Nobel Prize Winner Kōichi Tanaka’s Team At It Again: Discovers How to Diagnose Disease with One Drop of Blood

Nobel Prize Winner Kōichi Tanaka’s Team At It Again: Discovers How to Diagnose Disease with One Drop of Blood
Yomiuri Shimbun: 血液一滴で病気診断…あの田中耕一さんらが成功
November 9, 2011

Nobel Prize Winner Kōichi Tanaka’s team, sponsored by a Shimadzu Corporation fellowship, discovered that a certain disease makes blood over 100 times more sensitive to a certain protein than normal and subsequently developed a method to diagnose this disease using a single drop of blood. The study will be published by The Japan Academy in an electronic English language scientific research journal on the 11th.

When an antigen, a protein which is not naturally found in the body, invades the body, the body produces an antibody to engage and fight with the antigen. An antibody is shaped like the letter Y; the tip of the root which connects the two legs engages the antigen.

Dr. Tanaka’s team altered an antibody by inserting an elastic high molecular body, polyethylene gycol, into the base of the Y. Like a spring, it impulsed the two legs to become flexible and engage with the antigen themselves.

When a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease was introduced as an antigen, the newly created antibody was found to capture this antigen at a very strong rate, more than 100 times higher than normal. “This technology ties together an early diagnosis and a medicinal treatment, which would use this antibody,” Dr. Tanaka said.

Original/原稿:
血液一滴で病気診断…あの田中耕一さんらが成功

 病気に特有のたんぱく質を、従来の100倍以上の感度で血液から見つけ出す技術の開発に、ノーベル賞受賞者の田中耕一・島津製作所フェローらが成功した。

 血液1滴での診断につながる成果。日本学士院発行の英文科学誌電子版に11日発表する。

 体内では、通常はないたんぱく質(抗原)が侵入すると、これと結合して攻撃する免疫物質(抗体)が作られる。抗体はY字形で、2本ある腕のうち1本で抗原と結合するが、田中フェローらはその構造を人工的に改変。Y字の根元部分に、弾力性のある高分子化合物「ポリエチレングリコール」を挿入した。これをバネとして腕が柔軟に動き、2本同時に抗原と結合できるようにした。

 アルツハイマー病に関わるたんぱく質の断片を抗原として、新開発の抗体を試したところ、通常の抗体より100倍以上、強力に抗原をつかまえた。田中フェローは「病気の早期診断や、抗体を用いた薬開発に結びつく技術」と話している。
(2011年11月9日14時12分 読売新聞)

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