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Kanazawa University Discovery Initiative


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I am pleased to announce a set of our global research programs, titled “Kanazawa University Discovery Initiative”.

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Under the policy of “driving our research advantages further”, we, Kanazawa University, have been providing intensive support to “The Prioritized Research Program” launched in 2007. We also launched “The Mission-Oriented Research Program” in 2010 and helped research groups address serious social challenges. Furthermore, we started “The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations” in 2012 and proceed to establish it as the core research of Kanazawa University.

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Through this support, we, Kanazawa University, are committed to excellence in fundamental research, as well as the development of innovative technologies. We are committed to establishing a new academic field and creating and expanding knowledge-intensive industries. We are now making further progress toward the future. On the following pages, you can find a brief introduction to each program of the “Kanazawa University Discovery Initiative”. For more detailed information, please refer to our website at http://www.o-fsi.kanazawa-u.ac.jp/en/and “Kanazawa University Research Bulletin” at http://www.kanazawa -u.ac.jp/research_bulletin/index.html.

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Koetsu Yamazaki, Director, Organization of Frontier Science and Innovation Vice President (Research and International Affairs), Kanazawa University

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Kanazawa University Discovery Initiative We promote “Kanazawa University Discovery Initiative” in our efforts to make effective use of the limited resources of the university, to development research programs as the pillar of the university and furthermore, to promote research programs as the pillar for the future generations. Now we support 3 programs: (1) The Prioritized Research Program, (2) The Mission-Oriented Research Program, and (3) The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations, which are made up of 23 research projects in total. We are pleased to introduce the purpose of each program.

(1) The Prioritized Research Program As a distinctive research program of Kanazawa University, this program has received intensive support since 2007. A select 5 research projects have been successful at world level in each field. Additionally, a research center for this program was established and an inter-university human resources development program is in the workings.

(2) The Mission-Oriented Research Program The purpose of this research program is to offer solution plans of national importance under the themes of “Green innovation”, “Life innovation” and “Disaster Reconstruction”, based on “The New Growth Strategy” endorsed by the Cabinet in 2011. 10 research projects with medium-to long-term goals were selected for this research program and are to be undertaken in cooperation with other universities, companies and municipalities.

(3) The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations The purpose of this program is to promote prioritized research programs for the future generations of Kanazawa University (2014-2018: mid-term objectives for the second term and the latter half of mid-term plans to the first half of the third term). Consequently, the research members consist of young and mid-career researchers under the age of 55. This research program is expected to become the core of Kanazawa University in future. It is also expected to promote the formation of a research center, the creation of interdisciplinary studies and innovative scientific research, or international cooperative research. Furthermore, research outcomes should feedback into education. Currently, 10 research projects are selected.

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Kanazawa University Discovery Initiative

Contents The Prioritized Research Program Nanobiology research by world-leading AFM technology

Toshio Ando Professor (Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Institute of Science and Engineering)

Innovative brain science for development, learning and memory and their disorders: The second stage of the university-wide initiative in integrated humanities and sciences

-P2

The land, winds and water of the Japan Sea region: A global environment research center focused on the Japan Sea region

Kazuichi Hayakawa Professor

(Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences)

-P6

Haruhiro Higashida Project Professor

(Research Center for Child Mental Development)

-P4

Development of advanced medical treatment for nutritional metabolism-related syndromes

Shuichi Kaneko Professor (Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences)

-P8

Aiming to Establish a New Ocean Earth Science Research Center: An Approach from Onland Geological Compelxes

Shoji Arai Professor (Faculty of Natural System, Institute of Science and Engineering)

-P10

The Mission-Oriented Research Program Development of next generation organic thin film solar cells Takayuki Kuwabara Assistant Professor (Faculty of Chemistry, Institute of Science and Engineering)

Development of next-generation diamond power devices

-P12

Development of a large amount/high-speed production method of nanopowder for greenlife innovation using modulated induction thermal plasmas

Yasunori Tanaka Professor

(Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Institute of Science and Engineering)

-P16

Implementing new preventive medicine and epidemiology in Noto

Hiroyuki Nakamura Professor (Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences)

(Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Institute of Science and Engineering)

-P14

Environmental science research concerning the wide area atmospheric and marine contamination by radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident and recovery

Kazuichi Hayakawa Professor

(Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences)

-P18

Safe drug discovery: Identify the mechanisms behind adverse drug reactions to contribute to more efficient drug development and establish a predictive systems -P20

Development of Innovative Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer through Identification of Control Mechanisms for Malignant Development

Atsushi Hirao Professor (Cancer Research Institute)

Norio Tokuda Associate Professor

-P24

Ikumi Tamai Professor

(Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences)

-P22

Preventive medicine for lifestyle-related metabolic diseases using food Application of homeostatic mechanisms for metabolic control through neuroimmunology

Hiroshi Inoue Professor

(Brain/Liver Interface Medicine Research Center)

-P26

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Formation of a cognitive brain science center for language communication and its disorders

Haruyuki Kojima Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences, Institute of Human and Social Sciences)

-P28

Formation of a chiral nanotechnology research center that aims to invent innovative chiral materials

Katsuhiro Maeda Associate Professor

(Faculty of Chemistry, Institute of Science and Engineering)

-P32

-P36

Achieving comprehensive medicine in humans towards general health and longevity

Takashi Wada Professor

(Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences)

(Cancer Research Institute)

-P30

Kenji Takahashi Professor

(Faculty of Natural System, Institute of Science and Engineering)

-P34

Pursuing personalized EBM (Evidence Based Medicine) through visualization of pharmacokinetics and individual difference factors Seigo Kinuya Professor (Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences) -P38 Formation of an international research center for evaluating the effects of air pollution on health

-P40

Program for aggregation and circulation of personnel and knowledge towards the formation of an academic cancer drug discovery center

Kunio Matsumoto Professor

(Faculty of Chemistry, Institute of Science and Engineering)

Promotion of global human resource development targeting SATOYAMA green innovation and establishment of a research core in related field

Elucidating the molecular transport mechanism for innovative cellular nucleus function control

Richard Wong Professor (Faculty of Natural System, Institute of Science and Engineering)

Promoting research combining disparate fields towards green medicinal innovation Hiroshi Hasegawa Professor

-P44

Akira Toriba Associate Professor

(Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences)

-P42

Development of a system to support early diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders Mitsuru Kikuchi Project Associate Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) -P46


The Prioritized Research Program

Nanobiology research by world-leading AFM technology

・Member Representative

Toshio Ando Professor (Faculty of Mathematics and Physics) Takayuki Uchihashi Associate Professor (Faculty of Mathematics and Physics) Noriyuki Kodera Associate Professor (Bio-AFM Frontier Research Center) Hiroki Konno Assistant Professor (Bio-AFM Frontier Research Center) Takahiro Nakayama Assistant Professor (Bio-AFM Frontier Research Center) Shinji Watanabe Assistant Professor (Bio-AFM Frontier Research Center)

Proteins, which are formed by linear linkage of twenty kinds of amino acids, are important molecules essential to all organisms. They are very small. The size ranges from several nanometers to several tens of nanometers. There are several tens of thousands kinds of proteins in the human body. Each of them has a specific function. For example, the protein called myosin that exists in heart, skeletal, and other muscles brings about muscle contraction by interacting with a protein called actin and hydrolyzing ATP molecules, which serve as an energy source. When you move your arms and legs, these proteins are working. Even our memory and thinking rely on the action of proteins such as channel and receptor proteins that are present in neurons.

High-speed AFM capable of capturing movement of proteins on video In our research project, we aim to elucidate the functional mechanism of biomolecules including proteins by their dynamic visualization. We have developed the world’s most advanced microscope, the highspeed AFM (atomic force microscope) to directly observe moving molecules. The microscope, AFM, can observe the three-dimensional structure of sample surfaces at the atomic level. It is called the atomic force microscope because it detects the force exerting between atoms on the probe and sample surfaces. Since samples in various environments (vacuum,

Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Institute of Science and Engineering

air, and liquids) can be observed under nearly natural

Toshio Ando

nanoscale analytical tool for life sciences (and other

Professor 2

conditions, it is widely considered as a leading edge sciences).


We succeeded in markedly improving the speed per-

now able to directly observe the movement of pro-

formance of AFM, spending about fifteen years. We

teins molecules in aqueous solution as motion pic-

can now capture images at the maximum rate of 33

tures. Before the advent of high-speed AFM, the dy-

frames per second. We call this microscope “high-

namic action of molecules had to be inferred.

speed AFM�. We also minimized the force with which

One of our achievements is that we successfully

the probe touches the sample, to make it possible

captured walking myosin V on video. When myosin

to observe the action of proteins without disturbing

V transports melanin pigments or neurotrasmitters

them.

within cells, it moves along actin filaments with a

Currently, we are studying in two directions: 1) Un-

thin fibrous structure. Its step size is approximately

derstanding the functional mechanism of more

36 nm (nanometers), and compared it to human this

proteins. This has been pursued by the collaboration

corresponds to running at a speed of 100 m in 10.28

with intra- and external research communities. 2)

seconds. The high-speed AFM observation revealed

Attempting to develop new conceptual microscopes

that the leading leg of a myosin V molecule rotates

that allow observing the dynamic molecular process-

forward upon trailing leg detachment from actin.

es that occur on the surfaces of live cells and intracel-

Moreover, we elucidated the walking mechanism as

lular organelles.

well as the mechanism of coupling between ATP hy-

If achieve 2), we will be able to directly observe, for

drolysis and the mechanical movement of myosin V.

example, the dynamic processes occurring in the syn-

To further expand our world-first achievement of film-

apses of neurons that are closely related to memory

ing protein molecules in action, we have been work-

and learning, and the dynamic processes by which

ing to commercialize the high-speed AFM instrument

proteins are transported into the interior of mito-

and provided it to several laboratories around the

chondria.

world. We would like to contribute to the elucidation of functional mechanism of many different proteins by having many researchers use this new tool.

Seeking further observation of dynamic action of proteins With the development of high-speed AFM, we are

Our ultimate goal is to make full use of this leading edge microscopy, to create a new field in life sciences, and to make Kanazawa University a unique and strong place to study science in the new field.

3


Project Professor 4

Innovative brain science for development, learning and memory and their disorders:

The Prioritized Research Program Haruhiro Higashida

The second stage of the university-wide initiative in integrated humanities and sciences

â–Ą Research Center for Child Mental Development

ăƒťMember Representative Professor Haruhiro Higashida Project (Research Center for Child Mental Development)

Haruyuki Kojima Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Manabu Oi Professor (Faculty of Education) Yoshio Minabe Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Toshio Munesue Project Associate Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) Shigeru Yokoyama Project Associate Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) Masayoshi Shibata Project Associate Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Toru Yoshihara Project Assistant Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) Mitsuru Kikuchi Project Associate Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) Yui Miura Project Assistant Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development)

Clarifying the action of the human mind, or neuropsychiatric activity is the ultimate aim for understanding how people think and act. However, the process by which social learning and memory takes place and what sorts of interactions are involved is still under investigation. Therefore we are pursuing research into the development of the mind, learning, social memory and their disorders, by understanding changes at the molecular level from a biological viewpoint.

Analyzing human neuropsychiatric activity at the molecular level The activities of our research group are focused on the Kanazawa University Research Center for Child Mental Development. We have three main research themes. The first is finding the genes related to the communication (social memory) disorder which is a symptom of childhood autism. One finding of our research is that the hormone oxytocin which gives rise to attachment and confidence is deeply related to autism spectrum disorders. Oxytocin functions to increase the sociability required for life. We discovered that oxytocin affects the pathogenic mechanism of the communication (social memory) disorder, which is a symptom of autism spectrum disorders. As a result of this research finding, we are currently pursuing research into treatment in response to overtures from families of children with autism. The second theme is analysis of memory using modified model mice. The third is research into development and social memory disorders, using imaging technologies for measuring the state of the brain neuronal activity and brain blood flow. These technologies include optical topography and magnetoencephalograph (MEG). These research themes are characterized by linkage of the


humanities and sciences to addressing a novel field of brain

the Osak University United Graduate School of Child Devel-

research in a general way. The Kanazawa University Gradu-

opment.

ate School has established a research system involving the

We are also conducting research and development of next

school, with the full-time participation of 30 to 40 members

generation brain function measuring instruments com-

from the Graduate Schools of Medical Science, Natural Sci-

bining optical topography and magnetoencephalography

ence and Technology and Human and Socio-Environmental

(MEG). Using this measuring instrument, we aim to carry

Studies. In future, we aim to clarify the molecular functions

out quantitative analysis by recording the brain develop-

that bring about disorders, making our findings available to

ment, learning and social memory of infants and young

society and carrying out research into treatment of child-

children, as well as disorders by measuring changes in high

hood autism smoothly.

order brain functions. This research and development is

Currently, we are working to establish our research to date

linked to the Hokuriku Innovation Cluster for Health Sci-

as a new academic field focused on clarifying the biolog-

ence and its successor project conducted by Ishikawa and

ical mechanisms behind the relationship between devel-

Toyama Prefectures adopted as part of the Ministry of Ed-

opment, learning, memory and their disorders. We aim

ucation, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan

to develop the school as a global center with a long term

(MEXT)’s Knowledge Cluster Formation Project (Stage II). It

strategy. We also have a cooperative relationship with the

is positioned as rare research.

