Researcher Interview Vol.2,  “Microfluidic device technology that embodies medical science and engineering collaboration”

―Please tell us about your research.

My aim is to cultivate new research fields and industries by bringing micro / nano device technology specifically from the engineering field together with a diversity of other research fields. As the name implies, our micro / nano device is a small machine, and with the use of semiconductor microfabrication technology and 3D printers / plotters, we can custom design and process these micron-ranged small spaces. We are focused on integrating such devices together with biotechnology, and are working hard every day to develop systems that can be applied to medicine and drug discovery. By handling living cells and rebuilding biological functions in a small artificially created space, our research hopes to both replace animal experiments in drug discovery as well as to elucidate unknown life phenomena. Indeed, what we are developing is a hybrid mechanical-biological system. A system which skillfully combines seemingly incompatible things such as machines and living things, not only affords greater convenience for its medical applications, but it also sets the stage for new discoveries.

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An article by Dr. So Nakagawa was published in Daily Gendai on April 21.  “What is the difference between the new coronavirus and the 9% lethal SARS?”

Apr.21, 2020

Picture is cited from Daily Gendai 2020

Picture is cited from Daily Gendai 2020


Many people think of the new coronavirus as “a little heavy flu,” but it’s a mistake. In fact, it is the same coronavirus as the “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus” with a fatality rate of 9.6%, and the genes are also very similar. How long? Interview with Dr. So Nakagawa, Ph.D., who is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Genetics, a visiting researcher at Harvard University, and a lecturer at the Molecular Life Sciences School of Medicine, Tokai University.

“The similarity of the genes that make up each virus is about 70 to 90%. However, the new coronavirus is not an evolution of the SARS virus. They are like relatives. One of the genes with the lowest similarity compared to each other is the S gene. ” The spike protein (S protein) forming the viral protrusion has the role of binding to the receptor on the surface of the infected cell and mediating the fusion of the viral outer membrane and cell membrane. The S gene has a design drawing that determines the character of the S protein and creates it faithfully.

(Continued to the Daily Gendai official website)


Comparative Virology and Genomic Analysis of the New Coronavirus

Apr. 28, 2020

Undergraduate School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Life Sciences, Basic Medical Science and Molecular Medicine Junior Associate Professor So Nakagawa (The Institute of Medical Sciences and Micro/Nano Technology Center) and Associate Professor Takayuki Miyazawa of the Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University published a special feature in the May edition of Jikken Igaku (Yodosha).

The article, titled “Comparative Virology and Comparative Genomic Analysis of the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2,” was also included in the online version of the publication. Nakagawa is an expert in genomics and bioinformatics whose research focuses on the coevolution on viruses and their hosts. The article was submitted after a request from the publishing company. It analyzes the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from the view of comparative virology and genomics, building off of the published research of many other scientists. The article describes the virological classification and properties of SARS-CoV-2, its genomic structure, and spontaneous mutations.

See the full text www.u-tokai.ac.jp

*The online version of the article published in Jikken Igaku is available at the website below (Japanese only). https://www.yodosha.co.jp/jikkenigaku/special/SARS-CoV-2.html
(You must register for a free Yodosha HP membership to view the article.)

Picture is cited from Tokai website 2020

(Retrieved from www.u-tokai.ac.jp)


Tokai Project Selected for AMED Translational Research Strategic Promotion Program

Mar. 24, 2020

A project run by the research group of School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Hiroshi Kimura (Micro/Nano Technology Center, Tokai University) called “Building a Model for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) with Physiological Neuromuscular Junction” was recently selected as a Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) Translational Research Strategic Promotion Program Multidisciplinary Research Development Support Project. The goal of the program is to promote the creation of innovative medicines, medical devices, and other medical-related items by constructing a system to effectively translate promising basic research results into clinical research and practical application. This particular project is implemented by the Metropolitan Academic Research Consortium (MARC), which is composed of clinical research institutions, particularly at private universities, in the metropolitan Tokyo area. The initiative is aimed at the development of innovative medicines and medical devices in Japan, focusing on projects by researchers at universities with a medical school who do not themselves belong to the medical faculty.

Associate Professor Kimura is working to develop a microfluidic device which artificially imitates nerve tissues and the functions of various organs, such as the kidney and liver. Utilizing this technology, Kimura is conducting joint research with School of Medicine Professor Shinji Hadano and Assistant Professor Asako Otomo to explain the mechanisms behind ALS. Through the project chosen by AMED, they hope to further develop their research.

Pictures are cited from Tokai website 2020

(Retrieved from www.u-tokai.ac.jp)


Full-scale Sales Begin for “Myell” Nanosheet Used in Microscopic Observations

March 17, 2020


Picture is cited from Tokai website 2020

The university-originating venture Tune Co. Ltd., established by a group led by Tokai University Micro/Nano Technology Center Director and School of Science Professor Rio Kita, began full-scale sales of Myell™, a nanosheet for use in microscopic observations. Myell was produced as a result of joint research between the Center and Nikon Instech Co., Ltd. as well as patented technology from Tokai University. It is a polymeric ultra-thin film that can serve as a replacement for the cover glass typically used in microscopic observations, offering potential benefits for the fields of bioscience, medicine, biology, and many others. Myell will be sold exclusively by Funakoshi Co., Ltd., a retailer of research instruments and other related products.

Click here for the official website of Tokai university

Research group of Associate Professor Tomita of the Department of Chemistry received the 2019 Joint Research Award for Materials and Devices

Picture is cited from Tokai website 2020

A research group led by Associate Professor Tsuneyuki Tomita of the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Science has recently won the 2019 Joint Research Award for Materials and Devices at the Joint Research Center for Materials and Devices. At the 9th Joint Research Center for Materials and Devices Research Activity Report and the Dynamic Alliance Achievement Report for 2018-Evolving Joint Research Center Organization held at Senri Life Science Center in Osaka on July 1. The award ceremony was held, and Prof. Tomita was present.

Research group of Associate Professor Okamura and Researcher Zhang have developed a new technology to observe biological samples deeper and deeper with an optical microscope

Associate Professor Yosuke Okamura (Micro / Nano Research and Development Center) and Researcher Hiroshi Zhang of the Department of Applied Chemistry (Faculty of Engineering) have recently used biological optical microscopes to make biological samples deeper and deeper using a common optical microscope using water-repellent nanosheets. We have developed a new technology that can observe up to. A paper summarizing the results was published in the online journal “PLOS ONE” on science on January 10.

[Title] Nanosheet wrapping-assisted coverslip-free imaging for looking deeper into a tissue at high resolution

[Paper URL] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0227650

Series Researcher Interview Vol. 1 Rio Kita. Feb 6th. 2020

Tokai University Micro / Nano Research and Development Center Researcher Interview

“Fascinated by the physical universality of soft materials and system-dependent diversity”

Rio Kita.  Professor, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Micro and Nano Research and Development Center, Tokai University

(Published on Feb 2020, interviewed by Takahashi and Mori)