Seminars

To support the early diagnosis of novel highly-pathogenic influenza viruses
- Rapid and sensitive detection method and its application to medical care -

Toshihisa Ishikawa
Name

Toshihisa Ishikawa, Ph.D.
(RIKEN Omics Science Center)

Place
Class No. 1, 1st floor, Lecture Building, Yokohama City University
Time
11:00-11:40

Every winter in Japan, many are infected with seasonal influenza, whereas the pandemic infection of highly pathogenic novel influenza viruses is a serious concern. For instance, the pandemic infection of “Spanish flu” caused by influenza H1N1 virus in 1918-1919 resulted in globally over 600 million infected patients and 40 to 50 million deaths, the number being more than deaths during the World War II.

Most recently, A(H1N1) pdm2009 virus infection quickly circulated globally resulting in about 18,000 deaths around the world. In Japan, infected patients accounted for 16% of the total population. The possibility of human-to-human transmission of highly pathogenic novel influenza viruses, such as avian influenza A subtype H5N1, is becoming a fear for the public health and the global economy, since the H5N1 viruses have been circulating among avian species and have spread throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa, with sporadic transmission to humans and reports of nearly 60% mortality. While human-to-human transmission of H5N1 virus has not yet been reported, it is crucially needed to develop rapid and highly sensitive methods for the detection of such highly pathogenic influenza viruses.

To address the clinical and social need for rapid diagnosis, in RIKEN Yokohama Institute, we are currently developing a new method to rapidly detect the highly pathogenic influenza H5N1 virus. Our recent achievements and actual laboratory work of detecting the virus will be presented in this seminar.

Schematic illustration of influenza virus infection (click to enlarge)

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Challenging the longstanding mysteries of Kawasaki disease

>Yoshihiro Onouchi
Name

Yoshihiro Onouchi, M.D., Ph.D.
(RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine)

Place
Class No. 1, 1st floor, Lecture Building, Yokohama City University
Time
14:00-15:00

Kawasaki disease (KD) is a febrile illness which mainly affects infants and children younger than 5yrs. Basically KD is self-limiting and in many cases symptoms disappear within 1-2 weeks. However, coronary artery lesions such as aneurysms or dilatations which may restrict the patients to light exercise or sometimes threaten their lives, develop in a part of the patients. It has been thought that infection of some bacteria or viruses might be a cause of KD, however, after 40 years from the first description of the disease, the pathogen still remains unknown. So there is no strategy for prophylaxis or causal treatment and neither KD nor its complication has been eradicated. On the other hand, higher incidence rates in East Asian populations especially in the Japanese and familial aggregation of the disease suggest underlying genetic factors. We have been trying to unravel the genetic background of KD in hope of solving mysteries of the enigmatic disease.

Figure: Skin rash of Kawasaki disease (click to enlarge)

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Global polio eradication and polio vaccines

Hiroyuki Shimizu
Name
Hiroyuki Shimizu, Ph.D.
(National Institute of Infectiuos Diseases)
Place
Special Conference Room, 2nd floor, Central Research Building
Time
13:00-14:00
Polio (or poliomyelitis) is an acute viral disease caused by poliovirus (PV), a small RNA virus. PV infection results in large-scale outbreaks of cases with residual paralysis mainly in young children. Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988, polio was eradicated throughout most of the world except only three countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria in 2012. After the administration of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV), attenuated polioviruses efficiently replicate in the intestine and induce protective and mucosal immunities. Thus, OPV contributed to the establishment of polio-free status in endemic regions for reducing the poliovirus transmission in the community. On the other hand, OPV is associated with vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis and outbreaks of vaccine-derived polioviruses due to the genetic instability of attenuated viruses. To avoid the inhalant risk of OPV, an inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) was introduced for routine immunization in countries with a low risk of polio outbreaks. IPV is introduced for routine immunization from September 2012, and accordingly, the role of OPV for nearly 50 years in Japan will be completed. The history of development and introduction of poliovirus vaccines is still suggestive of global control strategies of vaccine-preventable diseases.
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Presentation of Studies by Yokohama Science Frontier High School Students

Place
Class No. 1, 1st floor, Lecture Building, Yokohama City University
Time
12:00-13:30, 15:30-16:30