Second day of the Science Summer Program

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Introduction of the Advanced Medical Research Center~The Creation of Health by Advanced Medical Research.

Prof. Tomio Inoue, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Medical Research of YCU, Director of the Advanced Medical Research Center.

The second day of the 2010 YCU Science Summer Program took place on August 17 at the YCU Fukuura Campus. To begin with, Prof. Inoue introduced the Advanced Medical Research Center.

The Advanced Medical Research Center is a YCU-attached research institution primarily devoted to overcoming such diseases as cancer, life style-related diseases and immune/allergy diseases. It is aiming at the creation of a translational research system to return research fruits immediately back to medical practice and the citizens through promoting basic research.

Lecture 4 A new paradigm for current HIV/AIDS therapy: Basic science and its translation to clinical practice

Prof. Ryo Akihide, MD., Ph.D, Department of Medical Research

The 4th lecture of the program was given by Prof. Ryo Akihide. It concerned HIV virus and AIDS.
To begin with, Prof. Ryo presented an explanation of the current status of the society surrounding HIV/AIDS. The students then learned about the mechanisms through which HIV virus induces AIDS.
Because HIV virus is liable to mutations, the HAART therapy in which a total dosage is reduced is being employed through concomitant use of multiple types of drugs.
There is no therapy available at present that achieves complete recovery from AIDS. The idea of LTNP (long-term non-progressor) is being made much of. To realize this idea, an attempt is being made to prolong a patient’s life by preventing a disease progression for a long time.

Prof. Ryo is conducting research on whether the condition of a patient changes according to the circumstances in which patients are placed and their dietary habit. Prof. Ryo is also examining the manner in which genes are involved.

Lecture 5 Molecular mechanism of adaptation to overnutrition and starvation and its failure

Prof. Yasuo Terauchi, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Graduate School of Medicine

A lecture by Prof. Terauchi followed. He talked about a relationship between obesity and diabetes mellitus.

Adipocytes increase insulin sensitivity and/or inhibit arteriosclerosis through degrading proteins called adiponectins. However, those adipocytes that have become too large make the secretion of adiponectins difficult. Adipocytes secrete FFA (free fatty acid) instead that decreases insulin sensitivity.

If insulin has ceased to work, the use of glucose is inhibited, which results in the development of diabetes. It is said that those with increased visceral fat obesity are liable to be affected by metabolic syndrome and that the Japanese are more likely to have visceral fat as compared with Caucasians. This is thought to be explained by the fact that the Asian and Japanese people have so-called unique ‘thrifty genes.’

Also introduced was a method of a mouse experiment to understand the functions of adiponectins and related genes. It was also pointed out that adiponectins also have influence on the brain.

Tour of the Advanced Medical Research Center

The students toured several facilities in the afternoon. To begin with, they visited the Advanced Medical Research Center.

Imaging Center

This is a laboratory where various activities of cells and genes are observed. We were able to observe neurons with a large tube-shaped electron microscope.

Bio-bank Division

The human tissue samples obtained from patients together with medical data are collected and stored in this room. The extracted samples will enable more bedside-minded research.
There were some students who were unable to keep watching vivid photographs of the samples on the wall.

Cellome Center

Analyses at the cellular level are conducted in this room. The Cellome Center aims at developing an innovative treatment method including gene therapy and regeneration medicine. It is said that research on ES cells and iPS cells is also being conducted here.

Visit to the advanced medical facility of the YCU-attached Hospital

The students then visited the Department of Radiology of the YCU-attached Hospital. They were also able to watch a surgical simulator in urology.

Tour to study PET-CT/molecular imaging (led by Katuaki Hagiwara, Lecturer of the Department of Radiology)

Following the explanation by Dr. Hagiwara concerning the principles of three types of devices used for imaging tests such as CT, PET and MRI, we visited the place where these devices were being used in practice.
The students were happy to have the opportunity to see the hidden side of a hospital that is ordinarily not accessible for them. They asked Dr. Hagiwara questions that came to their minds.

On the basis of the data obtained by CT, PET and/or MRI, the students were given the opportunity to manipulate these devices on a PC to confirm the names of the sites on the images and find the affected sites. According to Dr. Hagiwara, the combined use of CT and PET enables more detailed testing.

Experience in a mission rehearsal type simulator of laparoscopic kidney surgery (Prof. Yoshinobu Kubota)

A simulator of laparoscopic kidney surgery is under development in a laboratory of the Department of Urological Pathology.

A number of abdominal operations are currently being performed using a laparoscope. However, it is very difficult to perform the operation while looking at screens, so a fairly high level of expertise is required.
Appropriate procedures should also be provided according to the physique of the patient, the number and position of the vessels, the positional relationship of the organs, the site and size of tumors and the personality of patients. These factors make the surgery extremely difficult.

On this simulator, the abdomen of the patient is examined beforehand with MRI, and the CG images of the abdomen are prepared separately. This enables a simulation of the operation carried out in a situation of the abdomen almost similar to that of the patient.
The picture below shows the camera used to obtain stereo images of the abdomen.

Subsequent to the explanation by Professor Kubota, the students who had used the simulator in practice, but who are inexperienced in manipulating it, proceeded with the operation while committing errors repeatedly.

Wrapping up

Questions and answers and comments were exchanged between students and doctors who delivered lectures in the morning. Particularly, the students from every country asked many questions concerning metabolic syndrome. This shows that metabolic syndrome is a challenge without borders. Familiar topics were presented by those students who were observing a fast following a religious precept. For example, there was a question from them about whether or not fasting is healthy.