NLA researchers are investigating the influence of the quality of the human microbiome on the development of age-related dementia

NLA researchers are investigating the influence of the quality of the human microbiome on the development of age-related dementia

February 18, 2019

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive memory loss, drastic changes in personality and behavior, and in the latter stages the patients are unable to carry even simple daily activities. There is evidence that AD might be associated with bacteria residing in our intestine. In this regards, researchers from Nazarbayev University have begun studying the composition of the intestinal microbiome of patients diagnosed with AD. Similar studies are being conducted in the United States and in China.

As part of our study, samples of intestinal flora were collected from elderly people diagnosed with AD and mentally healthy individuals. ‘We are looking for a correlation between the composition of intestinal microflora and AD, as a potential marker for early diagnosis of this disease’ – reports Sholpan Askarova, a Leading researcher and the Head of the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, National Laboratory Astana.

Until recently, it was believed that intestinal microbiome is involved in processes such as fermentation of carbohydrates, synthesis of vitamins, xenobiotic metabolism occurring exclusively in the intestines, and acts as a barrier to pathological bacteria. However, over the past 15 years, the functions of the intestinal microbiome have been revised. A direct relationship has been established between density and the composition of intestinal microflora with the development of a number of pathologies such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, which, in turn, are known risk factors for the development of AD.

It has been established that age, lifestyle, diet as well as place of residence play a big role in intestinal microfloral composition – comments Almagul Kushugulova, Leading researcher and the Head of the Laboratory of Human Microbiome and Longevity, National Laboratory Astana.

Data obtained from the study of laboratory animals suggest that bacteria that colonize the intestine can negatively impact the function of nerve cells and contribute to the development of AD. Clinical studies conducted at Chongqing Medical University (China) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (Wisconsin Alzheimer’s disease Research Center, USA) confirm these findings.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the incidence of age-related dementia worsens every year and projects that by the year 2050 there will be a three-fold increase in the number of AD patients. AD affects approximately 10% of people aged between 65-75 years and 32% of the elderly aged 80 years and above. There is currently no accurate data in Kazakhstan on the number of elderly people suffering from dementia. However, based on the world statistical data and considering the population of Kazakhstan, it can be stipulated that not less than 200 000 elderly people could suffer from age-related dementia.

NLA launched a new system for genomic research and bioinformatics problem solving

NLA launched a new system for genomic research and bioinformatics problem solving

February 12, 2019

Scientists of  NLA  launched the first high-performance bioinformatics computing platform in Kazakhstan for dealing with “big genomic data” and solving problems in the field of bioinformatics.

– This platform uses “Qazaq symphony of bioinformatics” or Q-Symphony and other optimized bioinformatics methods to analyze large-scale human genomics data, to detect specific structural genomic variants, and to conduct complex comparative and population analysis. Previously it took up to two months to process one computational task, but now with Q-Symphony, it takes about seven days to complete this process! – commented Ulykbek Kairov, Leading researcher, Head of the Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Center for Life Sciences, National Laboratory Astana.

For scientists and the research community of Kazakhstan, the data obtained using Q-Symphony will serve as the foundation for creating a reference database of genomic variants of Kazakh individuals and will have further applications in analyses of comparative population genomic variants described in the scientific literature. This computing platform makes it possible to more effectively apply the reference database of genomic variants in biomedical practice in order to evaluate new genetic variants in healthy individuals and patients with different pathologies within the Kazakh population.

In addition, this data can be used in medicine to improve the identification of diseases and select appropriate treatments.   It is essential for medical professionals to understand all that they can about the genomic characteristics of the population because the presentation of diseases and the efficacy of different drugs can be related to genetics.  This work can clarify the diagnosis of a patient with unclear etiology associated with human genetics, and can also be used in personalized medicine to identify genetic predispositions and prevent possible risks of developing pathologies, as well as to assess the effectiveness of different drugs depending on the patient’s genetic features.

The Q-Symphony system consists of four main nodes: an input or control node, a memory node, a network of computing nodes combined into one, and a storage node. All nodes are connected by a high-speed data exchange network Infiniband with a capacity of 100 Gb/s. The total capacity of computational nodes is 172 cores, 3072 GB of RAM and 198 TB of data storage.

