Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Январь 2006 г.

2006 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь

    Central Chronicle - Bhopal, India / Wednesday December 28, 2005
    Russia masters high techs
    Россия является одним из лидеров в области информационных технологий и программирования. Чтобы сохранить и укрепить свои позиции, необходимо определить основное поле деятельности в ближайшие годы. Одним из ведущих направлений на следующие три - пять лет может стать разработка программного обеспечения. Это не потребует крупных вложений и позволит финансировать другие секторы IT.

Russia cannot develop nowadays without high technologies introduced in every branch of its economy. Priorities here are the aerospace, defence, nuclear industries, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and information technologies. Remembering that today, Russia is one of the leaders in information technologies and computer programming, the success of the government's innovative programme is beyond doubt.
Particularly successful has been the Russian method of writing computer software. The large number of available high-tech specialists helps to develop both information management systems inside the country and export such technologies at a good profit.
Russia could earn as much from such exports as from selling arms. An example is India, which annually exports up to $5 billion worth of software. But its macro-economic indicators are way lower than Russia's. Experts from the International Finance Corporation belonging to the World Bank Group estimate that given credible guidelines on high information technologies and technological services their export from Russia could rise from not less than $200 million dollars in 2000 to $45 billion in 2010.
It stands to reason therefore that it is the right time to think of a new generation of information technologies (IT).
Speaking at Novosibirsk's Science City in January of this year, President Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia has the required personnel and solid scientific backing for a breakthrough in this field.
This is just one example confirming the president's word: Russian-speaking specialists produce up to 30% of Microsoft software. This is both a proud and a frustrating fact. On the one hand, it demonstrates the brilliant qualifications of Russian-trained specialists and their creative thinking. On the other, we acknowledge that they work for another country.
In the opinion of Alexander Narinyani, director of the Russian Research Institute of Artificial Intellect, it is necessary to change the situation and rules of the game on the world information market, and fast. Today the market is worth $4 trillion and is the fastest growing in cost-benefit terms. Also, IT is the key strategic industry determining each country's ranking in the global breakdown of the next ten years. "As regards Russia, IT is not only a promising market sector, but also a branch that can catapult it back among the leading world economies."
Some role is also being played by the fact that the current growth of the present-day Russian market in information technologies is clearing the way for future expansion, since today it is more favourable to long-term investments than in any developed country. A mass of indicators confirm this - one is the doubling of the Russian market of laptops in recent years. Sales in this sector have grown over the last year more than threefold compared with West European countries.
But it is clear that a future national Russian IT project will not be able to cover (at least in its initial stages) all aspects of the information industry. So a choice of strategic priorities is needed. And software appears to be the most effective in cost-benefit terms in comparison with other IT components (microchips, the Internet and other networked systems, mobile communications, etc.). Software can become one of Russia's leading branches in the next three to five years. It does not call for heavy investments and at the same time can finance both the other IT sectors and alternative high technologies.
The world information market has been very favourable to Russia recently. Its present sidelined position may prove a healthy factor in triggering a rapid future explosion. The fact is that we are now approaching the end of a 30-year cycle of information technology development, a period which Narinyani describes as "vegetative". It was mainly concerned with technological developments to lower costs and scale down size. Today these possibilities are practically used up, and there is an inevitable phase coming concerning intellectual information technologies, where Russia is more firmly entrenched, and it will have the chance to work another "Russian miracle" - to land among the trend-setters in the IT industry. The Russian path should be one of pursuing qualitatively new avenues as yet beyond the horizon, but bound to provide the starting point as the next stage begins.
In short, what to do and where to move is clear enough. What remains to understand is how.
Task No. 1 is to adopt a law on special economic zones with appropriate infrastructure and tax breaks and set up centres and technology parks specialising in information technologies. The relevant law spent several years making rounds of the ministries despite Vladimir Putin's eagerness to have it adopted as soon as possible. It was not until the summer of this year that the federal government endorsed it and referred it to the State Duma.
At the president's bidding, the government also promised to "speed up" updating bills dealing with intellectual property, because innovation is becoming almost illegal in the absence of a regulatory framework.
The president okayed, as a first step towards a special economic zone in Novosibirsk's Science City, the establishment of a Siberian Centre for Information Technologies, backing the move with a pledge to allocate budget money.
Novosibirsk, together with Moscow and St. Petersburg, is among the main Russian programming centres. It boasts more than 200 IT companies, with 40 of them grouped in non-profit partnerships Sibakademsoft and Informatsia i Tekhnologii. Sibakademsoft alone produced $50 million worth of software last year with a staff of 1,500. Seven of the Novosibirsk higher educational establishments train IT specialists in 22 professions with an annual output of 1,500-1,700 graduates. The sum needed to implement the Siberian IT project with principal venues in Science City and Novosibirsk and affiliates in other scientific centres of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Siberian branch works out at 6.3 billion rubles ($219.82 million), including 2.6 billion rubles ($90.72 million) from the budget.
Early returns are expected: the Siberian branch's management estimates that the centre may be producing $120-150 million worth of output by the end of 2006 and $500 million by the end of 2010. In the opinion of Academician Nikolai Dobretsov, chairman of the Siberian branch, the Siberian IT centre is a first-priority project, since the Siberian institutes have the required theoretical background and a developed telecommunications structure. Capital outlays needed are relatively small, while capacities can be easily built up with resources from other regional research centres. Besides, the brand of the Siberian branch is widely known in the world.
