Awards & Prizes

DATE2024.03.22 #Awards & Prizes

Professor Hiroaki Suga of Department of Chemistry wins Japan Academy Prize


Professor Hiroaki Suga

We are pleased to announce that Professor Hiroaki Suga of the Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, has been selected to receive the Japan Academy Prize.

Professor Suga has generated "special cyclic peptides" incorporating various non-proteinaceous amino acids and established an innovative drug discovery method, enabling the rapid identification of drug candidates at an overwhelming speed. Of particular note is the invention of a reprogramming technology that rewrites the universal genetic code on demand. Specifically, the development of Flexizyme (artificial ribozyme), cell-free translation and synthesis of special cyclic peptides, and the RaPID platform. The fusion of these highly unique technologies has made it possible to generate a special peptide library with enormous variations (>1 trillion types) by linking "special cyclic peptides" to template mRNAs on a 1:1 basis in translation synthesis from template mRNAs. From this library, a system was developed to discover drug candidates that strongly bind to target proteins at a speed that overturns conventional beliefs in drug discovery research.

In the past, the discovery of useful "special peptides" from nature had to rely on serendipity. In contrast, Professor Suga's drug discovery platform enables the systematic search for the structure and sequence of special peptides through a translation synthesis and directed evolution system that can introduce a wide variety of non-proteinaceous amino acids by reprogramming the genetic code. The innovative and versatile "cyclic specialty peptide" drug discovery platform has been a game changer for basic and applied research in the discovery of inhibitors/activators of disease-causing proteins and their mechanisms of action. Unlike traditional small molecule and antibody drugs, he has created a new drug discovery modality called mid-molecule drugs (molecular weight from 500 to several thousand) and initiated a new field of "specialty peptide drug discovery".

We congratulate Professor Suga on this award and wish him continued success in his future endeavors.

Japan Academy Prize

(Responsibility: Professor Hiroki Oguri, Department of Chemistry)