Genomic Oncology and Oral Medicine

Prof. Makiko Fujii

【Research Keyword】
Head and neck cancer, Malignant mesothelioma, Osteo sarcoma, TGF-β signal transduction, CTGF, Molecular target therapy, Heavy-ion radiation therapy, Translational research

【Recent highlights】
 The field of genomic medicine has experienced rapid progression since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. Many diseases have been shown to derive from genomic abnormalities, and research based on the knowledge of human genome is predicted to lead to new insights in advancing our understanding of human disease.
 Currently, one in two individuals dies from cancer in Japan, whereas outcomes with cancer treatments have improved due to remarkable progress in technology. New diagnostic techniques and therapeutic approaches are developed based on global research in genomic medicine and tumor biology. The long-term effort of researchers around the globe has led to the development of many successful therapies for patients with cancer, and more innovations in cancer treatment are expected in future.

Profiles of Faculty and Research Scholars

We are in charge of the following lectures for students in the Department of Dentistry:
Cell Science (Liberal Arts Education Program), Genomic Medicine (Program of Dentistry), Cancer Cell Biology (Program of Dentistry; starting from 2021), Development of International Collaboration in Medical Science (Liberal Arts Education Program), International Future Dentistry with the Outcomes of Researches (Program of Dentistry), Introductory Japanese Culture (Program of Dentistry; for international students), Overview of Dentistry (Program of Dentistry; for international students), Life Science (Program of Dentistry; for international students)

 Currently, our research is focused on rare cancers such as malignant mesothelioma and mucosal melanoma. In malignant mesothelioma, genetic alterations in neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) gene and its downstream Hippo signaling cascade synergize with transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) and regulate the expression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) gene, which correlates with the malignant potential of malignant mesothelioma cells. We are currently investigating the mechanism underlying the effect of CTGF on malignant mesothelioma cell growth and determining the potential of the TGF-β-Hippo-CTGF axis as a novel molecular target therapy.
 Our current collaboration with the National Institute for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology is exploring the possibility of linking liquid biopsy specimens with prognosis in patients treated with heavy-particle radiation. Our collaborations with many researchers in different fields are aimed to develop new combination therapies including local and systemic therapy for patients.

Postgraduate students and staffs are participating in English journal club every month.