In the frame of preceeding research group at the Institute of Biochemistry we started molecular genetic analysis of cystic fibrosis, first monogenic disease studied in Slovenia, in collaboration with the Gyneacological Clinic and Paediatric Clinic in Ljubljana and with the support from INSERM in Paris, France, and the Faculty of Medicine in Verona, Italy.
We joined the worldwide Cystic Fibrosis Genetic Analysis Consortium coordinated by Prof. Lap-Chee Tsui in Toronto, Canada, and we co-authored first poublications in prestigious international journals (N. Engl. J. Med., Am. J. Hum. Genet.). We started in our laboratory to perform routine molecular genetic analysis of Slovenian CF patients for clinical and antinatal CF diagnosis and genetic counseling at Gyneacological and Paediatric Clinics in Ljubljana.
We initiated mutation analysis and functional genetic analysis of keratin disorders. This investigation which was upgraded with the functional support of cell biology after 2000 is still one of the current MCMB research topics, and has recently focused on the role of cytoskeleton in the control of fundamental cellular processes.
This is the year of inauguration of the Medical Centre for Molecular Biology (MCMB), in February 1992 at the Medical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana. It was established by a consortium of 7 institutes of the Faculty of Medicine, 5 clinics of the University Clinical Centre, and the Institute of Oncology in Ljubljana to initiate and coordinate research and education in the field of medical molecular biology and genetics. Prof. Komel took position of the Head of the Centre and his research group and laboratories at the Institute of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Medicine continued be core laboratory of the Centre. First mutations were originally found at the CFTR gene in the Slovenian CF population (S4X, 458delAT, 2907delTT).
MCMB started systematic molecular genetic analysis of haemphilia A, the third monogenic disease studied, in collaboration with Paediatric Clinic and Slovenian Haematological Society. In the years to follow the entire population of haemophilia A patients in Slovenia was screened, novel mutations were found and in 2000 genetic analysis was transferred as a diagnostic procedure to the Haematological Department of the Paediatric Clinic in Ljubljana.
In 1996 MCMB introduced, together with the Institute of Oncology, molecular genetic analysis of B cell lymphoma / synovial sarcoma. This was the start of molecular genetic analysis in Slovenian oncology.
MCMB was accepted as a member and registered laboratory at INCO ECCACF (European Community Concerned Action for Cystic Fibrosis; 1996 – 1999). For Slovenian clinical establishments we performed routine direct and indirect molecular genetic analysis of CFTR.
According to the initiative from the Institute of Forensic Medicine MCMB established population analysis of short tandem repeat loci (STR) for paternity testing in Slovenia, which in the years to follow was upgraded with systematic population studies that enabled the introduction of DNA profiling at the Insitute of Forensic Medicine. In 2000 DNA profiling was formaly adopted as a legal procedure for the identification of persons and family relationships, and as a procedure that provides legal DNA evidence for criminal trials in Slovenia.
MCMB started molecular genetic investigation on more complex diseases such as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) and osteoporosis.
MCMB started molecular genetic investigation on psychiatric disorders (eating disorders), in collaboration with University Psychiatric Clinic Ljubljana.
This year was marked by definitive significant orientation of MCMB to the study of complex polygenic and multifactorial disorders such as cancer (gastric adenocarcinoma, HNPCC). We published multiplexing PCR assay for assessing simultaneously differential gene expression of a number of cancer genes.
The launch of the interinstitutional national reseach program P1-0104 »Functional Genomics and Biotechnology for Health« (2004 – 2008; 2009 – 2014) which included the Laboratory for Biosynthesis and Biotransformation (L11) at the National Institute of Chemistry (NIC) and the MCMB (later also CFGBC) from the Faculty of Medicine. Prof. Komel, who led both MCMB and L11, was appointed Head of the program.
MCMB became partner of the The Eating Disorders consortium and the EC FW6 project »Eating disorders, from genes to behaviour«. In the following three-year period we contributed to the screening of the European population from consortium countries for selected polymorphisms of the COMT, BDNF and ghrelin genes.
The launch of the ESFRD Centre of Excellence (CoE) »Biotechnology with Pharmacy« which brought together 20 partners from the University, public research institutes, healthcare institutions, S/M entreprises and pharmaceutical industry. MCMB was the initiator and served as the coordinator and lead partner of the project.
Inauguration of the Centre for Functional Genomics and Biochips (CFGBC) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana. MCMB was the lead initiator and coordinator in the construction of the CFGBC.
MCMB initiated molecular genetic investigation of the genetic background of suicidal behavior. This research and research on related psychiatric disorders is still one of the current research topics of the MCMB.
Benzoate 4-monooxygenase (BPH) was cloned from the experimental fungus C. Lunatus within the joint research program of MCMB and L11/NIC. This cytochrome P450 was proposed as a potential new target for antifungal treatment and therapy, which was highlighted as promissing approach in 2008 by SciBX, a joint eddition of Nature and BioCentury.
An innovative method of simultaneous production of both VHH and VH nanobodies was designed and published, a single-step procedure of recombinant library construction for the selection of efficiently produced llama VH and VHH binders directed against cancer markers. This innovation represented the entry of MCMB into the field of search for cancer biomarkers using the nanobody technology.
An innovative approach was developed and published for the functional analysis of the human DNA mismatch repair gene (hMLH1) variants in yeast S. cerevisiae. The method was first used in the molecular genetic analysis of gastric adenocarcinoma and later the aesophageal cancer at ICGEB in Cape Town.
The start of the INTERREG EC Project GLIOMA (2011-2015) with the aim of identifying new biomarkers of brain tumors – glioma and glioblastoma stem cells for diagnosis and as new therapeutic targets. The leading project partner was the National Institute of Biology (NIB), while the MCMB coordinated the activities of the partners from the University of Ljubljana.
The launch of the new 6-year national reseach program P1-0390 »Functional Genomics and Biotechnology for Health« (2015 – 2020), which includes the research laboratories of MCMB and CFGBC at the Faculty of Medicine.
Start of the new EC INTERREG V-A Italia – Slovenia project TRANS-GLIOMA (2017 – 2020) with six academic and clinical institutions from Italy and Slovenia. University of Ljubljana (Faculty of Medicine, MCMB) is Lead Partner of the project and Prof. R. Komel Project Manager / Coordinator. The innovative project involves “precision medicine” in the identification of the genomic profile of brain tumours, of the micro-environment, and of the cells derived from a patient (both glioma stem cells and glioma-associated stem cells), thus identifying new personalised pharmacological targets, with the possibility of finding new treatments for a currently incurable disease.
Start of the new HORIZON 2020 ERA CoSysMed project 4D-HEALING (2018 – 2021) with eight partners from six EU countries including MCMB (R Komel and M. Liović). The project will deliver data-driven, comprehensive understanding of the human wound healing process and in vitro proof of concept of a novel topical therapy to enhance chronic wound healing. Understanding wound healing will shed light to regenerative medicine.