In 2013, we participated in the “Evolution and the Neural Basis of Empathy” project of the MEXT Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Novel Academic Field Research. We demonstrated that oxytocin is secreted during the heterogenous mutual interaction between humans and canines, and our results were published in Science. We took part in the same Novel Academic Field Research program in 2014, reporting a study of “The Science of Cognitive Interaction Design.” We conducted an analysis of the signals supporting communication between humans and animals. From these research themes, we gradually revealed the cognitive functions forming the basis of symbiosis. The ground-breaking and fundamentally supported project being proposed here would develop this concept and reveal whether it contributes to human health.
From 2011 to 2015, we conducted a study on the research topic “Creating a Gene (DNA) Bank Hub for Causative Gene Analysis in Canine Hereditary Disease” for the Private University Strategic Research Foundation Building and Support Project. We collected approximately 16,000 canine DNA specimens, primarily from dogs with various genetic diseases, and performed an analysis of the causative genes for several types of gene-related disorders such as canine eye disease.
The combination of the above studies has created an environment—in the form of the canine gene bank—in which further research is possible. However, there are many gene-related diseases in canines deserving of study, the majority of which have pathologies resembling human pathologies. Thus, in the proposed study, we consider the collected canine DNA to be a research asset shared by the university as a whole and are developing a university-wide research and analysis initiative for its use. In other words, the primary objective of the proposed research is for genetic researchers from the entire university to collaborate to reveal genetic variations of diseases coevolved by canines and humans, particularly of skin disease, metabolic disease, allergic disease, and cancer.