Message from the Director
Exploring the frontiers of innovative medical treatment
In 2005, the National Cancer Center (NCC) opened the Research Center for Innovative Oncology (RCIO) at the Kashiwa Campus with the aim of uniting doctors and researchers for a new era in the research and development of drugs and medical equipment. In 2012, RCIO began working with NCC to stimulate early-phase clinical development, establishing the cross-cutting Exploratory Oncology Research & Clinical Trial Center (EPOC) on NCC’s Kashiwa and Tsukiji Campuses with the aim of advancing First-in-Human (FIH) trials, investigator-initiated trials and translational research on new cancer drugs. To further strengthen NCC’s development functions, in 2015, RCIO and EPOC were reorganized and combined into a new organization, although we have retained the EPOC name in English.
Under the new EPOC, doctors and researchers undertook many clinical trials and conducted translational research, and a May 2016 organization restructuring established a framework to further strengthen development of cancer treatment drugs and medical equipment. Specifically, this reorganization designated both the National Cancer Center Hospital (NCCH) and National Cancer Center Hospital East (NCCHE) as core hospitals for clinical research under the Medical Service Law. The hospitals took over management of clinical trials, allowing EPOC to focus on non-clinical studies aimed at proof of concept for drug discovery in deeper cooperation with NCC Research Institute (NCCRI) and to carry out early-phase/exploratory clinical translation research. In order for EPOC to strength its non-clinical studies and early-phase clinical trials to establish proof of concept, we established the Division of Biomarker Discovery to search for new biomarkers and develop companion diagnostics (CDx) and Division of Innovative Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. This structuring has made possible drug discovery seed research (which is basic research), biomarker discovery, and development of new diagnostics and tests, and provides seamless transitions to early-phase/clinical development research and clinical research at NCCHE and the NCCH. To promote further deepening of innovative medical development research, the Division of Boron Neutron Capture Therapy was established on the Tsukiji Campus to help reinforce cooperation between radiation therapy researchers of Kashiwa campus and radiobiology researchers of NCCRI, while the Division of Science and Technology for Endoscopy and the Division of Surgical Technology were established on the Tsukiji Campus for cooperation between the Kashiwa and Tsukiji Campuses to develop translational research seeds and carry out advanced clinical development research.
As EPOC continues to explore the frontiers of innovative medicine in cooperation with our hospitals (NCCH and NCCHE) and NCCRI, we are collaborating not only with fellow NCC colleagues but also with a wide variety of organizations and businesses in various fields domestically and internationally—from academic and research institutions to drug makers and medical equipment developers. These collaborations are a driving force in the development of new drugs and medical devices in Japan that will allow us to continue our work contributing cancer treatments to the world.
Dr. Atsushi Ochiai
Exploratory Oncology Research & Clinical Trial Center