Molecular Profiling Research Center for Drug Discovery

Molecular Profiling Research Center for Drug Discovery
Director Toru Natsume, Ph.D.

We established the Molecular Profiling Research Center for Drug Discovery with the strong social needs for industry, academia, and government to make unified efforts towards the development of new drugs.

There are various aspects to the development of new drugs, and it is a process that requires long periods of time and enormous costs.

Our center specializes in the profiling of candidate compounds (lead compounds) for new drugs, and it has centralized the performance-based, high level of fundamental technologies of drug development that are relevant to the center's mission in the sea-side district.

Molecular profiling means learning how lead compounds control protein network that governs the biological system as well as understanding the chemical bonding patterns of compound-protein interactions. In other words, molecular profiling enables us to thoroughly understand the relationships that exist between compounds and the life form at the molecular level.

90 percent of lead compounds that pharmaceutical manufacturers have developed after overcoming difficulties result in discontinuations of their development due to lack of medicinal efficacy and side effects, and they incur an immense amount of time and money. However, if those compounds could be profiled and thoroughly studied, it should be possible to dramatically improve the success rates of clinical research. It would also become possible to resume studies for the compounds for which development had been halted.

For example, theoretical molecular designs can be produced to enhance medicinal efficacy or reduce side effects through profiling. It also becomes possible to find new disease areas using well-known drugs that are already in the market.

With such objectives, our center is engaged not only in the research and development of fundamental technologies with which molecular profiling can be performed systematically in a high throughput manner, but it also aims to offer analytical platforms to the industry widely.

Therefore, we create teams of researchers specialized either in experimental measurement or theoretical calculation and they are led to work together by complementing each other's strengths.

Hence, quantitative proteomics and computational systems biology analysis will be carried out in one research group, while molecular designs through calculation and analysis of molecular-recognition structure which will verify the molecular designs with methods in structural biology will be performed in another research group. Then the Data Management and Integration Team will merge those two research groups into one intellectual database. It is our wish to make contributions to the industry as much as possible by working together as one dynamic organization.

In addition, the aim of our research center is to create a new paradigm in the life science as well as the short-term activation of the pharmaceutical industry by further sophisticating the world's leading drug discovery platform technology in our center. In particular, we play functions as an experimental center for the commercialization of our completed technical infrastructure and know-how. In other words, we intend to create a new industry and market by ourselves, "cross the bridge", instead of “bridge between industry and academia”.

For further sophistication of our drug discovery platform technology, our center consists of 4 research teams: “Functional Proteomics Team” to elucidate the pharmacological efficacy mechanism, “Integrative Systems Biology Team” to develop a mathematical information analysis system for the effective use of omics data for drug discovery, “3D Drug Design Team” to elucidate the mechanism of action of the drug, and “Molecular Simulation Team” to evaluate the compound selection of the new target. Furthermore, to create a new industry and market as a commercialization center, we plan five commercialization projects: “General-Purpose Humanoid Robot", “Anti-body Array Profiling”, “Digital Drug Discovery and Diagnosis", "Molecular Modeling Consultation", and "Molecular Design System".

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