Messages from the Research Team

HOMEMessages from the Research TeamMessage01 Kensuke Egashira

Message01 Kensuke Egashira

“Establish a primary measure for intractable cardiovascular diseases that sufficient effects cannot be obtained even if the best medical treatments are taken and contribute to health and medical care in Japan and the world”

I graduated from Kyusyu University, Faculty of Medicine in 1981, and thereafter I have developed a strong background in the field of clinical practice, education and research with the aim of becoming a full-fledged cardiologist. I have learned expert techniques as a clinician and have been examining patients carefully. I have always thought that I would like to offer the best medical care that can resolve problems involving individual patients. I had an opportunity to enlarge my knowledge as a doctor through the experience to study in the U.S.
Since there is a whole stack of difficult problems in the clinical situations that we must face to, I have realized the limitations as a clinician since 2000. The number of fatalities at an early stage after the onset of illness has been considerably decreased owing to the level of improvement in acute medical care , whereas the number of seriously ill patients in chronic-phase has been markedly increased. Consequently the quality of life and vital prognosis of such patients have not been improved. This is the difference between seriously ill patients in chronic-phase and cancer patients. With an arrival of an aging society, there is a significant increase in the number of patients with intractable cardiovascular diseases (myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, cerebral infarction, and peripheral arterial disease), for which sufficient effects cannot be obtained even if the best medical treatments are applied.

These unsolved medical issues are primarily due to the failure of developing a new therapy for intractable cardiovascular diseases. The practical use of a completely new fundamental medical care for intractable cardiovascular diseases can save many patients dramatically. In order to achieve the objectives, I have determined to introduce a drug delivery system using nanotechnologies (nanoDDS). Since utilization of nanoDDS enables drugs to be selectively delivered to the target sites (cells, tissues, organs), nanoDDS can be an innovative target medical care with high levels of therapeutic effects and low levels of side effects for practical use. In addition, a good prospect has been seen in establishing the organization to commercialize products using nanoDDS as well as acquiring intellectual property. Therefore, I have made a decision to pursue an academic career in of drug discovery for research and development as a physician-scientist focusing on “research and development of innovative medical care”.
The founding spirit, I strive to carry out treatment and research that serve and save people’s lives, has been always there.

Our academic drug discovery activities have been fortunately adopted in the National Projects, including “Translational Research Network Program, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology”, “Research on Measures for Intractable Diseases Project, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare”, “Collaborative Promotion Project to Create Innovative Monodzukuri (Manufacturing) Industry, NEDO”, and “Super Special Consortia for supporting the development of cutting-edge medical care, the Cabinet Office”. Several clinical researches (investigator initiated clinical trials) are now in progress at Kyusyu University Hospital. This is because the nanomedicine projects we are aiming at have been highly evaluated by others as priority innovation for clinical trials.

“Research and development in medical care” have important values clinical application. One of my goals is to achieve the medical innovation driven by the nanomedicine realization project by accumulating intelligence and manufacturing capabilities of companies as well as universities. In order to achieve the goal, I will develop a research and development structures of nanomedicine. These structures will enable us to keep continuous promotion of the positive circle between academia and industry. The positive circle of academic drug discovery includes basic research based on industry-academia collaboration, cultivation of seeds, development of human resources, manufacturing following international standards, licensing out, fund procurement, a new research and development/development of human resources/manufacturing. Nanoparticles manufacturing structure will be set to meet the international criteria. It is our hope that the Japan-based innovative academic drug discovery in the field of nanomedicine will contribute to health and medical care in Japan and the world.

Academic drug discovery: Academic drug discovery was established in the U.S.; drug-discovery ventures refine academia research results and transfers them to pharmaceutical companies that conduct a genuinely clinical development, an application and sales. Actually, about 60% of new drugs in the U.S. that have been approved by FDA are developed from academic drug discovery. On the other hand, in Japan, drug discovery capabilities have been delayed due to stagnation of drug discovery from academia. The greatest reason for stagnation of drug discovery from academia is because that venture companies playing a key role in incubating research achievements of universities have not been set. For putting the results of basic research to practical use, it is necessary for venture companies to continuously support “applied research” in academia. The research covers from target selection of drug discovery to preclinical studies. From this point of view, the role that drug discovery venture companies is important in academic drug discovery.

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