Program for Young Researcher Overseas Visits of the Japan

Furthermore, we have established a mutual support organi-

Society for The Promotion of Science (JSPS), and we em-

zation with the research projects supported by the Research

phasize the development of young researchers.

Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), which promotes research and development towards solving specific social issues. In addition, we have newly obtained

Linking a variety of research projects and applying the findings in society

a sizable grant for basic and clinical researches of autism

Many research projects concerning learning and social

oxytocin functions and is secreted in the brain and on deter-

memory are being undertaken in Japan and overseas, but

mination of efficacy of oxytocin to autistic patients, and on

there are few examples of research in brain science target-

early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder by MEG. We also

ing children with slight developmental disabilities, making

periodically hold domestic conferences such as the Summit

it very unique research. In addition, we are cooperating

of Child Mind Research Groups for addressing clarification of

with several graduate schools including Osaka University,

the causes of childhood autism, treatment and integration,

Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Chiba University

as well as international conferences such as Asia NAD, with

and Fukui University conducting research and education as

aim of promoting rapid developments in research.

spectrum disorders from the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences of MEXT. In this program, we focus on how

5


The land, winds and water of the Japan Sea region:

The Prioritized Research Program

A global environment research center focused on the Japan Sea region

・Member Representative

Kazuichi Hayakawa Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Kenji Kashiwaya Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Koji Nakamura Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Katsunori Suzuki Professor (Environment Preservation Center) Hiroyuki Nakamura Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Seiya Nagao Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Fumihisa Kobayashi Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Teruya Maki Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Atsushi Matsuki Associate Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology)

The Japan Sea region encompasses Japan, China, Korea and Russia (Vladivostok). It is home to around 1.7 billion people, corresponding to a quarter of the world’s population. This sea is subject to strong westerly winds. The dry air mass flowing from the Asian continent and the warm current flowing north in the Japan Sea creates the climate and ecosystems particular to this region, and they have been affected in various ways by human activity. Much attention is focused on the issue of pollutants that cross national borders. For example, large amounts of atmospheric pollutants from upwind have a serious impact downwind. In the countries comprising the Japan Sea region with their unique history and culture, promoting environmental conservation is an important issue for the future. Professor Kazuichi Hayakawa seeks to establish an environmental science held in common across the Japan Sea region and to form a core research and education center for global environmental science.

Continuous balloon sampling of Asian Dust (KOSA) at the Noto Super Site for atmospheric observation Asian dust (KOSA) is one of the representative atmospheric species in Asia. Professor Hayakawa’s research group is undertaking research with a focus on the KOSA and microorganisms or hazardous chemicals carried on the westerlies. Professor Hayakawa explains it as follows.

Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

Kazuichi Hayakawa Professor 6

“The matter contained in KOSA doesn’t consist only of natural substances. It also includes artificial hazardous chemicals such as emissions from factories. These hazardous chemicals undergo chemical change in the moisture from the Japan Sea, and in some cases they


become even more dangerous. Finding the causes

the microorganisms adhering to the KOSA, the pos-

of this atmospheric pollution in the Japan Sea region

sibility that Bacillus subtilis in particular is carried is

and which direction it goes by using scientific meth-

very high.

ods is the theme of our research.”

 The majority of the Bacillus subtilis carried by the

Specifically, their research method involves contin-

KOSA does not have an immediate risk of patho-

uous balloon sampling at the Kanazawa University

genicity for humans. In fact, it was shown to be a very

Noto Super Site for atmospheric observation and

common type of bacteria with wide distribution in

the Dunhuang Weather Bureau in China to track the

water and soil. In addition, Professor Hayakawa dis-

transportation routes in three dimensions of matter

covered natto fungus in the Bacillus subtilis from the

adhering to KOSA. They also collect the KOSA in the

KOSA samples. When a local company conducted trial

desert. By analyzing the samples from both locations,

sales of natto made from our discovery, it attracted a

they can identify the origins of the microorganisms

lot of attention from television and other media.

and hazardous chemicals carried by the KOSA. Sam-

 “Previous research concerning KOSA has focused

pling is not only with balloons but also from aircraft

on its physical movement, but an important feature

and the layers of KOSA trapped in the snow layers of

of our research is that we’re considering it from the

tall mountains of Mt. Tateyama.

novel viewpoint of chemistry. Also, Kanazawa University is located in a place that is very much influenced by mainland China. It’s really the perfect location to

Researching microorganisms such as Bacillus subtilis from the novel viewpoint of chemistry

research KOSA. In addition, by building a research

Professor Hayakawa and his group have confirmed

research into the long-distance transportation of the

the presence of several microorganisms adhering to

microorganisms and hazardous chemicals contained

the surface of KOSA particles. Identification of the

in KOSA. We also want to clarify the mechanisms by

bacteria showed that the gene sequences of the Ba-

which regional ecosystems were created by the mi-

cillus subtilis found in the KOSA above Dunhuang

croorganisms in the atmosphere above the Japan Sea

and the Bacillus subtilis extracted from the snow of

region,” says Professor Hayakawa.

network with research institutions in China, Korea and Russia, we’re establishing a system for chemical

Mt. Tateyama were very similar. This indicates that of

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Development of advanced medical treatment

The Prioritized Research Program

for nutritional metabolism-related syndromes

â–Ą

ăƒťMember Representative

Shuichi Kaneko Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Yasuni Nakanuma Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Osamu Matsui Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Hiroshi Yamamoto Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Yo Takuwa Professor (Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical) Takeshi Sakurai Professor (Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical) Hiroshi Inoue Professor (Brain/Liver Interface Medicine Research Center)

The liver is the largest organ in the human body, and it has a range of functions including metabolism, detoxication and excretion. It takes in nutrition carried in the bloodstream from the stomach and intestines and supplies the metabolites it extracts to the whole body. In other words, the liver, which governs the nutritional metabolism of sugars, fats and protein, functions to maintain the nutritional level at a constant rate. This is called homeostasis. As a typical example, the liver efficiently generates glucose and other product from nutrition consumed and maintains the glucose concentration in the blood at the right level. However, if you consume excessive nutrients, the liver exceeds its capacity to process them, disrupting its functioning. Therefore the liver is deeply involved in the onset of syndromes related to nutritional metabolism such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, obesity, hypertension, cancer and inflammation.

Liver research leads to treatment for various diseases In order to overcome these nutritional metabolism-related syndromes, our research project is based on three themes. The first research theme is finding new substances produced by the liver. Specifically, this research concerns the substances generated by the liver that play an important role in the onset of syndromes, and organopathy. Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

Shuichi Kaneko Professor 8

There are numerous new substances generated as metabolites of the liver, and there are cases where they have harmful functions that cause disease. We have confirmed that a fatty liver generates the harmful substance hepatokine and releases it into the


blood. The attraction is working out screening and

between the brain and liver to identify the reason

treatment methods based on these research findings.

why metabolites are generated that cause abnormali-

For example, we developed a method for checking

ties in the body.

for abnormalities in the liver by conducting genetic

Specifically, this research addresses (3) the control

analysis of blood instead of hepatocytes. Innumera-

mechanism for nutritional metabolism handled by

ble grooves are made in a tabular container made of

coordination between the liver and brain. We will

plastic, and each one holds a single strand of DNA.

analyze the as yet unknown mechanism behind the

When blood is poured over this biochip, it is possible

coordination between the liver and brain in glycome-

to analyze how the substances in the blood react to

tabolism.

the interactions.

The third is research into the development of ad-

These research findings start from simultaneously

vanced medical care including new methods of diag-

investigating 23,000 genes. In this way, we conduct

nosis and treatment of syndromes.

analysis at the whole human genome level and dis-

(4) We aim to understand nutritional metabolism and

cover a single important gene.

develop diagnostic methods for the body as a whole.

Other examples include (1) when researching the

In addition, in this research, we will further pursue the

regulatory mechanism of nutritional metabolism,

research in (2) and link it to research and develop-

systematically analyzing the relationship between

ment into original diagnostic methods for disease.

metabolites, metabolic pathways and energy metab-

(5) In our research and development concerning new

olism. (2) When researching the effects of nutritional

methods of diagnosis, in addition to diagnostic im-

metabolism on vascular endothelial cells, particularly

aging and pathological diagnosis, we are developing

to clarify its relationship with hardening of the arter-

innovative methods of diagnosis. (6) In our research

ies, inflammation and cancer, we will work to identify

and development concerning new methods of treat-

its relationship with various diseases through clinical

ment from the viewpoint of regenerative medicine

research in addition to analyses using cells and ani-

and immunotherapy, we are developing methods of

mal models.

treatment using cells. Through these researches, we aim to identify the foundation of syndromes related to nutritional me-

The liver is a mass of nutrition Researching methods of treatment based on understanding of the brain and nutritional metabolism

tabolism with a focus on the liver. As an extension of this, we will establish research infrastructure for entirely new diagnosis and treatment methods.

The second is research concerning the relationship

9


Aiming to Establish a New Ocean Earth Science Research Center:

The Prioritized Research Program

An Approach from Onland Geological Compelxes

・Member Representative

Shoji Arai Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Susumu Umino Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Tomoaki Morishita Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Tomoyuki Mizukami Assistant Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Masayuki Okuno Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Hiroki Okudera Associate Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Takahiro Kamiya Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Takashi Hasegawa Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Yoshihiro Hiramatsu Associate Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Ikuro Sumita Associate Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Noritaka Endo Assistant Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Noriko Hasebe Associate Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Keisuke Fukushi Assistant Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology)

The radius of the earth is about 6,300 km. The surface of the earth we live on comprises the crust on the outside, followed by the mantle and core. Various layers with different characteristics form the interior of the earth. It is not a simple matter to look at and to touch the inside of the earth to investigate it. However, in order to gain detailed knowledge of the earth’s activity, directly sampling the substances of the earth interior has an important meaning. The Mohole project is a research project that seeks to drill deeper into the earth than ever before and obtain new knowledge of earth science. Kanazawa University is taking the lead, and is pursuing joint research with other worldwide research institutions to implement the plan.

About the Mohole project, the first challenge for mankind The outermost layer of the earth, the crust, is 30 to 60 km thick on the continents, and 6 to 7 km on the ocean floor. Beneath that, the mantle extends to a depth of about 2,900 km. The boundary between the earth’s crust and mantle is called the Mohorovi i discontinuity or Moho. It is known that the seismic velocity abruptly increases downward across the Moho, and the boundary is formed of discontinuous layers of different substances. The Mohole project seeks to drill a hole seven kilometers deep from the ocean floor where the earth’s crust is thinner than on the continents towards the Moho,

Faculty of Natural System, Institute of Science and Engineering

and directly sample the unknown mantle material.

Shoji Arai

“hole.” The Japanese deep exploration ship Chikyu

Professor 10

“Mohole” was conined from the words “Moho” and will be used for drilling for the Mohole. At present,


drilling sites in the Pacific Ocean are being consid-

group are researching the geological complex called

ered. Professor Shoji Arai, the project leader, explains

ophiolite. Ophiolite is fragments of the old ocean

it as follows.

floor that were pushed up onto land by collision of

“Until now, the mantle below the earth’s crust was a

the plates. Since the earth’s crust from the old ocean

distant presence for humanity. However, through the

floor can be observed directly, with the boundary be-

Mohole project, we will be able to observe the mate-

tween the crust and the uppermost part of the man-

rial of the mantle directly and collect it. If we manage

tle, ophiolite is called “fossil ocean floor.”

it, earth science will make dramatic advances.”

