OU-MRU Okayama University Medical Research Updates


OU-MRU Vol.22 released on March 23, 2016

Medical supportive device for hemodialysis catheter puncture

Medical doctors at Okayama University Medical School and Shigei Medical Research Hospital in Okayama City, in collaboration with K.Techno Inc. develop a medical supportive device for hemodialysis catheter puncture.

Hemodialysis is used to purify the blood of people with kidney failure with a growing need for dialysis using a catheter in countries with aging populations, such as Japan. The precise catheter placement for secure and efficient dialysis, requires specialized knowledge and skills of the doctor.
The implication of improper catheter placement include:  the appropriate and correct hemodialysis cannot be carried out...Continued(PDF)


ou-mru-22-1.jpg Asst. Prof. Toshiaki Ohara


OU-MRU Vol.21 released on March 14, 2016

Combined gene transduction and light therapy targets gastric cancer

Photoimmunotherapy proves effective against elusive gastric cancer cells following transduction with the gene that expresses the extracellular domain protein of HER2.

“Gastric cancer is one of the most common malignancies worldwide, making it the third leading cause of cancer-related death,” explain Michihiro Ishida, Shunsuke Kagawa and colleagues at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and Okayama University Hospital in Japan in a recent report. In particular they note the pernicious nature of the most common form of gastric cancer metastasis, which occurs in the peritoneum - the membrane surrounding...Continued(PDF)


ou-mru-21-1.jpg Asst. Prof. Kagawa     M.D. Ishida 


OU-MRU Vol.20 released on March 7, 2016

Lack of enzyme promotes fatty liver disease in thin patients

Researchers observe protection against obesity and insulin resistance but at the cost of prominent fatty liver disease in mice lacking the PEMT enzyme and patients with low levels of PEMT.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – steatohepatitis - is an increasingly common chronic form of hepatitis. As Jun Wada and colleagues at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Shigei Medical Research Institute and Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma explain in a recent report, “Although obesity is undoubtedly one of the main risk factors for the ...Continued(PDF)


        Prof. Wada    Asst. Prof. Nakatsuka


OU-MRU Vol.19 released on Feb. 29, 2016

Study links signalling protein to osteoarthritis

(Okayama, 29 February)Researchers show that the protein CCN4 positively regulates the generation of cartilage matrix, which are depleted in osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeleton disease. It is caused by the loss of articular cartilage and subchondral tissue, which causes pain, stiffness and a loss of mobility in joints. Adult cartilage does not readily regenerate, and the disease is often treated by implantation of patient-derived ‘chondrocyte cells’ – the cells that make up cartilage. As a result, the mechanisms behind the differentiation of stem cells into chondrocytes have attracted a great deal of interest. Researchers at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and colleagues now report...Continued(PDF)


Prof.Kuboki (R) and his colleagues


OU-MRU Vol.18 released on Jan. 9, 2016

Therapeutic protein targets liver disease

(Okayama, 9 January) Research led by Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine identifies a protein that ameliorates liver damage caused by diet induced obesity.

“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now considered the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide and the prevalence has increased beyond 30% in developing countries,” say Jun Wada and colleagues in a recent report. Their research shows that overexpression of the protein Gpnmb can help work against the oxidative stress and fibrosis of the liver that results from diet-induced obesity.

In this study Wada and colleagues at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine University, National Hospital Organization Okayama Medical Center, the Animal Resource ...Continued(PDF)



                  Professor Jun Wada


OU-MRU Vol.17 released on December 3, 2015

Cell research shows pathway for suppressing hepatitis B virus

Research led by Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine identifies the signalling pathway for hepatitis B virus recognition and suppression, suggesting a possible anti-viral strategy for the disease.

Approximately 350 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis B a disease that can be chronic, leading to cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. It is known to avoid immune responses to persistent infections, making it difficult to prevent progression of the disease. Now researchers at Okayama University, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, and Kagoshima University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences have identified an antiviral signalling pathway that suppresses the infectivity of HBV.

Recent work showed that a DNA sensing molecule - cyclic GMP-AMP synthetase (cGAS) - recognises DNA and can trigger an immune response through the adaptor protein, STING. This ‘cGAS-STING’ signalling pathway was found to be fundamental to the recognition of several other viruses ...Continued(PDF)


Professor Nobuyuki Kato


OU-MRU Vol.16 released on Oct. 30, 2015


Epigenetics research traces how crickets restore lost legs

RNA interference experiments identify crucial genes and proteins behind the processes that regenerate amputated cricket legs, report researchers at Okayama University and The University of Tokushima Graduate School.

“The two-spotted cricket Gryllus bimaculatus has a remarkable regenerative capacity to restore a missing distal leg part,” say Hideyo Ohuchi, Tetsuya Bando and Yoshimasa Hamada and their colleagues in their recent paper. However, as they continue to explain, the mechanisms behind regeneration “remain elusive”. Their latest research identifies key genes and proteins involved in these epigenetic changes that allow regeneration to occur.


