Message from the Director
The Exploratory Oncology Research & Clinical Trial Center (EPOC) was originally called the National Cancer Center EPOC (NCC-EPOC), which has been organized since 2012.
The NCC-EPOC was a cross-campus organization between the Kashiwa and Tsukiji campuses in NCC, aiming to eliminate a drug lag in Japan and to lead Japan-driven discovery and development of innovative drugs and medical devices. The NCC-EPOC has been working to establish a structure for conducting first-in-human (FIH) trials, investigator-initiated trials (using products from either companies or academia), and translational research (TR). In the meantime, both NCC Hospital and East Hospitals were designated as "core hospitals for clinical research” under the Medical Care Act in 2015, and the clinical trial structure was transferred and managed by both hospitals. Simultaneously, the NCC-EPOC organization was refined, and then EPOC was newly established to strengthen the development function in the NCC.
The EPOC has promoted non-clinical studies and exploratory clinical translational research (TR) that can support the clinical proof of concept (POC) declaration in early development. One of the ideal paths of how EPOC can promote TR, for example, is similar to our biomarker discovery TR field. A pathology and clinical laboratory TR field would be in charge of biomarker search, diagnostic, and laboratory test development leading to a proposal of treatment methods. It could be clinically proven and validated by our two core hospitals through FIH and/or early phase trials. Efforts should be dedicated to the development of medical devices. In fact, the BNCT medical development field has succeeded in putting next-generation radiation therapy into practical application in clinical practice, in addition to conventional particle therapy. The fields of endoscopic and surgical device development have received continuous support from EPOC, resulting in the acceleration of clinical development for new endoscopic devices, robotic surgical devices, and applications of imaging and AI.
Furthermore, the EPOC has expanded collaboration research with broad partners, like the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, Tokyo University of Science, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Frederick National Cancer Institute, to integrate different disciplines with other innovations. Our next challenge is to integrate medical records from the hospital, and diverse data from residential communities and living environments, to create an unprecedented unique data field that might have an impact on future living environment improvement.
The refined EPOC will also collaborate with the NCC Venture Incubation Program (NCC-VIP) to encourage its translational research functions, strengthen R&D support for growing venture seed development, and improve our R&D capabilities by involving venture capital and corporate fund acquisition. We believe that every effort would make the EPOC achieve the primary goal of contributing to cutting-edge research. The mindset of “RX-EPOC,” meaning a renewed EPOC with research transformation, might be a key to maximizing our functional presence. We look forward to your continued support, cooperation, and guidance.
Toshihiko Doi, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Exploratory Oncology Research & Clinical Trial Center