Yokogawa to Set Up Single Cellome Co-innovators’ Consortium

By Shin Kai

Acquisition or Partnership

Yokogawa Electric Corporation announced the establishment on April 1 of a Single Cellome Co-innovators' Consortium with research groups led by Professor Kenichiro Todoroki and Assistant Professor Hajime Mizuno of the Laboratory of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Shizuoka.

This consortium has its offices at the Shonan Health Innovation Park, which the Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. established to promote innovation in Japan. By leveraging the knowledge that Yokogawa and the aforementioned research groups have gained through their joint research in the field of single-cell mass spectrometry, this consortium aims to develop sophisticated systems for probing the conditions inside individual cells. This will involve the development of a single-cell sampling function that can be flexibly combined with other analytical methods, the incorporation of a sensing function to directly measure the conditions in a living cell, and functions that will enable the direct injection of genes or drugs into cells. With the aim of obtaining information on customer requirements that will be needed to improve this technology, the consortium will encourage various organizations that are engaged in drug R&D and life-science studies to make use of this system.

Single-cell analysis enables the measurement of the changes and interactions of the molecules within cells, which are the basic building blocks of all organisms. This can provide insights into the mechanisms of diseases and lead to a better understanding of the efficacy of and adverse reactions to new drugs. However, present methods are not able to pinpoint the location of the individual cells as the cells must first be handled in clusters. When these clusters are broken down into individual cells, their original location cannot be determined. Thus, it is not possible to obtain an analytical result for a particular cell and its molecular contents that correspond to a specific location in organ tissue.

Dr. Mizuno and Yokogawa have jointly developed a system that uses a Yokogawa confocal bioimaging technology to capture images of cytoplasm that has been extracted from target cells and analyzes that material by means of high-resolution mass spectrometry. It is hoped that further refinements will give this system the ability to identify detailed molecular mechanisms within a cell or between cells with precise positional information. It is expected that such sophisticated systems will be a great help in clarifying individual differences in drug efficacy among patients and why the risk of disease varies among individuals. The single-cell assay method is expected to be useful in regenerative medicine applications that require the selection of high quality cells and other biotechnology related fields such as the bioengineering of agricultural products.

Single Cellome Co-innovators' Consortium  Direction

The Single Cellome Co-innovators' Consortium aims to quickly develop systems that can measure changes at the cellular and molecular levels. The consortium will seek to encourage academic institutions and industrial organizations that are engaged in drug discovery and life science research around the world to use these systems. By gathering feedback from them, the consortium will be able to make improvements to the systems, analytical methods, and applications that will better meet their needs. It is anticipated that a number of universities, research institutions, and pharmaceutical companies will join this consortium.

The objective of the consortium is to develop systems that can effectively combine single-cell sampling with analytical methods such as mass spectrometry. The consortium also aims to contribute to research in the life-science field that will enable the development of safer and more efficacious drugs and medical technologies.

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