TopPage > Activities in the Research Institute

Activities in the Research Institute

Division of Epidemiology and Prevention

Our research activities consist of the following five subjects:
1) Descriptive epidemiologic study on cancer incidence and mortality with special reference to improvement of Aichi Cancer Registry;
2) Development of hospital-based epidemiologic research program at Aichi Cancer Center (HERPACC) on risk and protective factors including gene-environment interaction for main sites of cancer;
3) Development of Japan Multi-Institutional Collaborative Cohort Study (J-MICC study) to investigate the causes of cancer and other lifestyle related diseases;
4) Establishment of intervention for personalized cancer prevention using individual risk assessment and consultation;
5)Utilization of Three-prefecture Cohort Study data for the international consortium and development of domestic cancer prevention program in Japan.

Division of Molecular Oncology

Our goal is to determine the genetic lesions giving rise to human solid cancers and use this information for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of these diseases. Currently, we are focusing on lung cancer, and malignant mesothelioma. These studies also provide an opportunity to dissect biochemical and pathological pathways of malignant phenotypes including dysregulated cell growth, differentiation, invasion, and metastasis. Human cancers arise because of genetic mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, and so we are studying candidate genes, conducting systematic molecular analyses of biochemical pathways, and pursuing global approaches such as next-generation sequencing technologies. Epigenetic changes with DNA methylation and histone modification also identify this as an important mechanism of inactivation of tumor suppressor genes.
Understanding the functions of the genes mutated and the signaling pathways disrupted will provide a foundation for a translational research approach to human malignancies from bench to bedside.

Division of Molecular Medicine

Research in this laboratory is focused on elucidating genetic and molecular bases of human cancer in conjunction with environmental exposures,with a view to applying the obtained knowledge to clinical oncology and prevention. Currently we are working on two aspects, 1) molecular epidemiology of cancer and it's application in clinical oncology and prevention, and 2) molecular biology on hematological malignancies, with physicians/researchers within and outside Aichi Cancer Center. Specifically, the first aspect is challenged by (1) elucidating new gene-environment interactions between genetic background and environmental factors, (2) development of risk prediction models integrating genetic and environment factors, and (3) development of application of developed models in pre- and post-clinical setting. The latter aspect is challenged by elucidation of biological and clinical significance of genetic alteration including chromosomal translocation and genomic amplification/loss in hematological malignancies.

Division of Immunology

We have been pursuing identification of target proteins and epitopes recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific to tumor-associated, minor histocompatibility or viral antigens. Recent activities also include elucidation of the intracellular processing pathway to yield such CTL epitopes. In addition, we have started studies on genetic susceptibility and drug sensitivity of breast cancer applying animal models and human cohorts. Our goal is to establish robust and safe immuno-therapy to treat cancer patients applying scientific achievements. To this end, we have started a preclinical study of T cell receptor gene transfer to patients' peripheral T lymphocytes. Animal models of immuno-therapy for lung cancer are also designed and conducted.

Division of Microbiology and Oncology

Normal cellular homeostasis requires the coordinated regulation of signaling molecules in space, time and quantity. Accumulations of genetic and epigenetic alterations or oncogenic viral infections disrupt the stringent regulation of signaling networks and lead to cellular transformation and tumor progression. Our studies involve dissecting genes, proteins, and signaling mechanisms directly responsible for oncogenic phenotypes and identifying novel therapeutic targets. Currently, our research interest was concentrated on the following issues: 1) Spatial regulation of Src via lipid rafts controls cancer progression. 2) MicroRNA-mediated gene expression controls Src-related oncogenic signaling. 3) Molecular mechanisms of exosome regulation by Src-mediated cancer progression.

Division of Molecular Pathology

The incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing steadily in Japan and the disease is predicted to become the most common cancer as of 2020. Accumulating evidence suggests that in addition to genetic and epigenetic changes in the genome of cancer cells, interactions with non-cancer stromal cells play essential roles in support of colorectal cancer progression. Our research has been primarity aimed at identifying novel molecular targets for prevention and/or therapy of colorectal cancer through detailed analyses of intestinal tumor progression in genetically engineered mouse models, followed by evaluation of the findings using clinical samples. We are currently focusing on the following subjects: (1) Clarifying the roles of tumor microenvironment in cancer formation and progression; (2) Elucidating the molecular mechanisms of metastatasis; and (3) Unraveling the pathophysiology of cancer cachexia.

Division of Biochemistry

Cells need to respond to environmental signals to proliferate in a coordinated fashion during development and differentiation. Mutations in genes functioning in cell cycle control and maintenance of tissue architecture lead to uncontrolled proliferation, genetic instability, and invasion (metastasis) by cancer cells. However, the precise mechanisms remain largely unknown. Our research aim is to elucidate how the cell cycle (including cell cycle checkpoints) and tissue architecture (including the intracellular cytoskeletal network) are controlled. Our attention is focused on 3 specific areas: (1) Identification and functional analysis of protein kinases involved in cell cycle checkpoints; (2) Roles of centrosomes and primary cilia in cell cycle control; (3) Biological links between aneuploidy and tumorigenesis, senescence, or aging.

Central Service Unit

The Division of Central Laboratory and Radiation Biology, which fulfils many functions as the Central Service Unit, has responsibilities for the maintenance and operation of various instruments for molecular and biochemical research. We also manage radio isotope (RI) related matters, such as dose management of RI users and periodic examination of RI contamination in radiation controlled area. In addition to such background support for all of the investigations carried out in this institute, we perform the following research projects, that is, analysis of mitochondrial polymorphisms in human cancers.

Division of Oncological Pathology