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Medical DiscoveriesBionicBong | BionicBong | Japan News
Researchers at the RIKEN Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology revealed they have succeeded for the first time in creating cancer-specific, immune system cells called killer T lymphocytes, the Daily Mail said.
To create these, the team first had to reprogramme T lymphocytes specialized in killing a certain type of cancer, into another type of cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). These iPS cells then generated fully active, cancer-specific T lymphocytes. These lymphocytes regenerated from iPS cells could potentially serve as cancer therapy in the future, researchers believe.
Previous research has shown that killer T lymphocytes produced in the lab using conventional methods are inefficient in killing cancer cells mainly because they have a very short life-span, which limits their use as treatment for cancer.
Tetsuro Fujita’s eureka moment with a Himalayan fungus in 1985 may mean part of a $5 billion payout for Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. a quarter-century later.
While the scientist drove over a bridge between Shikoku and Honshu on his way to take up a post researching traditional herbal remedies, Fujita realized that the fungus, used in a Chinese medicinal soup, must be suppressing the immune system of the insects on which it grew.
His research at Kyoto University not only helped yield Gilenya, a new treatment for multiple sclerosis — the debilitating condition afflicting more than 2 million people worldwide — but it also promised to bring Mitsubishi Tanabe its biggest money earner. Annual sales of the pill, the first for the autoimmune disease, may exceed $5 billion, UBS AG said.
"Little did I think that it would be a treatment for multiple sclerosis," Fujita, 80, said in an in interview Kyoto. "I was more interested in immune suppression for organ transplants. I knew nothing about the disease back then."
Novartis AG, based in Basel, Switzerland, began selling Gilenya in the U.S. in October. Projected sales of the medicine have it ranked as one of the 10 best-selling drugs worldwide, based on data from IMS Health Inc., a research company based in Norwalk, Conn.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have found a gene in the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that restrains the toxins and movement of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that often cause deadly mass infections in hospitals.
"By restraining its own toxicity, the bacteria is probably employing a strategy of coexisting with its human host," said Kazuhisa Sekimizu, a microbiology professor who led the team.
MRSA with the particular gene had less than half of the toxins of the bacteria without the gene. The bacteria also moved more slowly.
Mice infected with the bacteria with the particular gene were found to survive about 10 times longer than otherwise.
Japan’s pharmaceutical industry doesn’t have even a single candidate for new antibiotics to counter multidrug-resistant superbugs such as some types of Acinetobacter and E. coli bacteria, according to an expert reporting the situation to the government.
Shuhei Fujimoto, a professor at Tokai University’s Department of Bacteriology and Bacterial Infection, said he alerted the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s study group on superbugs to the lack of new antibiotics indispensable to treat people infected with such bacteria.
"Although the battle with multidrug-resistant bacteria has long been buttressed by developments of new antibiotics, we are in a critical situation at present," he said.
Low profitability of antibiotics appears to be a factor behind pharmaceutical manufacturers’ reluctance to make developmental efforts for new antibiotics, he said.
Japan on Monday said it has detected its first case of an antibiotic-resistant "superbug" that surfaced in South Asia and has triggered a global health alert.
A hospital linked to the Dokkyo Medical University in Tochigi prefecture north of Tokyo detected a drug-resistant "superbug", a bacterium carrying the New Delhi metallo-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) gene, in a patient last year, a hospital official told AFP.
The case follows a warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) last month calling on global health authorities to monitor the drug-resistant superbug that is believed to have spread from India.
"A patient who came home from India, in his 50s, had fever symptoms while he was hospitalised in May last year, and after a blood test the hospital detected an antibiotics-resistant bacterium," the official said, adding that the patient fully recovered.