New approaches in drug and vaccine discovery for infectious diseases


With the onset of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs is needed, but Japan has greatly lagged behind other countries in the speed of this development. In order to respond with immediacy during a pandemic, it is necessary to rapidly step up the research process, from the basic discovery of a drug or vaccine to its clinical and applied testing, with the assumption of a known understanding of the host-pathogen interactions. However, in addition to the issues peculiar to Japan, including the lack of continuous investment for research and development, the lack of researchers and interdisciplinary collaboration, the declining interest in therapeutic applications, and the withdrawal of pharmaceutical companies from infectious disease research, in particular, the process of basic research has become rate-determined within the context of the possibilities for the seeds for drug discovery leading to future research and development due to the diversity of pathogens, the difficulty of complete recoveries prevented by latent infections, and the necessity of responding immediately during an epidemic, which is a unique problem not prevalent for other diseases.

In order to break through this impasse, the target of this research and development aims at the establishment of the infrastructure and technology leading to the building of innovative drug discovery approaches through basic research based on new and integrated concepts in the field of infectious disease drug development. Concretely, the Target aims at the promotion of interdisciplinary research through the organic collaboration among domestic and overseas research institutes, pharmaceutical companies, and other stakeholders and the creation and facilitation of new research and development methodologies in the field of infectious disease drug development. This will entail the effective utilization of domestic infectious disease research hubs, as represented by the BSL4 facility at Nagasaki University, and various research methodologies and resources (cyroelectron microscopes, in silico analysis, the supercomputer Fugaku, etc.), as well as the active participation of young researchers in various fields not limited only to infectious disease medicine and microbiology.


Office for Basic Research Projects, Basic Research Promotion Division, Research Promotion Bureau