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News FY 2016

Development of a "Nanomachine Contrast Medium" That Detects the Degree of Cancer Malignancy

Director General Kazunori Kataoka of the Innovation Center of NanoMedicine (and Project Professor at the Policy Alternatives Research Institute), Senior Research Associate Mi Peng, Professor Nobuhiro Nishiyama of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Team Leader Ichio Aoki of the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology have developed a nanomachine that allows MRI to visualize "intratumoral hypoxic regions" with greater sensitivity, concerning the degree of malignancy as well as refractoriness in cancer microenvironments.

This issue has been gathering attention because it is problematic to deliver drugs to hypoxic regions in cancer microenvironments, where the effects of radiation therapy are decreased, which leads to greater resistivity and can result in causing the cancer to become more malignant and spread.

The research team announced that it is possible to surpass the current signal strength of MRI tumor-specific imaging by detecting microenvironments in cancer tissue with the nanomachine contrast medium that they have developed. They have also succeeded in detecting with high sensitivity a minute colon cancer tumor, with a diameter of 1.5mm, which spread to the liver.

When compared to other widely used biopsies, the nanomachine contrast medium is minimally invasive, and can be expected to provide “pathological diagnostic imaging” of all organs and tissues within the body. The nanomachine contrast medium is also applicable for predicting results before treatment, as well as rapid drug-sensitivity and efficiency test after treatment, so in the future we can expect more accurate cancer diagnosis with no oversights, as well as reliable treatment.

The results of this research were published in "Nature Technology" on May 16. The research is supported by the “Center of Innovation (COI) Program,” which is a Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)-funded project.
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【The press conference held on Apr. 18】

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