International Cooperation

The Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza (a Russian Ministry of Health federal institution) is involved in international scientific and technical cooperation in the following areas:

  • implementation of programs and individual projects
  • cooperation with intergovernmental organizations under agreements and treaties
  • interinstitutional cooperation, including exchange of specialists
  • joint organization of international scientific events and conferences at various levels

The Institute cooperates with the World Health Organization (WHO) by participating in the global influenza surveillance program. The Institute’s WHO affiliated National Influenza Centre is tasked with studying and controlling the circulation of influenza in Russia. The Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza is a member of the WHO European influenza surveillance system. Institute staff regularly analyze the epidemiological situation in Russia and enter relevant information into the European Surveillance System (TESSy).

Collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, USA) enables diagnostic products designed at the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza to be standardized by a process involving comparison with CDC reference systems. In particular, National Influenza Centre staff work to test the quality of laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) influenza diagnostic methods (the WHO External Quality Assessment Program). Using comparison with WHO analogues, standardization work has successfully been carried out involving monoclonal antibodies to influenza viruses A and B. A variant of the microneutralization assay has been developed. Such assays are used to assess the immunogenicities of new pandemic influenza vaccines. 

In 2010, the Institute completed work on a collaborative project (BTEP/ISTC International Grant No. 3070). “Further Improvement of Influenza Surveillance in Russia: Contribution to Global Pandemic Influenza Preparedness” was accomplished over time together with the CDC’s influenza division and the D. I. Ivanovsky Institute of Virology. The project yielded several results: molecular diagnostic methods were introduced into influenza surveillance practice; the sensitivities of circulating viral populations to antiviral drugs were determined; and phylogenetic analysis of circulating viral populations (in Russia) was carried out according to the results of isolate sequencing. In addition, multifunction software was successfully tested. These systems integrate laboratory diagnostic and morbidity data, and the software automatically generates cartographic, graphical, and tabular materials in both Russian and English. They enabled uninterrupted interactions with other countries through WHO and European internet systems (FluNet and EuroFlu), as well as through the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza web site.

The Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza collaborates with the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems (Science Committee, Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science). Research related to scientific and technical programs is carried out in various Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza departments. One such program (“Development of Influenza A/H5N1 Virus Cultivation Conditions for Healthcare in Kazakhstan, 2008-2010”) included research and development related to methods for testing the quality and safety of a vaccine against highly pathogenic influenza A/H5N1; it also featured design of  a recombinant A/H5N1 strain. In the framework of a different program (“Monitoring, Research, Diagnostics Development, Prophylaxis, and Therapy for Influenza A/H1N1, 2009-2011”) clinical studies were conducted on the use of Refluvac and Kazfluvac (aluminum associated, whole-virion, inactivated, influenza vaccines) 

Research is continuing on a European project ("Fluvacc: live, attenuated, replication-defective, influenza vaccine"); the work aims to develop a new generation of intranasal influenza vaccines featuring deletion of the NS1 gene.

In the European “Plant-produced Vaccines” project (ID 227056), a number of recombinant proteins were studied as candidate vaccines against the highly pathogenic AH5N1 influenza in birds. In the project, a number of aspects were studied: purification methods for plant produced recombinant proteins; characteristics of vaccine preparations; immunogenicity of materials; and protection potentials. Chimeric M2e HBcSynt protein, produced in Nicotiana benthamiana, was shown to be highly immunogenic and its ability to provide mice with 90-100% protection from lethal infection was demonstrated. It was shown in chicken experiments that highly immunogenic preparations do not reduce deaths from highly pathogenic virus, but virus reproduction is reduced by 2 or 3 orders of magnitude in the respiratory tract, thereby reducing transmission/contagion in sick birds.

Institute employees actively participate in international scientific events, such as congresses, conferences, meetings, and seminars. Their reports are widely distributed in international publications and abstracts. In addition to providing advice and research assistance, the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza cordially welcomes specialists from the Commonwealth of Independent States for training.