Due to factors such as the improvement of public health and the accompanying decline in interest in infectious diseases, Japan has long faced challenges in addressing the issues necessary for vaccine development and production adequately. The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of maintaining domestic capabilities for developing and producing vaccines against infectious diseases.
Therefore, a national strategy was compiled to address all the factors that had stalled vaccine development and production in Japan and to rebuild the necessary systems. This strategy is known as “Japan’s Vaccine Development and Production Enhancement Strategy” and was approved by the Cabinet on June 1, 2021. In accordance with this policy, the Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA) was established within the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) on March 22, 2022.
SCARDA aims to promote comprehensive research and development, from basic research to practical application, through collaboration among industry, academia, government, and clinical practice. It is involved in developing several R&D projects.
One of the projects managed by SCARDA is the “Japan Initiative for World-leading Vaccine Research and Development Centers”. This initiative aims to establish top-tier R&D centers (flagship centers and those where synergistic effects are expected) and supporting institutions for R&D. In this initiative, we aim to establish and maintain world-leading research and development centers (flagship centers and centers where synergy effects can be expected) as well as institutions that support R&D. Furthermore, with a focus on these research centers, we are committed to strengthening and promoting vaccine development and its related research from regular times, with a long-term vision towards the culmination of the vaccine development process.
Nagasaki University has been designated as one of the Synergy Centers, along with the University of Tokyo (Flagship Center), Hokkaido University, Chiba University, and Osaka University.
Additionally, institutions essential for sharing infrastructure and support functions necessary for vaccine development have also been selected. These include the Central Institute for Experimental Animals (for small animal experiments), the National Institute of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, Shiga University of Medical Science (for large animal experiments), Kyoto University, RIKEN (for human immunology research), and the University of Tokyo (for genome analysis of diseases with a high risk of severe infectious outbreaks). These entities are listed as “Supporting Organizations.”
As institutions integral to research and development in conjunction with the flagship center, synergy centers aim to conduct research and development that leverages our particular strengths and characteristics. Additionally, they will establish a research center that produces synergistic effects through collaboration with other centers, thereby enhancing the overall research and development function.