Ophiolites are found all over the world, but Professor

The mantle in the earth interior flows slowly like a gla-

Arai and his group are mainly working in Oman in the

cier. At the exits of upflows due to mantle convection,

Middle East. The Oman ophiolite is over ten kilome-

magma is produced to form the ocean floor. On the

ters thick and run exposed overland for several hun-

other hand, island arcs such as the Japan island arcs

dred kilometers making them excellent for various

are formed where rocks cool, become heavy, and sink

researches.

back into the earth interior. Understanding the ocean

Professor Arai is also focusing on education of the

floor and mantle helps us to learn about the system

students. He has made the Oman ophiolites the field

behind the circulation of matter on a global scale. It

of his “Mohole school.” He recruits students and

is also important for improving our understanding

conducts lectures and field training concerning the

of the global environment, underground resources,

earth’s crust and mantle.

earthquakes and so on.

“My laboratory is devoted to the Mohole project. I want to foster students and young researchers so that each of whom can play an effective role. I hope

Researching an ophiolite exposed in Oman in the Middle East

to establish the new earth science, ‘Mohole science’, combining geology, geophysics and geochemistry,” says Professor Arai.

Careful preparation is required to make the Mohole project successful. To that end, Professor Arai and his

11


Development of next generation organic thin film solar cells

□ □ The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program

・Member Representative Professor Takayuki Kuwabara Assistant (Faculty of Chemistry)

Kohshin Takahashi Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Shigeyoshi Kanoh Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Katsuhiro Maeda Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Tomoyuki Ikai Assistant Professor (Faculty of Chemistry)

Much attention is focused on solar power generation as a renewable energy. It is also said to be an energy source that can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by replacing thermal and nuclear power stations. Since it is an environmentally friendly method of generating electricity with low environmental impact, it is positioned internationally as green innovation, in other words, as an industrial strategy using environment-related technology. Current mainstream solar cell products are based on silicon, and in Japan, practical applications are being developed with the encouragement of national and local government. Despite the fact that research is being undertaken in component and manufacturing technology, the silicon-based solar cell manufacturers are actually facing bankruptcy or closure. In these circumstances, what is required is a new way of thinking about research and development. Until now, the aim of research and development of solar cells has been to improve the conversion efficiency. Conversion efficiency is the proportion of the electrical output of a solar cell to the incident energy in the form of sunlight, and 40% or so is the highest factor recorded in research worldwide. General household solar cells achieve only about 20% or so in relation to a theoretical value of about 30%.

Organic thin film solar cells with excellent characteristics In our research project, while we are working to imFaculty of Chemistry, Institute of Science and Engineering

prove the conversion efficiency, we have established

Takayuki Kuwabara

is research and development towards solar cells with

Assistant Professor 12

research themes based on specific applications. This a form and performance that allow them to be in-


stalled anywhere. This is because in Japan where land is in short supply, it is important to be able to install solar cells wherever sunlight falls.

Choosing the right materials enables solar cells of any shape

Specifically, we are conducting development of prod-

In the future, textile solar cells are a possibility. Paint-

ucts that are low cost, light-weight and flexible, and

ing organic thin film solar cells directly onto textiles

stable in the atmosphere, enabling them to be used

will result in solar cells in the form of enormous single

effectively. If they can be installed in more locations,

sheets or long rolls. It may even be possible to gener-

we want to make them an advantage with the conse-

ate electricity from the clothes we wear.

quent strength to produce more electricity.

In this research, we aim to develop novel, next gener-

The organic thin film solar cells that we are develop-

ation organic thin film solar cells that confer new val-

ing have advantages that silicon solar cells and other

ue. To achieve this, we have set four challenges and

types do not. Firstly, their impact on the environment

targets that must be met in ten years.

is very low. We have calculated that at every step in

1) Substantial improvement in conversion efficiency:

their production, from obtaining the raw materials

Achieve a solar radiation conversion efficiency of 8%

through manufacturing, installation, disposal and

or more

recycling, emissions of carbon dioxide will be lowest.

2) Ensuring of reliability: Achieve a performance

This is because processes using high temperatures

maintenance rate of 80% or more over 1,000 hours of

and vacuums are not required.

continuous solar radiation

Manufacture of the organic thin film solar cell in-

3) Innovative production technology: Establish basic

volves applying several layers to a material in a meth-

production technology for large area flexible solar

od known as “painting,� and printing technology can

cells under atmospheric conditions

be used. Large area and flexible solar cells that are

4) Innovative next generation structural technology:

impossible with conventional solar cells can be man-

Establish basic production technology for transparent

ufactured cheaply.

and fiber-based solar cells

Depending on the materials selected, it is also possi-

If we can overcome these issues and achieve the

ble to manufacture solar cells that are transparent or

targets, we will achieve low cost, light and flexible

that have a specific tint. In other words, it will be pos-

solar cells that are easily portable and can be set up

sible to make solar panels with better design charac-

anywhere. Producing solar cells from a new point of

teristics than before.

view will contribute significantly to creating new industries.

13


Development of next-generation diamond power devices

□ □ The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program

・Member Representative Professor Norio Tokuda Associate (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Takao Inokuma Professor (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering) Satoshi Yamasaki Principal Research Manager (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)) Daisuke Takeuchi Senior Researcher (AIST) Masahiko Ogura Researcher (AIST) Toshiharu Makino Researcher (AIST) Hiromitsu Kato Researcher (AIST)

Power semiconductor devices are used as a switch and conversion of electric power. They play an important role in power switching and control in a wide range of fields: home appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators, and hybrid vehicles, electric cars, railways including the Shinkansen, aircraft, solar and wind power generation. Recently, they have attracted much attention because of an important technology for green innovation, which addresses a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions and a realization of a smart grid. Currently, the main semiconductor material for the power devices is silicon. However, it is difficult for the silicon power devices to achieve further reductions in power consumption, and higher voltages and high temperature operation because of its physical limit. Diamond is now expected as a next-generation power device material that overcomes the limit. Diamond is a semiconductor material with outstanding physical and electronic properties including very high thermal conductivity and carrier mobility, breakdown electric field and so on.

Overcoming the problems of physical properties and developing technologies for fabricating high quality substrates Associate Professor Norio Tokuda is conducting joint research on diamond power devices with the Energy Technology Research Institute of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Institute of Science and Engineering

Norio Tokuda Associate Professor 14

“If diamond power devices are achieved, it is possible to reduce the loss of electric power to a thousandth and operate at higher temperatures, powers, and in harsh environments, compared with silicon power devices. In order to realize the diamond power de-


vices, it’s first necessary to fabricate device-grade

the atomic level. Using these basic technologies

single-crystal diamond substrates with controlled

achieves diamonds of high quality with high-speed

resistivity. However, compared with the single-crystal

growth, and Associate Professor Tokuda and his

silicon used for semiconductor devices, single-crystal

group have achieved a technique of high growth rate

diamond have the problem that many crystal defects

of high-quality diamond films by application of our

occur during its crystal growth, and they contain

techniques and succeeded in producing free-stand-

many impurities. Currently, the commercial diamond

ing CVD single-crystal diamond (111) substrate for

substrates contain many crystal defects and impuri-

the first time. Currently, they develop techniques for

ties, and their resistivity is uncontrolled. Thus, dia-

achieving dislocation-free, large-area, and low-cost

mond dose not reach the grade for semiconductor

single-crystal diamond substrates.

devices.”

Associate Professor Tokuda and his group work to

To resolve these problems concerning single-crystal

develop MOSFET using a delta-doped channel as an

diamond substrates, Associate Professor Tokuda and

ultra-low energy-loss diamond power device.

his group study on fabricating high-quality diamond

“For practical applications of semiconductor devices,

substrates for semiconductor devices. Arios Inc. takes

substrates with two inches or more are required. We

part in this research, and they are working to study

aim to improve the crystal quality and size of our pro-

through an industry-government-academia collabo-

duced free-standing diamond substrates and to put

ration.

the diamond substrates into practical use in about five years. Hence we want to increase the speed of research and development by reinforcing and expand-

Working toward practical use of large semiconductor diamond substrates

ing our research network to realize diamond power

To develop semiconductor diamond substrates, Asso-

increase GDP, thereby helping to solve the current

ciate Professor Tokuda and his group are using the ul-

problems in Japan.”

electronics. If we can achieve this, we expect to create an enormous market, a new employment, and to

timate surface control and crystal growth techniques

15


Professor 16

Development of a large amount/high-speed production method of nanopowder

Yasunori Tanaka

for greenlife innovation using modulated induction thermal plasmas

â–Ą â–Ą The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Institute of Science and Engineering

ăƒťMember Representative

Yasunori Tanaka Professor (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering) Yoshihiko Uesugi Professor (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering) Sotoshi Yamada Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Satoshi Yagitani Professor (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering) Yoshio Otani Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Takafumi Seto Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Keitarou Nakamura Researcher (Nisshin Seifun Group) Shu Watanabe Researcher (Nisshin Seifun Group)

There is a strong demand for nanoparticles in the electronics, environment, energy and medical fields for use in dye sensitized solar cells and photocatalysts, in various applications such as cosmetics and medical products. These nanoparticles are ultrafine powders with a diameter in the nanometer order (10-9 meters). When the diameter of the particles is extremely small, the surface area is very large in relation to the volume, increasing the reactivity on the surface of the particles. There are also cases where, by atomizing material, new chemical, optical or electromagnetic properties appear. The reason why nanoparticles are of such interest is that these changes in characteristics are useful in improving the performance of various devices. The target of our research project is to establish a method of synthesizing large amounts of functional nanoparticles, and we are working to develop technologies for controlling the size of particles and producing large quantities of them.

Controlling high-power thermal plasma for industrialization of nanoparticle synthesis We paid attention to using a high-power thermal plasma as a method for generating nanoparticles, with high precision, in large amounts, at high-speed, selectively and with high purity. Thermal plasma gives rise to temperatures that are high enough to evaporate the feedstock materials instantaneously. It has similar characteristics to the electric discharge of lightning or a welding arc. The thermal plasma can have temperatures of approximately 10,000 K (Kelvins, a unit of thermodynamic


temperature). This temperature is higher than the

solved.

surface temperature of the sun, which is approxi-

5) Conditions in the thermal plasma can be controlled

mately 6,000 degrees (approximately 6,000 K). Evap-

by regulating an external electromagnetic field.

orating the feedstock at this high temperature, then

6) Rapid cooling of the feedstock obtains non-equi-

successive cooling down the vapor rapidly can make

librium substances that cannot be obtained by other

nanoparticles easily and at high speed.

conventional methods.

The induction thermal plasma is generated by a coil current surrounding the plasma torch using the electromagnetic coupling with high frequency eddy current in plasmas, which ionizes an inert gas such as argon, and then generates a high temperature in the

Attempting to producing large amounts of nanoparticles using modulated induction thermal plasma (PMITP)

thermal plasma.

Until now there have been two issues; it has been dif-

Such induction thermal plasmas are also used to sphere

ficult to control the grain size distribution of the nan-

fine powders, to synthesize diamond thin films, to

oparticles, and the energy efficiency in nanoparticle

generate metal encapsulated fullerenes, and to break

synthesis using thermal plasma has been low.

down toxic gases and so on. They are currently being

To solve these problems, our research project de-

considered for synthesizing nanoparticles.

veloped the modulated induction thermal plasma

So why is the induction thermal plasma suited to

(PMITP) technique by ourselves. The PMITP can create

generating large amount of nanoparticles at high

high temperature thermal plasma and relatively low

speed?

temperature plasma repeatedly by controlling the

1) Since it is a simple process of heating and cooling,

electric current supplied from the power source. In

nanoparticles can be generated directly from the

addition, we developed a new method of supplying

evaporated feedstock at high speed

the feedstock powder intermittently, synchronized

2) No electrode wear leads to the high purity nano-

with to the modulation (rapid cooling and heating) of

particles production with continuous production

the PMITP.

3) High purity nanoparticles can be generated since

If the feedstock is supplied continuously, the temper-

they are synthesized in an inert gas that does not re-

ature in the middle of the thermal plasma decreases.

act chemically with other substances.

On the other hand, feeding it intermittently prevents

4) Various kinds of pure materials (metals) and com-

from the drop in temperature in thermal plasmas.

pounds (oxides, nitrides, etc.) can be particularized in

Combining these techniques enables us to produce

the similar technique by adopting proper gases.

nanoparticles with few dispersion efficiently. Through

For industrialization, it is essential to adjust thermal

such our research project, we progress to establish a

plasmas to suit the material. This has already been

method of producing large amounts of nanoparticles.

