OpenBio-2021, the 8th Life Sciences Event on Biotechnology, Biopharmaceuticals and Virology, held in Koltsovo Science City, Novosibirsk Region, October 5-8 has summarized the outcomes for its activities. About 6,000 people attended the scientific conference and business forum.
Compared to last year, the number of visitors to OpenBio-2021 has significantly grown: 920 off-line participants and 5027 visitors joined the event through online platforms. The geography also expanded: specialists from 42 regions of the Russian Federation and 15 countries of the world were evolved in the work of the scientific conference and the business forum.
The scientific conference included some new topics and formats. The four traditional sections devoted to Virology, Biotechnology, Biophysics and Molecular Biology also featured reports on Bioinformatics. Some of the works by young researchers were presented in posters and exhibited in the second floor lobby of the Biotechnopark building. We are very pleased to announce the winners of the scientific conference:
— Anastasia Gladysheva, the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology «VECTOR» (SRC VB VECTOR), the section of Virology, awarded for modeling and analyzing the structures of a novel multicomponent Kindia tick virus (KITV);
– Maria Borgoyakova, SRC VB VECTOR, the section of Biotechnology, awarded for the results obtained on an immune response in mice vaccinated with Combicoronavac;
– Zaret Deniyeva, A.N.Frumkin Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IPCE RAS), the section of Biophysics, awarded for research into the mechanisms of infection with enveloped viruses;
– Sergey Sharabrin, SRC VB VECTOR, the section of Molecular Biology, awarded for the report on the use of the mRNA vaccine against SARS-COV-2.
The poster presentations made by Tatiana Nalimova (the section of Virology), Denis Kisakov (the section of Biophysics), Victoria Litvinova (the section of Biotechnology) from SRC VB VECTOR and Christina Patra from ITMO University (the section of Molecular Biology) were approved as the best.
“Our scientific conference provides an environment for meetings and communication, allowing young scientists to present their research works, to assess the relevance of their studies and understand the proper place in the world of science. Today's conference, in comparison with previous years, has significantly advanced in terms of the number of members and participants, thematic diversity and involvement of both young and mature scientists. This is the infrastructure where future scientific leaders will grow up, those who will determine the direction for the research and create scientific schools, and will become primary drivers of progress,” said Valery Loktev, Chairman of the Virology section jury, Doctor of Biological Sciences, professor, Head of the Department of Molecular Virology of the Flaviviridae and Viral hepatitis, SRC VB Vector.
World-renowned scientists delivered overview lectures to the participants of the scientific conference. Mikhail Mikhailov, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Laboratory of Viral Hepatitis at the Scientific Research Institute of Vaccines and Serums named after I.I. Mechnikov, shared the information on evaluation of the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis in the USSR and in Russia.
Representatives of fundamental science and innovative business meet annually at OpenBio. Manufacturers of products, tools, and providers of services ranging from research and development to production present their projects at the exhibition, as well as make relevant presentations for developers and manufacturers. Ekaterina Avilova, Ph.D. in Biology, Head of Customer Service Department at Cytiva, told the audience about innovations for biopharmaceutical developments and manufacturing: the use of some media and sorbents to increase crop yield and product quality, disposable bioreactors and a scalable line of chromatographic systems and columns for a fast launch of production lines, as well as technologies and algorithms for optimizing processes.
“Every developer strives to scale his pilot production up as fast and efficiently as possible, go through all phases of clinical trials in order to minimize the variability factor and quantity of consumables required. Any difficulties arisen during testing can be overcome faster with the help of computer simulations and algorithms. By visiting OpenBio, we as technology providers get a snapshot of today's research and innovation. We learn, listen and understand where the industry is heading, and what will be in demand on the market in a few years,” said Ekaterina Avilova.
This year the business forum extended the time frame and ran for all four days of the OpenBio Events. The forum had a special focus on the problems of Virology. A number of multi-format events such as a plenary session, symposium, expert discussions and round tables were undertaken.
