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Search for and synthesis of natural organic compounds with unique structures and functions

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The Nakata-Saikawa Research Lab in the Department of Applied Chemistry at Keio University’s Faculty of Science and Technology conducts research on organic chemistry of natural products.
Q. The natural world has many mysterious phenomena and ingenious tricks that we would never think of. By synthesizing challengingly complex structured organic compounds, or by explaining the nature of yet to be understood mysterious organic phenomena at the molecular level, we think we can discover new compounds, new properties of compounds, and new organic chemical reactions.
The Nakata-Saikawa Research Lab has been conducting synthesis research targeting natural organic compounds with complex and unique structures. As part of this research, during the synthesis of the ansa compound kendomycin, under a new method using the Dotz reaction to form an aromatic core while simultaneously generating a ring, the lab has successfully synthesized abundantly varied ansa compounds that cannot be created in the natural world.
Q. Ansa compounds have interesting structures so they are fun to make, and quite a variety of bioactive compounds are produced, so in fact some are used in medicines. Of these, kendomycin is a compound that relatively recently was isolated and had its structure determined. From that time it was being targeted by synthetic chemists. We too have focused on synthesizing kendomycin, which may become a lead compound of pharmaceutical drugs, in an interesting manner.
In addition to the synthesis of compounds, the Nakata-Saikawa Research Lab is focused on physiological phenomena and natural phenomena in organisms, conducting research to extract related organic compounds. Among this is research on a chemical substance that causes sneezing.
Q. There is a red striped jellyfish called chrysaora pacifica. When it gets caught in a fishing net and turns into a powder after becoming dried out and stale, it has long been said that people will sneeze uncontrollably just by passing by it. What is it that causes the sneezing? It is something that causes everybody to sneeze, so to figure out what it is, we caught some chrysaora pacifica and made it into a powder. Using mice, we are administering a sample in their noses and counting the number of sneezes as a method to discover the inducing substance. At this point it appears that the substance is very unstable. It is not as if we understand its structure yet, but we have started to see that the substance causing the sneezing is something unique, so we think this research has become interesting.
In addition, the Nakata-Saikawa Research Lab is also conducting fascinating research to explain the mechanisms of biological phenomena. This includes extracting compounds involved in the phenomenon of the calcium in an egg shell moving to the bones of a chick when the chick grows inside the egg.
Q. When you look around there are many interesting natural phenomena. Look at the various things around you and give it some thought as to how in the world they became like that. When you do this, you will discover that there are still many extremely interesting unexplained phenomena. If we continue to work hard researching to explain them, I think we will definitely discover some interesting science, so I want everyone to join the world of science.
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