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Biotechnology and medical treatment

Under the leadership of the University of Tsukuba, TIA has conducted R&D to apply its technology to not only advanced nanotechnology but also biotechnology and medical treatment. The participation of the University of Tokyo and commencement of the TIA collaborative research program “Kakehashi” have further expanded research areas and promoted collaboration, leading to practical application and commercialization of research results in those fields.


Algae biomas

Algae biomass, primarily in the form of biofuel, has been drawing much attention for a long time for its potential and huge social and economic impact in addressing environmental and energy issues. However, despite its other potential such as anti-obesity, anti-aging, antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-dementia effects, algae biomass had been studied for very limited objectives. We, the TIA joint research group working under the program Kakehashi, have rich experience with algae biomass. The research group consists of the University of Tsukuba and AIST, which established the Algae Biomass and Energy System R&D Center (ABES) and have been playing a pioneering role in this field, and the University of Tokyo, which has been developing technology to add new functions to microalgae. The group aims to speedily discover new functions of algae biomass with a primary focus on medical and health fields, develop new markets, and implement new products and technologies in society.

ABES(Algae Biomas and Energy System R&D Center) 『AlgaeProjE』の画像

Medical application of glycan-targeted lectins

Lectins are proteins bound to sugars (glycans). Japan leads the world in the development of their application technology. Lectins vary widely in terms of properties and functions. They are expected to be applied to regenerative medicine and diagnostic agents, owing to the recent progress in recombinant construction and the development of glycan profiling technology. Based on the advanced glycan analysis technology, called the lectin microarray, which was developed by AIST, and other technologies, we promote the development of diagnostic agents and therapeutic methods for pancreatic cancer. In the development of these agents and methods, we use glycan-targeted lectins, in collaboration with the TIA core organizations and domestic companies. Moreover, through the Lectin application technology meeting, collaboration with overseas companies will be expanded, and human resource development will be promoted.







TIA’s technologies and advanced systems are expected to be applied to nanobiotechnology, in a way that TIA can conduct every phase of R&D, from the creation of materials and their evaluation, to device fabrication, and even to systematization. The Tsukuba Clinical Research & Development Organization (T-CReDO) was established in the University of Tsukuba, where a system to support demonstrative and clinical trials for social implementation, which is important particularly for nanobiotechnology, has been put in place. In collaboration with T-CReDO, TIA aims to develop a nanobiotechnology platform, which enables the seamless execution of R&D steps, from basic research to the development of technology seeds and to the verification and implementation of clinical research. TIA also aims to create incubators for life innovation.

●Tsukuba Clinical Research & Development Organization (T-CReDO) http://www.s.hosp.tsukuba.ac.jp/t-credo/



Real-time navigation system in the body

Using a real-time navigation system for laparoscopic hepatectomy surgery, a surgeon can understand on which part he/she is actually operating and how to proceed with the operation according to the navigation. This is a new system under development and is thus different from conventional surgery support systems. More specifically, the surgeon can receive a warning sign from sensors equipped in surgical tools if the incision is out of the cutting line or if there is a risk of tissue damage, thereby allowing the surgeon to correct the procedure. 
With the advancement in such surgery support systems, we will ensure further safety and accuracy of surgery and enhance education of next-generation surgeons in the improvementof their surgical skills.





A cognitive assessment system based on brain wave reading

Using the core technology of the "Neurocommunicator®" system, we are developing prototypes of a cognitive assessment system in which a brain wave component (event-related potential), which reflects a momentary increase in attention, is used as a biomarker. This system, which is among the technological seeds that AIST fostered, enables us to evaluate cognitive function, especially attention, quantitatively and independently of language and motor functions. It is expected to contribute to the development of various applications, such as regular monitoring of long-term bed-ridden persons with physical disabilities,  detection of symptoms of dementia often observed in older persons, support for cognitive rehabilitation of patients affected by stroke, and rehabilitation of children with developmental disorders.




Control of biomolecular dynamics


To achieve high-precision control of functional protein molecules, it is critical to obtain information on multidimensional molecular dynamics and structures, in addition to conventional information on static molecular structures. In order to understand time-series behavior of molecular dynamics, not only is data-driven science vital in processing immense amounts of data, but interdisciplinary integration based on theoretical considerations is also indispensable. For this purpose, several technological advancements need to be made as follows: 1) the enhancement of accuracy of sequential measurement technology and AI-based data processing technology using quantum probes such as X-rays, electrons, and neutrons, 2) improvement of accuracy of computational technology as it applies to molecular dynamics, to complement experimental results, 3) true integration of these technologies with molecular design technology, which enables external manipulation of molecules. For successful technological integration, we will continue to enhance the performance of the diffracted X-ray tracking (DXT), fundamental measurement technology available at Spring-8 (photo on the left).