Masanobu Komatsu's Research Focus
Cancer, Cardiovascular Diseases
Malfunction of blood vessels and abnormal vessel growth are associated with many medical conditions, ranging from heart diseases and cancer, to metabolic problems such as diabetes and to age-related conditions such as macular degeneration. Dr. Komatsu’s research goal is to find a way to reverse the process of abnormal vessel regeneration and restore normal functions into these vessels. The improvement of vessel functionality will enhance drug delivery and radiation efficacy during cancer treatment, avoid occlusions of coronary arteries, and slow the deterioration of the eyesight in elderly people.
Masanobu Komatsu's Research Report
Dr. Komatsu’s current research focuses on the role of an intracellular signaling protein, R-Ras, in inhibiting the abnormal vessel growth and normalizing the disease-associated defective vasculature.
During development and normal regeneration of adult tissues, newly formed blood vessels undergo
a maturation process. It is important to understand the cellular and molecular basis of this process because its failure will lead to structural and functional deficiencies of the blood vessels, which are typically seen in pathological lesions such as tumors. Dr. Komatsu’s recent studies indicate that R-Ras is one of the key promoters of blood vessel maturation during vascular remodeling and regeneration. R-Ras promotes this important biological process through regulating vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells and pericytes (mural cells), which are all essential cellular constituents of the blood vessel wall. These findings suggest that R-Ras signaling may also be useful in tissue engineering and therapeutic angiogenesis where formation of ‘functional’ vessels is crucial.
A 3-D image of blood vessels in a tumor (3-D image reconstructed from confocal microscopy data). Mural cells called pericytes (green) are associated with the endothelium of blood vessels (red) to provide structural and functional supports to the vessels. The blue area indicates direct physical interaction between pericytes and the endothelium.
About Masanobu Komatsu
Masanobu Komatsu, Ph.D., earned his undergraduate degree and his Ph.D. at the University of Miami, where he also completed post-doctoral studies in immunology. He continued his post-doctoral studies at Sanford-Burnham as a fellow in the lab of Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, Sanford-Burnham’s president (1989-2002). After five years at Sanford-Burnham, Dr. Komatsu became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and maintained an adjunct faculty and investigator status with the Sanford-Burnham Cancer Center in La Jolla. In 2008, Dr. Komatsu joined Sanford-Burnham full-time with a primary appointment to the Tumor Microenvironment program at the Cancer Center and with a secondary appointment to the Cardiovascular Pathobiology program at the Diabetes and Obesity Research Center.
Dr. Komatsu holds a patent in R-Ras Activity in vascular regulation along with inventors David Mann and Erkki Ruoslahti, 2007.
Board of Directors, VBS Pharmaceuticals