A message from a leader in the laboratory

The Laboratory of Drug Delivery System (DDS), the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Setsunan University is the first laboratory which specializes in DDS at Setsunan University. Mr. Shinji Sakuma, Ph.D., who is a leader of the DDS laboratory, graduated from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Physical Chemistry Laboratory), Tokyo University of Science, and then worked for Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. for 15 years as a researcher of pharmaceutical technology and DDS. In April, 2004, Dr. Sakuma changed his job from industry to academia and came to the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Setsunan University as an associate professor at the Laboratory of Biopharmaceutics (a leader of the laboratory is Dr. Shinji Yamashita). He was promoted to a full professor in April, 2011 and established the laboratory that focused on the DDS, which is his field, in April, 2014.

A focus of the DDS laboratory is to propose DDS-based strategies for drug discovery and pharmaceutical technologies that diagnose and treat diseases by recognizing and controlling functional molecules present on biological membranes and change in molecular structure accompanying diseases at the molecular level. Table summarizes researches which Dr. Sakuma initiated at Setsunan University. These researches are based on functional polymers and nanotechnologies that are his origins. DDS researches, which cover a wide range of research areas from material design including synthesis and assessment of physical properties to biological evaluation, are difficult to handle by one individual or one laboratory. Dr. Sakuma is maximally utilizing his personal connections that he has cultivated during his corporate days and proceeding unique researches under collaboration beyond borders of faculties, universities, and nations.

There have been four assistant professors in the DDS laboratory so far. In April, 2014, Mr. Kohta Mohri, Ph.D., first came to the laboratory. During his belonging for 2 years and 9 months, Dr. Mohri not only promoted Sakuma's researches but also developed his original nucleic acids-based DDS researches. In April 2017, Ms. Masami Ukawa, Ph.D., next came to the laboratory after Dr. Mohri moved to another research facility. Dr. Ukawa is currently supporting Sakuma's researches and also developing her original gene-based DDS researches. In April, 2018, Mr. Takumi Tomono, Ph.D., came to the laboratory as the third assistant professor. During his belonging for 3 years and 8 months, Dr. Tomono not only promoted Sakuma's researches but also introduced knowledges and technologies related to antibody drugs to the laboratory. In April 2022, Mr. Haruya Yagi, B.S., came to the laboratory as the fourth assistant professor after Dr. Tomono moved to another research facility. Mr. Yagi, who is also an alumnus of Setsunan University, has been belonged to the DDS laboratory from his fourth grade of the undergraduate school and became an assistant professor during his doctoral course. His current interest is to obtain a Ph.D. in the near future.

Dr. Sakuma, who has experiences in research activities at both industry and academia, is always trying to return the results of his researches to society. For a year and a half before he retired from Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., he left the research division and involved in building the company's R&D strategies and investigating the R&D trends of other companies at the head office. It is very helpful in promoting his researches in the university and is also a source of his originality. The DDS research is one of translational researches that bridge the knowledges found in basic researches to clinically useful applications, and its development is expected to result in significant medical contributions. Dr. Sakuma, who is sensitive to unmet medical needs, creates solutions using DDS technologies and hopes the day when those solutions are released to the world. We look forward to the participation and cooperation of those who agree with this idea in the DDS laboratory.


Table. Sakuma's researches at Setsunan University

Research themes Collaborators
Delivery of biologics applied on the mucosa into systemic circulation using cell-penetrating peptide-linked polymers ADEKA Co.
Transfection of biomolecules using cell-penetrating peptide-linked polymers

Azabu University

Mucosal vaccination using cell-penetrating peptide-linked polymers as an adjuvant Kagoshima University
Hyaluronic acid with cell-penetrating peptide branches as candidates for therapeutics and delivery tools


Diagnosis of colorectal cancer using fluorescent nanobioconjugates

Vanderbilt University
Sapporo Medical University
Osakafu Saiseikai Nakatsu Hospital

Porous lipid nanoparticles as a DDS platform National Institute for Materials Science
Oral absorption enhancement of poorly soluble drugs using nanosized-solid dispersion National Institute for Materials Science
Modulation of transporters in the gastrointestinal tract by polymeric conjugates with functional branches Osaka University
Kanazawa University
Osaka Institute of Thecnology
Oral absorption enhancement of poorly absorptive drugs through polymeric conjugation University of Utah
Site specific delivery of drugs in the intestinal tract through enteric coating Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd.
Morishita Jintan Co., Ltd.