RSU honoured at the scientific achievement of the year awards ceremony
16 February the Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS) hosted the Scientific Achievement of the Year Awards 2017 ceremony. A research project by Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) has been recognised among the national scientific achievements of the year. Research was conducted on the involvement of persistent viral infections in the development of nervous system disorders, as it has been discovered that viruses may integrate into the cellular genome and the infection may be inherited from one generation to the next.
"To this day herpes was primarily associated with cold sores on the lips caused by herpes simplex virus, however nowadays there are eight types of herpes virus known and the impact of the more recently discovered types of virus is more serious. Therefore, for example, in the case of chronic fatigue, it is important to establish whether it is caused by the reactivation of a latent herpes virus or some other reason which would make it easier to choose the most appropriate treatment method. In the case of fatigue, insomnia or permanent anxiety, patients frequently visit a general practitioner and are commonly referred to one or more specialists, however do not receive the required treatment as the cause of the disease remains unknown”, reveals one of the authors of the research, Head of A.Kirhenšteins Institute of Microbiology and Virology, academician Modra Murovska.
RSU rektors Aigars Pētersons un A. Kirhenšteina Mikrobioloģijas un virusoloģijas institūta direktore Modra Murovska.
Almost 95% of people have been exposed to the beta herpes viral infection (HHV-6 and HHV-7) the majority of them in their early childhood, before the age of 6. After the initial infection, the virus can lie dormant without causing any illness. However, under the impact of some external condition e.g. flu or stress, the viral infection may reactivate. One of the purposes of the research was to identify the causes triggering viral reactivation and to study its importance.
The project was devoted to studying three types of disorders: encephalopathy which impairs the signal transmitted by the brain regarding specific bodily functions, followed by fibromyalgia, expressed as a chronic condition causing muscle and joint pains throughout the whole body, and myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome, making it hard to concentrate and spend more than 10 minutes on the same activity. There are cases when patients who suffer from these conditions are unable to work over their lifetime and the prevention and identification of the reasons triggering the disorder is not only in the interests of the individuals affected, but also the national economy.
The award-winning project was launched five years ago, although the first pilot project in this field of virology was already conducted ten years ago. The project was made possible due to the contribution by RSU, projects financed by the Latvian Council of Science and funding received for the Baltinfect project, co-financed by the European Commission. The authors of the research are: the head of A.Kirhenšteins Institute of Microbiology and Virology, academician Modra Murovska and RSU researchers Svetlana Čapenko, Santa Rasa, Sandra Skuja and Valērija Groma.
"The impact of this persistent viral infection on human health and work capacity, as well as the treatment options of disorders triggered during its activation require additional attention and future research, as it is evident in other EU member states, e.g. Denmark, Italy, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. A large amount of materials and experience have been collected over the years. Latvia is a leader in virology research in Europe and current achievements confirm that it is possible to improve the quality of life for many people, academician M. Murovska is confident of the importance of future research.
Research is one of the priority directions set by the new RSU rector Aigars Pētersons. The RSU rector is convinced of the necessity to concentrate resources on support for researchers, to ensure research outcomes that are instrumental for national and international research and the national economy and increase the intellectual capital of the RSU study process. “RSU study programmes are based on research and top-quality studies offered in a modern and well-organised environment are among our priorities,” emphasises RSU rector Aigars Pētersons.
The award for scientific achievements was also awarded to Head of the Information System Unit Uldis Doniņš who was involved in a project implemented by Riga Technical University, Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, Institute of Applied Computer Systems: Topological UML Modelling: An Improved Approach for Domain Modelling and Software Development. Theoretical Basis for Software Development.
RSU researchers were successful in conducting another research project of 2017, i.e. synthesis of a new compound E1R intended for the improvement of memory and for the treatment of epilepsy. E1R was synthesised in the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis and was the result of the joint efforts of RSU graduate, Doctoral Student of the Year 2015 Edijs Vāvers and Maija Dambrova, professor at RSU Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and academician of the LAS and other researchers - Līga Zvejniece, Baiba Švalbe, Maksims Vorons, Ivars Kalviņš, Ilga Misāne and Ilmārs Stonāns.
One of the hosts of the award ceremony was the lead researcher of RSU Institute of Oncology, assistant professor Inese Čakstiņa.
The winners of the Scientific Achievement of the Year Award are chosen by a special commission set up by the Latvian Academy of Sciences which initiated the tradition of looking back at the biggest scientific breakthroughs and significant achievements in science in Latvia in 2002. Over the years, the annual scientific achievement recognition award has become one of the most important events of the local scientific community..