May 25th-28th, 2009, Tokyo (Japan)
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
The 4th International Conference on Phospholipase A2 and Lipid Mediators was held at the National Center of Sciences (Hitotsubashi, Chiyoda-ku) from May 25 through 28, 2009, hosted by the Department of Health Chemistry, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the University of Tokyo (Chairman/Hiroyuki Arai: representative for the research of CREST) and co-hosted by Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology, JST (CREST research area: "Establishment of Basic Technologies for Controlling Cell Functions Based on Metabolic Regulation Mechanism Analysis" and PRESTO research area: "Metabolism and Cellular Function").
This conference is an international conference on lipid mediators that merged the "International Conference of Platelet-activating Factor and Lipid Mediators" and the "International Conference of Phospholipase A2 and Lipid Mediators" in 2004, and ongoing up to the present date. Lipid mediators are lipid-derived physiologically active substances typified by prostaglandin and leukotriene, etc. These substances that are synthesized from fatty acids such as arachidonic acid exhibit physiological functions through their own specific receptors, and they are deeply related to various vital functions and pathological conditions such as inflammation, immunity, blood pressure adjustment, cranial nerve function, cancer, pregnancy and birth. For these reasons, lipid mediators received a great deal of attention as targets of new drug research and they have been used in clinical practice as antipyretic analgesic agent and antiallergic drugs. On the other hand, phospholipase A2 is an enzyme that liberates fatty acids such as archidonic acid from biomembrane, and plays a role in adjusting the time and quantity of lipid mediator synthesis according to the need of the body. Consequently, research of phospholipase A2, a synthesized enzyme, is indispensable to the research of lipid mediators.
In recent years, a comprehensive and high-sensitivity analysis method called "metabolomic analysis" has also been actively incorporated into this area, and the existence of totally new lipid mediators in addition to prostaglandin and leukotriene is being revealed one after another. For example, it is becoming clear that phosphatides with extremely simple structures such as lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) have strong physiology and are related to various pathological conditions. Also, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPA or DHA) that are contained in high proportion in fish oil have long been perceived to be fatty acids that are "good for health" because they suppress inflammation reactions, and new anti-inflammatory mediators derived from these fatty acids have been discovered in recent days.
Based on such a background, lectures were delivered by 32 world-renowned lecturers from overseas and 43 lecturers from Japan, poster sessions on 72 themes were held mostly by young researchers; and furthermore, very enthusiastic discussions took place with over 300 participants. The lectures by 10 researchers from CREST "Establishment of Basic Technologies for Controlling Cell Functions Based on Metabolic Regulation Mechanism Analysis" and PRESTO "Metabolism and Cellular Function" were held and it was a good opportunity to appeal the high level of research in this area to the world. The international conference was held at two halls in the National Center of Sciences with plenary lectures by 3 people at both venues in the mornings of May 26/27, followed by symposiums, lunchtime poster workshops where lunch boxes were offered, and 2 symposiums in the afternoon; immersing the participants in science all day long. Even though May 28 was the last day, we had more than 150 participants and very active discussions took place until the very end. Very active Q&A/discussions continued throughout the 3-day conference, mainly among the lecturers from abroad and young Japanese researchers; and future prospects, possibilities and problems that need to be overcome were clarified. We are convinced that we will continue to see outstanding success in this research area.