BreakThrough Interview

Establishment of diagnostic technology for “Mycoplasma infection”, leading to the treatment of symptoms of unknown causesM Bio Technology Inc.

2019.04.11

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The company has received the “New Value Creation Award” at the New Value Creation Exhibition 2018 (Organizer: Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation). The technology is highly likely to be applied to a wide range of medical fields, and it has been appreciated for the way it addresses the social issue of prevention of infectious diseases with a groundbreaking and integrated approach

summary

  • Mycoplasma infection causes various symptoms including intractable diseases, in addition to the symptoms of cold
  • Establish the most advanced preventive medical technology as a remedy for mycoplasma infection. Making use in early diagnosis and vaccine development
  • Spread the right knowledge on mycoplasma infection to prepare a system that works on diagnosis, treatment and preventive measures from the viewpoint of public health and industrial healthcare

The threat of “Mycoplasma infection” causing various diseases

“Mycoplasma infection” is known to cause respiratory symptoms such as prolonged cough, acute bronchitis and pneumonia are said to be caused by mycoplasma in most cases.
Are you aware that mycoplasma also causes various symptoms other than those of respiratory organs? For example, there are cases where mycoplasma causes symptoms such as prolonged fatigue (chronic fatigue syndrome), depression, asthma and allergies. In recent years, mycoplasma is found to be one of the causes of intractable diseases such as rheumatic diseases, fibromyalgia and idiopathic interstitial pneumonia.
It is characterized by the appearance of various symptoms as the infection becomes prolonged, chronic, or with its recurrence, and then becomes intractable over several months to several decades. It is important to identify the infection at an early stage and provide appropriate treatment such as the administration of an antimicrobial agent to ensure that the infection does not aggravate.

The company advocates the “Mycoplasma Infection Spectrum”, an innovative disease concept for mycoplasma infection. Mycoplasma infection exhibits various symptoms such as those of asthma, arthritis, nephritis, meningitis, encephalitis, pancreatitis, hepatitis, dermatitis apart from pneumonia, and mycoplasma is also the cause of diseases such as intractable neuroimmune diseases, for which effective treatment method has not been established.

Establishment of technology for mycoplasma diagnosis which was difficult to diagnose

Although mycoplasma infection is associated with a variety of symptoms, visiting a medical institution usually does not lead to an accurate diagnosis. The reason being the “Limitation of the testing methods”. The testing methods that are routinely used have low detection sensitivity and can capture a part of cases in the acute phase; however, they cannot detect chronic infections. Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether mycoplasma is involved with just the symptoms.

Mr. Kazuhiro Matsuda, the representative of M Bio Technology Inc. and a Doctor of Medicine, has been exploring the topic of immunity since he enrolled in the Yamaguchi University School of Medicine in 1979, and has been working on determining the cause and treatment of intractable diseases, the cause of which is said to be unknown. He identified that mycoplasma infection is associated with a number of symptoms while he was in graduate school, and he worked as a classroom assistant in the microbiology department of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, studied abroad at the Johns Hopkins University and US National Institute of Health, and worked as a senior researcher at National Cancer Center before establishing the company in 2005. In 2012, the company moved into Chiba-dai Inohana Innovation Plaza and established the research institute “Mycoplasma Infection Research Center”. The company is cooperating with Chiba University and Yamaguchi Prefectural General Medical Care Center to develop and implement technology for overcoming mycoplasma infection.
With approximately 40 years of research, Mr. Matsuda has developed a new technology for the diagnosis of mycoplasma. He made it possible to create innovative diagnostic agents with high accuracy by identifying mycoplasma-specific antigens and their successful chemical synthesis.

Mycoplasma is a microorganism (classified as bacteria) characterized by the absence of a cell wall, and tiny cell and genome sizes. Because of these properties, it can easily escape the human immune system and pass through the walls of the blood vessel from the blood, enter the cells of systemic tissues, self-proliferate and cause inflammation in the surrounding tissues.
Mr. Matsuda identified an antigen specific to mycoplasma and succeeded in the chemical synthesis of the same three-dimensional substance as the antigenic substance. This substance can be used to understand minute changes in the state of infection from the time with no infection symptoms, by accurately measuring the antibody titer (how much antibody exists that can react with the antigen) of mycoplasma. With the establishment of this technology, it has become possible to provide treatment in which antimicrobial agents are prescribed even to patients who could not be diagnosed with mycoplasma infection using the existing testing methods. Since antibodies can be measured quantitatively, it is possible to diagnose changes in pathological conditions not only during the acute phase but also during the chronic phase. The treatment involves taking macrolide antibacterial agent, which is effective against mycoplasma, every few months, and monitoring the condition. Tests using this technology are provided as self-funded medical care at approximately 50 designated medical institutions in Japan.

Even if symptoms do not appear and the person is infected, it has become possible to grasp the minute changes in the state of infection from the pre-symptomatic disease state or asymptomatic state with no symptoms. This has made early diagnosis possible and treatment for preventing onset at the pre-symptomatic disease state, when the person has not been diagnosed to be infected with the disease.

Vaccine for treatment and prevention is also under development

Based on the antigenic substance, a vaccine for use in the treatment and prevention of mycoplasma infection is being developed. Safety and efficacy have already been confirmed with animal experiments in the laboratory and this technology has been patented as the research results of many universities in Japan, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, AIST, and National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations in various counties of Europe, United States, and Asia, including Japan. If it is formulated, and the safety and efficacy in humans can be confirmed, then this will lead to the treatment and prevention of many symptoms, the causes of which was so far considered to be unknown.

Vaccine for therapeutic and prophylactic use is being developed based on the latest immunological findings that have been revealed from the study of antigenic substances specific to mycoplasma

Mycoplasma is transmitted from one person to another by droplet infection through cough, sputum and saliva Infections increase from autumn to winter, and according to Mr. Matsuda, this infection is so familiar that “One in every five people with bronchitis and pneumonia symptoms have a mycoplasma infection”. While in many cases the infection is cured when the symptoms are mild, there is a lack of widespread awareness that this infection spreads by progressing silently. “Only mycoplasma pneumonia is designated by law as an infectious disease that should be controlled, and I hope that other diseases caused by mycoplasma will also be designated. I expect that the degree of awareness about testing for mycoplasma infection will increase and lead to global comprehensive medical care that will start in Japan and spread to the world”, said Matsuda.

Funds required to promote the project is high. The company plans to fund the project with the support of AMED (Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development) and hopes that the government will take measures to prevent the threat of mycoplasma at the earliest. The company will do its best to establish a system to deliver the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention technology for mycoplasma infection to people who are in need.

Interview Date: February 6, 2019

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