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As the Center for drug development

Research base for Japan’s Molecular Imaging Research Program

In July 2005, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) launched the Molecular Imaging Research Program, with the goal of promoting and energizing molecular imaging research nationwide, as an important part of its efforts to promote research and development in life sciences that respond to societal needs. RIKEN was selected as the research base for exploring new pharmaceutical drugs, and the National Institute of Radiological Science (NIRS) was selected as the research base for PET Diagnosis. Together, these two institutes, through numerous discussions, are striving to promote this program by establishing a nationwide network for molecular imaging research.

Molecular Imaging Research Program

Cornerstone of the nationwide network

As a cornerstone of the nationwide network, the CMIS will carry out the the following:

  • Building a nationwide institutional network
  • Creating a collaborative framework for joint research and shared-use facilities
  • Promoting cooperation among researchers through organizing international symposium, seminars, etc
  • Facilitating exchanges between industry, academia, and government to boost technology transfer and commercialization
  • Acquiring and protecting intellectual property rights

Innovations in the Drug Discovery Process

The CMIS takes the results obtained from a range of scientific fields, such as chemistry, physics, engineering, biology, and medicine and applies them to the living body.
This has enabled us to trace different phenomena within the actual living body that were previously only observed in vitro or from cells removed from the body.
While drug discovery is one of the ultimate goals of life sciences, up until now, research expenses on the scale of tens to hundreds-of-billion Japanese yen have been invested into a development process for a single drug, which lasts an average of 15 years. Furthermore, the road to successfully completing the R&D phase to clinical trials and finally receiving approval and distributing the product remains extremely difficult, with only 1 in 11,000 projects actually reaching the market. Reducing the time and costs involved for drug development is a key concern in the process of drug discovery.
The CMIS aims to improve the efficiency in identifying candidate compounds and analyzing their effectiveness in reaching target molecules by combining a range of technologies centered primarily on molecular imaging technologies, such as PET.

Purpose for establishing a research base for exploring new pharmaceutical drugs

Our goal is to establish a base where the world’s most advanced resources in chemistry, biology, engineering, and medicine are integrated to refine molecular imaging technology, and then make use of the technology to efficiently search for drug candidate compounds.
CMIS aims to establish fundamental technologies for drug development by building a network with RIKENs diverse world-class research fields and integrating them with molecular imaging research. We play a role in the RIKEN’s “baton zone” plan for drug development.


Securing intellectual property and transferring technology

CMIS aims to secure the intellectual properties below and work to efficiently transfer those technologies to other research institutions and businesses to find practical uses for them.

  • Acquiring intellectual property rights for molecular imaging methods and diagnostics
  • Securing patents for compounds identified by molecular imaging to have the highest potential of becoming medical products.
  • Securing technology-related patents for development of automated synthesizers and other equipment
  • Building and managing a molecular probe library for human application