Professor Hiroshi Kawamoto, an excecutive director of Rebirthel, is recently conducting the collaborative research to develop a new therapy for the novel coronavirus infection with Fujita Health University. The activity was introduced on the TV program “Japan news network” (TBS and its affiliated TV stations) on November 21st 2020. This program is broadcasted from 17:30 to 18:50 every week on Saturday. Starting with the general news slot at the beginning, two feature slots which are approximately 30 minutes for each follow. One of them reported the current situation of the novel coronavirus infection, and our research and development activity was introduced there. The slot started with the report of the current infection spread in Hokkaido. After the report of the preparation for Olympic and Paralympics, the topic of the vaccine was raised; Recently, Pfizer and Moderna have announced that their vaccines exhibited 95% efficiency. However, Professor Ken J. Ishii, Institute of Medical Science of University of Tokyo, highlighted “The safety of vaccine must be verified carefully.” He also mentioned “Suppose that adverse reactions are found after tens of millions of vaccinations, such situation is very different from that adverse reactions are found just after thousands of vaccinations” In the context of these topics, the research and development activity conducted by Professor Kawamoto laboratory, Kyoto University and Fujita Health University was featured as follows.
- “The strategy to develop a new therapy starts with collecting blood from patients recovered from the novel coronavirus infection. In the blood, there should be killer T cells with a strong ability to find novel coronavirus-infected cells and kill them. We will identify the genes such killer T cells use, introduce these genes into iPS cell, and regenerate killer T cells.”
- “By utilizing iPS cells which are capable of producing any types of cells, tissues and organs, it will be possible to mass-produce killer T cells.” However, it is not so easy in practice to transfer someone’s killer T cells into other patients as drug.
- It is because “Other person’s killer T cells are recognized as “foreign substances” and rejection reaction occurs. However, Professor Kawamoto and his team have developed the only technology worldwide that can solve the rejection problem.”
- Killer T cells are produced from “universal” type iPS cells. Such cells are available from CiRA, Kyoto University. The unique points of Kawamoto team are i) the team has the technology by which iPS cells are transduced with the “receptor” gene that can recognize viral antigens, and ii) the team also has the technology to induce conventional type of killer T cells. These two technologies have been patented in EU. These two technologies make it possible to use the universal iPS cells as a material of killer T cells. The produced T cell preparations can be cryopreserved in a freezer of a hospital. Thus, when the patient’s condition gets critical, immediate transfusion is available.”
- “Killer T cell may have an ability to prevent the aggravation of pneumonia. By treating patients at the right timing, it will be possible to drastically reduce the number of death cases. If we can reduce death cases, we would be free from feeling frightened of the novel coronavirus infection. (by Professor Kawamoto)”
The part of our project in the program can be seen on the YouTube site shown below: