Kumamoto, Japan
Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto University , abbreviated to Kumadai , is a Japanese public university located in Kumamoto, Kumamoto prefecture in the Kyushu region of Japan. It was established on May 31, 1949, at which time the following institutions were subsumed into it; Kumamoto Teachers College , Kumamoto Pharmaceutical College , the Fifth High School , Kumamoto Medical College , and Kumamoto Technical College . Currently, the university has seven faculties and eight graduate schools with a total of around 10,000 Japanese students and 400 international students from Asia, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania. Wikipedia.


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Provided are a method for preparing a mammalian ovum or embryo in which zona pellucida has been thinned or eliminated, and a method for fertilization using the mammalian ovum prepared by the aforementioned method. The resulting mammalian ovum or embryo is capable of realizing an improved fertilization rate and development rate when used for in vitro fertilization, transplantation of a fertilized ovum, or for preparation of an embryo in the early stages of development used in the production of a genetically modified animal.


The purpose of the present invention is to provide pluripotent cells that are highly safe in applications for regenerative medicine, and a method for producing the same. Another purpose of the present invention is in particular to provide pluripotent cells that pose fewer problems with respect to malignant transformation of cells and that arouse less concern about safety regarding the presence of bacteria inside cells, and a method for producing the same. The present invention provides a method for producing pluripotent cells from somatic cells. This method includes a step for inducing reprogramming of cells by bringing a ribosome fraction of biological origin into contact with somatic cells. The present invention also provides a composition for inducing cell reprogramming, the composition including a ribosome fraction of biological origin.


Patent
Mitsui Mining, Smelting Co. and Kumamoto University | Date: 2017-03-08

The invention relates to a catalyst carrier for exhaust gas purification catalyst which contains a metal phosphate containing Zr, and it provides a new catalyst carrier which exhibits excellent NOx purification performance in a high temperature region. The invention proposes a carrier for exhaust gas purification catalyst containing a metal phosphate which has a NASICON type structure and contains Zr.


The mechanical properties of cells have an impact on biological processes ranging from wound healing and disease to cellular aging and differentiation. Currently, the most popular method of measuring the mechanical properties of a cell is by atomic-force microscopy (AFM). Very simply, AFM works by moving a very fine needle attached to a cantilever beam across the sample surface, and the deflection of the beam is measured directly with a laser. Very high resolution ( AFM and other tools used to measure the properties of small-scale biological samples have been improving, but they are still expensive, difficult to use (even for experienced users), and often damage the cells being analyzed. For these reasons, researchers from Kumamoto University, Japan created a new device to easily evaluate the mechanical properties of cells. Their cell compression microdevice is cheaper and easier to use than other tools. It uses a very thin and soft diaphragm for cell compression making it minimally invasive, and it allows for real-time observation of cell compression. In their most recent research project, they examined the effectiveness of the microdevice by calculating the Young's modulus (also known as the elastic modulus) of osteoblasts and comparing the measured values with those reported using other methods. Cell deformation was evaluated after 30 seconds of compression from a digital image taken by a CMOS camera. Compression was performed by applying air pressure to the diaphragm of the microdevice in 0.5 MPa intervals, and measurements were taken from 0 to 2.0 MPa. The researchers estimated the Young's modulus of the osteoblasts by dividing the applied pressure by the rate of deformation and found that their results (Young's modulus ≈ 3.5 - 4.2 kPa) corroborated previous findings. "Other researchers have reported a Young's modulus anywhere from 1.0 - 2.0 kPa for osteoblasts to 4.0 - 200 kPa for bone marrow stromal cells, which is comparable with our results," explained Associate Professor Yuta Nakashima, leader of the research project and inventor of the microdevice. "It should be noted, however, that evaluating the Young's modulus one-dimensionally, as our method does, leaves some room for error since the true Young's modulus is likely not uniform for the spherical cell. Our measurements might be more accurately referred to as the apparent Young's modulus." Dr. Nakashima intends to improve the precision of mechanical property calculations by using numerical simulations in future studies. More information: Tairo Yokokura et al, Method for measuring Young's modulus of cells using a cell compression microdevice, International Journal of Engineering Science (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijengsci.2017.02.002