17


Professor 18

Environmental science research concerning the wide area atmospheric and marine contamination

Kazuichi Hayakawa

by radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident and recovery

□ □ The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

・Member Representative

Kazuichi Hayakawa Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Masayoshi Yamamoto Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Seiya Nagao Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Akira Toriba Associate Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Takayuki Kameda Assistant Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy)

The Great East Japan Earthaquake, which struck on March 11, 2011 caused unprecedented human and property damage in the disaster area, and to Japan as a whole. The damage from the tsunami that occurred immediately after was particularly dire, and it also caused the incident that released radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The contamination of air, soil, agricultural crops, drinking water and so on by this radioactive material affected a wide area, not only around the nuclear power plant but also in Tohoku and Kanto Area, causing people a great deal of concern. The affects are still being felt. Professor Hayakawa explains it as follows. “For future incident response and as a safeguard in emergencies, it’s important to track and identify the behavior of radioactive material released from the Fukushima plant, and improve the reliability of current predictive simulation models. Since the nuclear incident occurred, our research group has been conducting wide area surveys of atmospheric and marine contamination by radioactive substances along the Japan Sea coast, and gathering data required for risk management.”

Utilizing a monitoring network and Low Level Radioactivity Laboratory (LLRL) Past research and the research facilities of Kanazawa University form a major backbone for Professor Hayakawa’s research project. Professor Hayakawa is pursuing international joint research with research institutions in China, Korea and Russia. In the past his joint research team has carried out tracking and surveys of environmental pollutants from burning fossil fuels and tanker oil spills. His team


has been sampling the air of the main cities in each country and the water of the Sea of Japan continuously, tracking the levels of environmental pollutants,

Measuring the radioactive concentration of cesium in the surface water of the Sea of Japan using research ships

identifying their sources, and conducting simulations

In June 2011, research was carried out by the research

of their future course.

ship Oshoro Maru belonging to Hokkaido University.

Furthermore Kanazawa University has Low Level Ra-

Seven observation lines were set from the north to

dioactivity Laboratory (LLRL) with world-leading tech-

the south of the Sea of Japan, and in the results of

nologies for measuring trace quantities. Using the

the measurements from the surface layer, the waters

atmospheric samples taken continuously since 2004,

off Tsushima in Aomori, and Oshima and Ishikari in

the university has tracked changes in radiation levels

Hokkaido showed the highest concentrations of radi-

around the Sea of Japan.

oactive cesium. Then in October of the same year, the

Building on these findings, Professor Hayakawa and

commercial vessel Asuka II surveyed areas near the

his group are tracking and surveying radiation con-

various observation lines, but the concentrations of

tamination levels in the air and water of the Sea of Ja-

radioactive cesium (Cs) had fallen close to the detec-

pan since the nuclear incident. Using the monitoring

tion limit except off Ishikari and the Sea of Okhotsk. It

network in all the countries including Japan, and the

is inferred that the reason for the substantial decrease

technologies for measuring trace quantities of the

in the radioactive cesium concentration in four months

LLRL, they are collecting data concerning the behav-

is that the water mass was pushed north by the Tsu-

ior of radioactive materials around the Sea of Japan,

shima ocean current that flows north along Honshu.

which is crucial for improving the accuracy of predic-

“In Japan, nuclear power plants are concentrated along

tive simulation models.

the Japan Sea coast. Korea is operating nuclear power

Specifically, research ships are continuously sam-

plants, and China also plans to build them. In the event of

pling water from the north to the south of the Sea

a nuclear incident in the Japan Sea region, it’s important to

of Japan, and the radioactive isotopes are measured

prepare accurate predictive simulation models for the be-

in the low-level radiation testing facilities. Based on

havior of radioactive material. These predictive simulation

these measurement results, the group is clarifying the

models are thought to be applicable to other substances

mechanisms for recovery from radioactive contami-

too, and they’re expected to be used for various risk man-

nation, and conducting comparative analysis with the

agement. We want to continue this monitoring and we

behavior of environmental pollutants that have been

aim to improve the accuracy of the models,” says Professor

surveyed to date.

Hayakawa, explaining the significance of his research.

19


Implementing new preventive medicine and epidemiology in Noto

□ □ The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program

・Member Representative

Hiroyuki Nakamura Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Masahito Yamada Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Yoshio Minabe Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Takashi Wada Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Ryohei Amano Professor (Faculty of Health Sciences) Kazuichi Hayakawa Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Koji Nakamura Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Seiya Nagao Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Hideo Inoue Professor (Faculty of Law) Katsunori Suzuki Professor (Environment Preservation Center) Fumio Uno Project Professor (Center for Regional Collaboration) Yasuhiro Kanbayashi Lecturer (Faculty of Medicine)

Epidemiology is a field of study, which seeks to research the frequency of human illness and death, and its causes. It started from the need to clarify the spread of infectious disease, but today, by identifying the cause and effect relationship concerning risk factors of lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, it has come to offer a means of preventing illness before it happens. However, health and welfare policy concerning prevention has hitherto been biased in favor of people with high health awareness, resulting in social disparities in health. In addition, since methods of prevention have taken a standardized form, the accuracy of prevention cannot really be said to have been sufficient, actually causing an increase in the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases.

Recording the lifelong health of individuals on the Noto Peninsula in cooperation with the local government Kanazawa University’s Department of Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences and the town of Shiga in Ishikawa Prefecture concluded a positive health partnership agreement on March 12, 2011 to work together on health examinations and disease prevention for residents. This agreement has made it possible to track the health of every individual resident over terms as long as twenty years or more. The ability to record the lifelong health of indi-

Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

Hiroyuki Nakamura Professor 20

viduals and analyze individual epidemiological data is extremely valuable. Its proximity to Kanazawa University was not the only reason for choosing the Noto Peninsula for the agreement. The field of the peninsula also offered favora-


ble conditions for an epidemiological study founded

Therefore we advocate a new “super preventive med-

on long term tracking.

icine.” This features genetic testing such as genome

The survey method involves a complete survey of

analysis to assess the individual’s innate genes and

individuals from infants to seniors as well as health

disease risk which hitherto could not be covered by

examinations for randomly-selected participants. The

preventive medicine, as well as comprehensive pre-

former involves general surveys of detailed symp-

vention.

toms, the ability to perform activities of daily living,

With conventional preventive medicine, the prepa-

lifestyle, quality of life, chronic pain, psychological

ration and response to anticipated disease is divided

characteristics and so on. The latter involves testing

into three stages, primary to tertiary prevention. Pri-

for predictive factors for hardening of the arteries

mary prevention means preventing the risk of occur-

such as oxidative stress-related proteins, predictive

rence, secondary prevention aims for early detection

factors for cancer, genetics and the like. Furthermore,

and treatment of serious disease and tertiary preven-

by cooperating in the health examinations by the

tion means rehabilitation and action to prevent re-

local government and at schools, and occupational

currence. Adding primordial prevention, which seeks

health screening for companies, we carry out wide-

to avoid the risk of genetically predisposed disease

ranging tracking studies of residents’ health.

through early diagnosis, enhances the comprehen-

We also carry out health and prevention programs for

siveness of prevention.

residents including dietary education and environ-

Combining primordial prevention which is part of the

mental education, as well as monitoring of chemicals

bioinformatics sector with primary prevention should

such as metals in the regional environment, making

lead to the establishment of efficient prophylaxis.

the findings available to the community. In addition,

Establishing an early detection system for malignant

we work to contribute to the community by offering

neoplasm using bioinformatics can support inno-

appropriate advice to residents who are at risk from

vative developments in secondary prevention. Fur-

lifestyle-related diseases.

thermore, it can also be applied to the preventative measures of tertiary prevention. Super preventive medicine is a new system that will

“Super preventive medicine” at the genetic level

greatly enhance the effectiveness of prevention and therapy through the organic coordination of conventional macro prevention best managed by social

The aim of our research project is to establish a new

medicine, and clinical medicine specializing in micro

preventive medicine system combining health and

prevention. It also represents a health measure that

medicine in a model area. For this reason, health track-

aims to dramatically reduce the incidence of life-

ing studies with the participation of all the local people

style-related disease, while improving the quality of

are an essential foundation for preventive medicine.

life of residents in a numerically quantifiable manner.

21


Professor 22

Safe drug discovery: Identify the mechanisms behind adverse drug reactions to

Ikumi Tamai

contribute to more efficient drug development and establish predictive systems

□ □ The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

・Member Representative

Ikumi Tamai Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Tsuyoshi Yokoi Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Keiichi Kawai Professor (Faculty of Health Sciences) Munetaka Kunishima Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Yoshimichi Sai Associate Professor (University Hospital) Yukio Kato Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Developing a single new drug can take from nine to seventeen years. Basic research establishes a compound that forms the basis of the drug, and non-clinical testing using animals or cells investigate the safety and efficacy of the drug. After passing testing, the drug enters the clinical trial phase to confirm the efficacy and safety of the drug for humans. After final approval screening, the drug is at last ready for sale. The development costs amount to tens of billions of yen. The probability that a compound discovered in basic research will be approved as a drug is just one in tens of thousands. After many years of research for development, drugs drop out of the running for all sorts of reasons. The biggest factor is the appearance of adverse drug reactions or toxicity. The efficacy of drugs differs significantly according to the individual, and predicting their side effects and toxicity is very difficult. Since the number of consumers of the drug increases after commercialization, side effects that couldn’t be predicted at the development stage sometimes appear once the drug is on the market. This situation results in major losses, both for patients who are administered the drug, and for the pharmaceutical company.

Pursuing safer drug discovery and optimal drug therapy Professor Ikumi Tamai and his group are working on research to identify the mechanisms by which side effects and toxicity are expressed in the process of developing drugs. Side effects and toxicity are difficult to predict, but this research project aims to support their discovery early in the drug development stage


to support efficient development of drugs. Specificalmal drug therapy, the research aims to achieve three

Pursuing interdisciplinary joint research, gathering diverse knowledge from within and outside the university

things; 1) to clarify the details of the mechanisms for

In order to understand side effects and toxicity, it is

the expression of side effects and toxicity, 2) to estab-

necessary to go beyond scientific and pharmaceutical

lish biomarkers and evaluation methods based on the

knowledge of how the body is affected by drugs. For

expression mechanisms, and 3) to apply these tools

this reason Professor Tamai and his group are under-

at the pharmaceutical product development stage.

taking interdisciplinary research, gathering diverse

Through this research, it will be possible to predict

knowledge such as drug metabolism, disposition

side effects and toxicity at the drug discovery stage

mechanisms, analysis of tissue migration, pathologic

and avoid them quickly. In addition, for patients who

characteristics, compound synthesis and so on.

suffer adverse drug reactions to anticancer agents

This research project is being carried out as joint re-

and so on, it will be possible to identify the portent

search by six main researchers from the university,

or predictive factors of side effects and by providing

with active recruitment of researchers from other uni-

appropriate adjunct therapy or drug reduction stand-

versities, pharmaceutical manufacturers and so on.

ards, alleviate the patient’s suffering and help them

Currently, a variety of research programs are under-

to overcome it.

way including methods of detecting reactive me-

“Although we tend to lump side effects and toxicity

tabolites, predicting drug-induced liver dysfunction,

together, there are a wide variety of effects, from se-

identification and active change of the transport

vere to slight, and very rare to quite frequent. There-

activity related to drug action and side effects, and in-

fore, it’s important to have information from the drug

teractions of the absorption, disposition in liver, and

discovery laboratory. But this involves company se-

renal excretion with intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

crets and so it isn’t normally available. We established

“Kanazawa University can be said to have a good

relationships of trust with several pharmaceutical

environment for research concerning pharmacoki-

companies, visiting their premises during develop-

netics and toxicology in Japan. For example, we have

ment and gathering various information such as at

extensive imaging facilities that enable research that

what stage certain side effects appeared,” says Pro-

involves gathering dynamic information about drugs

fessor Tamai, explaining the unique features of their

visually in the body. Through our research findings,

research.

we aim to identify as many diverse side effect and

ly, in order to pursue safer drug discovery and opti-

toxicity expression mechanisms as possible, and based on this information, to establish highly predictive evaluation methods that will contribute to creating safe pharmaceutical products,” says Professor Tamai.

