We congratulate Dr. Azliyati Azizan for having several articles published


Nazarbayev University School of Medicine congratulates Dr. Azliyati Azizan for having several articles published on her research project on extremophiles isolated in Kazakhstan. Dr. Azliyati Azizan has been working at NUSOM as an Associate Professor since January, 2015 and for many years now, has focused on a project entitled “Extremophiles from unique ecosystems of Kazakhstan as potential producers of novel antimicrobial and anticancer agents”.  The long-term goal of this project is to identify and characterize secondary metabolites produced by Kazakhstan extremophiles for their activities as antimicrobial or anticancer agents. In Dr. Azizan’s previous work on this topic together with her collaborators from the Research and Production Center for Microbiology and Virology (RPCMV) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, they have identified many producer (extremophilic) actinomycetes strains with great potential to synthesize active compounds with antimicrobial properties.

In this continuing project, they further characterized these extremophiles as potential producers of novel antibiotics and also screened extracts prepared from these producer microorganisms for antiviral and antitumor activities. They also attempted to chemically identify and characterize active molecule(s) with antibacterial activity as novel active molecules. Additionally, they used their established field sampling and laboratory protocols to isolate and identify additional extremophiles from other unexplored regions in areas close to Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. They started their study several years ago by collecting soil samples from various extreme geographical zones of Kazakhstan (solonchak, solonets, and solod soils, mineral water sources, and anthropogenic area).

This work is described in their published articles; 1. Antiviral activities of extremophilic actinomycetes extracts from Kazakhstan’s unique ecosystems against influenza viruses and paramyxoviruses. Virology Journal volume 16, Article number: 150 (2019) available here. 2. An observational case study of hospital associated infections in a critical care unit in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. (2018) 7:57 available here). Out of over 2,000 isolates of extremophile actinomycetes from high saline and alkaline habitats of southern and northern areas of Kazakhstan, they identified 415 strains that displayed antagonism against clinical MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus Strain # 3316). Out of these, 21.6% also showed antagonistic activities against Escherichia coli Strain J53 (pMG223) and 28.4% against Aspergillum niger. These 415 strains were primarily screened from pure culture isolates using variations of Bennett’s agar that mimic the natural saline and alkaline habitats of the organisms. The extracts prepared from these producer organisms were also tested for antibacterial activities against the multidrug resistant ESKAPE (Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter) bacterial pathogens and a subset were additionally tested for their antiviral and antitumor properties. They discovered in this project several promising producer strains of actinomycetes obtained from extreme environments with great potential to contain active compounds that are novel that can be identified chemically. They are confident that with the established protocols and expertise of their researchers and collaborators they would be able to re-grow the strains in their possession to continue with their efforts to establish these new antimicrobial agents for therapeutic use.

This study is important as this drug discovery research can lead to identification of novel bioactive compounds with antimicrobial activities whereby the discoveries made can be put into immediate use to save lives and improve morbidity from infectious diseases. With respect to anti-bacterial activities, this work is really important in the era of fast development of resistance against established antibiotics and searching for remedies from natural products found within the extreme environment of Kazakhstan is highly important. The project proposed a nonconventional approach to screen the producer organisms using laboratory media conditions that mimic the environment these organisms originate from, which would increase the chances of discovering novel antimicrobial agent. Dr. Azizan and her team have now established several fruitful collaborations with expert groups in this field that will enable them to further pursue their ultimate goal, which is to identify and characterize novel antimicrobial agents.

This project also serves as a platform for training young researchers of Kazakhstan for commercialization, biotechnological investment, drug discovery trials and collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.

Congratulations on the recent publication! NUSOM community is sending the best wishes in their future endeavors.