A TSU scientist is investigating new viruses with a Nobel Prize winner

Ekaterina Nikitina, a young scientist from the Laboratory for Translational Cell and Molecular Biomedicine , is performing an internship at Heidelberg University and the German Cancer Research Center. Ekaterina, together with the supervisor, Harald zur Hausen, a Nobel Prize winner, is studying virus-like particles that may play a role in the development of malignant tumors.

- Screening of biological material samples – serum, tumor and normal tissue of cancer patients and patients with neurodegenerative diseases – revealed several groups of isolates - virus-like particles, in this case, double-stranded circular DNA, which are not classified as viruses, - says Ekaterina Nikitina, a scientist of TSU and the Cancer Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. – I’m studying and describing these particles with other members of the laboratory headed by Professor Harald zur Hausen.

The results of these studies are able to give new and very important information that will help understand the mechanisms of the origin and development of malignant tumors. According to a hypothesis of viral carcinogenesis, viruses, individually or in collaboration with other agents, may be involved in this pathological process.

The research interests of Ekaterina Nikitina are largely consonant with the subject of research that Harald zur Hausen was engaged in for many years. In 2008, the German scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the role of oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV). The research of Harald zur Hausen became the basis for  developing prophylactic vaccines aimed at preventing malignancies.

Ekaterina Nikitina’s master’s thesis, which she researched at Tomsk Research Institute of Oncology, analyzed the prevalence of HPV with a high risk of cancer pathology in the women of the Tomsk Region. Later, she successfully defended her thesis, which is based on the results of studies related to precancerous diseases and cancer of the larynx, with data analysis in close collaboration with the carriage of HPV. 

- I am very glad that I had the chance to adopt new methods of research and practical skills under the guidance of such tutor as Professor zur Hausen, - says Ekaterina Nikitina. - He supported us with advice while leaving the possibility for independent work. I have mastered the new technique, which I can use to conduct research in the Laboratory for Translational Cell and Molecular Biomedicine and the Tomsk Cancer Research Institute.

On July 2015, Harald zur Hausen visited Tomsk State University at the invitation of Yulia Kzhyshkowska, the head of the Laboratory for Translational Cell and Molecular Biomedicine and Professor at Heidelberg University. The Nobel laureate took part in an international medical congress organized by TSU and Tomsk Cancer Research Institute. The renowned scholar praised the level of development of science at TSU and invited its representative for this internship.