broad understanding of the characteristics of dangerous pathogens—which is the strong suit of a number of former defense scientists—is important in preparing to deal with disease outbreaks that are attributable to natural causes. Many cooperative projects that have been undertaken in Russia, pursuant to the U.S. focus on preventing proliferation, have also made significant contributions in advancing scientific understanding of interest to both countries.
An example of the close ties between research activities for nonproliferation and for scientific advancement is illustrated by investigations of bacteriocins at a former defense-oriented facility, the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology in Obolensk. The research was designed to engage former defense scientists in seeking an alternative to agricultural antibiotics. An important result has been development of a patentable product (see Box 3-1).
Also of importance have been institutional-support efforts financed in large measure by the U.S. government to strengthen capabilities of a number of research teams throughout Russia. Breeding of laboratory rodents in Russia, highlighted in Box 3-2, is an example of a project that has enhanced Russian institutional capabilities to conduct important lines of research.
At times, Russian research teams, working with collaborators from the United States and other countries, have achieved results of fundamental importance. They have created laboratories of research excellence of worldwide interest. Looking to the future, an example is the investigation of proteome (Box 3-3). Reflecting on the past, an example is the sequence of the variola minor for the first time (Box 3-4).
A number of Russian research teams that received continuing support from U.S. organizations over many years had strong backgrounds in investigating dangerous pathogens. (See, for example, Appendix D.1 concerning activities and international interests of Vector, and Appendix D.2 concerning activities
Research on Bacteriocins
Beginning in 2004, a team of American and Russian researchers developed bacteriocins, which are natural proteins produced by competing nonpathogenic bacteria that destroy Campylobacter in the intestines of farmed poultry, dramatically eliminating pathogens. Laboratory tests have shown that treated birds have Campylobacter populations that are millions or even billions of times lower than the populations of untreated birds. The research resulted in patent applications that could in time lead to alternatives to antibiotics in both the veterinary and medical fields.
SOURCE: Agricultural Research Service, January 2012.