Dr.Bando(L) and Mr.Hamada(Ph.D. student)



OU-MRU Vol.15 released on Sept. 28, 2015

Metamaterial absorbers for infrared inspection technologies

A metamaterial absorber capable of highly sensitive infrared detection enhances the spectroscopy of tiny molecular details.
Plasmonic metamaterials are man-made substances whose structure can be manipulated to influence the way they interact with light. As such, metamaterials offer an attractive platform for sensing applications, including infrared (IR) absorption spectroscopy – a technique used to uncover details of the chemical make-up and structure of substances.


Assistant Professor  Atsushi Ishikawa



OU-MRU Vol.14 released on Sept. 16, 2015

Simplified boron compound may treat brain tumours

Effective and targeted uptake among malignant cells demonstrates the promise of a simplified boron compound for neutron radiation therapy, report researchers at Okayama University and Kinki University.
“Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common malignant central nervous system primary tumour that has been incurable for decades,” explain Hideki Matsui and colleagues at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and Kinki University in their recent report. Treatment with ‘boron neutron capture therapy’ (BNCT) has been found to double the duration of patient survival, but finding effective compounds for it has been challenging. Continued(PDF)


Assistant Professor  Hiroyuki Michiue


OU-MRU Vol.13 released on August 5, 2015

Peptide directs artificial tissue growth

Studies on peptide-modified cultures demonstrate control over both tissue growth and location in vitro.
“In vitro fabricated biological tissue would be a valuable tool to screen newly synthesized drugs or understand the tissue development process,” explain Takuya Matsumoto and his colleagues in a recent report. However tissues grown so far have not reached the size and final shape of natural tissue. Matsumoto and colleagues at Okayama, Osaka and Kansai Universities in Japan have now identified Continued(PDF)


Professor  Takuya Matsumoto


OU-MRU Vol.12 released on June 26, 2015

Molecular features of the circadian clock system in fruit flies

Studies of mutant fruit flies reveal how both photoreceptors and the visual system influence circadian clock neurons in response to changing light-dark cycles. The results are reported in the Journal of Neuroscience give new insights into sleep disorders including jet-lag.

Our bodies can respond to shifts in day and night patterns by reprogramming our so-called ‘circadian clock’ – a molecular system which responds to light-dark cycles (LD cycles). Now, Taishi Yoshii and Kenji Tomioka at the Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Okayama, in collaboration with scientists in Germany, have revealed how protein ...


 Associate Professor Taishi Yoshii


OU-MRU Vol.11 released on May 30, 2015

Compound-protein combination shows promise for arthritis treatment

Screening over 700 compounds reveals a steroid hormone with the capability to promote the repair of cartilage in joints.

Damaged cartilage leads to pain and reduced joint mobility in millions of arthritis sufferers worldwide, yet there remains a lack of effective treatments.  Now Emilio Satoshi and Takuo Kaboki and colleagues at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health in the US and Harvard School of Dental Medicine identify a steroid hormone that could help cartilage development - ‘chondrogenesis’ – thereby regenerating the damaged joint tissue....Continued(PDF)


 Prof.Kuboki (R) and his colleagues


OU-MRU Vol.10 released on April 27, 2015

Enzyme-inhibitors treat drug-resistant epilepsy

Studies reveal how high-fat low-carb diets affect brain activity and highlight an approach for treating epilepsy with metabolic drugs.

One percent of the world’s population suffer from epilepsy, and a third of sufferers cannot be treated with antiepileptic drugs. Diet control has been used to treat patients suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy since the 1920s, but how metabolic processes affect epilepsy has not been fully understood.


Tsuyoshi Inoue


OU-MRU Vol.9 released on March 23, 2015

Diabetes drug helps towards immunity against cancer

Studies reveal how a diabetes drug helps towards the rejection of tumours by supporting immune cells.

A 30-40% decrease in the risk of cancer has been observed in patients using the drug metformin to treat diabetes 2. This characteristic is in striking contrast with insulin-based diabetes treatments, which are linked to increases in cancer, however the mechanism behind metformin’s anticancer effects has so far not been well understood. Now Heiichiro Udono and colleagues at Okayama University and Kawasaki University in Japan explain these anticancer responses in a report investigating the drug’s effects on the immune system’s T cells....Continued(PDF)


Heiichiro Udono

OU-MRU Vol.8 released on March 11, 2015

FLight-responsive dye stimulates sight in genetically blind patients

Researchers at Okayama demonstrate the promise of a new approach for stimulating neurons in the eyes of patients with dead photoreceptor cells.

