Developmental Engineering & Animal Resources Group
Developmental engineering is a methodology that applies techniques including gene modification and nuclear transfer to embryos or ova to produce genetically modified or cloned animals. MUIIBR is engaged in developing somatic-cell cloned and genetically modified pigs and cryopreserving those animals’ reproductive cells. The cluster brings together the results of individual studies to create original experimental animals that will contribute to the development of advanced medical technologies for application in the treatment of diabetes and other intractable illnesses, organ transplantation, organ regeneration and reproductive medicine.
The cluster’s advanced technological capabilities enable it to steadily accumulate achievements represented by such technologies as creation of the world’s first 6th-generation cloned pig, the world’s first diabetes model pigs, and the world’s first red fluorescent pigs. MUIIBR Developmental Engineering Group aims to develop and utilize these animals as invaluable research resources in transmitting the results of basic research in the areas of regenerative and transplantation medicines and reproductive medicine to clinical applications by pursuing research using all the strengths of its network of domestic and international institutions and organizations.
Genetic Engineering and Reproductive Science Group
The function of endocrine organs such as the pituitary gland is to produce hormones—they serve as the control system for human physiology. Since endocrine organ formation and hormone production are regulated by genes, unraveling the mechanism of genetic information control systems makes it possible to enhance the reproductive function of animals and optimize genetic modification strategies. Optimizing genetic modification and the regulation of gene expression permits precise control of genetic functions for a variety of purposes, which enables us to accumulate knowledge essential to developing large animal models that will contribute to the development of regenerative and transplantation medicine through innovations such as pigs without a particular organ/tissue or pigs with particular genes eliminated out so that they can be used for xenotransplantation. Another aspect of our genetic studies is exploring the causes of infertility in anticipation of opening new avenues in fertility medicine.
Conventional orthopedic medicine has concentrated on replacing or repairing damage using non-cellular artificial materials: metals and cements. It has not, however, necessarily been able to realize high standards of activities of daily living (ADL) and quality of life (QOL) for patients. To restore patients’ ADL and QOL to a state as close as possible to their original condition, it is preferable to use biomaterials that are made from substances such as cells and other matter that forms the human body.
MUIIBR is engaged in research on producing high-level biomaterials combining science and engineering with biological approaches with the objective of contributing to the development of biomaterials for orthopedic medicine. Through our cluster relationships, MUIIBR is also pursuing optimal medical technologies through translational research on clinical applications for the technologies and materials developed.
Organ Regeneration and Organ Transplantation (Xenotransplantation) Group
The shortage of organ donors is a fundamental issue facing transplantation medicine around the world. Given that, realistically, there will always be a limit to securing organ donors, it is unlikely that the gap between demand and supply will ever be closed. Accordingly, attention is now increasingly turning to the regeneration of organs made possible by regenerative medicine. MUIIBR is engaged in research on the regeneration of human organs within pig bodies using pluripotent stem cells, including iPS cells. The group is also pursuing the production of pig organs suitable for transplantation into humans, and is conducting research on applying organ regeneration technology in veterinary clinical medicine as a precursor to applying the therapy to humans. As the first step towards that goal, we are currently working on restoring feline renal function by transplanting fetal swine kidneys into cats suffering renal failure, the cause of 30 percent of cat deaths.