Q-Symphony uses a special data caching system, with a volume of 3.2TB, which increases the  computational speed of  input-output data for individual tasks. The data is automatically transferred to regular disk drives. Moreover, the monitoring system provides convenient transparent display of resource loading and task execution in 3D visualization mode.

Metabiotic based on Saumal to put into production

Metabiotic based on Saumal to put into production

December 12, 2018

Today, the factory for the production of metabiotic based on Saumal will be opened in Karaganda region. The project is a unique development of scientists of National Laboratory Astana and is implemented in partnership with private business.

The metabiotic is made on the basis of the unique Kazakhstani strain of lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus CLS 17. The complex metabiotic product corrects the microflora by stimulating the growth of its own beneficial symbiotic flora, the inclusion in the product of mare's milk (saumal) expands the range of its use, which provides products with a competitive advantage in comparison with analogues. Metabiotic will be an effective product for the treatment of metabolic disorders.

The project is being implemented in partnership between scientists from the Center for Life Sciences, National Laboratory Astana and the private company "Trading House SAUMAL" LLP. The project is implemented at the expense of the grant of "Science Foundation" JSC.

The project opening will be attended by Samat Kozhakhmetov, project manager, NLA senior researcher , Galymzhan Meirambekov, Director of Saumal BioTech LLP , Anuarbek Sultangazin, Chairman of the board of "Science Foundation," Aliya Kaziyeva, Executive Director of National Laboratory Astana  and Almagul Kushugulova, Director of the Center for Life Sciences, NLA. 

“University Medical Center” to hold the international conference on formation of an academic medical center

“University Medical Center” to hold the international conference on formation of an academic medical center

November 2, 2018

конференция UMC More than 200 leading domestic and foreign experts in the field of oncology, surgery, urology, radiology, nuclear medicine attended   this year’s conference.

Olzhas Abishev, Vice-Minister of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Bruno Gridelli, Medical and Scientific Director of  University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC International), U.S.A, Ilesanmi Adesida, Provost, Nazarbayev University,  Massimo Pignatelli,  Vice President for Medicine - Dean of the School of Medicine, Nazarbayev University, Zhaxybay Zhumadilov, Chairman of the Board  of UMC  corporate fund and Director  General, NLA,  Zhaksylyk Doskaliev, Head of the Republican Coordination Center on Transplantation and others were among the invited speakers of the conference.  

During the conference, the large group of medical workers of UMC  corporate fund were conferred breastplates “Денсаулық сақтау ісінің үздігі” and “Денсаулық сақтау ісіне қосқан үлесі үшін” for their merits and significant contribution to the medical development of the country, as well as honorary diplomas and letters of thanks from Minister of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan and  President of  NU.     

 The conference was moderated by renowned experts. Highlights included  sections on topical issues of surgery and organ transplantation, modern technologies in nuclear medicine, anesthesiology, intensive care and onco-hematology. Participants also exchanged views on the achievements in the diagnosis and treatment of severe allergic syndromes.

Following the results of the international conference, a resolution was adopted, which outlined  the prospects for the development of  UMC as an advanced academic medical center where high-level medical care will be provided, taking into account the synergy of research, educational and clinical activities.

NU and NLA to launch the high-current pulsed ion accelerator INURA

NU and NLA to launch the high-current pulsed ion accelerator INURA

November 2, 2018

INURAThe novel ion accelerator facility INURA (Innovative Nazarbayev University’s Research Accelerator) was recently installed at the 1st floor of S4 building at Nazarbayev University and produced the first ion beam. It was built as a result of 5 years effort, funded through the state target program “NU-Berkeley strategic initiative in warm-dense matter, advanced materials and energy sources”, funded by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The accelerator was designed and fabricated in collaboration with a LBNL (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and TPU (Tomsk Polytechnic University). At NU side, the project was envisioned and generally directed by Dr. Kanat Baigarin, and executed by a team guided by SST Physics assistant professor Alexander Tikhonov and NLA Senior Researcher Dr. Marat Kaikanov.

