Vol.2, December 2014
Jun-ichi Hata, M.D., Ph.D.
Research Director, Board Member
Central Institute for Experimental Animals (CIEA)
Central Institute for Experimental Animals (CIEA) is located at the heart of the Kawasaki Innovation Gateway at SKYFRONT (KING SKYFRONT).
My research centers on cancer in children and infants. My association with CIEA when I began to use nude mice systems produced by researchers at CIEA. The lack of a thymus in these mice means that they have an inhibited immune system. So it is possible to transplant everything into these mice. We transplanted children’s cancer into nude mice to test its growth in living tissue.
My appointment as director of CIEA is based on the perspective of a user who thinks about what kind of animals could be produced for the development of drugs, medical care, and medicine.
Types and uses of experimental animals
CIEA has two main research departments. In the first, genetically modified mice are produced for modelling human diseases. The second department is focused on marmosets for clarifying the mechanisms of the human central nervous system and brain. Genetic modification enables production of marmosets for neuroscience research.
Research published in Nature (2009)
In 2009 our research on a genetically modified marmoset was published in Nature. We inserted the GFP-gene that fluoresces green light into ES cells produced from the fertilized eggs of a marmoset. This made the whole body of the marmoset fluoresce with green light. This research showed that genetic modification technology could be used in marmosets. These results were a breakthrough for producing animal models for studying ailments such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Or production of immune-deficient marmosets enables the production of a ‘human environment’ inside marmosets.
My current research is on spinal cord injuries. There are hundreds of thousands of patients each year with spinal problems due to accidents or diseases. We are working in collaboration with Professor Okano of Keio University on re-generative medicine (iPS and ES cells) for the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
CIEA has an MRI system for analyzing the brains of mice and marmosets. Our technology enables the clear visualization of neural networks of humans, rodents, and marmoset primates.
Young researchers are necessary to pass on our technology and fruits of our research to the next generation of scientists. So we are keen to collaborate with educational institutes, whose research students regularly visit CIEA to conduct research.
“Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) before our eyes”
Haneda Airport is within easy access of ‘KING SKYFRONT’ and CIEA. An increasing number of international carriers are using the airport as a hub in Asia. It’s a great location for CIEA to expand our operations on a global scale.