Leading virologists and representatives of pharmaceutical companies continued last year's discussion on controlling the coronavirus pandemic. Sergey Netesov, the moderator, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Virology and Biotechnology Laboratory at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Novosibirsk State University, shared the essence of the discussion: “We summed up some preliminary outcomes and shared perspectives on the future, discussed the current pandemic situation and diagnostic potential, the development of new vaccines, and look into the possibility for overcoming the coronavirus infection in the next year or two. We also discussed the factual situations in different countries. In Russia, the situation is really challenging because of low vaccination coverage, so the participants discussed new approaches to presenting information on vaccines and their key role in overcoming the pandemic.”
OpenBio-2021 also featured "VIROM of Russia", organized at the initiative of the VECTOR State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology. The report on the evolution of viruses presented by the world-famous biologist Yevgeny Kunin, a Member of the Russian, US and EU Academies of Sciences, a leading researcher at the National Center for Biotechnological Information (Maryland), attracted widespread attention. The symposium’s logic, as explained by Alexander Agafonov, Deputy General Director of Vector, was to discuss the need for consolidation of efforts to prepare for new epidemics and to develop products for diagnostics, prevention, and treatment.
“The problem of viruses has become particular acute since the last outbreak of the pandemic. We have seen how one species of virus can impose a new standard on human communication. The global economy has been severely affected by the pandemic. And the most terrible losses are noted with the pandemic death toll which has surpassed 5 million,” explained Alexander Agafonov.
An extensive discussion unfolded at the round table "HIV in Russia: the Latest Developments and Issues of Pharmaceutical Circulation" which brought together activists, patients, doctors, and scientists involved in the HIV researches. Experts from various regions of Russia discussed the importance of ensuring early diagnosis and adherence to therapy, main trends, and challenges for assistance accessibility to people living with HIV, as well as some issues concerning testing and screening models, stigmatization, and prospects for modern scientific approaches to treatment were raised. At the end of the discussion, the participants noted the importance of an integrated approach to addressing the HIV epidemic and the value of an open dialogue.
A special event was the plenary session dedicated to large-volume data issues in megascience class projects, and discussion on the interaction between the Siberian Circular Photon Source, the Shared Use Center, and the soon-to-open Lavrentiev SuperComputer Center. During the discussion, as noted by Mikhail Marchenko, the Director of the Institute of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences: “A greater understanding was achieved of how serious a task is the creation of a digital platform for the Shared Use Center of the Siberian Ring Source of Photons (SKIF).”
Mikhail Voevoda, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Federal Research Center for Fundamental and Translational Medicine, Deputy Chairman of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, defined another goal of the discussion: “The greatest scientific challenge lies in the field of life sciences. Now large-scale projects such as “Beyond One Million Genomes”, “100,000 Genomes” are being implemented in the USA, Europe, and China. Within the framework of these projects, beside genetic information, other characteristics of living matter will be collected, and all the data have to be analyzed as a whole to obtain fundamentally important information for solving health care issues, developing new drugs and ensuring the sustainable functioning of our society.”
The longest-lasting event was “Technologies of Life”, the expert session devoted to scientific methods and practices that allow people to stay healthy and live much longer. This year, the venue featured both popular science reports and highly specialized presentations. Experts revealed the role of genetics for aging, dental hygiene and facial aesthetics, and skin youth. “A very important report was devoted to stress management in today’s world, because when we talk about longevity, we mean the brain, memory and intellect health as well, “ said Artem Elmuratov, the moderator, co-founder and Development Director of GENOTEK Research Centre for Medical Genetics.
Yulia Smirnova, co-moderator, author, and presenter of the “Youth and Longlivity” programme on Mediametrics, shared the information that next year the organizers plan to focus on the brain health issues, and already today they are inviting experts from the USA, Germany, Japan, and China.
At OpenBio-2021 an expert dialogue "Deal with Intellect" was held with the participation of Leonid Guryev, US patent attorney, defense lawyer, and partner at Muncy, Geissler, Olds & Lowe, and Andrey Moskvich, Head of the Center for Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office at Sirius University, patent attorney in the Russian Federation and Eurasia. At a briefing following the dialogue, Guryev emphasized on the two most pressing issues from the Russian business community: “The first question that I discuss every time I come to Russia is who owns the intellectual property: a company, an institute, or a developer? These ownership issues are particularly acute for Russia; as the commercial law in Russia differs from the law in the USA. Another issue refers to the quality of patents. What is "a good patent application"? At OpenBio, we discussed what should be done to have such application and how to commercialize it later.”