Accelerator INURA is a pulsed high current ion accelerator. It provides a 10 000 Amperes ion current in 80 nanoseconds, with the ion energy of 400 keV. INURA is a multi-purpose ion accelerator, developed both for fundamental and applied research. It will be used to modify and fabricate new advanced materials, from the solid bulk to nano materials, as a high-current ion beam is able to modify materials structure and properties. It will be also used for plasma and charged particles beams studies. Future uses of INURA include developing of commercialized technologies, such as materials hardening/wear resistance improvement, fabricating nanopowders, bio-agricultural applications.

The INURA capabilities has already attracted large interest and collaboration activities from several research groups at NU, Kazakhstan and international research centers. Several research projects has already been started, among them: fabrication of transparent conductive coatings; ion beam transport and focusing in plasma; fabrication of nano-powders and modification of nano-structures.

Arailym Nurpeissova, CEAMS, NLA to win  TechWomen grant  in Silicon Valley

Arailym Nurpeissova, CEAMS, NLA to win  TechWomen grant  in Silicon Valley

October 25, 2018

This year five girls from Kazakhstan, among them is Arailym Nurpeissova, were selected out of  3 300 applicants from  Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa by experts of Institute of International Education (IIE), which is  managing TechWomen.

During the five-week program, all participants engaged in project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, participated in professional development workshops and networking events, and traveled to Washington, D.C. for targeted meetings and special events to conclude the program.

On October 19, all participants presented their projects in Silicon Valley on solving socially significant problems in their countries like poverty, illiteracy, poor quality of medical services, environmental pollution and so on. The team from Kazakhstan came up with the idea of ​​creating an online platform “uki.kz” on the issue of domestic violence.

The goal of the Kazakhstani  project is to create an information environment for raising public awareness of victims of domestic violence, obtaining legal and psychological assistance for  victims, and creating a society of mutual support. The girls analyzed that annually in Kazakhstan the number of deaths of women from domestic violence ranges from 400 to 500 people, so girls decided to take as an example the experience of the American company “Madre” in California. This organization, which protects victims of violence, has been able to reduce the mortality rate of women over the past 10 years and bring it to a minimum so that the number of women who die from domestic violence has become 0.   

It is know, that the mission of TechWomen is to empower, connect and support the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by providing them access and opportunity to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and become role models for women and girls in their communities.

TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). TechWomen, launched in 2011, supports the United States’ global commitment toward advancing the rights and participation of women and girls around the world by enabling them to reach their full potential in the tech industry.

Sino-French-Kazakh Workshop on Innovative Therapeutic Solutions for Cancer and Ageing diseases at NU

Sino-French-Kazakh Workshop on Innovative Therapeutic Solutions for Cancer and Ageing diseases at NU

October 23, 2018

Sino-French workshopOn October 18-19 researchers of NLA took part at the Sino-French-Kazakh Workshop on Innovative Therapeutic Solutions for Cancer and Ageing diseases, that was organized by International Bio-Business Services (IBBS) with the support of the French Embassy in Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev University and the Sino-French School of Oncology.

The workshop brought together Kazakh, Chinese and French participants from academic and medical institutions as well as industrial players to share their views and knowledge in order to strengthen international cooperation and establish new interactive programs.

Ainur Akilzhanova, head of Laboratory of Genomic and Personalized Medicine, NLA and Ulykbek Kairov, head of Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Computational Systems Biology, NLA  presented their research on clinical interpretation and implications of whole genome/ whole exome sequencing for cancer and aging diseases.

Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and whole exome sequencing (WES) are increasingly applied in clinical medicine and is expected to uncover clinically significant findings regardless of sequencing indication. The promise of personalized medicine depends on the ability to integrate genetic sequencing information into disease risk assessment for individuals. Genomic sequencing technology is moving rapidly from the research setting into clinical medicine but significant technological and interpretive challenges remain.

Aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical utility of WGS/WES in a group of healthy Kazakh population regarding the detection of genetic variants associated with predisposition to various clinical conditions and drug response.