23


Development of Innovative Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer through

Identification of Control Mechanisms for Malignant Development

□ □ The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program

・Member Representative

Atsushi Hirao Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Kunio Matsumoto Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Masahiro Oshima Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Chiaki Takahashi Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Seiji Yano Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Takeshi Suzuki Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Naofumi Mukaida Professor (Cancer Research Institute)

Cancer has been the leading cause of death in Japan since 1981. In 2010, 350,000 people died of cancer, and in recent years, statistics show that one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime. Japanese universities and research institutes are carrying out various basic researches into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. However, research directed towards linking the findings of basic research to drug discovery is insufficient, and Japan is said to lag behind Europe and America in this regard. The Kanazawa University Cancer Research Institute aims to find solutions to this problem. The Cancer Research Institute is recognized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as a Joint Usage / Research Center that can be used by all researchers nationwide irrespective of their affiliation, and it functions as a pioneering joint research center concerning metastasis and drug resistance of cancer. A particular focus of our research is the process of malignant progression by which cancer develops drug resistance and metastases, and we are approaching this from three angles—cancer stem cells, the cancer microenvironment, and the resistance mechanisms of molecular target drugs.

Aiming to develop new cancer therapy target assays and therapeutic agents The group led by Professor Atsushi Hirao belonging to the Cancer Research Institute is working to develop new cancer therapy target assays and therapeutic

Cancer Research Institute

Atsushi Hirao Professor 24

agents. Professor Hirao specializes in cancer stem cells, one of the research themes of the Institute. As part of this research, he discovered a substance in cancer cells that inhibits the effects of medication


for chronic myelogenous leukemia and which also

ery research. For this reason, the research activities

causes recurrence. This discovery was announced in

are being undertaken from three angles, the provi-

Nature, attracting a lot of attention in Japan and over-

sion of equipment and facilities required for drug dis-

seas.

covery research, the establishment of a network for

Currently, medication with tyrosine kinase inhinitors

obtaining the expertise for drug discovery research,

is the standard treatment for chronic myelogenous

and joint research for drug discovery.

leukemia. However, the medicine cannot completely

In 2012, the first step was taken by establishing the

eliminate leukemia cells, and recurrence occurs when

Cancer Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery Unit in

the medication stops. Professor Hirao and his group

the Cancer Research Institute in order to evaluate the

focused on cancer stem cells which have the capacity

operation of some 100,000 types of compound. Cur-

to produce new tumor cells. In experiments using

rently, the Unit is conducting large scale screening of

mice, the action of a substance called FOXO, a tran-

compounds jointly with the University of Tokyo Open

scription factor, was pronounced in cancer stem cells,

Innovation Center for Drug Discovery in a search for

compared with normal cancer cells. When the action

the seeds of cancer treatments.

of FOXO was controlled, it was found that the survival

However, the Unit is also working on target molecule

rate of the mice increased.

assays (chemical biology) using existing drug librar-

“If a treatment that targets the cancer stem cells

ies. In addition, in order to obtain up-to-date informa-

could be developed, treatment would proceed more

tion on the expertise, techniques, intellectual proper-

efficiently, and the possibility of recurrence would

ty strategies and so on required in the drug discovery

be reduced. We’re also working on research to apply

process, the Unit holds periodic seminars and study

these research findings.”

groups, and engages with experts both within and outside the university as it pursues joint research. “The level of cancer research in Japan is high. How-

Inauguration of the Cancer Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery Unit

ever, research directed towards linking the findings

The aim of Professor Hirao’s project is to prepare and

to be the spark connecting basic research with drug

implement a clear scenario for linking the findings of

discovery and new therapies,” says Professor Hirao.

of basic research to drug discovery lags behind other advanced countries. We want our research activities

basic cancer research at the university to drug discov-

25


Hiroshi Inoue 26

Preventive medicine for lifestyle-related metabolic diseases using food

Hiroshi Inoue

Application of homeostatic mechanisms for metabolic control through neuroimmunology

□ □ The ThePrioritized Mission-Oriented Research Research Program Program Brain/Liver Interface Medicine Research Center

・Member Representative

Hiroshi Inoue Professor (Brain/Liver Interface Medicine Research Center) Takeshi Sakurai Professor (Faculty of Medicine) / Noriyuki Ozaki Professor (Faculty of / Yasuhiko Yamamoto Associate Professor (Faculty of Medicine) / Eiichi Hinoi Associate Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) / Kazuaki Yoshioka Assistant Professor (Faculty of Medicine) / Tsuguhito Ota Associate Professor (Brain/Liver Interface Medicine Research Center) / Yoshiaki Kido Professor (Graduate School of Health Sciences, Kobe University) / Michihiro Matsumoto Director (Research Institute National Center for Global Health and Medicine) / Keiko Nohara Head (National Institute for Environmental Studies) / Minoru Sugiura Chief Researcher (National Agriculture and Food Research Organization) / Fu Zheng Wei Professor (College of Biological and Engineering, Institute of Biochemical Engineering, Zhejiang University of Technology) / Keiichi Abe Vice President (Cerebos Pacific Limited) / Hiroshi Shibata Director (Institute for Health Care Science, SUNTORY WELLNESS Ltd.) / Motohiko Hirotsuka Director (Fuji Oil ,the Food Science Research Institute) / Kenji Fujii Executive officer (Kaneka Corporation, the Scientific Affairs & Intellectual Property Group) / Koichi Aizawa Manager (Kagome Co.,Ltd, Research Institute) / Jiro Takahashi General Manager (Fuji Chemical Industry Co.Ltd.) / Masato Kasuga General Manager (National Center for Global Health and Medicine) / Keiko Abe Professor (Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo) / Teruo Miyazawa Professor (Graduate School of Medicine)

Agricultural Science, Tohoku University)

The human body is provided with mechanisms for maintaining its internal environment in a constant state of equilibrium. These are called homeostatic functions. For example, even if we consume a meal and absorb a large quantity of nutritional elements, the glucose in our blood (our blood glucose level) remains largely stable. The mechanism of this homeostasis is not managed by a single organ but rather through the coordination of several. This coordination is enabled by the inter-organ coordination system, which is a network for communicating metabolic information between organs. The homeostasis of health is maintained by the interactions of the inter-organ coordination system involving various organs such as the liver, fat, muscle, and blood vessels with neurons, immunocytes, endocrine cells and so on. In other words, the human body is controlled by several layers of homeostatic mechanisms.

Aiming to model diabetes and clarify the main organs such as the liver If abnormalities occur in the homeostatic mechanism controlled by the inter-organ coordination system that maintains the health of the organism, various diseases occur. In particular, obesity and so on caused by lifestyles cause abnormalities in the inter-organ coordination system leading to lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, which is related to energy metabolism. Recently, these lifestyle-related diseases account for around 60% of death rates by cause of death for Japanese. Actually, Japanese government has been developing a sense of danger in this situation and driven to propose the development of methods for preventing and treating lifestyle-related diseases as part of its science and technology policy. Our research project aims to develop new prevention and treatment methods through industry-government-ac-


ademia collaboration on the theme of preventing life-

nation system. To put it another way, learning more about

style-related metabolic diseases using food. The foundation

food and food constituents is an effective means of treating

of the research is the clarification and application of the

and preventing lifestyle-related diseases. We believe that

mechanisms for maintaining the homeostasis of metabolic

the functions of food represent the seeds of methods for

control through the inter-organ coordination system, which

preventing and treating lifestyle-related diseases.

is directly linked to the pathogenesis of lifestyle-related

The wonderful thing about private companies is that they

diseases. We are focusing particularly on the liver which is

maintain tens of thousands of food constituents. They have

located at the core of the inter-organ coordination system.

many food constituents that are known to have certain ef-

The liver is the organ most active in energy metabolism by

fects, although the mechanisms involved are unknown. The

the coordination with other organs, and if an abnormality

consortium as a whole is working to identify which constit-

in homeostasis occurs, it causes abnormalities of the whole

uents display some effect.

body such as diabetes and abnormality of lipid metabolism

About three years after the start of the project, we have

in addition to liver disease such as fatty liver. Therefore we

obtained two findings through joint research with busi-

are taking two approaches to this project. The first is clarify-

ness. We have found that one of the essential amino acids,

ing the pathology of the liver taking lifestyle-related diseas-

histidine, operates on the brain to improve glycometabolic

es as a model and analyzing its physiological phenomena

function of the liver. Initially, we were told that it was sup-

from the viewpoint of life support. The second is seeking

posed to have a good effect on the liver, but we learned

prevention tools through joint research with food product

that it actually works on the brain, which sends signals to

manufacturers. Put simply, this means discovering what

control the glycometabolism of the liver.

foods prevent lifestyle-related diseases, and reevaluating

We also found that the beta-cryptoxanthin and astaxanthin

the function of food products as prevention tools.

in the pigment of mikan oranges can be expected to be ef-

In fact food constituents have a range of functions, and the

fective against fatty liver.

various types of amino acids and so on present in the body

In this way, what we are targeting are food constituents

have been commercialized as supplements. However, many

that are already on the market, or that are about to be re-

aspects of the benefits pertaining to the functions of food

leased. We will identify which organ they operate on and

constituents have yet to be clarified. Therefore we formed

by what mechanism, and which cells and what metabolism

a consortium to undertake joint research with private

they benefit. By reevaluating food constituents and estab-

companies (mainly food manufacturers), tapping into their

lishing a theoretical foundation for their functions, we will

expertise in various research areas such as food science,

clarify which organs are involved in lifestyle-related meta-

pharmaceutics, environmental sciences and so on.

bolic diseases and thereby help companies with their product development.

Getting results through joint research concerning germinal research in the functions of food

Ultimately, we will conduct research to discover the effects when people consume these products over time, based on the knowledge acquired. Through this research pro-

The reason why we focused on food is that deteriorating

ject, we aim to make Kanazawa University a center for the

dietary habits are one of the lifestyle factors behind the

prevention of lifestyle-related diseases, founded on evi-

breakdown of the mechanisms for maintaining the homeo-

dence-based functional dietetics.

stasis of metabolic control through the inter-organ coordi-

27


Professor 28

Formation of a cognitive brain science center for language communication and

Haruyuki Kojima

its disorders

â–Ą

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Faculty of Human Sciences, Institute of Human and Social Sciences

ăƒťMember Representative

Haruyuki Kojima Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Koji Irie Professor (Faculty of Letters) Yuko Horita Associate Professor (Faculty of Letters) Wataru Takei Associate Professor (Faculty of Education) Hiroaki Kobayashi Associate Professor (Faculty of Education) Yukiko Araki Associate Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Toru Taniuchi Associate Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Junko Matsukawa Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Sachiko Otaki Professor (Faculty of Letters) Ruriko Sakagami Professor (Faculty of Letters) Tetsuo Nitta Professor (Faculty of Letters) Kazuyoshi Yoshikawa Professor (Faculty of Education) Yoshiharu Takeuchi Professor (Faculty of Letters) Masayoshi Shibata Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Manabu Oi Professor (Faculty of Education)

Today, research in brain function is a major current in modern science. For humans, brain function is involved in everything we do, causing us to notice, think about and act on constant stimuli from the outside world. Human brain function is intimately related to the mechanisms and characteristics of human behavior and psychology. This research extends across several academic fields including psychology, linguistics, anthropology and pedagogy, and research is conducted from various angles to elucidate cognitive function. Besides questions of human psychology, research is also conducted from the viewpoint of brain dysfunction, such as developmental disorders and dementia. It is expected that advances in the research will lead to knowledge that will expedite methods of treatment, as well as social initiatives.

Elucidating psychological problems through language communication The members of the cognitive science research group are conducting research into the mechanisms of human behavior and its disorders, with a focus on questions of language and communication. Research in communication is very interesting from the viewpoint of understanding the behaviors of daily life, but it is also highly relevant to brain function and developmental disorders. For example, our daily communication using words without much thought is an advanced and complex cognitive activity resulting from the integrated effects of various brain functions. In order to understand human behavior using this complex language communication, it is necessary to combine diverse research


approaches.

