Research Area 5

BioMedical Counter-measures: Analysis of CT scans for early detection and avoidance of severe illness, monitoring of patients with mild illness, prediction of risk of severe illness, understanding of the effects of viral mutation, etc. (*)
(*) Drug discovery, drug repurposing, vaccine development are handled in a separate program.

Objectives: to accelerate the acquisition of biological knowledge necessary for the development of infection control, vaccine development, and therapeutics to end COVID-19 at an early stage, and to research and develop methods for the detection of infected patients who need to be identified rapidly and with emphasis on super-spreaders and patients at risk of severe disease. Furthermore, we will rapidly establish a systematic clinical research base for emerging infectious diseases that are expected to emerge in the future. In addition, we will promote understanding of the changes in infectivity and pathogenicity caused by SARS-CoV-2 mutations and their impact on the development of vaccines and therapeutics, thereby contributing to the development of prevention and treatment methods. In addition, we will establish methods that can be applied to emerging viruses that are expected to emerge in the future.

  • (5-1)Strategies for early detection of emerging infectious disease outbreaks and their risk assessment, using ICT and other tools.
  • (5-2)Corona infectious diseases are known to infect humans two days before the onset of symptoms. Can we develop methods or technologies to detect pre-symptomatic yet infectious individuals? Cooperation with health centers is necessary.
  • (5-3)With SARS-CoV-2 infections, four out of five people do not infect others and a small percentage of infected people can cause a large number of secondary infections.
  • (5-4)Biomarker discovery to identify those who become seriously ill and those who do not? Also, could it be possible to identify patients who may not be progressing well after discharge from the hospital? This is likely to be multifactorial, including the search for blood markers and genetic background. Is it possible to search for markers of severe disease by omics analysis of specimen blood and other methods? Furthermore, could it be established as a comprehensive risk analysis that includes genetic polymorphisms, HLA haplotypes, and CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells cross-reaction to SARS-CoV-2-related epitopes? Furthermore, could a real-time monitoring system for patients with minor illnesses be established and linked to the data to reduce the risk of sudden change? Collaboration with clinicians is necessary, and it is important to establish a uniform protocol and system nationwide.
  • (5-5)Analyzing the integrated pathology of COVID-19 based on data to clarify the overall picture. It became clear that COVID-19 is not only acute respiratory disorder (ARDS) but also systemic vascular disease syndrome of abnormal thrombosis formation.
  • (5-6)SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate, and it is expected that some of these mutations may emerge that affect its infectivity and pathogenicity. It cannot be ruled out that these mutations may also affect vaccine development and treatment, as well as the assessment of high-risk groups. Could host response analysis using bioinformatics be used to clarify these questions?
  • (5-7)As viruses continue to mutate, is it possible to analyze the response to virus entry and its control methods (therapeutic interventions) from the perspective of risk assessment of how virus mutation affects infectious diseases, using molecular biology, bioinformatics, systems biology, and large-scale data analysis using AI technology?
  • (5-8)Develop methods applicable not only to SARS-CoV-2, but also to a wider range of coronaviruses and other emerging viruses, in preparation for future pandemics.