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  2. Research related to COVID-19 (Updated April 1, 2022)

Completed research themes

Research Themes

Publication of data and research using leading-edge large-scale joint-use facilities

  • Supercomputer Fugaku will be used to help fight against COVID-19

    The supercomputer Fugaku, which is currently being installed in Kobe, Japan under a RIKEN-led project, will be put to use to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic to the extent possible, by giving priority to research selected by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Currently, five projects are being conducted by scientists from RIKEN and other research institutions.

  • Clarifying the dynamics of the flexible surface of the main protease of the new coronavirus

    RIKEN has carried out simulations of the structural and drug binding dynamics of the main protease of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. They revealed that the drug binding sites had a flexible structure (Komatsu, T. S. et al., Sci. Rep. 10, 16986 (2020) doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74099-5). The data have been published in the Mendeley Data and Zenodo repository to help researchers working on therapies.

Research for the development of therapies

  • Development of nafamostat inhalation formulation

    Nafamostat is an injection that has been prescribed in Japan for many years as a treatment for acute pancreatitis and disseminated intravascular coagulation syndrome. It was found that nafamostat can prevent the fusion of SARS-CoV-2’s outer membrane with the cell membrane—the first step in the infection process, so that it can inhibit the virus’s entry. A RIKEN group is conducting joint research with the University of Tokyo, Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd., and Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., to commercialize an inhalation formulation of nafamostat, which will allow nafamostat to directly reach the airways and lungs, where it can prevent a key process of COVID-19 infection. It could become a convenient method for administering nafamostat to patients infected with the coronavirus.

  • COVID-19 Project

    A project has been launched by the RIKEN Program for Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms (DMP) to have RIKEN's life science centers and other research institutes to help combat COVID-19. RIKEN will publish results of experiments and computational results when appropriate, provide support for global research and development, and actively carry out joint research and collaboration.