Objectives of the Exchange Research

1.Aims
Asian and African countries belonging to the subtropical region enjoy a moderate climate, an abundance of water and natural energy through the year, and a variety of plants and animals grow wild in the land and the sea.
Parts of plants and animals have been constantly used for food or medicine to maintain peoples'daily life. However, those countries, with the exception of oil rich countries along with rapidly developing ones with modern industrial technology such as Korea or China, cannot help but rely on agriculture and tourism to receive foreign currency. Therefore Japan and other developed countries have been providing financial assistance to form the economic base for those countries. As a result, they have equipped their countries with machinery and materials as well as information technology so that it may follow modern-day-industrial practices.
Unfortunately, this has not been able to train their people competently. Even with modern instruments, they are not able to shoulder the development of their industry. This is mainly caused by the priority of advanced countries to foster economic development for their own countries and people.
For this project, we have selected some topics which can further develop a self-sustainable industry for Asian and African countries(hereinafter,partner countries), and carry out the platform research in the drug discovery field, so that they will be able to use natural sources effectively for medicinal products. We also aim to train young researchers, who will be leaders of their regions and to build a lasting partnership between Japan and partner countries.

2.Scope

In this project, we consider natural sources existing in partner countries to be the most important factor in the production of medicine. We will search for target compounds and analyze their structure, by screening biologically active natural products. Additionally we will design a functional molecule and create a process of retrieving a large supply of target compounds based on the bioprospecting strategy. (Bioprospecting is the search for potentially useful organic compounds in living things that will have some pharmaceutical or medical use.) By operating these researches, we will focus on the basis of academic researches which are necessary for the development of the pharmaceutical and medical products industry in partner countries.
There are four selected research topics conducted in the fiscal year.

(1) Development of New Antitumor Agents based on Marine Natural Products

Secondary metabolites compounds extracted from marine sources have attracted the attention of researchers world over as new medicinal products. Among these compounds we will develop pharmaceutical and drug discovery research for Isoquinoline Alkaloids, that is expected to have a different structure from conventional antitumor agents. We will build a new medical industry in partner countries, with the technological development to cultivate marine organisms.

(2) Developments of New Anticoagulants and Anti-VEGF

This research topic is the detection of a novel neurotoxin component that includes anticoagulant in snake venom which contains biopolymer components. From the research results, we will produce new types of functional substances by means of making the molecule design and synthesis of bio-functional substances.

(3) Molecular Epidemiological Investigation of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Development of Novel Diagnosis
and Therapeutic Agents

With this topic, we will try to create the efficacious therapeutic methods for the Emerging Infectious Diseases including AIDS and Tuberculosis, which have been prevalent in the subtropical regions. We will carry on the development of rapid diagnostic agents and effective therapeutic drugs, along with a new approach of the molecular epidemiology.

(4) Medicinal Chemistry on Biologically Active Natural Products from Traditional Condiments and Medicines

From the viewpoint that drugs and food are of the same origin, a variety of original spices are used for daily consumption in partner countries. They are considered to have preventive effects against many diseases. So we will promote general research for medicinal discovery such as random screening based on spices, selecting target molecule, chemical modification applied with synthetic chemical methods and evaluation in molecule structural screens.

3.Needs and Importance

Since the Convention Act on Biological Diversity was put into effect, all living creatures have been prohibited from being removed out of their countries of origin without permission. With an abundance of natural energy, a number of natural sources which might be a great source of potentioal drugs for a wide range of diseases, have yet been discovered. It would be better for countries to develop their own natural sources, by researchers of their native regions.
Unfortunately, in most Asian and African countries except Middle East, synthetic materials, reagents or solvents that are necessary to accomplish a research project are difficult to get. Consequently young researchers and university students rarely obtain a degree for basic research in drug discovery fields. In addition, the lack of facilities in research institutions has had a tendency to keep them away from maintaining and pursuits of research work.
Today, these countries are required to train young researchers who can sustain the fundamentals of research. So we will provide selected topics which have the potential for developing the medical industry, by fully utilizing the large supply of natural sources in their countries. Moreover this project will be ensure that prospective young people in partner countries take the lead of research, under the reliable relationship between their countries and Japan.


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