Hokkaido University Research Profiles

Life Sciences

Mitochondria-targeted Nanocapsules (MITO-Porter)

Technology to introduce drugs, proteins and nucleic acids into mitochondria

The mitochondrion is attracting attention as an organelle that contributes to the treatment of diseases, maintenance of beauty and health and the development of the life sciences. We have successfully developed a mitochondria-targeted nanocapsule (MITO-Porter) and are aiming to commercialize this nanocapsule.

Content of research

The mitochondria-targeted nanocapsules (MITO-Porter) in this study can pass through the cell and mitochondrial membranes to deliver target molecules inside the mitochondria. Conventional technologies using functional elements severely limit the size and type of molecules to be delivered, but the strategy using MITO-Porter, which encapsulates the target molecule, enables mitochondrial delivery independent of the molecular species.
When we prepared MITO-Porter with GFP (green) encapsulated and observed intracellular fluorescence microscopy, we observed many yellow signals that overlap with mitochondria (red), confirming efficient molecular delivery inside the mitochondria. We have also succeeded in introducing genes and nucleic acids into mitochondria, which had been impossible with existing nucleic acid delivery agents (targeting the nucleus and cytoplasm). We are also developing nanocapsules that can be adapted to living organisms.

Potential for social implementation

  • ・Mitochondrial therapeutic nanocapsules
  • (e.g., neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes)
  • ・Mitochondrial nucleic acid and gene delivery agents
  • (to be used to construct disease model cells and animals)
  • ・Drugs and supplements for anti-aging and metabolic syndrome prevention and treatment

Appealing points to industry and local governments

Since MITO-Porter can deliver target molecules to mitochondria, it can be applied to treatment and diagnosis of diseases (delivery of therapeutic molecules) and maintenance of beauty and health (delivery of aging and obesity inhibitors). The nanocapsules are also suitable for the delivery of nucleic acids and genes, and are expected to contribute to the development of gene therapy and life science. We hope to commercialize this nanocapsule through industry-university collaboration.