St. Petersburg's information technology community is offering its version of IT parks. The northern capital has laid a good groundwork for high-tech: 66 innovation technology centres and one innovation industrial complex, four technology parks with a high proportion of IT enterprises and four more similar parks on the way. The city helps to develop innovation and technology centres. For the first time the St. Petersburg budget is allocating money on a tender basis. True, we must get our terms right: as distinct from an innovation technology centre where science intensive firms rent space with easy terms, in technology parks they buy out the land and become owners of buildings and equipment, presupposing a higher level of autonomy and prosperity.
Opening the Norwecom-2005 exhibition, Russian Information Technologies Minister Leonid Reiman spoke of the establishment of an IT park next to the Bonch-Bruyevich University of Telecommunications as a foregone conclusion. The IT community not without rancour noted that Bonch was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time - under the ministry's wing.
On the other hand, speaking of the specifics, it makes no sense to increase the number of IT parks. Telecoms have no frontiers or guarded fences to cross. Smaller IT parks may be situated on the territory of different universities and research institutes, but will coordinate their work between themselves in getting not only orders, but also preferences from the city and/or the federal centre, at least initially.
No wonder three years ago LETI Electrotechnical University, seeing that IT firms were most effective in its technology park, suggested that the St. Petersburg government set up a city-wide information park on that basis. In fact, that same IT park which is being formed today as an integrated structure is being built on the networked or distributed principle.
St. Petersburg, perhaps of all cities in Russia, is game for such integration. In addition to Bonch and LETI, University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics, the Ioffe Physical-Technical University (a federal-level technology park), the Russoft Association of Software Developers and others are offering "offshoot" projects. Even without state support these and other centres will mushroom, but at random and maybe getting in each other's way. It is the task of administrative bodies to stimulate and steer this growth through standard legal and information channels.
The city's research, academic and industrial design organisations, it was said at a meeting chaired by Nobel-prize winning Academician Zhores Alfyorov, should work out a joint strategy for IT parks. The discussion was continued at an enlarged meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of the St. Petersburg government - given new realities such as the federal government's endorsement of a draft law on special economic zones in Russia.
Two types of zones are stipulated by the draft bill: for industrial production (not more than 20 square kilometres in area) and for engineering promotion (not more than 2 square kilometres). In the case of St. Petersburg the latter is more relevant. They are called upon to provide incentives for the development of high technologies through tax preferences (the uniform social tax will be cut to 14% from 26%) and customs breaks (materials and equipment will be brought into the zone without paying any taxes or fees if they are to produce goods for export). Funding for the establishment of zones is to come from the federal budget (starting in 2006) and from regional budgets on a 50/50 ratio. It has been tentatively decided to establish five such zones, including one in St. Petersburg, and the city authorities have agreed.
But within city limits few "greenfield" patches of the required size (not more than 2 square kilometres) were found. Preliminary choice fell on Shuvalovo, a territory north-west of the city assigned to the Russian Academy of Sciences' St. Petersburg Science Centre in 1995. At that time it had an area of 445 hectares. Today 340 hectares of it is left, but that is enough for a national IT park.
A stone's throw away is the Physical-Technical Institute with its science education center and new Academic University, Polytechnic University, Institute of Electrophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Svetlana and Pozitron electronic enterprises, not far away there is another university - Electrotechnical university - and also the institutes of high-molecular compounds and silicate chemistry. An ideal version is to have a technology park across the road opposite the University such as at Shuvalovo, for example. Alfyorov proposed to set up a technology park for the development and manufacture of micro and optic-electronic devices called Global Dialogue with money from German investors. Shuvalovo will be developed stage-by-stage. Early estimates indicate that property and infrastructure for the first 50 hectares will call for $400-500 million. It will come from a variety of sources.
St. Petersburg is no doubt interested in such a zone because it concerns the development of high technologies and a provision for qualified jobs. But tight-sealed special economic zones and all-invasive Internet technologies and partnership ties are wrong bed-fellows. Oleg Byakhov, director of the department for the strategy of building information society of Russia's Ministry of Information Technologies, is frank: "... it is an inconvenient mechanism for us. An IT park is a third type of special economic zone, but the law found no room for it. Not accidentally the University of Telecommunications dropped from the short list of those seeking law-envisaged benefits."
But there is also a different point of view. "Unfortunately," says Reiman, "the feeling among some of our colleagues is that IT parks are an alternative to the special economic zones proposed by Russia's Economic Development and Trade Ministry. This is not the case. Special economic zones are an economic instrument of territorial development covering many sectors of the economy, and not only the IT industry. The mission of IT parks is more finely-focused and specific: to insure that vibrant IT companies could grow and increase their market capitalisation in Russia, something which is hamstrung now by tax complications. Special economic zones are not rivals of or alternatives to IT parks. IT companies can function both inside and outside special economic zones."
The real truth, however, is that a technology park is science, education and business all rolled into one. It has some elements of self-development, but also needs external stimulants. In the view of Vladimir Vasilyev, chairman of the St. Petersburg Council of Rectors, these stimulants are "a favourable investment climate, a venture fund with state capital to encourage private investors, a service infrastructure to act as an incubator for innovation companies because only few of them prove successful. It is, lastly, equal conditions with competitors at the minimum". Indeed, Indian IT companies pay export taxes at 6% of the cost of their products, while Russian ones about 50%.
In the words of Oleg Byakhov, Russia's current Minister for Information Technologies, his ministry sorely needs a positive experience of building IT parks throughout Russia. So why not add the logic of the St. Petersburg IT community as a pilot project to a special federal programme of support for technology parks in information technologies, as President Vladimir Putin initially sought?