Patent
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Kumamoto University | Date: 2016-07-06

The invention relates to a method of treating ocular amyloidosis by reducing TTR expression in a subject by administering a double-stranded ribonucleic acid (dsRNA) that targets a TTR gene to the retinal pigment epithelium of the subject.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The mechanical properties of cells have an impact on biological processes ranging from wound healing and disease to cellular aging and differentiation. Currently, the most popular method of measuring the mechanical properties of a cell is by atomic-force microscopy (AFM). Very simply, AFM works by moving a very fine needle attached to a cantilever beam across the sample surface, and the deflection of the beam is measured directly with a laser. Very high resolution ( AFM and other tools used to measure the properties of small-scale biological samples have been improving, but they are still expensive, difficult to use (even for experienced users), and often damage the cells being analyzed. For these reasons, researchers from Kumamoto University, Japan created a new device to easily evaluate the mechanical properties of cells. Their cell compression microdevice is cheaper and easier to use than other tools. It uses a very thin and soft diaphragm for cell compression making it minimally invasive, and it allows for real-time observation of cell compression. In their most recent research project, they examined the effectiveness of the microdevice by calculating the Young's modulus (also known as the elastic modulus) of osteoblasts and comparing the measured values with those reported using other methods. Cell deformation was evaluated after 30 seconds of compression from a digital image taken by a CMOS camera. Compression was performed by applying air pressure to the diaphragm of the microdevice in 0.5 MPa intervals, and measurements were taken from 0 to 2.0 MPa. The researchers estimated the Young's modulus of the osteoblasts by dividing the applied pressure by the rate of deformation and found that their results (Young's modulus ≈ 3.5 - 4.2 kPa) corroborated previous findings. "Other researchers have reported a Young's modulus anywhere from 1.0 - 2.0 kPa for osteoblasts to 4.0 - 200 kPa for bone marrow stromal cells, which is comparable with our results," explained Associate Professor Yuta Nakashima, leader of the research project and inventor of the microdevice. "It should be noted, however, that evaluating the Young's modulus one-dimensionally, as our method does, leaves some room for error since the true Young's modulus is likely not uniform for the spherical cell. Our measurements might be more accurately referred to as the apparent Young's modulus." Dr. Nakashima intends to improve the precision of mechanical property calculations by using numerical simulations in future studies. This research may be found online in ScienceDirect's International Journal of Engineering Science. Tairo Yokokura, Yuta Nakashima, Yukihiro Yonemoto, Yuki Hikichi, and Yoshitaka Nakanishi. Method for measuring Young's modulus of cells using a cell compression microdevice. International Journal of Engineering Science, 114():41-48, 2017.


