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Annual Science Award 2018

On Friday, February 8, the Latvian Academy of Sciences held an award ceremony for the Annual Science Prize 2018 winners. Scientists of the Latvian Biomedical Research and Studies Centre were also honoured at this award ceremony.



Unusual DNA form found in human cells with unusual packaging and genome service function

Dr.biol. Kristīne Salmiņa, LAS academic Jekaterina Ērenpreisa, Dr.biol.Tālivaldis Freivalds, Dr.biol. Turs Selga, Mg. Germanis Sorokins, Jēkabs Krīgerts (Mg. student) Latvian Biomedical Research and Studies Centre (BMC), University of Latvia, Riga Technical University.

With aid of cytophysical and cytochemical techniques we revealed an unusual DNA helix A-form form with unusual supranucleosomal packaging in the nuclei of human cells. So far, it was only known in viruses and dry yeast. With its tight spiral structure and packaging, this small portion of DNA (5%) normally serves to arrange the chromosomal spatial organization in the cell nucleus. Thanks to its structure and link to inner nuclear envelope, it can perform the function of a vehicle (as a trainset) for regular cleansing of genetic material "from breakage debris", taking care of the genome  integrity. For the first time, the DNA A-form along with the canonical B-form, using X-ray analysis, has been described by Rozalind Franklin, together with student Gosling, published the in same 1953, together with Watson and Crick's double-Helix DNA seminal article. It was shown that the B-form converts into A-form by reducing the humidity in the chamber and that the transition back to the B-form is reversible.




Plant virus-based universal vaccine technology for the treatment of chronic diseases

 Dr.biol. Ina Baļķe, Mg.biol. Gunta Reseviča, Vilija Zeltiņa, LAS correspondent member Dr.biol. Andris Zeltiņš.

In collaboration with Swiss colleagues from the Universities of Bern and Zurich, British colleagues from Oxford and Dandy Universities, scientists from Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center’s Plant Virology Group have cloned gene that encodes cucumber mosaic virus coat protein from infected lily plants, inserted a fragment of the tetanus vaccine into its structure and created universal vaccine platform. On the basis of this technological platform researchers have developed experimental vaccines for the treatment of such chronic diseases as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and insect-induced horse allergies, as well as for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease. The effectiveness of created experimental vaccines has already been demonstrated in animal models. Several of these vaccines have reached the technology transfer phase and are being introduced into manufacturing as well as being tested in veterinary clinical trials. The research carried out has considerable theoretical and practical significance as it demonstrates thus far unexplored aspects of therapeutic vaccination that can replace the treatment with monoclonal antibodies and provides an effective vaccine production technology against allergies and autoimmune diseases.

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Mājas lapas izstrādi finansēja ERAF aktivitātes projekts Nr. 2010/0196/2DP/ "Latvijas biomedicīnas pētījumu integrācija Eiropas zinātnes telpā".