Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO

Biological Function Research Group

The Biological Function Research Group focuses on biomaterials and the special functions of living organisms and is engaged in research to make advanced applications of them.
Collagen vitrigel ® is a new material consisting of high-density collagen fibril networks that are equivalent to connective tissue in vivo. It is not only transparent, but also strong and permeable to macromolecular proteins. Practical application of collagen vitrigel ® is expected in the fields of regenerative medicine, drug development and alternative methods for animal experiments since it can be used as a cell culture carrier or for sustained release of drugs. Vitrigel is a gel in a stable state obtained by vitrifying a conventional hydrogel and then rehydrating it. NARO has registered "Vitrigel" as a trademark.
Larvae of the insect Polypedilum vanderplanki have an ability to regain active life by rehydration even after they were completely desiccated. To clarify the molecular mechanism of this phenomenon, the draft genome was sequenced, and the specific genome structures related to the desiccation tolerance was discovered. Through the elucidation of the unique function of this insect, we have identified genes responsible for its tolerance to desiccation and we are engaged in the development of a new preservation technology for biological samples (E.G., food enzymes, live vaccines, animal gametes) at room temperature using these genetic factors.