Researchers presented findings from an exploratory study of 115 participants, most of whom identified themselves as Kazakh (up to at list 3 generations). Participants aged 18-65 years answered questions about the reasons they consented to study and about what they anticipated would come of genomic sequencing, demographic data, risk factors, family history and ancestry questions. None of the study participants had manifest inherited disease. gDNA was extracted from blood. DNA libraries were performed using Nextera DNA Library Preparation Kit (Illumina, USA). For WES gDNA was fragmented, then DNA libraries were performed using SureSelect Human All Exon V5+UTRs kit (Agilent Technologies). Sequencing was performed on Illumina HiSeq2000 platform with min coverage 30x (WGS) and 100x(WES). Bioinformatic analysis was done. Data was compared with data of existing international databases (COSMIC, ESP600, ClinVar, PharmGKB etc) to identify clinical genomic variants in our data. Mendelian variants were compared with ACMG-reportable genes, HGMD. Molecular diagnostics requires accurate and consistent classification of sequence variants (i.e., single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and deletion/insertion (indels) variants). Detection of a pathogenic or “actionable” variant may influence a patient's diagnosis and/or prognosis, family planning, and lifelong health management.

Several genetic variants with clinical implications were identified in all healthy participants. Detected variants are presented grouped into categories in the report delivered to healthy person – predisposition to clinical conditions, inherited disorders (if any), cancer, cardiovascular risks, drug response etc. More promising using targeted NGS for molecular characterization of cancer and aging disease. Compared to broader approaches, such as WGS, targeted sequencing is a more cost-effective method for investigating areas of interest. Targeted resequencing enables researchers to focus on regions that are most likely to be involved in the phenotype under study, conserving resources and generating a smaller, more manageable data set. Targeted approaches can also deliver much higher coverage levels, allowing identification of variants that are rare and more expensive with whole-genome or Sanger sequencing.

WGS/WES seems be the method of choice not only in cases with a specific clinical phenotype in need of reaching a diagnosis but also in the context of carrier screening. The disclosure of the NGS results to the patient is not an issue, if genetic counseling by a healthcare provider with genetic background is provided before and after test according to international guidelines. Targeted approaches using next-generation sequencing (NGS) allow researchers to focus time, expenses, and data analysis on specific areas of interest.

During the Sino-French-Kazakh Workshop were presented also reports  on the possible applications of electromagnetic fields for cancer treatment (Dinara Begimbetova, senior researcher, Laboratory of Translational Medicine and Life Sciences Technologies, NLA), reports on robust approach for analysis and interpretation of tumor transcriptomes from high-throughput genomic platforms for investigation of hidden signals (Ulykbek Kairov, Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Computational Systems Biology, NLA) and others.    

NLA researchers  to win  National Competition on Innovations

NLA researchers to win National Competition on Innovations

October 18, 2018

 The  initiative scientific research results of NLA researchers from the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine was recognized as one of the most innovative by the results of the 2018 National Competition of Innovations and the rating of innovative companies.

The cash prize as the second place holders in the amount of 800 thousand tenge was awarded to our scientists in the nomination “The best technological solution among startups”. The national innovation competition was held under the auspices of the National Agency for Technological Development, JSC with the support of the Ministry of Investment and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The winners of the competition were determined by an independent commission from among the authoritative leaders of the startup ecosystem of Kazakhstan, as well as a commission from among the heads of republican mass-media.

According to Sholpan Askarova, Head of the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, who is also the head of the start-up team of the “AstanaBiomedGroup”, they won the jury awards for developing the topical  remedy for psoriasis “A-psorin”.

 -Psoriasis is a chronic and widespread skin disease that affects both men and women of all ages, regardless of ethnicity, in all countries of the world. We developed and tested a thermosensitive hydrogel for the treatment of vulgar (simple) psoriasis, containing poloxamer 407 and polyethylene glycol as the basis for and auxiliary substances, characterized in that 6-aminohexanoic acid, belonging to the group of fibrinolysis inhibitors, is used as an active substance,- said Sholpan Askarova .

In the near future, as scientists expect, “A-psorin” will be released not only in Kazakhstan, but also in the Eurasian market. Now they are actively working on this in “AstanaBiomedGroup”.

Green Energy and Municipal Solid Waste Solutions

Green Energy and Municipal Solid Waste Solutions

September 12, 2018

Prof Ben Anthony

Today, NLA and Chemical Engineering Department of School of Engineering, NU hosted the  one-day workshop entitled: “Green Energy and Municipal Solid Waste Solutions.”

