New Zealand-RIKEN-CHIBA Joint Workshop

June 14, 2010 PRESS RELEASE

photo01 (photo1) photo02 (photo2) photo03 (photo3)
Immunity is one of our fundamental physiological systems whose normal task is to combat pathogens (e.g. viruses, bacteria and fungi) and maintain our health. On the other hand, dysregulated or excessive immunity may cause serious immune-mediated diseases (e.g. allergy and autoimmune disease). Therefore, it is very important to understand how the immune system is regulated, and this knowledge will help us to develop strategies for the treatment of diseases, including vaccines for infectious disease. All countries share this vision for the future direction of medical science. In order to strengthen the relationship between immunologists of Japan and New Zealand (NZ) and thus hasten the realization of this goal, RIKEN, Chiba University and the NZ Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) held the NZ-RIKEN-CHIBA Joint Workshop on June 14-16 at RCAI and Chiba University. The goals of the meeting were threefold: 1) to bring together leading experts in immunology and translational research to exchange current state-of-the-art research findings, 2) to identify difficulties in terms of applying current basic knowledge to the clinic and discuss how they can be overcome, and 3) to identify opportunities for interactions and collaborations at the level of individual investigators.

In the first session, the initial step of many immune responses, i.e. the interaction between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APC), was discussed. Since dendritic cells (DCs) are potent antigen-presenting cells, it is important to understand how their development and function are regulated. RCAI members, Sato and Kaisho described their studies on the molecular basis of DC development, the importance of DC-mediated immune regulation and possible clinical application of DCs. Specifically, they presented data about the discovery of a new transcription factor important for DC development, novel immune regulation by specific subset of DCs and establishment of DC-mediated immunotherapy for cancers. T cells are stimulated not only by DCs but also by macrophages. Macrophage-mediated immune regulation was discussed by M. Tanaka (RCAI) and La Flamme (NZ, photo1). The discussions on APCs were extended to T cell-mediated immune regulation by Painter, Hermans and Bogle (NZ); how the function of T cells can be regulated and what is the most effective strategy for T cell regulation by Rod Dunbar (NZ, photo2). From the clinical point of view, the molecular basis and possible treatment of allergic disorders were intensively discussed by Nakayama (Chiba Univ., photo3), Okamoto (Chiba Univ.) and Fujii (RCAI). Last, on the agenda was a discussion of bacterial pathogenesis and vaccine development. (photo4)

During this meeting, there were constructive and valuable exchanges on both sides. Based on this interaction, Hook (NZ) initiated the preparation of collaborative studies with Ishii (RCAI). In addition, Hon. Dr. Mapp, Minister for NZ MoRST (photo5) visited RIKEN Yokohama Institute and RCAI on Oct. 13, 2010. Thus, this joint meeting successfully fulfilled its aims, and hopefully the collaborations between NZ and Japan will result in great contributions to basic science and translational research in immunology.

(photo5)From left; Shigeyuki Yokoyama (Director, RIKEN Systems and Structural Biology Center), Hiroshi Ikukawa (Director, RIKEN Yokohama Institute Promotion Division), Kenji Okuma (Director, RIKEN Yokohama Institute), Kenji Takeda (RIKEN Executive Director), Hon. Dr. Wayne Mapp (Minister for Research Science and Technology, New Zealand), Ian Kennedy (New Zealand Ambassador to Japan), Masaru Taniguchi (Director, RIKEN RCAI) and Takashi Saito (Deputy Director, RIKEN RCAI)