As in the previous year, a separate discussion on Food Tech was held at the OpenBio. Viktor Maleev, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director Advisor for Science in Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Rospotrebnadzor), focused on the issues of nutrition of the population in his report. Following the discussion, Anna Nenakhova, the moderator, CEO of Uralchem Innovation, LLC, noted a variety of expert approaches as a distinctive feature of this discussion: “Everyone is concerned about the environmental agenda. Everyone says that agriculture emits a lot of methane and this has a negative impact on the planet, and it’s impossible to feed everyone with animal protein that is a key provider of the building materials for the body. So, we have been considering alternative protein sources, for example, insect protein.”
The round tables «Development of the Technology Transfer Ecosystem» encouraged the sharing of opinions and experience between the regions, in particular, their best practices and bottlenecks. Irina Manuilova, Vice Governor of the Novosibirsk Region, explained the importance of the round table in her opening speech: “Three technology transfer centers are being set up in the Novosibirsk Region. The executive authorities should interact with them, accept their uniqueness, and support their efforts with all the assistance measures that they need to bring their innovation business outcomes into the real and effective implementation. To ensure a shorter and effective way it is necessary to undertake cooperative efforts between various institutions.” Ekaterina Shekhtman, patent attorney, Director of the INKO Agency, noted that the cases of negative practices and proposals considered at the round table could help the Novosibirsk Technology Transfer Centers to arrange the work at a new level.
One more new discussion platform entitled as “Reducing risks in the Prevention and Treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases” was held with the participation of federal specialists in oncology, pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. Alexander Rozanov, the moderator, Assistant Director for Regional Development and Federal Projects in the Russian Clinical and Research Center for Gerontology named after N.I. Pirogov of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, outlined the logic of the discussion as follows: “The concept of harm reduction is an effective strategy to be successful applied to modify most major risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases, as patients are more willing to take small steps to change their lives than to bring about radical changes. I am a supporter of a paradigm shift from an order (pressure) to cooperation, as this cooperation based on realistic and achievable goals for patients will allow them to take the route of the least resistance to a healthy lifestyle.”
During the forum, a cooperation agreement was signed between the "Biopharm" Association for the Development of Innovative Territorial Cluster of the Novosibirsk Region in the Field of Biopharmaceutical Technologies and the Hokkaido Association of Bioenterprises, Japan.
In summing up all of these events, Yulia Linyushina, Head of OpenBio, commented: “The evolution of OpenBio is our response to the growing demand for an in-depth dialogue. The most critical issues on science and the nexus between science and society were raised at the venues. The four-day format of the parallel work of the forum and the conference has proven justified, so we plan to continue this practice. We have the opportunity to engage leading international experts owing to OpenBio's developed online infrastructure and the new architecture of the event. I would like to point out the increased cooperation with SRC VB "VECTOR"; and the VIROM platform received significant media and scientific community’s attention.”
Organizer of OpenBio-2021: ANO "Innovation Center Koltsovo" with the support of the Government of the Novosibirsk Region and the Administration of Koltsovo Science City.
Co-organizers: SRC VB "Vector", Koltsovo Biotechnopark, Association "Biopharm", Novosibirsk State University.
Organizational partners: Novosibirsk Regional Innovation Fund, Regional Development Center of Novosibirsk Region, HealthNet Infrastructure Center, “Youth and Longevity with Yulia Smirnova” program.
Strategic partners: Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, Cytiva, R-Pharm
Official partners: Biocad, Rettenmaier Rus, Greenvan, Fizlabpribor, PMI Science, Prime-Line Trading, Botanika Development.
Scientific conference partners: Eppendorf, Azimut Photonics, Helicon Company, Diaem, InterLabService, BMT.