinant forms of the virus, and mostly – CRF02_AG and CRF03_AB, which are found in all risk groups of infection.

The laboratory has developed a methodology for collecting and transporting HIV samples from the regions, established contacts with regional laboratories and the biological samples carrier WorldCourier. Freezing equipment for storing collections is available. A unique database of genotyping results for Russian HIV-1 strains, similar to Western databases, has been created. There are strong contacts with foreign scientists in Europe and the United States, which resulted in the integration of data into international algorithms for their interpretation, in particular – EuResist (http://www.euresist.org) and NCBI (http: //www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov).

The lab has a state permit for the collection of blood samples from HIV-infected patients; the permit is issued by the Ethics Committee in 2013 and extends to all types of research in the territory of the Russian Federation.

The laboratory staff takes an active part in the activities of the practical health care system; over the past three years, with the support of the European Union grant N223131 CHAIN ​​and pharmaceutical companies manufacturing antiretroviral drugs, about 20 seminars on the problem of HIV drug resistance were held in many medical and preventive institutions and AIDS-centers in Russia and the CIS countries, with the total participation of more than 800 specialists – doctors, epidemiologists, and laboratory technicians. For patients, “Substitution of Therapy and Drug Resistance” booklet has been translated, posted on the Internet and prepared for publication (http://ibase.info/замена-терапии-и-лекарственная-устой/). In April 2014, M.R. Bobkova's monograph “HIV Drug Resistance” was published and received a vivid response from many specialists from Russia and the CIS countries.

Marina Ridovna Bobkova
Elena Valerievna Kazennova
Aleksander Sergeevich Tumanov
Vita Yurievna Laga

Laboratory for Molecular Pathogenesis of Chronic Viral Infections

Managed by Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor G.A. Galegov.

The laboratory was created as Laboratory for Chemotherapy of Viral Infections in 1963 on the initiative of Academician of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences V.M. Zhdanov, and in October 2020 was transformed into Laboratory for Molecular Pathogenesis of Chronic Viral Infections by adding specialists which earlier formed the staff of the Group of Chemistry of Viral Nucleic Acids. Since 1965, the laboratory has been headed by Professor G.A. Galegov.

The main areas of the long-term fundamental and applied scientific activity of the laboratory are as follows:

  • Studies of the antiviral action of compounds of the adamantane series in influenza and alphavirus infections. The laboratory staff took an active part in the work of the inter-institute team of specialists on the creation and uptake of rimantadine, which has become internationally known.
  • The principles of combined chemotherapy of viral infections based on the use of drugs with different mechanisms of action on models of influenza and herpesvirus infections have been developed.
  • Long-term studies to study the antiviral effect of modified nucleosides – inhibitors of nucleic acid synthesis.
  • Development of new ways to suppress the reproduction of influenza A viruses and herpes simplex virus with drug resistance. Direct isolation of such viruses from clinical material. As a result of extensive preclinical studies, two new classes of antiherpetic substances were discovered and investigated in detail – bis-netropsin derivatives and phosphorus-containing analogs of acyclovir, which simultaneously have high activity against drug-resistant herpes virus. The molecular mechanism of their antiviral action has been disclosed. The results are widely presented in scientific Russian and English-language periodicals.
  • Participation of laboratory staff in the creation of drugs for the treatment of HIV infection and AIDS: a domestic version of azidothymidine – thymazide and a new drug – phosphazide (nikavir), for which patents have been obtained in Russia, the USA, Japan, and a number of European countries. In 1986, Professor G.A. Galegov was awarded the Prize of the Council of Ministers of the USSR for the development of means for the herpesvirus infection treatment, and in 2000 – the State Prize of the Russian Federation for the development of antiviral drugs (anti-HIV).

Highly qualified and highly educated employees worked in the laboratory in different years and continue working today – N.F. Pravdina, N.L. Pushkarskaya, S.V. Lavrov, V.M. Shobukhov, N.D. Lvov, I.G. Petrova , N.A. Leontieva, T.V. Veselovskaya, V.L. Andronova, T.Yu. Kilesso. The laboratory has trained 24 candidates and three doctors of sciences. The laboratory staff received 42 patents and copyright certificates, published about 450 papers.

Georgy Artemyevich Galegov
Valeria Lvovna Andronova