Research area

Section of Natural Products & Drug Discovery, Division of Medicinal Resources Unit

Outline of the research

This field consists of two independent units with a research focus on advanced natural products and attendant drug discovery. We utilize the cutting-edge technologies, such as enzyme engineering, x-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, etc. to understand the fundamentals of natural product biosynthesis, the discovery of bioactive compounds, and clarify their molecular mechanism for drug development against various diseases, as mentioned in the primary research focus of each unit.

Unit 1: Natural Products Chemistry Laboratory (Professor Hiroyuki Morita,  Assist Prof. Takeshi Kodama, Assist. Prof. Yu Nakashima) with the following primary research projects.

  1. Studies on biosynthesis of naturally occurring bioactive compounds.
  2. Structural basis for secondary metabolite enzymes.
  3. Enzyme engineering for novel drug development.
  4. Isolation of bioactive compounds from plants, microorganisms, and marine organisms.
  5. Investigation of Asia’s natural resources not fully utilized.

Unit 2: Natural Drug Discovery Laboratory (Assoc. Prof. Suresh Awale) with the following primary research projects.

  1. Anti-austerity strategy-based screening of traditional medicinal plants from different origins (e.g. Kampo medicines, Ayurvedic medicinal plants, etc.) utilizing human pancreatic cancer cell lines (e.g. PANC-1, MIA Paca2, KLM-1, NOR-P1, Capan-1, PSN-1, etc).
  2. Discovery of anti-austerity agents from natural medicine resources through bioassay-guided isolation, identification by using state-of-the-art chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques (e.g. NMR, MS, UV, IR, CD). In vivo anti-tumor evaluation using the pancreatic cancer xenograft mouse model.
  3. Investigation of the structure-activity relationship of the active natural compounds and their mechanism of action against cell survival pathways.
  4. Discovery of metabolomic biomarkers associated with cancer cells by utilizing Orbitrap-MS and FT-NMR strategy.

Researcher in charge