Import substitution: Altai State University will produce cultural matrices - reagents for scientific research

21 May 2022 Editorial Office

Scientists from the Research Institute of Biomedicine of Altai State University are working on the creation of cultural matrices. They are necessary for cell culture research. It is expected that the finished product will be more accessible and cheaper than imported analogues and will cover part of the needs of domestic laboratories. This is reported by the official website of the government of Altai Krai and the Katun 24 TV channel.

Cell cultures are becoming increasingly useful for scientists. They are obtained from a human, animal or plant. Under laboratory conditions, cell cultures are cultivated mainly on media consisting of non-biological nutrients (individual amino acids, vitamins, sugar). Such media do not fully imitate the conditions of a living organism, so the cell in them cannot fully show its behavior. Researchers introduce additional ingredients into nutrient media to create the most suitable conditions for cell growth, said Ruslan Khalimov, a researcher at the Biomedical Research Institute, a participant in the project.

“In a living organism, some cells cling to others. In the laboratory, cell cultures are grown mainly in plastic dishes, the walls of which are not at all similar to body tissues and do not allow cells to fully express their properties. Therefore, we use special cultural matrices that are applied to the surface of dishes and imitate the basement membrane - this is a tissue structure in the body formed by intercellular substance. These culture matrices are obtained from tumor cells that are able to secrete their own basement membrane when they grow on plastic. We use this, remove the tumor cells themselves, and use the membrane in the production of the matrix,” the expert explains. Director of the Biomedical Research Institute Evgeny Rusin and a laboratory assistant, third-year student of the Institute of Chemistry and Chemical-Pharmaceutical Technologies Nikolai Omelko, are also part of the team.

Today, cultural matrices are not produced in Russia. Laboratories buy them abroad. Imported reagents are quite expensive - a 10 ml bottle costs about $700.

“Matrices of our production will be much cheaper. We are trying to obtain similar components from tumor cells of the RD line, which are more convenient for cultivation. The product will be distinguished by the use of recombinant adhesion proteins - these are large proteins that form a gel and help cells attach to laboratory glassware. Due to this, we hope to simplify the technology for the production of matrices,” said Ruslan Khalimov.

The project of Altai State University scientists was supported by Altai Krai Department for Food, Processing, Pharmaceutical Industry and Biotechnology and received a grant support from the Governor. The industrial (trading) partner of the project is Diaem, a supplier of scientific equipment and reagents. It co-financed the project in the amount equal to the state support.

At the initial stage of research, scientists will have to find out how effective the Altai matrices will be in comparison with foreign analogues. Potential consumers of the product are institutions in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, but the product may be of interest to laboratories throughout the country.

As noted at the university, if successful, the project is planned to be submitted to the Start competition of the Innovation Promotion Fund in 2023. Within its framework, the project team can receive a business grant for the purchase of equipment and start the production of cultural matrices on a semi-industrial scale.

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