Jan 15, 2022
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The flagship of Russian virus science

The flagship of Russian virus science

Such scientific disciplines as virology and immunology have always been relevant for mankind. And the problems of viruses have become, alas, our daily practice during the pandemic. Moreover, theoretical research, the work of virologists and immunologists have not lost their importance and significance.

Oksana SVITICH, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Research Institute of Vaccines and Serums named after A.I. Mechnikova and the scientific director of this institute – Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor V.V. Zverev (WHO expert virologist).

Today it is time to tell in general about the history of the creation and development of this leading scientific institution, about its development and current work. Our interlocutor is the director of the institute Oksana Anatolyevna Svitich

– You are called the “Federal State Budgetary Scientific Institution” Research Institute of Vaccines and Serums. I.I. Mechnikov. Your Institute is the National Expert Center for the creation and production of vaccines and sera in the Russian Federation. What can the research institute be proud of, with what does it enter the history of Russia?

– Within the walls of the Institute, 80% of all domestic vaccines for the National Immunization Schedule have been created. Today, diagnostic systems are being developed here to determine not only coronavirus RNA, but also cellular immunity. Clinical trials of a number of domestic vaccines and the development of a domestic live vaccine are being carried out. Whole-genome sequencing of individual strains of the new coronavirus is underway.

– What interesting things can be remembered from the beginning of the work of the research institute?

– In 1918, the 1st All-Russian Congress of the Medical and Sanitary Departments of the Military Revolutionary Committee adopted a historic document. It was a Decree on the organization of the Central Institute for the manufacture of vaccinations and medicinal preparations, as well as for the study of the clinic and epidemiology of infectious diseases. The Collegium of the Moscow City Health Department, on the basis of the materials of the special Organizing Commission, issued a Decision dated February 10 (23), 1919, to establish the City Bacteriological Institute. I.I. Mechnikov Moscow City Health Department.

During this period, the Institute produced a large number of drugs needed for public health needs: typhoid and typhoid vaccines, cholera, gonococcal, staphylococcal, streptococcal, meningococcal, smallpox and other vaccines. The institution produced several types of sera (anti-measles, anti-streptococcal, anti-meningococcal, anti-dysenteric, anti-diphtheria, normal equine). Since 1929, the serum-vaccine department began to produce anti-gangrenous sera.

– During the Great Patriotic War, did the Institute stop useful activities?

– The Institute with more than a century of history did not stop its work during the Great Patriotic War. He actively provided medical battalions and hospitals with drugs for the treatment of wound infections. Thanks to this work, hundreds of thousands of lives of Soviet people have been saved.

In the autumn of 1941, the Moscow City Council decided (No. 14820/s3) to export specialists, equipment, and horse producers to the East.

Two production bases were formed (in Ufa and near the city of Chkalov). Already in November, the Institute was able to start producing the necessary preparations (vaccines, sera, bacteriophages, diagnostic tools).

In the spring of 1942, both productions were fully launched. The Institute supplied drugs directly to many hospitals and clinics.

– And what exactly was sent to the front?

– The Institute supplied serums (anti-gangrenous, anti-tetanus, anti-diphtheria), bacteriophages (dysentery, cholera), toxoids (diphtheria, tetanus), as well as a polyvaccine intended for the mass prevention of typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever A and B, Flexner and Shig dysentery, cholera and tetanus.

– What was outstanding about the post-war period of work? Who glorified the Institute?

– Smallpox has been eradicated in 40 countries in Asia and Africa thanks to the use of the Russian vaccine. This work of the employees of the Research Institute of Virus Preparations and the Mechnikov Institute – Andzhaparidze O.G., Bulk V.F., Marennikova S.S., Maltseva N.N., Shelukhina E.M. – received international recognition and was awarded the International Badge of Honor – the Order of the Bifurcation Needle.

Over the past half century, effective drugs for treatment and prevention have been created on the basis of the Institute. For example, this is an inactivated polio vaccine, a tissue vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis, smallpox vaccines, influenza vaccines, a vaccine for immunizing donors and immunotherapy for purulent-septic infections. The Institute has also created a wide range of drugs for the diagnosis of viral infections – smallpox, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, measles, rubella, influenza, diphtheria, tetanus, syphilis, chlamydia and many others.

– What other problems did the scientists of the research institutes have to solve?

– In the process of observation and research, it became obvious to us that traditional vaccines cannot always ensure epidemiological well-being.

Today, the task is to develop a new class of vaccines that quickly activate the innate immune system and provide immunity to a wide range of pathogens.

In recent years, one of the priority areas for preventing strategic threats to national security has been the creation of immunobiotechnologies for the treatment, prevention, monitoring and diagnosis of infectious diseases of high epidemic and socio-economic significance, which ensure the state’s self-sufficiency and competitiveness in combating biosecurity.

– Are there any prospects?

– Further prospects in the development of vaccines will be associated with new results of fundamental research in the field of recombinant and molecular biology, genomics, applied and theoretical immunology. There is a major task – the creation of technologies for the rapid and large-scale production of pandemic vaccines.

– What is the research institute working on besides the fight against coronavirus?

– Currently, the research institute is developing a 4-valent vaccine against chicken pox, mumps, rubella and measles, creating a domestic rotavirus vaccine and a vaccine against human papillomavirus. We are engaged in the development of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines optimized for the composition of the pathogen serotypes circulating in various territories of the Russian Federation. We are working on a vaccine to prevent nosocomial infections in surgical hospitals, burn and intensive care units, as well as to prevent wound infections in emergency situations.

– Are there any innovations in vaccination technologies for the Russian population?

– The Institute has developed a technology for the safe vaccination of children and adults with health problems and chronic pathologies. This made it possible to optimize the existing immunization schemes against infections included in the National Immunization Schedule and expand the contingent to be vaccinated.

– What is the effect of your scientific developments?

– We have developed methods of vaccinal prevention of bacterial and viral infections in patients with autoimmune pathology and oncological diseases. This improves the quality of life and reduces the number of exacerbations of the underlying disease, the rate of disability, as well as reduce the use of antibacterial drugs.

Measures for safe and effective vaccination against respiratory infections in women of childbearing age and pregnant women reduce the number of fetal anomalies and infant mortality.

– What can be identified from the priority areas of research?

– Research on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is very important. We are studying the properties of HIV isolates endemic to the territory of the Russian Federation, especially isolated from patients with HIV/tuberculosis co-infection. Alas, it is tuberculosis that remains the main cause of death in HIV-infected individuals.

An algorithm for early differential diagnosis of neonatal pneumonia and other infectious diseases has been developed, based on a comprehensive study of microbiological, immunological and genetic factors.

– What will you offer the world and Russia in the foreseeable future?

– The creation of domestic immunobiological preparations will be completed. The development of a new generation of antiviral and antibacterial vaccines for the National and regional preventive vaccination schedules will be completed. The creation of vaccines for the specific prevention and treatment of bacterial and viral nosocomial infections will be completed.

The practice will include domestic means of laboratory diagnosis of infectious diseases.


The research institute is the base for conducting classes of the department. microbiology and department Epidemiology Sechenov University.

The Institute holds classes at the School of Excellence for graduate students.

Students and young scientists of the Institute have repeatedly participated and won prizes at domestic and international conferences: ISCOMS 2017

– First International Youth Olympiad in Allergology and Immunology

Congress of the World Organization of Immunopathology (WIPO)

World Congress on Asthma, COPD and Immunopathology and I International Congress on Molecular Allergology, etc.

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