News Article | May 19, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Clarification of how human blood vessels are constructed is desperately needed to advance regenerative medicine. A collaborative research group from Kumamoto University, Kyoto University, and the University of Tokyo in Japan investigated the changes in gene functions that occur when stem cells become vascular cells. They found that the histone code, which alters the transcriptional state of the gene, changes over time as stem cells differentiate into blood vessels in response to a stimulus. Furthermore, they found that a transcription factor group essential for blood vessel differentiation (ETS/GATA/SOX) has a previously unknown role. Regenerative medicine has made remarkable progress due to research with embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. However, the mechanism of how blood vessels are constructed from these undifferentiated cells has not yet been clarified. During the creation of new blood vessels, the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein differentiates stem cells into vascular endothelial cells and stimulates them to create new blood vessels. Researchers at Kumamoto University added VEGF to undifferentiated ES cells and tracked the behavior of the entire genome and epigenome changes over time in vitro. Using ES cells developed at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) in Kyoto University, the research group collected RNA and histones of each cell immediately after VEGF stimulation (0 h), before differentiation (6 h), during differentiation (12 - 24 h), and after differentiation (48 h). They then comprehensively analyzed the changes in the whole genome and epigenome using next generation deep sequencing. In the process of blood vessel differentiation, the function of the protein ETS variant 2 (ETV2), which determines the differentiation into vascular endothelium, was first induced within 6 hours of differentiation stimulation. The protein GATA2, which binds to ETV2 and supports vascular endothelial differentiation, was induced immediately thereafter. Transcription factors SOX and FLI1, both important for endothelial differentiation, were induced between 12 and 24 hours. At 48 hours, after differentiation into vascular endothelium was determined, a system of transcription was established in which genes unique to vascular endothelial differentiation were induced. Furthermore, an examination of the histone code revealed that the regulatory genomic region of the transcription factors (ETS/GATA/SOX) was found to have gradually switched from a "brake histone mark," which suppresses transcription, to an "accelerator histone mark," which activates transcription, while in the process of differentiating into the vascular endothelium. Previously, in the region that controls the function of the transcription factor that promotes differentiation from ES cells to a specific cell type, bivalent modifications of histones such as the accelerator and brake histone marks for transcription were thought to have coexisted. In addition, when these transcription factors lose their function, terminal differentiation into the vascular endothelium (completion of differentiation) is completely suppressed, and genes that are key to differentiation into vascular endothelial cells as well as transcription factors that maintain the undifferentiated state are adversely induced. Collectively, the transcription factors (ETS/GATA/SOX) not only induce vascular endothelial differentiation, but also suppress regression to an undifferentiated state and differentiation into other ectodermal or endoderm-derived cells. It is expected that the knowledge of the functions of these transcription factors, when combined with gene editing techniques, will allow for the efficient regeneration of blood vessels. This finding was first reported in "Nucleic Acid Research" on March 17th, 2017. Y. Kanki, R. Nakaki, T. Shimamura, T. Matsunaga, K. Yamamizu, S. Katayama, J. Suehiro, T. Osawa, H. Aburatani, T. Kodama, et al., "Dynamically and epigenetically coordinated gata/ets/sox transcription factor expression is indispensable for endothelial cell differentiation.," Nucleic acids research, Mar. 2017. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkx159


News Article | May 19, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Clarification of how human blood vessels are constructed is desperately needed to advance regenerative medicine. A collaborative research group from Kumamoto University, Kyoto University, and the University of Tokyo in Japan investigated the changes in gene functions that occur when stem cells become vascular cells. They found that the histone code, which alters the transcriptional state of the gene, changes over time as stem cells differentiate into blood vessels in response to a stimulus. Furthermore, they found that a transcription factor group essential for blood vessel differentiation (ETS/GATA/SOX) has a previously unknown role. Regenerative medicine has made remarkable progress due to research with embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. However, the mechanism of how blood vessels are constructed from these undifferentiated cells has not yet been clarified. During the creation of new blood vessels, the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein differentiates stem cells into vascular endothelial cells and stimulates them to create new blood vessels. Researchers at Kumamoto University added VEGF to undifferentiated ES cells and tracked the behavior of the entire genome and epigenome changes over time in vitro. Using ES cells developed at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) in Kyoto University, the research group collected RNA and histones of each cell immediately after VEGF stimulation (0 h), before differentiation (6 h), during differentiation (12 -- 24 h), and after differentiation (48 h). They then comprehensively analyzed the changes in the whole genome and epigenome using next generation deep sequencing. In the process of blood vessel differentiation, the function of the protein ETS variant 2 (ETV2), which determines the differentiation into vascular endothelium, was first induced within 6 hours of differentiation stimulation. The protein GATA2, which binds to ETV2 and supports vascular endothelial differentiation, was induced immediately thereafter. Transcription factors SOX and FLI1, both important for endothelial differentiation, were induced between 12 and 24 hours. At 48 hours, after differentiation into vascular endothelium was determined, a system of transcription was established in which genes unique to vascular endothelial differentiation were induced. Furthermore, an examination of the histone code revealed that the regulatory genomic region of the transcription factors (ETS/GATA/SOX) was found to have gradually switched from a "brake histone mark," which suppresses transcription, to an "accelerator histone mark," which activates transcription, while in the process of differentiating into the vascular endothelium. Previously, in the region that controls the function of the transcription factor that promotes differentiation from ES cells to a specific cell type, bivalent modifications of histones such as the accelerator and brake histone marks for transcription were thought to have coexisted. In addition, when these transcription factors lose their function, terminal differentiation into the vascular endothelium (completion of differentiation) is completely suppressed, and genes that are key to differentiation into vascular endothelial cells as well as transcription factors that maintain the undifferentiated state are adversely induced. Collectively, the transcription factors (ETS/GATA/SOX) not only induce vascular endothelial differentiation, but also suppress regression to an undifferentiated state and differentiation into other ectodermal or endoderm-derived cells. It is expected that the knowledge of the functions of these transcription factors, when combined with gene editing techniques, will allow for the efficient regeneration of blood vessels.