© Central Chronicle 2005

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    Innovations report / 27.12.2005
    Effective testing for Helicobacter pylori bacteria
    Российские исследователи разработали иммунологическую тест-систему для обнаружения бактерии Helicobacter pylori, вызывающей желудочно-кишечные заболевания.

Specialists of the Gamalei Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Botkin Clinical Hospital have developed the method that allows to significantly simplify examination of patients suffering from stomach and duodenal diseases caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. The researchers have created immunological test-system capable to discover the pathogene toxin in the patients' saliva and faeces without resorting to traditional complicated and expensive diagnostics methods.
Stomach and duodenal ulcers are often of bacterial nature. The ulser pathogene, the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, is dangerous by its cytotoxin, in the presence of which the ulcer more often develops into a malignant form. The contemporary medicine possesses a lot of sensitive methods for diagnostics of bacteria and their proteins, but, unfortunately, many of them are complicated and expensive. The majority of methods require penetration into the stomach or the duodenum, thus they are not always suitable for examination of children and bad cases. The necessity for a simplier examination method is obviously imminent.
Physicians suggest to use diagnostic antiserum to VacA toxin protein for simplified diagnostics of Helicobacteriosis. The researchers have cloned a small tail fragment of this protein's gene. The gene worked duly in the E. coli and produced the protein in the quantities sufficient for immunization. Rabbits were immunized by the purified protein, and serum specific for Helicobacter cytotoxin was produced from their blood.
The test-system was tried on real clinical material – saliva and faeces samples of chronic invalids during various exacerbation periods, and before the deiseas and after the conducted treatment.
It has turned out that the method allows to discover the antigen in very low concentrations, upon first indications of the disease exacerbation. Frequency of occurrence and the level of toxin in biological material correlate with severity of siptoms and apparantly indicate to active bacteria reproduction in the organism. The test-system allows to control the course of treatment – if it is efficient, the level of antigen abruptly decreases first in faeces and somewhat later – in saliva.
Such a noninvasive and secure method may be used, according to the researchers, in clinics primarily for children to diagnose Helicobacter infection, to observe the course of disease and to assess the treatment.

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    Newswire Today - London, UK / 01/09/2006
    Biocad Announces New Treatment for Oncological Diseases
    New Russian medical preparation Leucostim significantly improves effectiveness and availability in modern treatment of oncological diseases
    Завершено клиническое исследование первого отечественного гранулоцитарного колониестимулирующего фактора препарата Лейкостим. Лейкостим является разработкой российских ученых и позволяет повысить доступность современной терапии онкологических заболеваний, что особенно актуально для детской онкогематологии.

