|Introduction | Significance and Background of Program | Expected Effects|
Life science aims to investigate and elucidate the often complex and exquisite mechanisms underlying biological phenomena. Advancing life science research in areas such as new drug development, increased food production, and creation of new industries is key to reinforcing the industrial competitiveness of Japan.
The complete set of an organism's genes is referred to as its genome, and this information is retained in the form of DNA molecules contained in the cellular nucleus and other organelles. The human genome is comprised of approximately three billion base pairs, for which the entire sequence was completed in 2003 by the international Human Genome Project.
With the completion of the human genome sequence, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology conducted the Genome Network Project from FY2004 to FY2008. Intracellularly, proteins are produced based on the nucleotide (a unit of DNA) sequences of genes contained in the genome, and function in complex interactions with other genes and proteins. The Genome Network Project investigated the networks of human genes and proteins to consolidate the results as a database, studied biological phenomena including development and immunity, and conducted basic biomedical research of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
In addition, the Cell Innovation Program, begun in FY2009, is intended to make the best use of the results, equipment, human resources, and data obtained from the Genome Network Project. This program will conduct an unprecedented large-scale, multidisciplinary analysis of genome-based information using next-generation sequencers with innovative data production performance in combination with intracellular imaging technology to further understanding of the mechanisms of biological phenomena at the cellular level.
- There has been remarkable progress in development of sequencing technology used in genome-based information analysis. Ultra-high-speed, next-generation sequencers that provide performance far superior to conventional sequencers have already been applied. Sequencing centers already operate in the US, UK, China, and Singapore; thus, to maintain the international competitiveness in life science research, there is an urgent need for a sequencing center in Japan. Additionally, a data analysis center is needed to handle the vast amount of diverse data produced by next-generation sequencers.
- In order to analyze and understand temporal biological phenomena at the cellular level, such as development/ differentiation and cancer formation, cellular information must be continuously monitored over time. Genome-based information, which serves as a comprehensive snapshot of cellular information at a particular point in time, must be analyzed simultaneously.
The analysis of cellular programs will provide basic findings and technology necessary for understanding the mechanisms of various disorders and diseases, and for developing therapies, including new preventive and diagnostic methods and pharmaceutical agents. Additionally, the platform facilities constructed through the Program, including the Sequencing Center, will be open for public use by life science researchers in universities and business organizations. The Program will promote the use of such a platform in a wide range of research fields.