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

As an alternative to liquid fossil fuels, biodiesel extracted from microalgae is an increasingly important part of the bioenergy field. While it releases a similar amount of CO2 as petroleum when burned, the CO2 released from biodiesel is that which has recently been removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis meaning that it does not contribute to an increase of the greenhouse gas. Furthermore, research has shown that microalgae produces a much higher percentage of their biomass to usable oil in a significantly smaller land mass than terrestrial crops. Currently, one of the largest obstacles in replacing diesel with biodiesel is the cost of production. Fossil fuels are still cheaper than biofuels so improvements in production efficiency are highly sought-after. Recently, efforts have been made by researchers in Japan to reduce the cost of biodiesel production by using pulsed electric fields (PEF) to extract hydrocarbons from microalgae. A milli- or microsecond PEF is typically used to weaken cell walls and increase permeability allowing for extraction of elements inside the cell. Kumamoto University researchers, on the other hand, used a nanosecond PEF (nsPEF) to focus on the microalgae matrix instead of the cells. A nsPEF generally uses less energy than the μs/msPEFs even at high voltages, and is not as destructive or costly as the traditional drying method of oil extraction. The researchers performed several tests with the nsPEF on the microalgae Botryococcus braunii (Bb) to determine the optimal electric field, energy, and pulse repetition frequency for hydrocarbon extraction. Interestingly, it was found that doubling the energy only resulted in a 10% increase in hydrocarbon extraction. At 10 Hz, the optimal field and energy conditions were determined to be approximately 50 kV/cm and 55.6 J/ml respectively per volume of algae. Further, the researchers found that pulse frequency had little to no effect on extraction percentage, meaning that a large amount of hydrocarbons may be extracted quickly for large/industrial systems. "The advantage with this extraction mechanism is that it separates hydrocarbons from a matrix, rather than extracts them from cells. Other microalgae do not secrete a matrix so the cell membranes must be damaged or destroyed to get at the hydrocarbons, which both takes more energy and is less efficient than our method," said lead researcher, Professor Hamid Hosseini of the Institute of Pulsed Power Science at Kumamoto University. "On top of that, many extraction processes practiced today use a drying method to extract oil which ends in the destruction of the algae. Our method is relatively non-destructive and the microalgae are able to rebuild their colonies after extraction has finished." One minor drawback is the impurity of the matrix; polysaccharides must be purified from the extracted hydrocarbon solution. Fortunately, these molecules may be used in the creation of bioethanol but their concentration is low. It is hoped that this technology will improve biofuel production as an appropriate green energy source. This work may be found in the online BioMed Central journal, Biotechnology for Biofuels. Guionet, A., Hosseini, B., Teissié , J., Akiyama, H., & Hosseini, H. (2017). A new mechanism for efficient hydrocarbon electro-extraction from Botryococcus braunii. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 10(1), 39. DOI: 10.1186/s13068-017-0724-1