“The basic concept of retinal prostheses is to replace dead photoreceptor cells with artificial devices,” explain in a review of their recent research Toshihiko Matsuo, eye doctor, and Tetsuya Uchida, polymer scientist, from Okayama University, in collaboration with Kenichi Takarabe, semiconductor scientist, from Okayama University of Science in Japan. Blind patients with hereditary diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, have dead photoreceptor cells but other neurons remain alive. The Okayama University researchers are exploiting...Continued(PDF)


Toshihiko Matsuo

OU-MRU Vol.7 released on February 25, 2015

Anticancer virus solution provides an alternative to surgery

Researchers at Okayama demonstrate that injection of a virus solution followed by tumour removal can eradicate cancer metastasis in lymph nodes without the need for preventative surgery.

While early-stage gastrointestinal cancers can be treated non-surgically, once the cancer has invaded to a particular depth preventative – ‘prophylactic’ – surgery is routine. The frequency of lymph node metastasis increases significantly once the cancer has penetrated the submucosal layers, and as there is no way of determining whether the cancer has metastasized in the lymph nodes they will be surgically removed just in case....Continued(PDF)


Toshiyoshi Fujiwara

OU-MRU Vol.6 released on February 16, 2015

Fourth key molecule identified in bone development

Researchers at Okayama University have identified the role of an additional protein in controlling the signalling processes for bone repair and growth. Bone repair and remodelling is achieved by the resorption of bone tissue by cells called ‘osteoclasts’ and the generation of new bone material by ‘osteoblasts’.

Previous research had suggested that the molecular signalling for the generation of osteoclasts relies on a trio of protein molecules: RANK, RANKL and OPG. Now results from researchers at Okayama University have identified the crucial contribution of a fourth protein in the process....Continued(PDF)


Eriko Aoyama

OU-MRU Vol.5 released on January 28, 2015

Cell injections get to the heart of congenital defects

Researchers at Okayama University and Okayama University Hospital show that children suffering from a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) experienced some improvement in cardiac function in the months following injection of CDCs.

Children suffering from a lethal congenital heart defect may benefit from injections of a type of stem cells – cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs). A study conducted by researchers at Okayama University and Okayama University Hospital showed that children suffering from a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) experienced some improvement in cardiac function in the months following injection of CDCs....Continued(PDF)


Hidemasa Oh

OU-MRU Vol.4 released on December 22, 2014

Cardiac Mechanosensitive Integrator

Researchers at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and co-workers across Japan have uncovered the crucial role played by a particular protein (TRPV2) in maintaining a healthy heart.

The heart is a dynamic, finely-tuned mechanical structure which must continually respond to fluctuations in blood flow in the body. Exercise and pregnancy can strengthen the heart, requiring it to improve cardiac muscle power and pumping ability. Prolonged bed rest and lack of exercise leads to ‘cardiac atrophy’....Continued(PDF)


Yuki Katanosaka

OU-MRU Vol.3 released on November 30, 2014

Organ Regeneration Research Leaps Forward

Researchers at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and Kyorin University School of Medicine have successfully generated aoumru3.pdf kidney-like structure from just a single cell.

“It has been predicted that the kidney will be among the last organs successfully regenerated in vitro due to its complex structure and multiple functions,” state Shinji Kitamura, Hiroyuki Sakurai and Hirofumi Makino at the beginning of their latest report, before continuing to describe results suggesting a far more positive prognosis for the pace of kidney regeneration research....Continued(PDF)


Shinji Kitamura

OU-MRU Vol.2 released on October 29, 2014

Ensuring a cool recovery from cardiac arrest

Researchers at Okayama University in collaboration with several medical centres in Japan have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of a hypothermal treatment – pharyngeal cooling – for cardiac arrest patients.

Cooling the brain is known to prevent neurological problems in patients recovering from cardiac arrest. However the most of current methods for therapeutic hypothermia may not be initiated before return of spontaneous circulation. Researchers at Okayama University investigated a method for cooling the area at the top of the throat – the pharynx - because the arteries that supply the head with oxygenated blood run nearby....Continued(PDF)


Yoshimasa Takeda

OU-MRU Vol.1 released on July 10, 2014

Innovative non-invasive ‘liquid biopsy’ method to capture circulating tumor cells from blood samples for genetic testing

Okayama University medical researchers seek partners to commercialize their clinically proven non-invasive fluorescence virus-guided capture system of human colorectal circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood samples for genetic testing. This form of non-invasive companion diagnostics is important for personalized targeted cancer therapy.

The research is led by Professor Toshiyoshi Fujiwara, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences and was published in Gut May 2014. The key factor in capturing extremely low quantities of live CTCs from millions of background blood leukocytes is targeting the high telomerase activity of malignant tumor cells with green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressing telomerase specific replication adenovirus (OBP-401, TelomeScan....Continued(PDF)


Toshiyoshi Fujiwara