I– Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology:
Research Activities, Expertise & Focus Points:
The Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology Research Group (MCB) has started the first nucleus of its research activities in 2008. It was officially established in 2010. The group has participated at building up the research career of 20 GUC graduates. It consists of four research teams whose main focus is directed towards molecular oncology, and is dedicated to basic research that remains closely connected to the clinic through both national and international collaborations. This group consists of four research teams:
Photodynamic Therapy Team
Combinational Therapy Team
Classical and Molecular Cytogenetics Team
Photodynamic Therapy Team:
This team is interested in studying both the effectiveness and mechanism of action underlying photodynamic therapy of cancers both at in vitro and in vivo levels using cancer cell lines and mouse tumor models respectively. It is also highly concerned about presenting the best drug delivery system that would offer efficient targeted therapy. This would avoid the accumulated side effects known of the conventional therapeutic modalities for cancer especially chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The future target of this team is to propose a reliable therapeutic modality for possible clinical applications. Projects of this team are in a direct collaboration with the “Pharmaceutical Technology Department, PBT-GUC”, as well as the “Clinical Sector of th National Center for Laser Enhanced Sciences, Cairo University”.
Combinational Therapy Team:
This team believes in combinational therapy as a way to present the safest and most efficient therapy for oncogenic solid tumors. They have started with “Radiogenetic Therapy” via combining advantages of the strong electromagnetic waves of ionizing radiation with the high transduction efficiency of adenoviral vectors. Currently, they are working on replacing adenoviral vectors by biocompatible nanoparticles for increasing the copy number of the therapeutic genes within cancer cells and avoid interfering with the host immune system through “Combined Radiogenetic Therapy with Nanotechnology”. This team is collaborating with “Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Germany”, “Pharmacy School, the Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich, Germany”, as well as the “Children Cancer Hospital 57357, Cairo, Egypt”.
Members of the proteomics team are trying to understand the molecular and cellular pathways underlying the rarity of metastatic cancer in skeletal muscles. This line of study has formerly demonstrated skeletal muscles to secrete factors that exclusively kill metastatic cancer cells but spare normal cells. Such work underlines the wide-ranging potentials for studying the proteome of skeletal muscles aiming at identification of specific biomarkers and thus offering novel therapeutic strategies for cancer patients. This team is collaborating with the “Biochemistry Department, PBT, GUC”, and the “Biotechnology Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University”.
Classical and Molecular Cytogenetics Team:
This team is using the technologies of classical as well as molecular cytogenetics techniques in two directions. One is to identify the genetic basis of some inherited tumors in humans as an aim to offer an early diagnostic tool for prediction of possible genetic mutations causing cancers. The other direction deals with comparing the possible genetic side effects, which may be caused by certain synthetic chemotherapeutics, versus anti cancer phytochemical drugs. This meanwhile provides an understanding for the possible molecular mechanisms involved at cancer treatment using each type of drug. Collaborators of this team are; “Institute for anthropology and human genetics” and “Institute for nutritional toxicology” both at the Faculty of Medicine, Jena University. This is in addition to the “Faculties of Pharmacy at Cairo and Ain Shams Universities”, the “Petroleum Institute, Cairo”, and the “Pharmacology and Toxicology Department, PBT-GUC”.
Motivation of the MCB research group:
The main interest of the MCB research group is directed towards molecular oncology and is dedicated to basic research that remains closely connected to the clinic in order to improve early diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. In addition to the main mission of better understanding the tumor biology, researchers at MCB group have also a future target in translational research by participating at the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies for treatment of oncological tumors with minimal side effects.
Research teams of the MCB group are working on different research views. They have been however structured to remain complementary to each other in order to cover the same research interests that relate to the entire group. Collaboration among the different teams, as well as intradepartmental collaborations with other PBT-GUC departments, in addition to the national and international institutional collaborations is characteristic of the MCB research group. This allows addressing questions that would be difficult to examine individually, and pave the way for offering applied research. An important aspect in the vision of the MCB research group is to try attracting high quality young researchers who are interested in establishing strong basis for their research career. Researchers at the MCB group are selected to be; enthusiastic, good readers, with research oriented mentality, and eager to learn the basic technology that would enable them to build up a long-term research career, and establish their own laboratories and research groups in the future.
II- Metabolomics Research Unit:
Research activities, expertise & focus points:
In the postgenomic era, metabolomics is gaining increasing importance as another promising “omic” technology for understanding the biology of various diseases.
Metabolomics is the study of the metabolome, the repertoire of metabolites, or small molecules present in cells, tissue, and body fluids. These molecules are the final products of interactions between gene expression, protein expression, and the cellular environment. The metabolome is thus a close representation of a physiological state and biochemical pathways. It forms the integral part of systems biology in which the data from various omic technologies complement each other to provide a holistic picture of how various biological systems respond to external stimuli and in various disease conditions. Utilizing NMR and MS, mass spectra and NMR spectral measurements are compared for extracted components with further statistical multivariate analyses of the acquired data. Metabolites and metabolic intermediates are identified, and their effects on various biochemical parameters studied. Such approach offers great promise to provide accurate prediction of drug toxicity and or proof of efficacy and the potential to dramatically accelerate our understanding of widely used Egyptian phytomedicines mechanism of action, disease progression and or individual variation in drug response phenotypes. It offers better understanding of the underlying principles of biological processes including various pathophysiological conditions such as hepatitis, diabetes and or myocardial infraction of common occurrence in the Egyptian society.
Motivation of the Metabolomics research unit:
The metabolomics research group focuses primarily on applying innovative biochemical technologies including spectroscopy, chromatography and enzymology coupled with genetics to help answer complex biological questions pertaining drugs discovery and or disease prognosis. The major research lines of this group are directed towards: understanding diseases metabolomics (Infarctions,Diabetes, Cancer, …), analysis of mode of action of certain plants at treating specific diseases, as well as quality control of phytomedicines.
In the field of plant derived nutraceuticals (Phytomedicine), the biosynthesis of the health promoting phytochemicals: isoflavonoids (Phytoestrogens) helps identifying several new compounds, a novel pathway, explained metabolic regulation, annotated key genes and provides tools for efficient metabolic engineering of these bioactive chemicals. This work suggests a functional biochemical network for isoflavonoids. In the field of clinical metabolomics (Metabonomics) and more specifically in cancer biomarkers discovery, isotopomer metabolomics approach for resolving the comple cancer cell metabolome is being developed. Use of stable isotoperesolved metabolomics (SIRM) for analysing metabolites in vivo in patient cancer cells by NMR reveals an altered capacity an functioning of the Krebs cycle and anaplerotic pyruvate carboxylation (PC) pathway in humans.
III– Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry:
To be completed