Department of Pharmacology

 The development of novel drugs and better drug therapies can leadto a significant improvement in the quality of life of the patients. In the Department of Pharmacology, we engage in research and education involving the investigation of how drugs work, the discovery of newdrugs and the more effective treatment of drugs to probe mechanismsof disease, especially the central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

ProfessorKazuhiro TAKUMA, Ph.D.
Associate ProfessorAtsuko HAYATA-TAKANO, Ph.D.

■ Education

 In undergraduate education, department members are in charge of one of the basic subjects, “Pharmacology”. The class of “Pharmacology” are aimed at fully learning the basic principles of drug therapy and developing the ability to logically understand the main and adverse effects from the pathophysiology of diseases and the mechanism of action of each drug, that is, acquiring the ability of scientific thinking that leads to clinical application.
In graduate education, the department aims to develop oral health scientists with the higher ability of logical thinking through pharmacological research based on neuroscience.

■ Research Areas

1.Molecular basis and novel pharmacotherapies of developmental disorders mediated by maternal environmental factors during fetal and perinatal periods

 Both genetic and environmental factors likely play an important role in the etiology of CNS disorders including psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as cancer and metabolic syndrome. We have been conducting researches on the effects of “maternal environmental factors during the fetal and perinatal periods” on the mental development of children, especially focusing on clinical findings that taking antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy increases the risk of autism in children (Figure 1). We have previously demonstrated that prenatal exposure to a major anticonvulsant valproic acid (VPA) causes autism-like behavioral abnormalities, and then we have reported that the possibility of novel autism drug therapy with oxytocin (Figure 2). The fundamental goal of our research is to develop an unprecedented pharmacotherapeutic strategy not only for CNS disorders but also for other diseases by molecular targeting from a new concept based on the mechanism of environmental factors-mediated pathogenesis.

Figure 1
Figure 2

2. Molecular basis linking lifestyle diseases and sporadic Alzheimer’s disease

 Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia have been shown to be risk factors for sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a major cause of dementia. However, the molecular basis linking these diseases is still unclear. In this study, we will try to clarify “the molecular basis from lifestyle diseases to sporadic AD onset” using lifestyle disease animal models, especially diabetes model.