Division of Analytical Chemistry for Drug Discovery Faculty of Pharmacy Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences Keio University



In the analysis of biological phenomena and pathology, “smart molecules” having special functions enable the visualization and control of biological phenomena, which have never been achieved by conventional methods. These molecules exhibit various abilities in biological samples by precisely designing the molecular structures.

The objective of our laboratory is to develop new functional molecules which can be applicable in pharmaceutical research. We design and synthesize these functional molecules, and apply them to molecular imaging, drug discovery, drug delivery system (DDS), bio-separation and bio-analysis.

Our current research subjects are;

1. Activatable Fluorescent Probes Based on Novel Fluorophores

We precisely designed and chemically synthesized activatable fluorescent probes, which can show the fluorescent spectral change in response to the specific biomolecules, based on our novel fluorophores(Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 6015. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 5925. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 13713, etc.). By using these probes, the dynamics of biomolecules in biological systems can be visualized. Our goal is to apply these probes to the fluorescence imaging of biosamples and realize the biological phenomena.

2. Self-assembling Designer Proteins

We genetically and chemically engineer self-assembling proteins to create designer protein shells which serve as molecular containers for storage, delivery and production of bioactive materials (Nat. Commun. 2017, 8, 14663. ChemBioChem 2020, 21, 74-79). Our goal is to apply such functional protein shells to drug delivery systems and molecular sensors to analyze and control various biological phenomena.

3. Novel Drug Delivery Systems (DDSs) Using Functional Polymers.

Utilizing a DDS that accurately targets specific locations, times, and dosages, we can maximize treatment efficacy while minimizing side effects. Our research focuses on developing nanostructures decorated with functional polymers, enabling autonomous responses to environmental changes such as temperature and pH. By loading drugs onto these precisely designed nanostructures, our goal is to manipulate drug distribution and pharmacokinetics within the body and cells, offering controlled and targeted drug delivery.

4. Precision Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics (PreMo)

We are developing the molecular diagnostic systems and the analytical methods for personalized medicine on the basis of our own analytical chemical technology and knowledge in collaboration with Hitachi High-Tech Corporation and Hitachi High-Tech Science Corporation.