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: phys.org

a) This is a colony full of cells (red) with polysaccharides (yellow) and hydrocarbons (green) leaving the colony (x20); b) parts of colony tightly packed together (x60); c) colony full of cells (red) with dichotomial ramification of polysaccharides (yellow) and hydrocarbons leaving the colony (green) (x100); d) Single cell (x100 and numerically magnified).(Adapted from Guionet, A., Hosseini, B., Teissie, J., Akiyama, H., & Hosseini, H. (2017). A new mechanism for efficient hydrocarbon electro-extraction from Botryococcus braunii. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 10(1), 39. DOI: 10.1186/s13068-017-0724-1) Credit: Professor Hamid Hosseini As an alternative to liquid fossil fuels, biodiesel extracted from microalgae is an increasingly important part of the bioenergy field. While it releases a similar amount of CO2 as petroleum when burned, the CO2 released from biodiesel is that which has recently been removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis meaning that it does not contribute to an increase of the greenhouse gas. Furthermore, research has shown that microalgae produces a much higher percentage of their biomass to usable oil in a significantly smaller land mass than terrestrial crops. Currently, one of the largest obstacles in replacing diesel with biodiesel is the cost of production. Fossil fuels are still cheaper than biofuels so improvements in production efficiency are highly sought-after. Recently, efforts have been made by researchers in Japan to reduce the cost of biodiesel production by using pulsed electric fields (PEF) to extract hydrocarbons from microalgae. A milli- or microsecond PEF is typically used to weaken cell walls and increase permeability allowing for extraction of elements inside the cell. Kumamoto University researchers, on the other hand, used a nanosecond PEF (nsPEF) to focus on the microalgae matrix instead of the cells. A nsPEF generally uses less energy than the μs/msPEFs even at high voltages, and is not as destructive or costly as the traditional drying method of oil extraction. The researchers performed several tests with the nsPEF on the microalgae Botryococcus braunii (Bb) to determine the optimal electric field, energy, and pulse repetition frequency for hydrocarbon extraction. Interestingly, it was found that doubling the energy only resulted in a 10% increase in hydrocarbon extraction. At 10 Hz, the optimal field and energy conditions were determined to be approximately 50 kV/cm and 55.6 J/ml respectively per volume of algae. Further, the researchers found that pulse frequency had little to no effect on extraction percentage, meaning that a large amount of hydrocarbons may be extracted quickly for large/industrial systems. "The advantage with this extraction mechanism is that it separates hydrocarbons from a matrix, rather than extracts them from cells. Other microalgae do not secrete a matrix so the cell membranes must be damaged or destroyed to get at the hydrocarbons, which both takes more energy and is less efficient than our method," said lead researcher, Professor Hamid Hosseini of the Institute of Pulsed Power Science at Kumamoto University. "On top of that, many extraction processes practiced today use a drying method to extract oil which ends in the destruction of the algae. Our method is relatively non-destructive and the microalgae are able to rebuild their colonies after extraction has finished." One minor drawback is the impurity of the matrix; polysaccharides must be purified from the extracted hydrocarbon solution. Fortunately, these molecules may be used in the creation of bioethanol but their concentration is low. It is hoped that this technology will improve biofuel production as an appropriate green energy source. This work may be found in the online BioMed Central journal, Biotechnology for Biofuels. Explore further: Microalgae have great potential as fish feed ingredient More information: Alexis Guionet et al, A new mechanism for efficient hydrocarbon electro-extraction from Botryococcus braunii, Biotechnology for Biofuels (2017). DOI: 10.1186/s13068-017-0724-1

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