RIKEN Program for Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms



Director: OKAZAKI Hiroshi (Ph.D.)

Drug discovery is a process that is established when these two elements are aligned: "target molecules that can control specific pathologies" and "modalities that can control the target molecules.". When resulting from "target × modality" is proven to improve the symptoms of the disease and even lead to healing, it will gain value as a pharmaceutical.
Molecular biology, which developed since the 1980s, has clarified the signaling and physiological mechanisms of single- to multicellular organisms, and has made it possible to talk about human pathophysiological mechanisms at the molecular level. Both the "target" and "modality" elements have been born from the elucidation of the molecular mechanism of living organisms. The molecular-level onset and progression mechanisms of infectious diseases, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, immune diseases, central diseases, metabolic diseases, etc., have been elucidated, and many drug discovery targets have had the opportunity to see the sun. Modality (drug discovery technology) that controls the target has evolved into not only organic synthesis with a long history, but also genetically modified protein medicine, antibody medicine, nucleic acid medicine , cell and regenerative medicine, and genome editing technology. Currently, with the evolution of "Target × Modality", many new drugs have been born, and the way of unmet needs in the past has changed greatly. Many of the diseases, said to be adult diseases, have, to a significant extent, come into controllable territory. However, there are still many cases where it is only symptomatic therapy, and if the level leading to complete healing is ideal for each individual, it has not yet reached a satisfactory level. In addition, although the variety of modalities has increased, I think that it is far from the optimal level for pathophysiological control.

In a word, the role of the Riken Program on Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms is to further accelerate the evolution of "target × modality" by bringing together RIKEN's science and technology. This program started in 2010 under the first Goto Director of the Program, and has achieved significant results with 14 clinical stage-ups and corporate licenses. In addition to results in the fields of small molecule drug discovery and cell and regenerative medicine, artificial Adjuband vector cell (aAVC) technology established as a novel modality has the potential to have a significant impact on future drug discovery. As a new PD, I would like to proceed with this program focusing on the following three points, as I will take over the baton from FISCAL 2021. (1) Unmet needs are clear, but drug discovery targets are unknown and it has been difficult to approach until now (rare diseases, etc.), (2) approaches to diseases that already exist but have not reached optimal modality (such as small moleculeization of bio-products), and (3) creation of new modalities (drug discovery technology). RIKEN is full of science and technology that creates two elements, "target" and "modality", and I am confident that if we unleash this power toward drug discovery with our unique focus, we will be able to realize further evolution of drug discovery on our own.


The aim of the RIKEN Program for Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms (DMP) is to contribute to the identification of new treatments for cancer and other diseases by promoting collaboration within RIKEN for the development of innovative new pharmaceuticals and medical technologies. The program is involved in all phases of development, from the discovery of promising targets to the identification of potential lead compounds such as small molecules and antibodies, and the acquisition of intellectual property rights to drugs and technologies that can then be brought to the development phase. The program also provides support for translational research and the transfer of potential drug candidates to pre-clinical and clinical phases of drug development.

Fields of focus
1.Small molecule drugs
2.Monoclonal antibody drugs and vaccines
3.Cell-based drugs and regenerative medicine
4.R&D for the construction of drug discovery and medical technology platforms

Program Name RIKEN Program for Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms
Foundation 2010/4/1
Program Director OKAZAKI Hiroshi (Ph.D.)
Purpose We promote basic research seads as drug discovery and medical technology themes and projects for optimize to drug discovery processes at pharmaceutical companies and technologies exploiting at medical scenes. Specifically, exploring the outstanding seeds nurtured basic research, optimizing by utilizing drug discovery platforms established at RIKEN infrastructures and outsource network, and we aim for form the alliance with pharmaceutical companies or medical institutions finally.

RIKEN NEWS(feature articles)

Link to RIKEN NEWS featured DMP. (Japanese only)