Tomsk State University has opened the Laboratory of Cell Technology, equipped with the most modern technologies for growing human and animal tissue, blood cells, and stem cells. Researching cell cultures gives scientists the opportunity to obtain new fundamental data on the causes of severe chronic diseases, for example, diabetes mellitus or age-related cognitive impairment. The results of breakthrough research will be used to create new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
– The use of cell cultures makes it possible to more deeply study cells and obtain data that cannot be obtained by studying cells in whole organisms, – says Leonid Kapilevich, head of the Department of Sports and Health Tourism, Sports Physiology, and Medicine at the TSU Faculty of Physical Culture. – Now we can see how a particular protein or enzyme functions within a cell. Moreover, having received the necessary information, we will be able to control these processes – disable or enable enzymes and different types of ion channels. In studies on the whole organism, this cannot be done.
Currently, TSU scientists are growing myoblasts, the precursors of human muscle cells, in the laboratory’s cell incubator. Myoblasts will be used to identify the causes of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) – this disease is poorly treated with drugs, but can be corrected with physical activity.
Usually, glucose is utilized in muscle cells, but in T2DM this ability is impaired. In previous studies on mice, the scientists of the TSU Faculty of Physical Education received two working hypotheses and will now test them on cell cultures.
– First, we will provoke changes in the cells similar to those that develop in patients with T2DM, then with the help of an electrostimulator we will subject myoblasts to contractions that imitate physical exercise, explains Leonid Kapilevich. This will help us to trace what changes are taking place in cells and to understand how and what weak links need to be affected to return the lost functionality to the cell – the ability to utilize glucose. When the reason is found, it will be possible to target it.
The potential of the Laboratory of Cell Technology can be used for a variety of medical projects. In the future, the scientists of the department plan to study vascular endothelial cells and lung epithelium, their ability to regulate blood pressure, and the process of blood coagulation. It will provide new information about the causes of a severe course of coronavirus, which affects the cells of the vascular endothelium and pulmonary epithelium, interacting with specific proteins.
The use of cell cultures makes it possible to develop another direction of research – to study the effect of physical activity on mental abilities. Due to the increase in life expectancy in the world, the number of people with age-related cognitive disorders is growing. For this reason, humanity is faced with the acute problem of finding ways to preserve cognitive abilities and prevent the development of such severe disorders as dementia.
Cell culture studies can help determine which types of exercise have a positive effect on cognitive function and target specific exercise patterns. Biomarkers will also be identified that will allow diagnosing diseases at an early stage when treatment is most effective.
The new TSU laboratory will significantly expand the capabilities of scientists in conducting research and obtaining new fundamental data for innovative technologies that preserve and improve the quality of human life.