The research activity of the group is directed to the study of biochemical and photochemical processes occurring in living organisms, which are responsible for the development of socially significant diseases like cataract and other ophthalmic illnesses.
At present moment there are two main directions of our research:
1. Study of proteomic and metabolomic content of tissues of human and laboratory animals.
The development of pathologic processes results in significant changes in the metabolomic content of a tissue: a decrease or an increase of concentrations of various metabolits. These perturbations in the balance between oxidants and anti-oxidants can lead to the oxidative stress that has large impact on the biochemical processes in living tissues like post-translational modifications of proteins and large changes in the proteomic content. The changes in proteomic and metabolomic contents of a tissue could be studied by methods of chromatography, gel-electrophoresis, mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy. In our lab we carry out analyses of tissues of human and laboratory animals: rat, rabbit, calf, fish. The main attention is focused at the tissues and biological liquids related to the eye: the lens, cornea, vitreous body, aqueous humor, blood. The main goal of these works is to determine changes in biochemical content of tissues during normal ageing and the development of eye diseases like cataract and keratoconus. Using this information we try to understand the mechanisms of formation and development of these undesirable processes and to estimate the efficiency of medical drugs for the prevention and the treatment of these diseases.
2. Investigation of photophysics and photochemistry of biologically important metabolites.
Ultraviolet sun irradiation in UV-A (320-400 nm) and UV-B (280-320 nm) regions, reaching the surface of our planet, can induce photochemical reactions which lead to the damages of tissues and, as a consequence, to the loss of functionality of various organs. The main objects of our study are aromatic amino acids (tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine) and molecular UV filters of eye lens (kynurenine and its derivatives). The UV filters convert the energy of incident photons into the heat with very high efficiency; however, they are thermally unstable under physiological conditions. According to our results, the products of kynurenine thermal decomposition exhibit significantly higher photochemical activity, and they can participate in the enhancement of oxidative stress conditions – the main factor of the cataract development.
Currently the group is involved in the implementation of several projects, supported by Russian Scientific Foundation (RSF), Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the research council of President of Russian Federation.