RSU Doctoral Student Viktorija Igumnova

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Thesis title: Pharmacogenetic Aspects of Antituberculosis Therapy in Latvian Population

Scientific supervisors: Head of RSU Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Assoc.Prof. Dace Bandere,
Leading Researcher of the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre Renāte Ranka

WHO...

“As a child I happened to witness a close-up of a person fighting the disease. Probably, that is why I have been interested in the way medicines affect the body. I am fascinated by the way pharmacy as a science is applied in real-life situations. Pharmacy gives answers to essential questions, and besides answers, it also puts forward practical solutions.

Initially, I had no intention to pursue a career in research. I love reading scientific literature and working in a laboratory, collecting DNA samples, performing DNA sequencing and genotyping. Research is an exciting, though tough field. Colleagues from the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre give me a lot of help. They are very knowledgeable. We meet for tea – occasionally these are official meetings with presentations, however sometimes we just have a conversation and seek solutions in dead-end situations.”

WHAT...

“Latvia has the highest incidence of tuberculosis in the European Union. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease with explicitly long course of the disease – antituberculosis therapy is complicated, especially in the case of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis caused by bacteria that are resistant to standard treatment. Cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis are very common in Latvia causing threats to human health and economic burden due to treatment costs and patient’s incapacity for work. Often patients face adverse drug reactions resulting in longer recovery period and posing a health risk to the society. By performing DNA genotyping and detecting DNA variations I obtain the data that can be used for predicting possible side effects and adjusting the treatment plan to individual needs of each patient.”

WHY...

“This study is my scientific and practical contribution – outcomes of the research might foster the prediction of the course of tuberculosis and development of rational drug therapy. This would be especially essential for children. There are few such studies in the world.”

HOW...

“In cooperation with a physician, I collect patients’ saliva sample for DNA extraction and perform genotyping. Thus, patient data can be compared. Then the hardest part – data interpretation and analysis – begins. To put it simply, I can detect whether the patient is slow, average or rapid metabolizer.”

CONCLUSIONS

“Currently, I have a publication on this topic and so far I have collected and analysed 15 samples, however, I intend to analyse at least 200 samples. I will be able to draw conclusions as soon as the patient group is large enough. However, it is not an easy task, as it involves conducting physicians’ surveys on health condition of their patients, drugs used by them and their side effects, information on the spectrum of drug-resistance of tuberculosis strains. This is a huge amount of work for physicians. If the cooperation with the physicians runs smoothly, conclusions will follow.”

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“Occasionally I come to a dead end. In such cases I rely on my colleagues – they give me valuable advice. I can do nothing but admire their quick wit and desire to keep moving forward regardless of the challenges they face,” says Viktorija Igumnova, 1st year doctoral student in pharmacy.