The workshop was dedicated for the utilization of solid waste in fluidized bed technologies, co-firing in fluidized beds technologies and environmental aspects of municipal solid waste generation.

Scientists from leading universities of neighboring countries and far abroad from the United Kingdom, Russia and Germany, senior management of research organizations, educational institutions, industry representatives, Kazakhstani officials  attended this year’s seminar. The workshop  was moderated by renowned scientists like prof. Ben Anthony, Cranfield University, UK; prof. Georgy Ryabov, All-Russia Thermal Engineering Institute, Russian Federation; Sergey Urcha, LTD “ROP” Waste utility company, Kazakhstan; Christos Venetis, Ingenieurgesellschaft Prof. Czurda und Partner mbH (ICP), Germany and others.

Researchers from NLA and NU presented their project on characterization  and  investigation of energy potential of municipal solid waste in Astana. The objective of this project is to develop fluidized bed co-gasification/combustion technology for refuse-derived fuel and coal. The wider impact from the project is elimination of technical uncertainty barriers preventing correct development of techno-economic feasibility studies necessary for  investment into waste recycling and waste-to-energy facilities in Kazakhstan.

INESS-2018 to be held in NU

INESS-2018 to be held in NU

August 3, 2018

We are glad to announce the 6th International Conference on Nanomaterials and Advanced Energy Storage Systems (INESS-2018) joint with the 10th International Symposium on Inorganic Phosphate Materials 2018 (ISIPM-10),organized by Nazarbayev University (NU), Institute of Batteries (IoB),  National Laboratory Astana (NLA) and Japanese Association of Inorganic Phosphorus Chemistry to be held on August 8-10, 2018 in Astana at Nazarbayev University and cordially invite you to participate!

The joint conference topics cover the following and related areas:

INESS-2018:

  • Advanced Nanomaterials for Energy Application
  • Advanced Energy Storage, Conversion and Saving Systems
  • Materials for electrochemical sensor and electroanalytical applications
  • Materials and technology for alternative advanced energy applications
  • Catalysis and fuel cells
  • Battery monitoring and management systems
  • Battery safety and utilization
  • Development of electric vehicles and stationary energy storage
  • Modelling tools in materials science and energy conversion systems
  • Energy and environment

ISIPM-10:

  • Basic science of phosphates (Processing of Elaboration, Phosphates Glasses & Glass Ceramics, Structure & Applications, Apatite & Related Bio-Materials, Advanced Structural Analysis, Solid State NMR, Spectroscopy, Synchrotron Radiation)
  • Technology & uses (Anticorrosion & Catalytic Application, Phosphate Materials For Energy, Conversion and Storage)
  • High tech electronics & optics (Electronic Phosphate Materials, Opto-Electronic Materials
  • Beneficiation of Phosphates (Mineral Processes, Technology & Equipment, and Nuclear waste), Phosphoric Acid Purification: Recovery of trace elements (U, Cd, etc.)
  • Phosphate and green Technologies

Full length papers presented at the Conference will be published as Proceedings in international journals.

The researchers from different countries will participate and share their vision on progress and problems in materials science, nanotechnologies, ecology, renewable energy and energy storage systems.

The conference will be supported by several TV, newspaper and internet companies.

The conference is an open event and the participants from academia, industry and investors sectors are welcome to participate. We expect participation of several partner companies, and investors.

The INESS conference started in Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan in 2013. The scientists and students from Japan, Korea, France, Germany, China, Russia, Canada, UAE, UK, Turkey and Kazakhstan reviewed and discussed the recent progress and problems in materials science, nanotechnologies, ecology, renewable energy, energy storage systems and modeling methods in these fields. For further details please visit the INESS-2018 web-page: www.INESS2018.com. For past conferences please check  INESS-2016, INESS-2017.

Looking forward to seeing you at INESS-2018!

Yours sincerely,

Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee

Professor Zhumabay Bakenov,

Director of Center for Energy and Advanced Materials Science

School of Engineering, Nazarbayev University,

Institute of Batteries LLC,

53, Kabanbay Batyr Avenue, Astana 010000 Kazakhstan

Phone: +7 7172 70 65 30; Email: zbakenov@nu.edu.kz

Web-site: https://nu.edu.kz, batterykazakhstan.com