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Laboratory of Molecular Oncology

The Laboratory of Molecular Oncology is the country’s leader in the field of genetic research into human tumors. It is one of the few research facilities in our country that has succeeded in introducing molecular diagnostics into routine practice in oncology.

The facilities and equipment of the Laboratory are in compliance with the high standards applicable to molecular and genetic research. The research projects of the Laboratory are financed by the Russian Science Foundation, the Russian Foundation for Basic research and other organizations.

Basic research aimed at studying the mechanisms of cancer and developing methods for cancer treatment

An important area of basic research pursued by the Laboratory has been studying the molecular pathogenesis of bilateral breast cancer as an example of a disease associated with strongly pronounced inherited predisposition to cancer.

In 2001 Professor Imyanitov defended his PhD dissertation titled “Molecular and Genetic Aspects of Pathogenesis of Bilateral Breast Cancer”. This paper and all the activities pursued by the modernized and revitalized Laboratory in this field have given a new direction to molecular oncology. In 2007 for the first time ever Suspitsin et al. conducted research into the correlation between individual characteristics of the human body and specificity of somatic mutations in tumors. A new efficient approach to the analysis of inherited cancer associated mutations and polymorphisms was proposed [Imyanitov et al., 2002; Kuligina et al., 2010]. It involved comparing people with extreme characteristics of cancer risk and tolerance.

This method allowed the researches to come to a number of vital conclusions regarding molecular epidemiology of breast, testicular, lung and stomach cancer. In 2010 Sokolenko et al. developed and introduced into clinical practice a breast cancer mutation panel used for hereditary breast cancer genetic testing of women living in the North-West region of Russia.

In 2012 the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology discovered that BLM gene mutations were a predisposing factor of hereditary breast cancer in Russian women [Sokolenko et al., 2012].

Molecular diagnostics and improved outcomes of cancer treatments

The vigorous groundbreaking work of Professor Imyanitov, his team and students helped to create game-changing molecular and genetic diagnostic techniques:

  • analysis of sensitivity to cytostatic drugs based on the level of expression of specific molecules in the tumor, and
  • analysis of predictive markers of response to target drugs.

These techniques, which are in compliance with the international standards, are now routinely used at all stages of cancer care provided by the Center and other cancer facilities in Russia. The Laboratory is focusing on two most promising areas – diagnosis of cancer hereditary syndromes and individualized cancer drug selection based on molecular characteristics of the tumor. The work in these areas has helped to significantly increase the clinical and economic efficacy of the use of expensive medications, decrease the rate and severity of side effects and, in many cases, prevent adverse outcomes of a disease. The Laboratory provides testing and diagnostic services to more than 3,000 people every year. Some molecular and genetic tests are covered by compulsory insurance provided by local social insurance funds..

Hereditary tumor syndromes
Selection of a therapy based on molecular characteristics of the tumor

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