Toshiaki Sunazuka

Receiving, Growing, and Passing On

To the students "I want you guys to realize your research and the purpose"

There are thousands of different species of microorganisms inhabiting in just 1 gram of soil. It is not uncommon for researchers to break new grounds by discovering one with unique characteristics.
In 1979, Satoshi Omura, the founding director of Kitasato Institute for Life Sciences (currently President Emeritus there) discovered an actinomyces effective against parasites from a soil sample collected from Izu of Shizuoka Prefecture. From this, he developed an antiparasitic drug ivermectin, which had proved to show groundbreaking effects in preventing and treating an endemic in the tropical areas, such as Africa and Central America. This new medication is continuously administered to more than 200 million people each year under WHO (World Health Organization)'s supervision. Under Omura's tutelage, Toshiaki Sunazuka follows the footsteps in pursuing natural product chemistry and organic synthetic chemistry.

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He participated in the publication for Professor Omura's study on macrolides

Sunazuka sets his main research theme on 1 of the 4 critical antibiotics (such as penicillin) - macrolides. A macrolide is an antibiotic with a circular molecular structure. With an ever-changing variation to its structure, each structure represents a unique function.
“We know that a portion of the macrolide antibacterial drugs possesses gastrointestinal prokinetic properties and an anti-inflammatory effect besides its antibacterial mechanism. By modifying the the structure, we aim to develop new medication that specializes in the positive properties of each. ”

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During his study abroad to University of Pennsylvania (1988~1990)

More than 3000 derivatives (an organically synthesized substance obtained by modification of the parent) are stored as samples at Sunazuka's laboratory. Sunazuka emphasizes that collaborative research with external organizations is required for further achievements.
“Partnerships with external groups possessing various specialties such as universities and corporations are crucial. An effective medication can not be produced alone. ”

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At Pennsylvania University with his former teacher

A fine example of this is ME 5343, an agricultural pesticide which was developed through collaborative research with Meiji Seika Pharma Co.,Ltd. Not only does it have a significant exterminating effect against aphids, the environmental burden on soil residue and beneficent organisms are minimal. It passed the strict environmental standard in Europe, and a development/production license agreement for ME 5343 was signed in May of 2010 between Meiji Seika Pharma Co.,Ltd.and German BASF.
Further, Sunazuka started a collaborative research with the research foundation for Ministry of Health and Welfare in Brazil, in producing a medication against “Neglected disease,” which has been ranked as extremely difficult in treatment by the WHO. They are planning to work with young researchers in the future.

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A hint for a new medication may come out of this scrap of paper

“We encourage students to consciously explore the world and communicate with each other By committing to that, they are led to unexpected results. Even if they are not able to find results, one's research becomes one's treasure in life. I address them as a father, hoping that they will take pride in studying at this laboratory. ”
One day, Omura sent Sunazuka the word, “,” meaning to move forward on a path without thinking about unnecessary things. Sunazuka lives by those two letters.


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Toshiaki Sunazuka

Professor at the Kitasato Institute for Life Sciences
Professor at the Graduate School of Infection Control Sciences Toshiaki Sunazuka Obtained his doctorate in 1988 from the Kitasato University School of Pharmacy.
Doctor of pharmacology. After finishing his exchange program with University of Pennsylvania Department of Chemistry in 1990, he assumed a position at Kitasato Institute. He served as a full-time lecturer at the department of pharmacology, and been at the current post since 2005. His specialties are in organic synthetic chemistry, chemistry of macrolides, and medicinal chemistry.
Simultaneously serves as one of the caretakers of Society of Novel Action of Macrolide, and on the board of directors for The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry in Japan.

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