Cancer Intelligence Care Systems, Inc.(Koto Ward)
Cancer Intelligence Care Systems, Inc. is a company that performs R&D, produces, and sells radiotherapy technology for cancers. We visited and interviewed Mr. Yoshio Imahori (photo), the President of the company that is aiming towards a new stage of cancer treatment by making full use of the cutting-edge radiation technology.
We began our business in Toranomon, Minato Ward in December 2005 and moved to our current location, Ariake, in September 2007 due to business expansion. Since our establishment, we have been researching and developing “BNCT (Boron Neutron Capture Therapy)”, which has been considered the trump card for intractable cancer treatment. For the production of neutrons, which is essential for “BNCT”, the existing methods involved using nuclear reactors or beryllium-target method with accelerators. However, since these methods irradiate high-energy protons and generate fast neutrons, there are problems such as whole-body exposures, large equipment, and activation. Therefore, we researched, developed, and commercialized a technology called lithium-target method, which generates neutrons efficiently with low energy protons. With this product, we were able to efficiently carry out “BNCT” at places such as hospitals, because of lower whole-body exposures, smaller neutron-producing accelerators (photo), and significant reduction of radioactive waste. As of 2014, we are the only one to put this lithium-target method into use, and this is the one and only technology in the world.
A typical radiation therapy for cancer is to damage and destroy the genes inside the cancer cells with the usage of radiation such as X-ray. This treatment has some disadvantages. Since the radiation damages the surrounding normal cells until it reaches the cancer cells, treatment for tumors inside or around the brain was difficult. Since radiation is very stressful on the body, it is difficult to treat cancers that spread throughout the body. However, “BNCT” is a new way of treatment with a very different concept from the traditional radiation therapy. Simply put, a boron medication, which can only be absorbed by cancer cells, is administered, and by irradiating low energy neutron to the boron, corpuscular radiation (or secondary corpuscular radiation), which jumps only about 10 micron inside the cells, can kill just the cancer cells. Because of this, “BNCT” is able to safely treat intractable cancers, such as malignant brain tumors that have cancerous and normal cells intertwined, without damaging the normal cells. In addition, since the neutrons used can be rendered harmless with almost no effect to the normal cells, the patients are less physically burdened from the treatment.
Even though “BNCT” is a treatment with many advantages, there are only about 400 patients who have used “BNCT” to date since 1994. This was because the nuclear reactor facilities, necessary for producing neutrons used by “BNCT”, were limited. In order to resolve this problem, we continued our research to produce neutrons with the use of previously mentioned lithium-target method, and we were able to put this into practice recently. This device is in the process of being installed at the National Cancer Center starting December 2013 (photo), and is planned to begin its operation after summer of 2014. If this way of treatment becomes established, it will eventually become common at different medical institutions nationwide, and it is expected to progressively improve Japan’s cancer treatment.
In addition to our one and only technology, we believe that the fact that I, an executive of the company, am a Doctor of Medicine (formerly Associate Professor at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine) and perform research on the technology myself, as well as run the company, is the reason why a young company like us is winning strong trust in this industry. Because of this, I can accurately convey the cutting-edge medical technology “BNCT” during business meetings, and I can perform research on the technology with other staff members. Moreover, all of our technology development staffs are composed of members who used to research “BNCT”. With like-minded researchers coming together, technologies with high degree of expertise can be cultivated. We believe that our strength is the ability to put treatments that do not exist today in practical use.
At the time of our establishment, the reason why we considered leaving Kyoto, where we worked on our research until then, and locating ourselves in Tokyo was that we thought that Tokyo had every element that was essential for venture companies to begin their businesses. Research in the medical field requires greater amount of money compared to other industries. In Tokyo, it is possible to find various funders, to address our financial needs. Moreover, since many competent people gather in Tokyo, we feel that it is easier to network with people compared to the other provinces. In addition, for companies like us developing new technologies and products from scratch, there are needs to work with subcontractors to support the trial productions. Since there are many companies with various technical capabilities in Tokyo, we are able to choose the most appropriate subcontractors. We believe that we were able to reach the stage of realization of “BNCT” because of the fact that we were located in Tokyo with various networks. In a world where one in three people in Japan may get cancer and undergo treatment, we would like to continue enhancing the “BNCT” technology, and we are prepared to continue making restless effort to spread the treatment method that relieves patients of physical burden.
Address: 5F, TOC Ariake East Tower, 3-5-7 Ariake, Koto Ward, Tokyo