According to The Nikkei Asia, Kansai Medical University in Osaka Prefecture will establish the world's first research institute focusing on a new cancer treatment called photoimmunotherapy next April.
Dr. Hisataka Kobayashi, a senior investigator at the U.S. National Institutes of Health who developed photoimmunotherapy, will become the head of the institute in western Japan. He told reporters on Monday that the therapy could be first applied to patients with breast cancer, as well as facial and neck cancers, in the hope of providing a new option for a variety of cancer patients.
In photoimmunotherapy, which is billed as a fifth cancer treatment, alongside surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, the patient is given a special drug that binds to specific cancer cells, and then those cells are destroyed when the drug reacts to near-infrared laser light.
The new treatment was invented by Kobayashi and developed by the predecessor of Rakuten Medical, a U.S. subsidiary of Japanese internet giant Rakuten Group, which obtained a patent license. The therapy drew attention when then-U.S. President Barack Obama referred to it in his State of the Union address in 2012.
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