On 21st July 2014, the Academic Council of MU-Varna appointed Milka Hristova Georgieva, D.Sc., to the academic position of Associate Professor in higher education field of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Informatics, in the professional field of Biological Sciences and academic specialty Molecular Biology.
She is one of the best specialists in Molecular Biology not only in our country. She has been working in the field of diagnosis and treatment of tumor diseases. Experimental chemotherapy and investigating new substances for their application as new chemotherapeutic medicines take up a substantial part of her research. After 17 years of academic work in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, Assoc. Prof. Georgieva returned to Bulgaria. She has been working in Varna for two years - at the Clinic of General and Clinical Pathology at St. Marina University Hospital. She is the head of the Laboratory of Molecular Pathology for tumor diseases tests, established at Varna University Hospital two years ago.
"From 20 000 investigated substances only one becomes a medicine."
Assoc. Prof. Georgieva has investigated the antitumor activity of plenty of substances, aiming at their application as chemotherapy. She has studied both plant extracts and chemically synthesized substances.
She shared a curious experience in her life. An African shaman showed up in the laboratory where she had been working at that time, carrying some herb, wrapped up in a cloth. After the tests it turned out that indeed, a medicine could be derived from the plant. According to her, from 20 000 investigated substances only one will become a medicine.
Anyway, we should be aware that a universal cure for cancer does not exist. There are 220 different tissues in the human body, hence the different types of neoplastic diseases. Therefore, Assoc. Prof. Milka Georgieva places special emphasis on personalized, individualized medicine.
She creates new therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia treatment
Assoc. Prof. Georgieva has ascertained strong antitumor activity in substances from the group of alkylphosphocholines and in particular – Erufosine, which she has investigated in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Alkylphosphocholine Erufosine is a new generation antitumor agent which doesn't destroy normal cells. Moreover, it even stimulates them. Based on these studies, she has developed two therapies.
The first therapy is a combined antisense therapy for CML treatment. CML is a monogenic disease, which is caused by a translocation, which results in the fusion protein BCR-ABL – an oncogene and cause of CML. This is a combined therapy - consisting of antisense blocking of the oncogene and application of alkylphosphocholine erufosine.
However, she would like to stress the fact that all this is still within the experimental chemotherapy. "Yes, there are patients cured, but this therapy has not been routinely applied yet. To become a routine it must pass through specific stages. Now alkylphosphocholine erufosine is in the third stage of clinical trials.
The second therapy, published by Assoc. Prof. Georgieva, is combined administration of Gemcitabine with Erufosine, which can be used as a therapy for patients with acute myeloid leukemia and chronic ML with blast crisis.
Besides the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia, experimental chemotherapy and investigation of antitumor activity of substances, Assoc. Prof. Georgieva has also been working on the study of tumor progression molecular markers and colorectal cancer metastasis. She has studied different panels of genes in samples from patients with colorectal cancer in order to detect diagnostic and prognostic markers.
Among the hundreds of substances, investigated by Assoc. Prof. Georgieva, there is one of the most commonly used herbicides in agriculture - phenoxyacetic acid and its derivatives - 2,4-D and 2,4,5-trichloroacetic acid. She has proved mutagenic, clastogenic and genotoxic effects of the herbicide 2-4 D (2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid). It turns out that Assoc. Prof. Georgieva is one of the few scientists in the world who have studied this substance and her scientific paper on this issue has been cited by various international manuals and instructions.
[Look forward to the second part of the article...]