Prof. Shohei Koide of NYU Lagone Medical Center: “Development of next-generation cancer treatment and the role of protein design” (New York)

On November 16, Prof. Shohei Koide of New York University School of Medicine and NYU Lagone Health (BA,1986; PhD,1991, School of Agriculture, UTokyo,) gave a talk titled, “Development of next-generation cancer treatment and the role of protein design” as part of the FUTI lecture series. Despite concerns for attendance due to the heavy snowfall the day before, more than 25 people from a wide range of age and profession attended this timely topic directly related to this year’s Nobel Prizes in Medicine or Physiology and in Chemistry.

Prof. Koide first discussed the checkpoint inhibitors and biologics which were the subjects of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. He explained how the checkpoint inhibitors, which offer a treatment approach markedly different from conventional anti-cancer drugs, are radically changing cancer treatment. He also commented on several related issues: how the effective application of this new treatment method is at present limited to only certain types of cancer and patients; currently  issues exist surrounding the determination of pricing of non-conventional treatments; Phage Display, the object of the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry, can be used to create and evolve new proteins and antibodies; how this and related technologies have transformed the development of antibodies and other biologics therapeutics.

In the second half, Prof. Koide discussed the efforts of NYU Lagone Medical Center in bridging basic research and translational applications in this highly competitive field, where huge pharmaceutical companies invest in research and development. Responding to audience questions,he also shared how he came to conduct research in this exciting field in United States.

During the lecture and Q & A session, participants asked questions reflecting their various backgrounds, resulting in a lively exchange of viewpoints.

Following the lecture, several participants have shared their impressions with the program organizers:

Obviously the lecture itself was exciting but being a graduate student/young researcher working at a US university, I was inspired by the lives of Dr. Koide and his wife who, after arriving from Japan to the US in their early thirties, jointly initiated a completely original area of research (such as monobody) and become the world authorities in the field. I acutely felt the desire to embark on a truly original research which no one can do, taking advantage of the opportunities available in the U.S.

As I am working on a wide range of basic research and experiments in clinical application involving antibody/monobody, I found the lecture highly inspiring. I am also keen on doing research that leads to practical treatments as Prof. Koide does. Also, in relation to my career as a graduate student, I learned a great deal from the story of Dr. Koide who runs a laboratory in the field.

I strongly felt that Dr. Koide and his wife are pursuing this cutting-edge research for the good of mankind. I would like to thank him for taking the time to share their story with us so that we could vicariously experience the “romance” of their struggle/experience over a few decades. I look forward to seeing the clinical applications to be generated from these antibody/monobody “libraries.”

I had the impression that the US academic system is better able to provide young talented researchers with unique research opportunities, whereas it is difficult to identify promising young talents and research themes in the existing academic environment in Japan. I was stuck by the realization that this difference between the US and Japan might exist not only in the academic system but also in business.

Author: Takegami

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