In Bulgaria research in the area of plant tissue culture technology for production of pharmaceutical substances is now concentrated in Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Sofia. Here is located the unique for Bulgaria new Biotechnological Laboratory for pharmaceutical products. Faculty of Pharmacy-Sofia is the only one in the country to offer higher education on pharmaceutical biotechnologies for Students on Pharmacy.
The research group of the Laboratory is engaged in the production of pharmacologically active substances from plant origin in in vitro cultures. Work in this area has led to the production of a wide variety of pharmaceuticals like alkaloids, terpenoids, steroids, saponins, phenolics, flavanoids, and amino acids. These technology offers an alternative production system for high-value compounds in cultivated cells, the chemical synthesis of which is not economically feasible and which therefore still have to be isolated from the plants.
The current research direction of the group are in the field of molecular and biological approaches in the development of new anticancer, immunostimulating, anti-HIV therapeutics, optimizing biosynthesis of secondary metabolites in plant cell cultures, Genetic modification through gene transfer technologies (optimisation of Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation of selected plant lines), development and application of molecular-based strategies with the aim of improving and selection of medicinal plants (Astragalus, Linum, Datura, Hyoscyamus, Althaea, Fagopyrum, Digitalis), development of technology of air-lift type fermentor for biosynthesis of biological active substances.
International cooperation of the research group: University of Duesseldorf, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Heidelberg, Germany, University of Graz, Austria, Free University of Bruxel, Belgium. During the last years the research activities have been increasingly financed by grants. The research group have grants by the Science Fund of the Medical University of Sofia, National Fund for Research Bulgaria, NATO, UNESCO, German Academy of Science, DFG-Germany, DAAD etc.