Rustam Minnikhanov: ‘Our scientists created a competitive product and it will ‘fly’’

An experimental optoacoustic scanner for very premature diagnostics of cancer and vascular disorders by Kazan physicist of the Russian Academy of Sciences of Russia Alexander Karabutov from Kazan caused a buzz at a board meeting of Tatneftekhiminvest-holding. “I think we will ask the Russian government for public support for this development, and it will ‘fly,’” Tatarstan Rais Rustam Minnikhanov was inspired by the medical device’s fantastic capabilities. Even if the professor’s Russian student who is now a US citizen holds the intellectual property rights, the board of directors anyway decided to try to keep the development in the republic. And the Afrikantov Design Bureau from Nizhny Novgorod whose idea of a hydrogen nuclear power plant was shot down surprised with cryopumps for liquefied gas filling stations this time. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Optoacoustic technologies cause a sensation among medical scientists

The academically “boring” topic of the speech delivered by head of the laboratory Functional Materials and Technologies of Photonics of the Zavoysky Kazan Physical and Technical Institution of the Kazan National Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vadim Semashko didn’t promise any sensation first. Can one expect a sensation from a report dedicated to optoacoustic technologies in defectoscopy and medicine as the theme was formulated on the meeting’s agenda?

However, Professor Semashko’s speech excited the Board of Directors of Tatneftekhiminvest-holding. Moreover, not only the achievements of optoacoustic technologies in detecting defects in real production but also possibilities in medicine. The optoacoustic scanner based on a non-traditional use of laser allows diagnosing the smallest tumour and microvascular disorders — those high-tech ultrasound devices do not catch. Precisely the application of optoacoustic technologies in medicine caused a revived dialogue between members of the Board of Directors who got used to provide brief comments.

Nowadays Sukhoi Design Bureau keeps an eye on the technology, it uses it for composite elements for Superjet and MS-21 planes, Semashko said. Kazan Helicopters making composite blades for helicopters was interested in it a year ago. However, the issue didn’t go beyond testing, said Vadim Semashko. However, Gazprom’s companies actively introduce the system, bound by process safety requirements. According to Semashko, contact laser and ultrasound structurescopy and defectoscopy is 10 times more effective than ordinary ultrasound control. X-ray performs poorly in composite materials, while ultrasound doesn’t allow visualising the state of upper layers. The patent for the described technology belongs to Kazan scientist, now workers of the Russian Academy of Sciences Professor Alexander Karabutov, the speaker clarified.

Karabutov’s student commercialised in US

Vadim Semashko revealed the most interesting thing in the world of optoacoustic technologies only at the end of his speech. It turned out his successor and student, physicist Alexander Orayevsky managed to use the technology in medicine to detect the smallest vascular disorders and commercialised the development in the US.

“Medical scanners made in USA were creased using this technology. Now the production is being actively relocated to the PRC,” said Semashko.

The main advantage of the device is early cancer diagnostics, it is used in the diagnostic of cardiovascular diseases in test mode. According to Semashko, it allows detecting cancer up to six months earlier than traditional methods. However, the development of the optoacoustic scanner has an international patent belonging to Alexander Orayevsky but he is ready to cooperate with Russian companies, specified Semashko. The advantage of the scanner is that it detects the slights deviations without radio opaque in the organism. The development was added to the FDA’s register in January 2022.

Better buy and do re-engineering

So Semashko offered to buy the test sample from Professor Orayevsky in China and send it to our cancer centre to start clinical trials immediately.

“And we could modernise electronics, software and, most importantly, the optic part. Then it will be totally ours,” Semashko recommended re-engineering.

Rector of Kazan State Medical University Alexey Sozinov backed the idea:

“This method is interesting because it allows doing diagnostics in those ranges that are unavailable for ultrasound. We recently confirmed the readiness to do pre-clinical and clinical trials as well as our colleagues. But we don’t yet have the hardware and the device that could be used for real clinical work.”

Tatarstan Vice Premier Roman Shaykhutdinov turned the discussion to the industrial area. He wondered if there was a library of accumulated changes and a system that would automate protocol issue: “If your device allows measuring 3-5cm of a pipe for discharge (oxygen, shatters), it will do.”

“Yes, we can look at these stitches, see what corrosion is formed,” Semashko replied to him.

To Russia’s government for help

“I think we will turn to Russia’s government [to ask for public support] for this development and it will ‘fly,’” Rustam Minnikhanov was inspired by the fantastic capabilities of the medical device. “Because we are told not to ask for money for this, but we are welcome to for innovations. Our scientists created a competitive product, and it will ‘fly” if R&D is done, the production is set up, components are prepared,” Minnikhanov reflected.

Then he ordered to add the Tatarstan Ministry of Health Care, Kazan State Medical University and Innopolis to the team to discuss the purchase of the first optoacoustic scanner.

Representatives of the Afrikantov Design Bureau from Nizhny Novgorod attended the holding’s meeting for the second time. During their first visit, a month ago, they had presented an idea of a hydrogen nuclear plant energy companies shot down later. This time they surprised with cryopumps for liquefied gas filling stations. Nobody makes them in Russia anymore and they are already used in Tatarstan. Rustam Minnikhanov responded to the novelty claiming that it was necessary to “move towards increasing LNG consumption.”

Luiza Ignatyeva