Scientists at the Ivan Franko National  University of Lviv created the Ukrainian-German Center for Exemplary Research on Natural Compounds (CEntR)

The 14th meeting of the Ukrainian-German working group on scientific and technological cooperation was recently held in Germany. At the meeting, Ukrainian and German scientists discussed current issues of cooperation in the field of science and technology, as well as approved the results of the project competition (announced by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany, BMBF) for the creation of Ukrainian-German centres of exemplary research.

In the competitive selection, BMBF chose four from among more than 50 projects. The total funding of each centre is about 2.5 million euros for four years. The work of the centres will be managed by leading German and Ukrainian scientists. One of the projects – the Ukrainian-German Center for Exemplary Research on Natural Compounds(CEntR) – will be implemented by the biotechnological company  Explozhen LLC together with the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Saarland in partnership with scientists from the Department of Genetics and Biotechnology of Lviv University. CENtR will be located in Lviv at the laboratory base of Explozhen LLC. CENtR is expected to start its work as early as mid-2024.

The team of CENtR scientists are mostly employees or graduates of the Faculty of Biology of Lviv University, who were trained in the world’s leading scientific institutions and have extensive experience in researching the chemistry and biology of natural compounds. CENtR aims to reveal the genetic and chemical diversity of actinomycete soil bacteria to discover new compounds with antibacterial and other bioactivities, with the prospect of further medical applications.

“The choice of the research topic is not accidental – it is in the field of studying actinomycetes that the scientists of the Department of Genetics and Biotechnology of the Lviv University have been actively working for 35 years and have an indisputable world authority. Among several different areas of research on bioactive natural substances, the search for antibacterial compounds will be a priority for CENtR scientists. This is caused by the urgent need for new antibiotics that would be effective against disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to all currently known medical drugs,” explained Professor Bohdan Ostash, chief researcher of the Department of Genetics and Biotechnology of the Faculty of Biology.

According to scientists, if the problem of resistance to antibiotics on a global scale is not solved in the coming years, then by 2050 it will lead to an additional 10 million deaths and financial losses in the amount of 80 trillion euros. This problem is no less acute for Ukraine during the war. The uncontrolled use of several “last hope” antibiotics on the front line, due to the impossibility of maintaining aseptic and minimal hygiene, is already beginning to narrow the range of antibiotics that can be used to treat the wounded. Therefore, for Ukraine, the development of its own research and production base for the antibiotic industry is an urgent task. Today, China and India dominate the market for the production of antibiotic substances. Any intention of these countries to stop or even reduce the supply of antibiotics could have enormous security risks for Ukraine.

It is expected that CENtR as a public organization will function thanks to the support of the commercial partners of this project (the companies “Enzym”, and “Explodgen”), as well as thanks to the participation of Lviv University in international scientific competitions after the completion of financing by the BMBF.