Engineering Human Genomes
Whole human genome sequencing and decoding of the obtained genome sequences have provided a base on which we can try to edit or modify human genomes. Our laboratory is developing various molecular tools for efficient and accurate human genome engineering without detrimental effects. We apply the new molecular tools to advance biomedical research in human genetics and genomics and to make effective therapeutics for multiple genetic and infectious diseases.
Detection of Pathogens
Multiple pathogens causing detrimental diseases have been recently newly emerging. The new pathogens include the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Zika virus and the 2009 H1N1 swine flu virus. In most cases there are no effective therapeutics and vaccines against the relevant viral infections yet, and therefore detection of infected persons and quarantine them is of patients in very critical to reduce the infection spread in human population. Our laboratory is developing rapid and sensitive molecular-level detection methods that first target the newly emerging viruses. We will eventually build multiple commercialized portable devices for virus detection.
Gene and Cell Therapies
Many diseases are caused by mutations of genetic components. Direct introduction of corrected genetic components into cells in vivo or expansion of genetically modified cells in vitro and introduction of the cells back into a body can be smart and universal ways to treat various genetic diseases. We are developing novel viral vector systems tailored for effective and targeted gene delivery via intelligent design of vector genomes, construction of new artificial transcriptional regulators and engineering of viral proteins. Our new vector systems are used to produce genetically manipulated healthy cells and to perform direct reprogramming of cell fates.
Molecular Engineering to Develop Therapeutics Targeting Infectious Diseases
Better understanding of pathogens' life cycles inside of cells can give us clues to target specific components to effectively incapacitate pathogens. We are quantitatively and systematically analyzing the intracellular life cycles of pathogens to identify the weakest step to stop the next-round infection cycles by attacking it with molecularly designed therapeutics. For this task, we are considering every single step during infection at entry, replication, transcription, translation and assembly levels.
Systems Analysis for Mammalian Transcriptional Regulations and
Construction of Novel Genetic Circuits
Naturally occurring parts in transcriptional units have provided us with genetic components that we can harness to construct genetic expression systems for our own intended biomedical applications, but at a limited level. We are expanding genetic parts that can eventually result in novel genetic features when creatively assembled as transcriptional systems. To obtain diverse artificial genetic parts we rely on rational and computational designs and/or genetic library construction and high-throughput screening schemes.
Viruses cause various severe diseases to human beings, but viruses can be also utilized favorably for our health after being modified in smart ways. Our laboratory is engineering various viruses at genome-levels to construct safe and effective vaccines against infectious diseases and other genetic diseases. In addition, we will also use engineered viruses as templates for nanoscale molecular structure buildings.