The former involves identifying the basic require-

Therefore, with this research project, we aim to

ments for understanding and communication. We in-

achieve research findings that provide unprecedent-

vestigate the relationship between language process-

ed social value by linking the research concerning

ing and language communication, and the minimum

cognitive function and cognitive activity conducted

basic brain function required for a person to live.

to date by our various researchers on an individual

The latter involves investigating the functions and

basis. The core of our research theme is brain func-

dynamic characteristics of the brain regions using

tion, taking a multifaceted approach. Besides pur-

optical topography equipment for measuring blood

suing academic research, we also aim to establish a

flow in the brain, EEG and various brain function im-

practical support organization for people with lan-

aging methods (fMRI, MEG etc.). This research meth-

guage communication disorders. Our ultimate goal is

od involves measuring how the nerves in the brain

to assist in creating a more livable social environment

respond when specific words are heard, or during

that includes people who are dealing with various

conversations.

handicaps.

In the research environment at Kanazawa University, there are many researchers in the field of linguistics, studying language characteristics and cognitive processes. In the development and education field, the

Approaching brain activity from various research fields including cognitive science and linguistics

university has a history of robust research outcomes and social contribution through long-term research into developmental disorders undertaken by many

Language and a wide range of communication meth-

educators.

ods serve as tools that connect the individual with

For example, we have learned that developmental

society, and the brain is an organ provided with func-

disorders such as childhood autism and so on are

tions for recognizing this communication.

both congenital problems and disorders behaviorally

In our research project, each member is committed to

related to communication learning.

clarifying cognitive functions using two approaches,

In this research project, we aim to build on achieve-

drawing on their respective research findings. By col-

ments like this, elucidating the basics of human be-

lecting and analyzing behavioral data from patients

havior and solving social issues, and contributing to

with brain disease or functional disorders and by ana-

society as a whole by clarifying the principles of com-

lyzing physiologic data such as cerebral blood flow,

munication behavior and the causes of developmen-

we will clarify the workings of cognitive functions.

tal disorders.

29


Promoting research combining disparate fields

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations

towards green medicinal innovation

â–Ą

ăƒťMember Representative

Hiroshi Hasegawa Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Akiko Shiratsuchi-Hirayama Associate Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Akio Kodama Professor (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering) Miki Osamu Professor (Research Center for Sustainable Energy and Techonology) Kyoko Nakagawa-Goto Associate Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Akira Toriba Associate Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy)

The Asian region is currently growing at a rapid rate. The expanding consumption of energy that accompanies rapid industrial development and population increase is expected to exacerbate environmental problems and the hygienic environment. However we believe that Japan’s expertise and technology relating to environmental issues and infectious disease can be put to good effect. The aim of this research project is to start establishing solutions to the environmental, health and medical issues likely to be experienced by Asian countries and develop them into industries. This is positioned as a project for developing technologies that will make an international contribution. Our research project advocates the new industrial strategy of green medicinal innovation focused on leading-edge technologies related to the environment and health as a next generation growth industry. This is technology that provides the environment for leading a healthy way of life, for example, technology development that combines science and engineering, medicine and life sciences, and environmental science. By removing the barriers between the respective fields of study, cooperating and supplementing each other, we aim to establish a new industry that makes international contributions.

Improving the coastal zone environment with algal forests and desiccant air conditioners Faculty of Chemistry, Institute of Science and Engineering

As a specific initiative, we are pursuing applied re-

Hiroshi Hasegawa

trial project involving pharmaceutics and engineering.

Professor 30

search to create ocean forests in an academic-indusThis research aims to stimulate the natural cycle and


repair the environment by creating forests of algae in

this knowledge for the future of the countries of Asia,

the ocean. The field of this research is the relatively

and develop them as growth industries.

shallow coastal zone. To stimulate the algae, trace

Another feature of this program is that rather than

quantities of iron chemical species and so on will be

focusing on manufacturing alone, we are taking an

used. The reason why we focused on seaweed is that

approach that incorporates environmental analysis

it can efficiently capture atmospheric carbon dioxide

and medical risk evaluation. We aim to establish gen-

and fix it, absorbing it and converting it to energy.

eral environment purification technologies, for ex-

The forests of algae will foster rich marine ecosys-

ample through evaluations of the medical risk posed

tems, and are expected to represent a new technolo-

by chemical pollutants, analysis of extremely small

gy of environmental improvement and conservation

quantities of chemicals in the environment, disper-

for coastal zones.

sal in the environment, establishment of verification

As the expression “the ocean is the mother of life�

methods and so on.

suggests, in the process of improving their immediate environment, the forests of algae offer the possibility of new pharmaceutical products and health supplethat may be the key to unlocking biological functions.

Cooperating with universities around the world with a focus on Asian countries

The ocean forest research will use large test facilities

The future vision of this program is not only material

and sea area environment simulation facilities to in-

affluence as a simple extension of science, technolo-

vestigate the growth of algae in the test area and the

gy, medicine and life science. Rather, we are under-

impact of chemicals, biologically-derived substances

taking holistic basic research to establish sustainable

and the like on the environment and health.

environment models, in pursuit of true shared human

At the same time, we are working to improve the

wealth from a viewpoint of values and a social sys-

atmospheric environment. Using desiccants or de-

tem, combining the humanities and sciences includ-

humidifying agents, we are developing a desiccant

ing social studies, philosophy, law, cultural anthropol-

air conditioner that can simultaneously desorb and

ogy and so on.

evacuate atmospheric pollutants both indoors and

Therefore we are also pursuing joint research with

outdoors. This will leverage Japan’s expertise in han-

universities in China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Bang-

dling photochemical smog, yellow dust and other

ladesh and other Asian countries, as well as research

pollutants. We seek to prepare technologies based on

centers in America, Australia and Europe.

ments from the sea, as well as producing compounds

31


Formation of a chiral nanotechnology research center

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations

that aims to invent innovative chiral materials

・Member Representative Professor Katsuhiro Maeda Associate (Faculty of Chemistry)

Tomoki Ogoshi Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Akio Ota Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Tomoyuki Ikai Assistant Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Takayuki Kuwabara Assistant Professor (Faculty of Chemistry)

Have you heard of the word “chirality”? Chirality is derived from the Greek for “hand.” For example, although the right and left hands are mirror images of each other, they cannot be superimposed on top of each other. You see that if you put the palm of your right hand on the back of your left hand, the shapes do not match. In chemistry, molecular structures with this property are referred to as “chiral” or “having chirality.” Many of the organic compounds in the natural world are chiral molecules, and they handle sophisticated functions. Biopolymers, such as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) handling genetic information and proteins, form regular helical structures. There are left-handed and right-handed helical structures, and they have a chiral relationship where they cannot be superimposed on each other. Using this relationship, it is possible to make chiral molecules by giving helical structure to molecules without any additional chiral components.

Helical structures in biopolymers with life maintaining functions Biopolymers like DNA form right-handed helical structures, with sophisticated functions essential to supporting life. The functions deriving from one-handed helical structures include the molecular recognition function that distinguishes enantiomers, the catalytic function that selectively creates single enantiomers, and the information function that oversees self replication, self propagation and communication. These Faculty of Chemistry, Institute of Science and Engineering

functions play important roles in maintaining life.

Katsuhiro Maeda

from fossil resources typically exist in random coil

Associate Professor 32

However, the general synthetic polymers derived structures. Associate Professor Katsuhiro Maeda’s


research group is working on research into artificial

of dynamic helical polymers despite their highly

helical polymers that fold into a one-handed helical

changeable characteristics. This research was report-

structure like that of biopolymers.

ed in Nature, attracting the attention of researchers in

“Our research theme is to develop artificial helical

Japan and overseas. Thanks to these previous studies,

polymers with a controlled handedness displaying

the direction of artificial helical polymers can now be

the sophisticated functions of biopolymers. Earlier re-

changed freely.

searchers have already succeeded in synthesizing ar-

Exploiting these techniques, the group is designing

tificial polymers with a one-handed helical structure.

and building artificial polymers with helical struc-

We are working to develop this, conducting research

tures, and exploring the possibilities of functional

to make artificial helical polymers display various

molecular materials. Therefore they are synthesizing

functions. We aim to invent innovative chiral mate-

artificial polymers and supramolecules from fossil

rials with functions that largely surpass the charac-

resources and biomass and undertaking comprehen-

teristics of existing materials,” says Professor Maeda,

sive research from various angles into their reactions,

explaining the aim of his research.

structure, functions, physical properties and the like. They are steadily accumulating a body of findings. “In order to achieve our targets, it’s necessary to cooperate with researchers in different specialties with

Multidisciplinary research by young researchers

a foundation in chemistry. We’ve organized a multidisciplinary research group of energetic young researchers to undertake multifaceted research towards

Associate Professor Maeda focuses on dynamic hel-

inventing innovative chiral materials. It’s expected

ical polymers which can freely change from right

that our research will lead to the development of

to left-handedness in solution. The helical structure

functional materials, biocompatible materials, phar-

of dynamic helical polymers is inverted by various

maceutical products, high sensitivity sensors, elec-

stimuli, and they are expected to display interesting

tronic devices and so on. We want to establish chiral

functions. Professor Maeda is one of the researchers

nanotechnologies that will support the next genera-

who established a method for fixing the direction

tion of Japanese science, technology and industry.”

33


Professor 34

Promotion of global human resource development targeting SATOYAMA green

Kenji Takahashi

innovation and establishment of a research core in related field

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Faculty of Natural System, Institute of Science and Engineering

・Member Representative

Kenji Takahashi Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Kazuaki Ninomiya Assistant Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Azuma Taoka Assistant Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Katsuhiro Maeda Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Tomoki Ogoshi Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Tomoyuki Ikai Assistant Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Yasunori Tanaka Professor (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering) Tatsuo Ishijima Associate Professor (Research Center for Sustainable Energy and Technology) Ryo Honda Assistant Professor (Research Center for Sustainable Energy and Technology) Hiroshi Enomoto Associate Professor (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering) Shigeru Yamamoto Professor (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering) Takuya Kawanishi Associate Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Takashi Maeda Professor (Faculty of Economics and Management) Nobushide Otomo Professor (Faculty of Law)

Domestic resources in Japan are poor and we import many of resources from overseas. In particular, Japan is one of the world’s biggest importers of fossil fuels such as petroleum. However, fossil fuel reserves are finite and expected to run out in the foreseeable future. The new energy and chemical resources to replace them are becoming of paramount importance. Since the Tohoku earthquake that occurred in 2011, much attention has been focused on solar and wind power generation as new renewable energy sources. Our research project focuses on biotic resources from plants, known as biomass.

Achievement of fossil-fuel-independent society using biomass waste Unlike fossil fuels, biomass is a renewable resource and is expected to be not depletion. In addition, if the biomass is produced sustainably, the carbon dioxide emitted from biofuel combustion is sequestered by the growing process of the biotic resource. In other words, if we look at the concentration of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere, biomass is a carbon neutral energy source that does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Currently, the biomass fuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel are made from sugar cane, corn, potatoes and so on. However, the use of feedstock for biofuels production has implications in terms of hiking global food prices, food insecurity, and limited energy yields. The biofuels derived from non-food biomass-waste, such as rice straw, bamboo, wood chips, agricultural residues, etc, may help avoid the problem of soaring world grain prices. Lignocellulosic biomass that offers the possibility of creating a sustainable society with


less burden on the environment is called the second

lignin-derived substances will be raw material for

generation biomass.

bio-plastic. Furthermore, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by chemicals combustion is absorbed by plants during the growth of new biomass sources

SATOYAMA biorefinerie enables resource recycling

process. Of course, the biomass-derived products cannot replace the all of products manufactured using petrole-

Our research project aims to establish a SATOYAMA

um. But if 20 to 30% of those can be replaced by bio-

biorefinery using the rich natural resources in the

mass-derived products, we should be able to reduce

Noto peninsula, where Kanazawa University is closely

our dependence on the fossil fuels.

located. These rich natural resources provide a “closed

In order to build the SATOYAMA biorefinery, it is nec-

loop environment.� The abundance of biomass ma-

essary for many research fields to cooperate and to

terial existing in the SATOYAMA makes it a suitable

marshal knowledge and ideas from each field. Rele-

environment for research.

vant research fields include biochemical engineering,

With the use of ionic liquids, we can extract lignin

polymer chemistry, reaction engineering, process

from the unutilized biomass gathered in the SA-

control engineering, combustion engineering, envi-

TOYAMA. Value-added chemicals, aromatic com-

ronmental engineering, economics, law and so on.

pounds equivalent to crude oil components such as

We have established an active group integrating hu-

benzene, can be synthesized from lignin and used as

manities and sciences, and are undertaking research

a chemical source.

towards achieving the SATOYAMA biorefineriy.

