The traditional workshop at KFU this time included participants from Japan, UK, and Russia on August 31st – September 1st.
All the contributions were devoted to studies of adaptation processes of organisms to unfavorable environmental conditions. This area, in particular, currently leads to new discoveries in dry storage of biomaterials and potential future discarding of liquid nitrogen.
The workshop was held thanks to a joint Russian-Japanese grant administered by the Russian Science Foundation.
Oleg Gusev, Head of the Extreme Biology Lab of the Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology, spoke about the importance of the seminar for the University and its practical significance for the educational process.
“This workshop has already become one of the brand events held by Kazan Federal University. We do not invite scientists who are familiar to the world; we gather colleagues whose work is related to ours. By default, these are the members of the research group funded by the RSF. In a broader sense, they are also colleagues who lead or plan to hold projects with us. This year we gathered our collaborators. There are already established relations and agreements with these people. And this is an excellent chance for the other University staff to find out what is happening and to join - all foreign participants are eager to cooperate with KFU”.
On the practical importance of extreme biology
“All the studies presented at the seminar are as close to practice as possible. One of the reports was devoted to the study of the cryostability of leeches. The results have already been adopted by Japanese colleagues - metabolic components found in leeches increase the resistance of bacterial cells to freezing, which is a direct way to improving cryostability.
Japan's handler of the joint Russian-Japanese RSF grant told how the data obtained on an African buzzer mosquito, capable of "reviving" after complete desiccation of its body, are already being used for experimental purposes in order to increase the resistance of mammalian cells to low-temperature or anhydrous storage. We believe that it’s quite interesting when specific biological traits of zoological objects are directly linked to practical applications”.
About scientific events catalyzing the university community
“As strange as it sounds, the existence of multiple open laboratories does not mean that these laboratories cooperate with each other horizontally. Our Laboratory of Extreme Biology has genomic sequencers, which present a methodology linking different laboratories. Gene and Cell Technologies Lab, helmed by Albert Rizvanov, also partook in this workshop. And right now a number of new inter-lab projects are emerging. For example, with one of the participants from the University of Nottingham, who collaborates with the Gene and Cell Technologies Lab, we have already agreed that the technology that they develop is methodologically very interesting for the understanding of the processes that we observe. On the other hand, the developments that we have are very interesting to the Gene and Cell Lab. For example, this pertains to the new methods of storage of stem cells, which are their specialty. Thus, we have a new university consortium formed by this workshop series”.
On cryopreservation of biomaterials
“The topic of cryogenic storage of biomaterials is very pertinent today. Currently, in order to save cells, we deliver them in liquid nitrogen to biobanks, where they are again stored in liquid nitrogen. To destroy a biobank’s business, you just need to deprive it of liquid nitrogen for a week. A request from such companies is plain – make it so that you can store the biomaterial not in -80C, but in -20C, make it so that you can store a biomaterial without water. Our seminar talked about those developments that show that mammalian cells can already be stored in -20C. In addition, there are already questions from certain cell culture producers about whether the technology can be used for embryonic stem cells. That having been said, increasing the safety of storage of protein cells is most relevant in terms of both safety and health services”.
On the prospects of dry storage of biomaterials
“Storage of biomaterials, such as cells, sensitive to dehydration of proteins, in dry form is still considered to be not far from science fiction. There is a method of dry freezing and there is a limited range of cells and proteins for which it is applicable. And there have been no promising ideas in this field. Working with such resistant organisms as buzzers is one of the few prospective developments, therefore it is actively supported by grants in Japan and Russia. It is important that our developments in dry storage of biomaterials have become one of the 30 priority topics of cooperation between Russia and Japan, approved by the President of Russia and the Prime Minister of Japan.
However, this is a rather exotic field of knowledge and is aimed at long-term results, that is, it is not an increase in antibiotic resistance, but an area where even the number of groups is limited only because the biological material – those same mosquitoes, tardigrades, and other interesting organisms - is not easy to come by. But this, without a doubt, is a unique growth point for KFU and international partners”.