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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2014)


Research which contributes to world peace and the happiness of mankind

Reporting advanced results from Waseda of Research

Tomb excavated by the team from Waseda University Institute of Egyptology

The tomb’s entire inner room is decorated with beautiful wall paintings.

On December 29, the Institute of Egyptology (Director: Professor Jiro Kondo of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences) discovered a tomb with extremely well-preserved and colorful wall paintings during a dig in the southern al-Khokha Area, located across the Nile from the city of Luxor in the Arab Republic of Egypt. The discovery took place during the institute’s 7th excavation survey since its founding in 2007. The team had been surveying the tomb of Userhat, a high-ranking Egyptian official during the end of the reign of Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty.

The tomb dates to the Ramesside Dynasty of ancient Egypt. The owner of the tomb was Khonsuemheb, who was called Chief of the Workshop for Mut and Chief Brewer of the Temple of Mut. On the side wall of the northern part of the inner room, the tomb owner Khonsuemheb, his wife Mutemheb, and his daughter Isetkha are represented as silver statues. The walls of the inner room depict Khonsuemheb and his family worshipping Osiris and other ancient Egyptian gods. The ceiling of the inner room is engraved with the solar boat and the text of the Hymn to the Sun God. The image of a worshipping Khonsuemheb is depicted in brilliant colors. It is hoped that further exploration of this tomb will reveal more details about the history of construction for tombs in this area, ancient funeral rites and burial customs.

World’s first clarification of chromosome structure involved in regulation of genetic information

Professor Hitoshi Kurumizaka (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and graduate student Yasuhiro Arimura of the Kurumizaka Laboratory were part of the world’s first research group to clarify the chromosome structure involved in regulation of genetic information that exists specifically in the testis. The research group included Associate Professor Hiroshi Kimura of Osaka University and Professor Mamoru Sato of Yokohama City University.

All the genetic information of human beings is written on a genome DNA which is 2 meters long. This genome DNA is folded into a small shape and stored inside the nucleus of cells. In order to replicate the necessary genetic information, it is necessary to unravel certain portions of the folded genome DNA. The current research has clarified that the protein known as histone H2A.B loosens the folds and creates an environment in which DNA can function easily. This is an important discovery for illuminating the restoration, replication and transcription mechanisms of genome DNA. It also provides important knowledge for understanding a structure of the sperm formation process and is expected to contribute to the advancement of reproductive medical techniques. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports by the Nature Publishing Group.

Folds are loosened when histone H2A.B is taken in.

Development of a ratio-metric nano-thermometer for measuring cell temperature in water

Nano-thermometer which measures only temperature in water without response to external environment

A research group lead by Head Researcher Madoka Suzuki of the Waseda Bioscience Research Institute in Singapore (WABIOS) and Professor Shinji Takeoka (Faculty of Science and Engineering) has succeeded in developing a “ratio-metric nano-thermometer” which measures the internal temperature of cells within water without contacting the cells. In 2012, the group had developed a nano-thermometer which walks within cells to enable measurement of small and localized temperature changes within cells.

Conventional nano-thermometers which measure fluorescence intensity are only capable of measuring temperature changes in a fixed target. However, group’s new development enables measurement even when cells move.

The development was published in the nano-technology journal ACS Nano by the American Chemical Society.

Clarifying the mechanism for suppressing the aggressiveness of males

A research group led by Professor Kazuyoshi Tsutsui and visiting research associate Takayoshi Ubuka (both from the Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences) has clarified the mechanism of a reproductive restraint hormone for suppressing aggressiveness of males. Their findings were published in the British online scientific journal Nature Communications.

In 2000, Professor Tsutsui and his associates discovered a new reproductive restraint hormone (GnIH) which had eluded researchers for about 30 years since its existence was first postulated. In 2012, the research group announced that GnIH suppresses aggressiveness in animals. In recent research, the group administered GnIH and female hormones into the brain of a highly aggressive male quail. In this experiment, the GnIH acted upon nerve cells which synthesize with female hormones, activating the ligase of female hormones. As a result, there was a significant increase in the synthesis of female hormones, thus suppressing the aggressiveness of the male subject. Experiments also showed that a small amount of female hormones increased aggressiveness, while a large amount had a suppressive effect.

If a similar mechanism can be clarified in human beings, then it will be possible to develop methods for stabilizing aggressiveness in human beings. As such, the research is expected to contribute to peace and order in society.

The above graphs show the instances of aggressive behavior of quail in 10 minutes. (Bar 1 shows normal behavior, Bar 2 shows suppressed expression of GnIH, and Bar 3 shows administration of GnIH)

Experiment for remote operation of ultrasound echo robot

Doctors use a touch panel to operate the probe remotely. The eco image shown on the left is displayed at the terminal viewed by the doctor.

On January 29, Associate Professor Hiroyasu Iwata (Faculty of Science and Engineering) gave an experimental demonstration which envisioned the remote ultrasound diagnosis of expecting mothers using an ultrasound echo robot.

Remote ultrasound diagnosis has yet to be practically implemented due to issues such as the weight of the robot and safety concerns for expecting mothers. However, Iwata’s robot features a unique structure which solves such concerns. The abdomen is not exposed to any weight other than the force of contact required to obtain the echo image. This greatly reduces the burden placed on the expecting mother’s body.

In the experiment, a robot body covered with material that responds to ultrasonic waves with characteristics similar to the human body was placed at the Kanagawa Industrial Technology Center (Ebina City). Next, a telecommunications connection was established with the Kanagawa Children’s Medical Center (Yokohama City) where doctors were stationed. Through mutual exchange of images, audio and commands issued to the robot, the experiment clarified issues which require further attention. Researchers seek the practical implementation of technology that will reduce the time required for emergency examination of expecting mothers, and enable examinations at home and in remote locations.