OIST founds its first venture company
July 31, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), based in Onna, has founded its first venture company Okinawa Protein Tomography Ltd. (Okinawa PT). The company headed by CEO Akira Kamei was founded on June 25. It commenced business at the start of August. The company has exclusive rights to the use of a technology that enables visualization of protein structures in three dimensions. This technology is the only of its kind in in the world, and was developed by Professor Ulf Skoglund of the OIST Structural Cellular Biology Unit. The company will accept orders for analysis of protein such as molecular structure required for new drug development from pharmaceutical companies. This technology is an effective way to analyze the structure of protein. The company aims to carry out diagnostic business and drug discovery in the future.
Usually the method of X-ray crystal structure analysis is used to analyze the structure of protein. However, crystallization of proteins is time-consuming and expensive. The method developed by Professor Skoglund can restore the structure of the protein in the three-dimensional world without crystallizing the samples. This method comprises taking pictures of the samples by rotating 281 times at various angles with an electron microscope and then carrying out image processing by separating the noise by using a PC program originally developed in order to restore the structure in the three dimensions. It can identify up to about 1.5 nanometers (one millionth of a millimeter).
Professor Skoglund emphasized the significance of this technology, saying, “This is the only one technology of its kind in the world. It can help the development new drug. It will also provide opportunities for the pharmaceutical companies of Japan.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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