About "Drug Development"


 Profile #38: Dr. MAENAKA Katsumi, Professor

 Laboratory of Biomolecular Science・Center for Research and Education on Drug Discovery,

 Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences

 Division of Pathogen Structure, International Institute for Zoonosis Control

 Division of Vaccine Development, Institute for Vaccine Research and Development (IVReD)


 【Research Topics】

 ・Protein Science Research and Drug Development on Infectious Diseases and Immunity



~Let's see where drugs and vaccines work!~  


 COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapid development of vaccines and therapeutics. In our laboratory, we are engaged in drug discovery research by using a library containing many chemical compounds to search for candidate therapeutics and by actually seeing how neutralizing antibodies bind to viral proteins using the Cryo-electron microscope*1 and X-ray crystallography. Furthermore, we have recently installed a cryo-electron microscope in a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory, where pathogens are strictly handled (a rarely seen example in the world), to observe the structure of SARS-CoV-2 in a living state. Seeing directly the site where drugs and vaccines work is very important for drug development and greatly contributes to guiding design. Since large equipment such as the Cryo-electron microscope are operated under shared use by researchers from Japan and abroad, collaborative research is flourishing. The environment has improved to such an extent that it was unimaginable 20 years ago. We are working together with faculty members and other staff and students to derive new drugs and vaccines from academia. I would like to make an effort to work together with faculty members and other staff members and students to develop new drugs and vaccines from academia.


*A device that irradiates biomolecules such as proteins with electron beams under liquid nitrogen cooling and observes samples 


 Structure of the spike protein of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2


Experiments using a cryo-electron microscope


 Experimental exploration of a compound library