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Group Introduction


Introduction to research

We are currently working with the studies of functional proteins and bioactive peptides that control brain development and function. The ultimate goal of our researches is also to contribute drug development by using these functional materials. For further detail of each research is described as follows.

1. Functional analysis of epigenetic factors involved in brain development and function

Functional analysis of epigenetic factors involved in vrain development and functionThe aim of this research is to elucidate the role of Epigenetics, such as DNA methylation and chromatin modification, in brain development and function. Based on this research, we also aim to contribute the development of the clinical materials, such as animal models, for neurological and psychiatric disorders (Figure).

2. Identification and directed evolution of bioactive peptides

Bioactive peptides, identified from venomous animals, evolve at an accelerating rate and have various physiological functions. We have worked on the project about the ant and snake bioactive peptides which have ion channel blocking, enzyme inhibitory and antimicrobial activities. Recently, using directed evolution technique, we succeed in generating the novel functions, which are different from the original, to the bioactive peptides.

3. A novel approach for non-invasive protein drug delivery to the central nervous system

Although pharmaceutical antibody drugs have increasingly occupied a high share of the global market in the past decade, most of their therapeutic targets are autoimmune diseases and cancers in peripheral tissues. In the present study, we have developed new technologies of directed evolution to engineer brain-targeted protein drugs, potentially contributing to novel strategies for non-invasive treatments of serious CNS disorders such as brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

4. The molecular mechanism of neural development

We are analyzing the mechanisms of neural specification and development. To investigate these issues, ascidians are chosen, because they are closely related to vertebrates and their simple tadpole larvae share a basic body plan with vertebrates. Our current works focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying development of the peripheral nervous system in ascidians. We aim to reconstruct a gene regulatory network in ascidian neural development.

List of Publications



  • Ohmiya, Yoshihiro (Research Group Leader)

  • Namihira, Masakazu

  • Inagaki, Hidetoshi

  • Ohtsuka, Yukio

  • Kondo, Tetsuro

  • Hirano, Kazumi