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Research summary

Natural Products Chemistry @ AK Group

Our recent study revealed that immunostimulatory factors in some medicinal plants are actually produced by symbiotic bacteria. The finding opened a possibility that humans may have been benefiting, albeit unknowingly, from microbial metabolites in plants. We are currently examining the structures and immunological effects of the immune-boosting factors produced by plant-associated bacteria. 


Montenegro D, Kalpana K, Chrissian C, Sharma A, Takaoka A, Iacovidou M, Soll CE, Aminova O, Heguy A, Cohen L, Shen S, Kawamura A. Uncovering potential 'herbal probiotics' in Juzen-taiho-to through the study of associated bacterial populations. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2015 Feb 1;25(3):466-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.12.036. Epub 2014 Dec 19. PubMed PMID: 25547935; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4297534.

Drug Target Identification @ AK Group

Mechanistic study of natural products often reveal new protein targets which can be interrogated by small molecules for therapeutic purposes. In this research program, photoaffinity-labeling probes of various natural products, including ginkgolide, immunostimulatory lipids, etc., are prepared to identify their binding targets in cells.  



Kawamura A, Washington I, Mihai DM, Bartolini F, Gundersen GG, Mark MT, Nakanishi K. Identification of ginkgolide targets in brain by photoaffinity labeling. Chem Biol Drug Des. 2017 Apr;89(4):475-481. doi: 10.1111/cbdd.12883. Epub 2016 Nov 10. PubMed PMID: 27743504; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5378617.