Strategic Basic Research Programs
The research theme “Your Microbes, Your Health” was featured in Science as one of the Breakthrough of the Year 2013 Runners-Up, and it introduced an achievement represented by Dr. Naoko Ohtani, Senior Staff Scientist at the Cancer Institute of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research (Researcher, JST-PRESTO), and Dr. Eiji Hara, Division Chief at the Cancer Institute of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research (Research Director, JST-CREST). Among others cited in that theme were publications in 2013 by independent research teams from around the world that provided significant insights into some of the major roles of the microbiome in health and disease.
In June 2013, Ohtani, Hara and others published in Nature that alterations of gut microbiota play key roles in promoting obesity-associated hepatocellular carcinoma development in mice. Underlying this was revealed to be an increased level of a certain bacterial metabolite that leads to a phenomenon called senescence-associated secretory phenotype in hepatic stellate cells, whose secretion in the liver involves various inflammatory and tumor-promoting factors.
This research outcome has unveiled a close link between obesity and the microbiome, opening up new possibilities to predict and prevent the occurrence of the liver cancer.
This research has been supported by the PRESTO Research Area “Elucidation and Control of the Mechanisms Underlying Chronic Inflammation” and the CREST Research Area “Innovation for Ideal Medical Treatment Based on the Understanding of Maintenance, Change and Breakdown Mechanisms of Homeostasis among Interacting Organ Systems.”
Dr. Naoko Ohtani, Senior Staff Scientist, The Cancer Institute of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research; Researcher, JST-PRESTO.
Dr. Eiji Hara, Division Chief, The Cancer Institute of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research; Research Director, JST-CREST.