The cellulose, remaining after the extraction of lignin,

At the same time, we are also focusing on human

can be processed and depolymerized into sugars

resource development. One of the main aims of this

that can be fermented to synthesize ethanol fuel and

research project is to foster students who are aware

other chemicals. Using the glucose produced by sac-

of the dangers of a modern society dependent on

charification of cellulose, chemical ingredients can be

fossil fuels, and who share the dream of a sustainable

made. Naphtha-like products produced by refining

society achieved with the use of biomass.

35


Professor 36

Elucidating the molecular transport mechanism for innovative cellular nucleus

Richard Wong

function control

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Faculty of Natural System, Institute of Science and Engineering

・Member Representative

Richard Wong Professor (Faculty of Natural System) Toshio Ando Professor (Faculty of Mathematics and Physics) Toshinari Minamoto Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Masahiro Shirakawa Professor (Kyoto University) Hidehito Tochio Associate Professor (Kyoto University) Takuro Nakamura Chief (Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research) Nobutaka Hirokawa Visiting Associate Professor (University of Tokyo) Günter Blobel Professor (Rockefeller University) Chen Jian Guo Professor (Peking University) Andre Hoelz Assistant Professor (California Institute of Technology) Tatsuyoshi Funasaka Researcher (Faculty of Natural System) Chieko Hashizume Researcher (Faculty of Natural System)

The nucleus in the cytoplasm of a eukaryotic cell is covered by a nuclear membrane. This nuclear membrane has many pores with a diameter of about 40 nanometers. These pores are made of tubular protein, and the structure is called the nuclear pore complex. The role of the nuclear pore complex is to control the transfer of substances between the nucleus and cytoplasm. For example, proteins with a diameter of five nanometers or more which are bigger than the pore cannot pass freely, and to pass, they must bond with another protein that has the ability to pass. It is reported that abnormalities occurring in this substance transfer causes disease such as cancer and growth defects. The nuclear pore complex is made up of about 30 types of protein known as nucleoporins (nuclear pore complex factors) and although some of their functions have been identified, their overall mechanism has yet to be clarified. Elucidating the dynamics of the nuclear pore complex is expected to provide new insights leading to future clinical applications.

The discovery of new functions in the cell division stage through analysis of nucleoporin Professor Richard Wong is working to clarify the role and functions of the nuclear pore complex with analysis of the dynamics of the nuclear pore complex as his research theme. “Intracellular substance transfer is controlled precisely to distribute and transfer substances correctly. If abnormalities occur in this substance transfer, it can cause various diseases such as cancer. In the cell division stage, the nuclear pore complex is separated into individual nucleoporins, and we think it displays


some new functions. But it’s becoming clear that ab-

force microscopy (AFM) to observe nuclear pore com-

normalities in the cell division stage cause diseases

plex proteins at the nano scale. At the cellular level,

such as cancer and so on,” says Professor Wong.

visual image analysis is conducted with high-resolu-

So far, Professor Wong and his group have analyzed

tion imaging using a confocal laser scanning micro-

the separate functions of approximately 30 types of

scope. At the individual level, tests are conducted

nucleoporin, clarifying some of their functions. For

using transgenic mice that express nucleoporins.

example, they have discovered that nucleoporins

A key aspect of Professor Wong’s research is that he

ensure that chromosome segregation is performed

works with researchers in the fields of medical sci-

accurately in the cell division stage and so on. Cur-

ence and pharmaceutics. His group actively pursues

rently, they are conducting a detailed search for new

joint research with intra- and extramural medical

functions, with the goal of identifying the functions

science and pharmaceutics laboratories and research

of the remaining nucleoporins.

institutions, with a focus on the relationship between nucleoporins and cancer. “Our ultimate goal is to reconfigure the nuclear pore

Actively pursuing joint research with a focus on medical science and pharmaceutics

complex. We want to make our own nuclear pore

In order to shed further light on the findings of Pro-

we want to make our research findings useful in med-

fessor Wong’s research group, they are conducting

ical treatment. I’m convinced that elucidating the

analysis at the levels of the atom, molecule, cell and

nuclear pore complex will be an important key for ex-

individual, with the aim of achieving a comprehen-

ploring and developing control agents and pharma-

sive understanding of nuclear pore complex dynam-

ceutical lead compounds for various diseases, and for

ics.

creating drug delivery systems using nanotechnology

Analysis at the atomic and molecular level uses X-ray

that targets migration within the cellular nucleus,”

crystal structure analysis and NMR, as well as atomic

says Professor Wong.

complex. And through further joint research with our colleagues in medical and pharmaceutical sciences,

37


Professor 38

Pursuing personalized EBM (Evidence Based Medicine) through visualization of

Seigo Kinuya

pharmacokinetics and individual difference factors

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

・Member Representative

Seigo Kinuya Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Takeo Nakanishi Associate Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Keiichi Kawai Professor (Faculty of Health Sciences) Shinobu Tanaka Professor (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering) Kazuhiro Shiba Professor (Advanced Science Research Center)

Therapy using pharmaceutical products has changed from the time when standardized treatment was used against a specific disease, to personalized medicine aligned with genetic information from individual cases. In the medical setting, this kind of treatment optimization will become more finely attuned to the requirements of individual patients. However, personalized medicine based on genetic information alone is carried out in a situation where the distribution and behavior in the body of the drugs given to patients is still unknown. Therefore they lack effectiveness, or there remains a possibility of unforeseen adverse drug reactions, so that it cannot yet be considered perfect.

Aiming to achieve individualized EBM through coordination among medical science, pharmaceutics, health sciences, science and engineering, etc. Our research project aims to achieve further optimization of current personalized medicine. We want to understand and analyze the action of the chosen drug in the body (pharmacokinetics) before administering it, and adjust any inappropriate parameters. We call this method of treatment “personalized evidence based medicine.” It has three features. 1) Observing the distribution in the body of administered drug over the course of time from outside the body. To this end, we are developing technology for visualizing the dynamics of drug in the body. The use of radionuclides (atoms that release radiation) is being considered as a technology for visualization outside the body. In addition, in order to visualize detailed parts inside the body, imaging using light, intravascular endoscopes and so on could be used. If we can see and analyze the


state of the body inside, it is not necessary to limit the

model widely to general medicine.

methods of visualization. 2) Through visualization, verify the drug concentrates in the lesion before starting therapy. Compare northat appear after the onset of cancer as targets. If it is

Carrying out diagnosis and therapy simultaneously while observing progress, without burdening the body

determined that the drug does not concentrate suffi-

Achieving personalized EBM through the develop-

ciently in the lesion, analyze the information obtained

ment of this technology and making it available to

to discover the cause, and develop technology for

society is the aim of this project.

getting the drug to the lesion effectively or change

The merit of personalized EBM is that it maximizes the

the drug. Using this kind of visualization approach, it

therapeutic effect while minimizing side effects. As a

will be possible to predict side effects and take meas-

result, it is possible to achieve the maximum benefit

ures to avoid them.

for the patient, providing healing and pain relief ac-

3) Decide a treatment policy and conduct ongoing

cording to their individual situation. Providing a short

checks during treatment. Positron emission tomog-

course of treatment optimized for individual patients

raphy (PET) and single photon emission computed

is the characteristic of this method of treatment. Fur-

tomography (SPECT), which follow injection of a radi-

thermore, it is possible to eliminate treatment for side

oactive tracer into the patient, play an important role

effects, which should reduce the cost of medicine to

here.

society as a whole.

PET and SPECT enable imaging when the patient

In order to achieve this new form of medicine, our

takes a radioactive agent and the radiation emitted

research project is undertaking research with broad

from the affected area is captured with a special cam-

cooperation, combining knowledge and technology

era. Then a more promising medication can be select-

from medical science, pharmaceutics, health sciences

ed. The effects of the administered drug are observed

and science and engineering. Ultimately, we aim to

and the drug is administered with the best conditions

make Kanazawa University a center for personalized

for the patient in a cycle of treatment.

EBM, and foster people with a broad knowledge fo-

Internal radiation therapy using radiopharmaceuticals

cused on personalized EBM. In the process, we will

is probably the easiest way to understand this model

also establish the foundations for creating a new field

of treatment. Our project aims to apply this treatment

of education and research.

mal cells and cancer cells, and set unique molecules

39


Professor 40

Achieving comprehensive medicine in humans towards general health and

Takashi Wada

longevity

â–Ą

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

ăƒťMember Representative

Takashi Wada Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Hiroshi Yamamoto Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Shuichi Kaneko Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Tetsuo Ota Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Akihiro Yachie Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Yo Takuwa Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Masahide Asano Professor (Advanced Science Research Center)

Japan has already gone beyond an aging society to become a super-aging society. Currently, the population of seniors (over age 65) in Japan has reached about 30 million, and in the 2030s, about one in three people in Japan is expected to be a senior. One of the issues confronting a super-aging society is the increase of lifestyle-related disease. Many citizens are expected to suffer from diabetes, cancer, diseases of the brain and cardiovascular systems, and kidney and liver diseases. For this reason, healthcare that goes beyond the conventional paradigm and perspective is required. This problem is being tackled in the research project undertaken by Professor Takashi Wada and his group. Taking the human body as a single system, they are conducting research with the aim of establishing a body network science and comprehensive medicine in humans as an academic field that seeks to understand health and illness in a comprehensive manner.

Aiming for comprehensive, systemic medicine rather than treating each organ or disease Professor Wada’s specialism is nephrology. The kidneys are important organs that regulate the environment inside the body through close networking with the organs of the whole body. For example, kidney illness can lead to a condition called cardio-renal syndrome through the association of the heart and kidneys, which then has a significant impact on the pathology. In this way, not only has each organ of the body independent function but is interlinked and governs the adjustment of the body. However, in many cases, the biological mechanisms by which the various organs interact and with what


effect remain to be identified. Professor Wada ex-

diseases worse. We believe that there are also mech-

plains the significance of his research.

anisms whereby the organs help each other out. For

“It’s not only two organs that are associated in the

example, if a damaged organ is trying to recover, the

body, as with cardio-renal association. We think that

other organs support it. If we can clarify these ben-

various organs such as the liver and heart cooperate

eficial association mechanisms, it should help with

as a network. If we can elucidate this systemic body

treatment and drug innovation.”

network, medical science and care will change signifi-

Understanding body networks will also allow us to

cantly. For example, rather than examining one organ

understand the mechanisms of homeostasis. Chang-

in relation to a disease, it will change to comprehen-

es in this balance result from changes in lifestyle,

sive full body medical care that considers associated

nutrition, environment and so on. Professor Wada’s

organs.”

research will contribute to improving not only therapy but also preventive awareness relating to lifestyle, nutrition, and environment. In particular, diabetes,

Contributing to preventive awareness to achieve health and longevity in a super-aging society

cancer, diseases of the brain and cardiovascular systems, and kidney and liver diseases are deeply related to super-aging society, and the importance of pre-

In order to elucidate the networks of the body, it is

ventive medicine is being emphasized. Advances in

necessary to assemble a broad medical specialist

research are awaited in order to achieve health and

field. Besides Professor Wada, researchers in diabe-

longevity in a super-aging society.

tes, hepatobiliary-pancreatic diseases, immunology,

Says Professor Wada, “We aim to proceed actively

blood vessels and zoology are taking part in this re-

with our concept of comprehensive medicine in hu-

search project. They are all cooperating to identify the

mans, and to establish advanced medical treatment

mechanisms behind association of the various organs

and preventive medicine for a society that continues

from the perspective of the body network.

to age at a rapid rate.”

“Association of the organs doesn’t only work to make

41


Associate Professor 42

Formation of an international research center for evaluating the effects of air

Akira Toriba

pollution on health

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Faculty of Pharmacy, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences

・Member Representative Professor Akira Toriba Associate (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Masami Furuuchi Professor (Faculty of Environmental Design) Atsushi Matsuki Associate Professor (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) Takayuki Kameda Assistant Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Mitsuhiko Hata Assistant Professor (Faculty of Environmental Design) Akiko Shiratsuchi-Hirayama Associate Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Kazuichi Hayakawa Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Atmospheric pollution has been cited as an environmental problem in the Asian region. Atmospheric pollution is considered to be a factor in lung cancer and bronchial asthma, atopic dermatitis, pollenosis and various other allergic diseases. For example, much of the dust from burning fossil fuels has a particle size of 2.5 micrometers or less. This is extremely small, with a width about one thirtieth of a human hair. It is thought to enter the recesses of human lungs and cause significant health effects. Furthermore, nanoparticles with a particle size of 50 nanometers or less easily penetrate to the deepest parts of the lungs. From here they are thought to migrate to the cardiovascular system where they display even greater toxicity. Associate Professor Akira Toriba and his group are engaged in a research project to evaluate the impact of atmospheric pollution on human health and resolve this environmental problem.

