Activity Report

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.16

Development of a model drosophila for autism spectrum disorder and search for Vietnamese plants with potential medicinal use

Report from the Kyoto Institute of Technology

From November 1 (Fri) to 21 (Thu), 2019, our university held joint research by accepting a group of three young researchers led by Dr. Hang from the National Institute of Medicinal Materials, Vietnam.

The research group was accepted by Professor Yamaguchi Masamitsu and Professor Yoshida Hideki. Previously, these professors had cooperated with Dr. Hang in joint research for exploring candidate therapeutic medication from liquids extracted from medicinal plants grown in Vietnam using a model drosophila for autism.

Compared to wild drosophila, the autism model drosophila exhibits phenotypes such as decreased sociality, decreased learning ability, hyperactivity, and abnormal synaptic morphology at the junctions of nerves and muscles. As the result of screening more than 100 kinds of medicinal plant extracts from Vietnam using the index of social decline as an indicator, the research has indicated about twenty types of plants that show promising improvement effects.

Although the recent research program was only three weeks, we were able to conduct joint research focused on observation of synaptic morphology of nerve-muscular junctions using a confocal laser microscope. This research cannot be performed at the National Institute of Medical Materials, Vietnam, where confocal laser microscopes are not available.

Engaging in observation

High-level technology is required for using a stereoscopic microscope to observe the nerve-muscular junction by dissection of a third instar larva with a length of 1 mm. However, thanks to the enthusiastic technical guidance of our graduate students, the invitees mastered this technology in a short period of time. As expected, administration of some medicinal plant extracts improved synaptic morphology abnormalities. In this way, the joint research has achieved sufficient academic results, and we plan to publish it as a co-authored academic paper in the future.

Students engage in dissection

On November 8 (Fri.), invitees visited the Living Area Environmental Health Laboratory operated by Kankyo Eisei Yakuhin, Inc. (Kanyaku). Kanyaku is the only Japanese company that conducts business using drosophila, such as a microinjection contract service for the production of transgenic drosophila. Invitees were given a tour of laboratory equipment at Kanyaku and received explanations about the company’s most advanced business, such as testing for the effects of useful substances using drosophila and environmental management of facilities such as the clean room of a university hospital that produces radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment.

At Kankyo Eisei Yakuhin, Inc.

On November 16 (Sat.) and 17 (Sun.), invitees studied the history and culture of Kyoto by visiting Kinkakuji Temple and Kiyomizu-dera Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Sites), as well as sites such as Yasaka Shrine and Arashiyama.

At Kinkakuji Temple

Graduate students and research students at the Kyoto Institute of Technology and the Vietnamese researchers engaged in daily exchange in the laboratory. Furthermore, as a special lecturer, Dr. Hang introduced research in a course for graduate students in applied biology. Overall, the program succeeded in fruitful exchange which will improve the global awareness of both groups. As a result, two of the three young Vietnamese researchers expressed their hopes to return to Japan by entering the doctoral program at the Kyoto Institute of Technology Graduate School, thus creating important prospects for future exchange.

Conferment of completion certificates