Lessons in lifestyle and lipids

Shimadzu and the University of Tokyo to develop lipidomics technology for biomarker discovery

Lloyd Dunlap
KYOTO, Japan—Shimadzu Corp. and the University of Tokyo havesigned a joint research agreement aimed at developing technology for thecomprehensive analysis of functional, membrane and other lipids for the purposeof discovering biomarkers for such lifestyle-related diseases as hypertension,diabetes, atherosclerosis, stroke and dyslipidemia.
"We aim to explore some factors (markers/profiles) which arecommon to such lifestyle diseases and also analyze the separate factors thatcharacterize these diseases," says Shimadzu spokesperson Satoko Maeji.
Lipid metabolism is also thought to be involved in and/orresponsible for a host of additional diseases and conditions, ranging frommyocardial infarction to congenital diseases such as Niemann-Pick disease,Gaucher's disease and Tay-Sachs disease. Drug-induced phospholipidosis is oneof the challenges in drug discovery, Maeji notes. The accumulation ofphospholipids in various tissues causes failure in physiological functions.
"You should choose the medicine which does not result inthese side effects," Maeji adds.
Shimadzu, the University of Tokyo and Ono Pharmaceutical Co.Ltd. of Osaka, Japan, have jointly established a sponsored laboratory at theuniversity, the Department of Lipidomics in the Graduate School of Medicine andFaculty of Medicine, which began operation in April of this year. The researchis being coordinated by associate professor Yoshihiro Kita. The purpose of thedepartment is to systematically and comprehensively analyze low molecularweight compounds, such as bioactive and membrane lipids, as the next area ofresearch following genomics and proteomics. In addition, it also aims toclarify how these substances relate to sustaining life and to discoverbiomarkers for the onset of diseases, such as lifestyle-related diseases andother metabolic disorders.
Parallel with genomics and proteomics, lipidomics refers tothe comprehensive analysis of lipids, which have been considered difficult toanalyze in a comprehensive manner. Due to recent advances in mass spectrometry,there has been rapid progress in this field. By participating in this jointresearch, Shimadzu says it aims to develop instruments and software that are bettertailored to the needs of research laboratories and contribute to pathologicalanalysis and the development of basic technology for drug discovery. The Universityof Tokyo will use state-of-the-art technology for analyzing lipids tounderstand the mechanisms involved in diseases fundamentally based on lipidmetabolism.
Lipid mediators, including prostaglandins, leukotrienes,platelet-activating factor and many other bioactive lipid metabolites areattracting great attention as disease-related or physiologically importantmolecules. Comprehensive analysis of known lipid mediators is a useful unbiasedmethod in disease mechanism studies, and the lipid mediator profile is a usefulparameter that characterizes disease status as well. At the University ofTokyo, the scientific team has developed an original multiplex quantificationmethod for trace amounts of lipid mediators using liquid chromatography-tandemmass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The goal is to develop more sensitive and rapidmethods that cover more lipid mediators, which meet the demands of variouslarge-scale studies and high-throughput screening approaches.
Shimadzu will provide the LC-MS/MS system to the Universityof Tokyo for lipid biomarker discovery, says Maeji. This agreement specifies aresearch term for the Department of Lipidomics that extends until March 31,2014. During this term, Shimadzu and the university will jointly researchtopics such as the development of a biological sample pretreatment system and acomprehensive method for analyzing lipids, and apply these to the discovery oflipid biomarkers. The department will assist with this effort.

Shimadzu, NCC ink cancer research deal
KYOTO, Japan—Shimadzu Corp. also recent announced that ithas signed a comprehensive collaborative research agreement with Japan'sNational Cancer Center (NCC) to develop medical technologies that contribute tothe suppression of cancer.
According to the two parties, they will develop technologiesrelated to the realization of ultra-early cancer diagnoses, pharmacokineticanalysis for the achievement of a revolution in the drug discovery process andmedical treatments. The agreement brings together the NCC's cancer researchtechniques and clinical experience and Shimadzu's cutting-edge technologies innext-generation medical treatment fields.
Established in 1962, the NCC is the leading Japanese medicalinstitution for cancer treatment and research, and has a wealth of experiencein terms of clinical studies.
In discussing his hopes for collaborative research, NCCChief Director TakamasaKayama stated he would like to see "the union with Shimadzu lead tothe development of equipment that can be used throughout the world, so as toeffect and advance the change from life science to medical science."
In indicating his ambitions, Shimadzu President AkiraNakamoto noted, "thus far, the life sciences have been the core enterpriseat Shimadzu. In the future, however, I would like to see the biomarkercandidates discovered to date applied to ultra-early diagnosis; we believe thiscan be accomplished through the implementation of clinically useful medicalscience and a fusion of imaging diagnostics and molecular imaging, inconjunction with the NCC."
To date, the NCC and Shimadzu have pursued collaborativeresearch based on individual themes, including examinations of the clinicalapplications of the "tomosynthesis" medical imaging technology. 

Lloyd Dunlap

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