Establishing an international joint research organization encompassing the whole of Asia Associate Professor Toriba points out as follows. “In the Asian region, there are many countries such as China and India with rapidly developing economies. These countries use a lot of fossil fuels such as coal and so on, which causes air pollution in those regions. Furthermore, atmospheric pollution typified by Asian Dust (KOSA) causes harm across national borders. It’s a problem that can no longer be solved by each country alone.” In order to solve the problem, it is necessary to understand the situation from the viewpoint of Asia as a whole. Therefore it is important to create a network of research institutions in the various Asian countries.


Associate Professor Toriba’s research group is calling

and charcoal in residential buildings without venti-

on research institutes in these countries and is work-

lation in Southeast Asian agricultural communities

ing to strengthen ties towards solving the problem of

causes severe indoor air pollution.”

atmospheric pollution, and to evaluate its impacts on

To pursue this kind of research, it is necessary to

human health.

have technologies for sampling dust, including nan-

An international network for joint research with in-

oparticles, for evaluating human exposure levels to

stitutions in China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Cam-

contaminants, and for evaluating toxicity. Associate

bodia and Russia (Vladivostok) has already been

Professor Toriba’s group is working to develop new

established. The group aims to achieve close inter-

devices and equipment for implementing these tech-

action with many research institutions including

nologies more simply and effectively.

schools with which the university has intercollegiate

Professor Masami Furuuchi, a member of our pro-

exchange agreements. Members visit the countries

ject succeeded in developing and miniaturizing the

involved to conduct joint research. Specifically, they

world’s first nanoparticle sampling device. It is cur-

collect and analyze dust from burning fossil fuels,

rently undergoing testing in various Asian countries.

particularly vehicle emissions, measuring exposure

In addition, Associate Professor Toriba succeeded

levels and toxicity. They then empirically establish the

in developing a biomarker analytical technique that

regional characteristics of atmospheric pollution and

can measure the amount of diesel exhaust absorbed

its health effects on the populace of each country.

by an individual from their urine alone. This was very difficult with previously available technology. Actual measurement results are now being examined to val-

Development of the world’s first nanoparticle sampler and system for analyzing contaminants in urine

idate its effectiveness. “Since atmospheric pollution is expected to increase in developing countries in future, we are also working

Associate Professor Toriba has carried out surveys of

to develop young researchers. By promoting human

dust through joint research in China.

exchanges with active participation in joint research

“In China, the increasing amounts of dust from the

in each country, we aim to foster environmental

coal used in factories and for heating contribute to

leaders who can achieve coordination between the

atmospheric pollution, and we showed with numeric

countries of Asia. We also want to sign new exchange

data the likelihood that it has an impact on human

agreements with more institutions,” says Associate

health. We also established that burning firewood

Professor Toriba.

43


Professor 44

Program for aggregation and circulation of personnel and knowledge towards

Kunio Matsumoto

the formation of an academic cancer drug discovery center

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Cancer Research Institute

・Member Representative

Kunio Matsumoto Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Atsushi Hirao Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Toshinari Minamoto Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Takeshi Suzuki Professor (Cancer Research Institute) Ikumi Tamai Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Yukio Kato Professor (Faculty of Pharmacy) Masahito Segi Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Katsuhiro Maeda Associate Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Yutaka Ukaji Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Takahiro Soeta Assistant Professor (Faculty of Chemistry) Kenji Satou Professor (Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Currently, more than half of the pharmaceutical products that emerge as new drugs originated in academia, become developed products through American and European drug discovery ventures. In Europe and America, drug discovery ventures play a major role in linking basic research to drug discovery. Basic research findings from universities enable researchers themselves to establish drug discovery ventures. Once the safety and efficacy of the drug is recognized through initial clinical trials of drug candidates led by the drug discovery ventures, major pharmaceutical companies develop them as pharmaceutical products. However, although basic research is thriving in Japanese universities, there is little interest in drug innovation, and it is currently difficult to foster drug discovery ventures. In the current situation, research to discover pharmaceutical product candidates from the seeds of drug discovery in universities is accelerating, and building a platform for mediation with pharmaceutical companies is being rapidly undertaken as a national policy. “I think the fact that research at Japanese universities is not aimed at drug innovation and the fact that collaboration between researchers is poor and so on are the reasons why Japan doesn’t develop pharmaceutical products. Our project aims turn this trend around and establish a system where researchers foster their own drug discovery leads themselves,” says Professor Matsumoto.

High quality research findings and extensive drug discovery seeds concerning cancer metastasis and drug resistance In 2010, the Kanazawa University Cancer Research Institute was recognized by the Ministry of Education,


Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as a pioneerdrug resistance of cancer. While producing outstand-

Fostering people who want to benefit society through drug innovation

ing research findings concerning cancer metastasis

“The Cancer Research Institute established a can-

and drug resistance, the institute is producing exten-

cer drug discovery unit in 2012, and by introducing

sive seed research towards the discovery of drugs for

screening equipment and so on, we’re ready to ac-

overcoming metastasis and drug resistance.

celerate the search for new drug candidates. In order

An example of Professor Matsumoto’s research is de-

to link basic research to drug discovery, it will be im-

velopment of inhibitors for HGF (hepatocyte growth

portant to achieve new drug candidates with better

factor). When HGF acts on cancer cells, the cells be-

performance. That’s why we’re pursuing research in

come more active, precipitating cancer metastasis.

cooperation with researchers in the science and engi-

Inhibiting the operation of HGF can block metastasis.

neering and medicine and healthcare research (phar-

In addition, if the medicine Iressa is used for more

maceutics) areas. We’re combining basic research

than one or two years to treat lung cancer, the cancer

leading to drug discovery with technology from other

develops resistance to Iressa so that it is no longer ef-

fields to accelerate improvement in the activation of

fective. One of the mechanisms involved is that if HGF

compounds, analysis of medicinal effect and so on.”

operates on the lung cancer cells, the cancer cells can

Professor Matsumoto pursues personnel develop-

survive even in the presence of Iressa. These findings

ment by holding joint seminars and symposiums with

were made by Professor Seiji Yano of the Cancer Re-

the aim of raising the awareness of young researchers

search Institute. Therefore, inhibiting HGF will result

and students concerning drug discovery.

in overcoming Iressa resistance. Professor Matsumoto

“The most important thing in developing personnel is

and his group have formed a team with researchers

stimulating a strong desire to benefit society and save

of different specialisms including computational sci-

lives. We’re also seeking to foster people who want

ence, chemical synthesis and crystal structural anal-

to discover new medications,” says Professor Matsu-

ysis and are working to invent an HGF inhibitor. The

moto. Perhaps the new drug candidates developed

purpose of the project is to develop personnel and

at Kanazawa University and the people trained here

promote cooperation between researchers towards

will go out and serve in society, supporting Kanazawa

drug discovery. This project reflects Professor Matsu-

University somehow in 30 or 50 year’s time.

ing joint research center concerning metastasis and

moto’s earnest wish to help people who are suffering from cancer and intractable diseases.

45


Project Associate Professor 46

Development of a system to support early diagnosis of pervasive developmental

Mitsuru Kikuchi

disorders

The Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations Research Center for Child Mental Development

・Member Representative Associate Professor Mitsuru Kikuchi Project (Research Center for Child Mental Development)

Haruhiro Higashida Project Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) Haruyuki Kojima Professor (Faculty of Human Sciences) Manabu Oi Professor (Faculty of Education) Yoshio Minabe Professor (Faculty of Medicine) Toshio Munesue Project Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) Shigeru Yokoyama Project Associate Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development) Masayoshi Shibata Professor (Faculty of Education) Chiharu Higashida Cooperative Researcher (Faculty of Medicine) Yui Miura Project Assistant Professor (Research Center for Child Mental Development)

Pervasive developmental disorders are disorders of brain function that occur at a rate of more than one in a hundred people. In Japan, this is said to affect about one million people, but no effective treatment has been found. However, if it is diagnosed early in infancy and appropriate intervention is taken, it is thought that the prognosis can be significantly improved. Pervasive developmental disorders are a class of illness where the characteristics of the disorder are often apparent by the age of three. Currently, diagnosis relies entirely on interviews with the child or parents, or observation of the child. Mitsuru Kikuchi, Project Associate Professor of the Kanazawa University Research Center for Child Mental Development explains it as follows. “In order to test for minute brain function abnormalities, we need to establish a testing system with diagnostic imaging to improve the accuracy of diagnosis. In response to this situation, Kanazawa University is working with Yokogawa Electric Corporation to develop a system to support early diagnosis of children with developmental disorders.”

Development of superconducting sensors that match the size of infants’ heads Diagnostic imaging methods for brain function include single photon emission computed tomography, MRI and CT scans. Brain function tests have been conducted using such equipment for adults, but there are many problems when testing children, and this has hindered research. For example, the risks of radiation exposure are much greater than with adults, and children find it hard to keep still for a long time in an enclosed space during testing. Therefore Project Associate Professor


Kikuchi and his team focused on the magnetoen-

The MEG developed for infants are installed at

cephalograph (MEG). MEGs are machines that can

Yokogawa’s Kanazawa branch in Kanazawa Techno

measure nerve activity in the cerebrum as changes

Park. Now research is underway to test the diagnostic

in the magnetic field through the scalp using super-

accuracy of the MEG for infants, of which there are

conducting sensors. Yokogawa’s development and

only two machines in the world.

manufacture of MEGs as medical devices led to joint

Children aged between three and five are tested by

research.

recording the network activity of the brain when the

“The MEG system makes testing easy. You just put

child is given verbal, visual, or touch stimulus. The

your head in a helmet-shaped sensor. You’re in a

test takes only six minutes or so, making it reasonably

large open space with only your head enclosed, so

child-friendly.

you’re not in an enclosed space for a long time. This

Project Associate Professor Kikuchi is currently con-

makes it easy to test children because their parents

ducting brain function diagnostic imaging for chil-

can sit beside them.”

dren using the MEG for infants to verify the accuracy

With existing MEGs, only helmets for adults were

of diagnosis. After sampling the characteristics of the

available and they did not fit children’s heads, so

cerebral networks of children with developmental

good data could not be obtained. Through joint de-

disabilities, he conducted diagnosis of 35 normal chil-

velopment with Yokogawa, the Center is developing

dren and 35 children with disabilities, obtaining high

a helmet-shaped superconducting sensor that matches

diagnostic accuracy of about 80%.

the size of infants’ heads. Since infants move a lot, the

“At the moment, we’re aiming to improve diagnostic

Center is also developing a virtual tracking sensor sys-

accuracy by adding basic data for the cerebral net-

tem where the sensor can track and record brain waves

work configurations of normal children and children

even if the child moves. The functions of the sensor

with developmental disabilities. Another research

are better than those for adults, enabling them to re-

theme is improving the functions of MEG. Through

cord the brain activity of infants with high sensitivity.

this sequence of research and development, we aim to achieve a practical, child-friendly testing system. In future, we hope to discover methods of treatment for

Testing children to validate the diagnostic accuracy of MEG for infants

children with developmental disabilities,” says Project Associate Professor Kikuchi.

47


Organization of Frontier Science and Innovation 48

The organization’s aim is to energize our education and research as well as to contribute to society by creating an interdisciplinary and integrated research domain which transverse sections, faculties and departments. The Organization of Frontier Science and Innovation consists of two departments; the Research Department that is the aggregate of research programs, and the Administration Department that oversees the activities that strengthen the University’s research capabilities. The Prioritized Research Programs, the Mission-Oriented Research Program and the Prioritized Research Program for the Future Generations are placed under the Research Department, while Senior URAs (University Research Administrators) including Coordinators, and URAs are placed under the Administration Department.


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Organization of Frontier Science and Innovation Kanazawa University Kakuma, Kanazawa 920-1192 Japan http://www.o-fsi.kanazawa-u.ac.jp/about/section/research/ Date of Issue March 15 2013


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Kanazawa University Discovery Initiative