I research viral infectious diseases, with my main major research subject being avian influenza viruses (photo). Approximately 15 years have passed since it came to be known that the H5N1 subtype of the avian flu virus causes life-threatening disease in domestic animals and people. The epidemic continues in neighboring Asian countries. The causal virus is carried great distances by wild birds, so epidemiological studies on the avian flu virus in migratory birds are important. We've conducted epidemiological studies, mainly in eastern Hokkaido, in cooperation with researchers in other parts of Japan and elsewhere. In 2011, when the third outbreak of the deadly H5N1 avian flu occurred in Japan, we isolated the H5N1 virus from conjunctival swabs taken from whooper swans. It was the first report on the isolation of the H5N1 virus from a conjunctival sample. We've isolated various avian flu viruses other than H5N1 in epidemiological studies. For example, we isolated virtually identical H4N8 viruses from gulls and sandpipers in areas far from each other. This virus was found to be close to that isolated from sandpipers in Australia, and we realized that viruses move with migrating birds. These viruses aren't pathogenic in wild birds. But if poultry and mammals are accidentally infected with these viruses, the virus can undergo genetic mutation, leading to pathogenic variants. It's important to understand how viruses acquire pathogenicity, so we research gene mutation and pathogenic variants when mammals are infected with viruses that originate from wild birds. We also conduct research on bovine leukemia viruses, Newcastle disease viruses and chicken anaemia viruses. And we work to develop new antiviral agents, quick and easy methods of diagnosing viral infections and techniques for enhancing vaccine effects. We're interested in using substances derived from natural products to treat infections and inflammation. Hydroxytyrosol, which is derived from olives, is known to have strong antioxidant effects. We've clarified that it has antiviral activity. We'd like to keep doing research to discover useful new substances.
List of current research topics
Study on pathogenicity of virus and immunoresponse of host
Development of new diagnosis, prophylaxis and control method of viral infectious diseases
Epidemiological study on virus infecting wildlife
I've been involved in research on sugar chains and immunity, and on viral infectious diseases. I'm from Honshu, but I like life in Hokkaido.