Russian biotech company Biocad has successfully completed a multicenter comparative clinical trial of the first domestic granulocyte colony stimulating factor Leucostim. This trial was performed in three leading Moscow cancer centers. Leucostim was used for the treatment of 80 cancer patients with neutropenia after cytotoxic chemotherapy. 100% efficacy of Leucostim was demonstrated; its effect was profound and stable.
Results of the trial have proved that Leucostim has an excellent safety profile and a remarkable efficacy. Therefore Leucostim can be recommended for clinical use for treatment and prophylaxis of chemotherapy-related neutropenia. All research that resulted in development of Leucostim was performed by Russian scientists. ZAO Biocad manufactures Leucostim in its ultramodern facility in Moscow region according to GMP regulations.
The launch of Leucostim is expected in mid-2006. Availability of this generic drug will make the effective therapy of cancer more affordable, which is of special importance for pediatric oncology and hematology. Therefore, by introducing this product into the Russian market Biocad contributes to the initiatives of the President of Russian Federation who has recently stipulated in the "Health" National Program that availability of hi-tech medical help has to be a priority.
Introduction of the first domestic granulocyte colony stimulating factor Leucostim into the medical practice now depends on whether governmental regulatory bodies will keep to the usual drug approval schedule.

© 2006 Newswire Today

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    innovations report - Bad Homburg, Germany / 13.01.2006
    Making Proteins To Fight Cancer
    Новый подход к лечению рака кишечника разрабатывают российские ученые из Центра "Биоинженерия" РАН совместно с американскими коллегами при поддержке международного фонда CRDF и Федерального агентства по науке и инновациям (Роснаука). Подход молекулярно-генетический. Любое раковое заболевание изменяет картину работы генов - одни гены подавляются, другие - активируются. Универсальный механизм, который регулирует активность генов, это метилирование ДНК, то есть присоединение метильной группы к определенному участку молекулы. А затем вступают в действие специальные метил-ДНК связывающие белки, которые связываются с участком метилированной ДНК и подавляют работу генов. Исследователей интересует один из таких белков под названием Kaiso. Предполагается, что он играет важную роль в развитии рака кишечника, и его можно будет использовать для диагностики и лечения.

An approach to treating intestine cancer is being developed by Russian researchers from the Bioengineering Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences, under Anna Prokhorchuk's guidance jointly with American colleagues sponsored by the international CRDF foundation and the Federal Agency for Science and Innovation (Rosnauka).
Any cancerous disease changes the genetic landscape – some genes are suppressed, others get activated, which results in tumour growth, the formation of metastases, and cancer spreads beyond immune system control. The universal mechanism which regulates genes' activity is DNA methylation, where a methyl group is joined to a certain section of a molecule. Special methyl-DNA binding proteins come into action, bound with a section of the methylated DNA and this suppresses gene activity. The researchers are interested in one of such proteins named Kaiso. They assume that this protein plays an important role in the intestine cancer development, and it can be used for diagnostics and treatment.
First, the researchers measured the level of expression of the Kaiso protein gene in intestinal tumours in mice and in human patients. The level of expression turned out to be dozens of times higher than that in healthy organs and tissues. "Kaiso-zero" mice were then used which were found to be resistant to cancer. The same resistance to cancer was acquired by mice whose DNA methylation had been suppressed by other methods.
As the Kaiso protein content in the majority of human tumours is much higher than that in healthy tissues, it can be potentially used for early detection of cancer. Contemporary molecular methods allow to analyze expression of dozens of genes in the cancerous growth tissues and to compare the obtained picture with the "gene portrait" of normal cells. Certainly, the Kaiso gene is not the only one that can be used for such diagnosticums. The tumour represents a very heterogeneous and rather dynamic system, which requires knowledge of almost the entire "genetic portrait" of 28,000 genes.
It is thought that there are other between 10 and 30 key genes which can also serve as markers of tumour characteristics. This will save resources and time, relieving the necessity of analyzing the entire multithousand genome.
In cancer therapy, chimeric Kaiso protein could be created. The ordinary Kaiso protein (via DNA methylated binding) inhibits the work of cancer suppressor genes. However, it is possible, using the same properties of the protein, to make it not suppress, but reinforce the work of these genes. This is what the researchers are striving to achieve. "Although, there are hidden pitfalls here," explains Anna Prokhorchuk, project manager. "It is necessary to make chimeric Kaiso work only to activate cancer suppressor genes, not the other methylated DNA sequences. This is what we are working at in the Bioengineering Centre jointly with American colleagues." The ultimate aim of the investigation is to scrutinize the possibility for using Kaiso protein as a target for directional anticancer therapy.

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Продолжение дайджеста за ЯНВАРЬ 2006 года (часть 2)

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