Development of Cohort Design for Novel Health Risk Prediction/CRDS-FY2010-SP-07
Executive Summary

In order to have a healthy body until the time of death, it is extremely effective to identify some unknown factors that would affect health conditions for one’s entire life such as stress and genes. Generically, it is considered that identifying these factors will establish the basis of developing technologies that would avoid and control health deterioration. In particular, we think that“ individual genes”,“ development and aging”, and“ environmental factors” are important factors for developing new technologies. Thus, we propose three research developments under the following subjects in this strategic initiative. These subjects are necessities of a research infrastructure for monitoring the above risk factors throughout one’s entire life, and they also advocate a strategy of technical research required for integrating existing outcomes already obtained via cohort studies. Subject I Lifelong cohort study Subject II Quasi-lifelong cohort study by integrating existing cohort studies Subject III Study for risk factor and biomarker based on correlated analysis of several existing cohort studies In Japan, several cohort studies based on the above viewpoint have already been attempted. However these studies are limited in many aspects, such as targeted age and type of disease subjects. Thus, many projects have been promoted in terms of infant stage, adolescence, and old age. On the other hand, in order to understand accurately the risk of health, we need to obtain biological and environmental information throughout one’s entire life. However as indicated above, several cohort studies in Japan are limited in duration, thus we do not have any system for identifying the lifelong risk of health. In contrast to this, other countries (e.g. advanced countries) regard biological information as a“ national asset” and promote a lifelong cohort study. For example, Britain established a system for monitoring risk factors of health deterioration over sixty years, and some countries conduct a long term cohort study by targeting 100,000 to 500,000 people by setting up a Biobank (facility for blood serum samples). Considering the above awareness and trends in other countries, we propose cohort studies that should be promoted in Japan. Subject I is a lifelong cohort study that gathers biological, environmental, and clinical information over an entire Japanese life. Subject II is a cohort study that connects and analyzes existing cohort studies, and Subject III?is a research and development (R&D) study that creates a fundamental technology for maintaining a healthy body. The importance of Subject I is as previously described. We promote Subject II because it is necessary for over 100 years to conduct Subject I and analyze its results. Subject III has already been carried out in some projects. However, there are hardly any projects on a correlated analysis between a biological factor expressed in the infant stage and health deterioration in an old age. In addition, we propose collaborative research studies with social scientists such as those involving the design of a lifelong cohort study, the formation of a social consensus, and the establishment of a follow-up system for a persistent study. Conducting the above R&D study, we can expect many impacts, such as the establishment of Health Information Base. Using this base, we can also expect to create much knowledge of precaution and make considerable progress in basic research on the elucidation of life phenomena. It is not sufficient only to promote individual researchers by the bottom up approach for constructing a research infrastructure targeting all Japanese people. We think that the government should construct a core facility for connecting several cohort studies, build collaborating systems between local governments and healthcare facilities, and also promote public understanding at the start of this initiative.