Kazuhiro Ito, PhD, DVM, is currently a Principal Research Fellow of Respiratory Molecular Pharmacology in Genomic and Environmental Medicine Section in National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) in the Faculty of Medicine of Imperial College London.
He has had a unique career due to his combination of academia, industry and biotech work experiences. These have resulted in his being well known and highly respected in industrial pharmacological circles as well as asthma and COPD research in academia. His work has ranged from basic/translational/applied molecular and pharmacology science to clinical science in respiratory diseases with a particular focus on respiratory inflammation and infection.
He was a former Reader of Respiratory Cell & Molecular Biology in NHLI, Imperial College, and served as Honorary Principal Research fellow for more than 13 years. His early research (with Professors Peter Barnes and Ian Adcock, Airway Disease section in NHLI) addressed abnormalities of epigenetic and cell signalling control in respiratory diseases such as severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which studies have generated a new understanding into the reasons why patients fail to respond to corticosteroid therapy. He also conducted translational preclinical or clinical pharmacological studies of novel agents for asthma and COPD under collaborations with many industries or biotech companies. He further expanded his research to lung aging at molecular levels. He has authored and co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and book-chapters including New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Experimental Medicine and Journal of Immunology, and was also involved in successful research funding acquisition from Wellcome-trust, MRC, asthmaUK and many industries. Hs has successfully supervised or co-supervised 13 PhD students and several MSc and BSc students in Imperial College, as well as overseeing more than 30 international visitors.
He co-founded the Imperial Spin-Off company RespiVert Ltd. in 2007 in Imperial Bioincubator and was key to the development of innovative inhaled novel kinase inhibitors that targeted corticosteroid resistant inflammation induced by cigarette smoke, respiratory viruses and bacteria. The success of this program resulted, after just three years, in the company being purchased and becoming an operational division of Janssen Pharmaceuticals (J&J). He there continued the transition to clinical development of the compounds as head of Biology. More recently, he also co-founded Pulmocide Ltd. in 2014, which has successfully invented highly efficacious inhaled antifungal and anti-viral agents. He has contributed to series of funding from investors and many patent applications. Through his career, he has obtained exceptional know-how on inhaled medicine development; translational new microbiology model systems, tissue engineering to construct translational primary cell model, use of clinical biomarkers of respiratory infections as well as knowledge of molecular mechanisms of anti-microbial resistant fungi/virus/bacteria.
His current research interest is respiratory infection and aging in airways. During aging, pulmonary function progressively deteriorates and pulmonary inflammation increases, accompanied by structural changes, and also it causes higher risk of infection (virus, bacteria and fungi) and amplified infection-induced inflammation. Novel agents including senolytic and senostatic agents might provide new therapeutic approaches to the respiratory infection in vulnerable population. Furthermore, he has a strong track record in inhaled drug discovery and is keen to develop novel inhaled agents against antimicrobial resistant bacteria, fungus and virus, for lung cancer or refractory progressive airway remodelling.
Ito K, 2021, HDAC6: A Neglected Player in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?, American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, Vol:65, ISSN:1044-1549, Pages:569-570
et al., 2021, Dual interleukin-17A/F deficiency protects against acute and chronic response to cigarette smoke exposure in mice, Scientific Reports, Vol:11, ISSN:2045-2322
et al., 2021, ORMDL3 regulates poly I:C induced inflammatory responses in airway epithelial cells, Bmc Pulmonary Medicine, Vol:21, ISSN:1471-2466
et al., 2021, Safety and nonclinical and clinical pharmacokinetics of PC945, a novel inhaled triazole antifungal agent, Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, Vol:9, ISSN:2052-1707
et al., 2021, Pseudomonas aeruginosa induces p38MAP kinase-dependent IL-6 and CXCL8 release from bronchial epithelial cells via a Syk kinase pathway, Plos One, Vol:16, ISSN:1932-6203