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ResearchNano-Life Field

Nano-Life Coordinator: Guoping Chen

Innovation of biomaterial technologies by nanoarchitectonics to contribute to health and longevity

In the human body, many phenomena, such as replication and expression of genetic information, signal transduction inside and among cells, and communication between cells and their extracellular environments, are important for maintaining the functions of tissues and organs to support biological activities. Nano-scale structures, which are formed by assembly and disassembly of various types of molecules by truly ingenious methods, play a critical role in diverse vital phenomena. Thus, disturbance of nanostructure functioning may result in poor physical condition, diseases, or even death. Our aim is to design and prepare functional biomaterials based on nanoarchitectonics and use them to detect, measure and control diverse vital phenomena and biological activities. We will elucidate the causes of various diseases and innovate groundbreaking technologies for diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and tissue regeneration. By linking biomaterials innovation to advanced medical care, we will contribute to the realization of a safe and secure society where people enjoy health and longevity.

Development of novel materials for tissue regeneration as next-generation medical technology

We are devoted to the research and development of biomaterials and scaffolds to control cell functions for regeneration of lost or damaged tissues due to diseases and traumas. We are designing and preparing biodegradable polymer scaffolds and hybrid scaffolds with well-controlled pore structures and mechanical properties, and highly biocompatible biomaterials with nano- and micro-structures. We are also creating nano- and micro-patterns of functional molecules and cell culture matrices that mimic the in vivo microenvironments surrounding cells to control the functions of stem cells, which are important for tissue regeneration.

Development of novel materials for tissue regeneration

Development of drug therapy systems using soft matter design

Drug therapy is frequently accompanied by a serious physical/mental burden on the patient. In order to develop patient-friendly drug therapy systems, we are carrying out material development mainly utilizing molecules that already exist in the body and materials that are extremely safe. In particular, mesoporous phospholipid particles, which we developed, provide many functions required for drug carriers and are very safe, and thus are expected to be used as a platform technology for drug therapy. We are also carrying out basic research to gain precise spatiotemporal control of the behavior of materials for medical treatment in the body.

Mesoporous phospholipid particles with a precisely controlled structure

Development of mobile olfactory sensors toward a healthy and peaceful society

Among the five human senses, development of artificial olfactory sensors has been the most difficult challenge. If a mobile sensor that enables simple measurement/discrimination of smells is realized, it is expected to contribute to a variety of fields, such as food quality control, environmental monitoring, security assessments, medicine, and health care. To create a mobile olfactory sensor, MANA is focusing on nanomechanical sensors such as the membrane-type surface stress sensor (MSS), which we developed recently. We are also engaged in interdisciplinary research and development from the principles of operation at the molecular level to the systems compatible with the emerging era of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Image of a mobile breath analysis device

Development of new materials for analysis and control of cellular mechanosensing

In a similar fashion to biological molecules such as DNA and proteins, mechanical force is involved in the regulation of various biological activities. We are developing new materials whose chemical and mechanical properties are precisely controlled, and so-called "smart materials", which respond to external stimuli, in order to elucidate the mechanism of cellular mechanosensing. We are also searching for new drug candidates that can modulate mechanical regulation of cellular functions. Through these efforts, we aim to establish useful tools for mechanobiology-based medical treatments.

Novel materials for mechanobiology