Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Oncology

Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Oncology.

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Chief – Andrei P. Kozlov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci., Professor of Molecular Biology.

Laboratory focuses in two major directions of research – molecular virology of HIV and evolutionary oncology. In molecular virology, the discovery of genetic bottleneck of HIV transmission in IDUs was recently made by Professor Kozlov and his group. This discovery was broadly discussed in scientific literature and Science magazine published a special Editorial on this topic. The discovery is important for HIV vaccine development. In December, 2015, double-blind placebo-controlled Phase II clinical trial of candidate HIV vaccine developed by Professor A.Kozlov and his group was finished in Russia with promising results. This was the first in Russia Phase II clinical trial of HIV vaccine.  The laboratory continues to study the phenomenon of genetic bottleneck of HIV transmission using the approach of RNA deep sequencing with support from 5-100 program and the grant from Russian Science Foundation.
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The other area of research, evolutionary oncology, is even more exciting. Professor A.Kozlov was one of the founders of the new scientific field, the evolutionary oncology. In 2014, his book entitled “Evolution by Tumor Neofunctionalization: The Role of Tumors in the Origin of New Cell Types, Tissues and Organs” was published by Elsevier/Academic Press. In this book, Professor A.Kozlov develops the hypothesis of the positive evolutionary role of tumors. According to this hypothesis, heritable tumors at earlier stages of progression, or heritable benign tumors, provide the evolving multicellular organisms with extra cell masses for the expression of evolutionarily novel genes, which originate in the DNA of germ cells, for the origin of new differentiated cell types with novel functions and for building new structures which constitute evolutionary innovations and morphological novelties. The new cell type is inherited in progeny generations due to genetic and epigenetic mechanisms similar to those for pre-existing cell types. The nontrivial prediction of the hypothesis is that evolutionarily novel genes are expressed in tumors. Exploring this prediction, Professor A.Kozlov and his laboratory described the new class of genes – tumor specifically expressed, evolutionarily novel ( TSEEN) genes. These genes may be potential targets in diagnostics, therapy and prevention of tumors. The laboratory continues studies in this new and promising direction.

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