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To the general public

  • About BNCT

Presidential Address

Announcement of Inauguration as President of JSNCT

October 2015

I am pleased to announce that I have been elected president of the Japanese Society of Neutron Capture Therapy (JSNCT), a position formerly held by Dr. Junichi Hiratsuka, at the Society’s annual meeting held in September 2015.

Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) was put forward by G. L. Locher approximately 80 years ago. In 1951, W. H. Sweet initiated clinical studies aimed at applying BNCT to patients presenting with brain tumor. However, they could not obtain the desired effects. It is believed that the major reason for their failure was the low concentration of boron compounds applied to cancer cells. Seventeen years later, in 1968, Dr. Hiroshi Hatanaka became the first researcher to successfully use this therapy for brain tumor. He adopted BSH, an ionic boron cluster agent that he had developed through a joint research with Dr. A. H. Soloway when he was studying in the United States. In 1987, Dr. Yutaka Mishima reported that BPA, an amino acid derivative, could be used to treat malignant melanoma. These breakthroughs sparked subsequent clinical studies of brain tumor and malignant melanoma for some time. In 2001, this situation was drastically altered by the successful application of BNCT to head and neck cancer. This success was a result of such developments as the discovery of BPA, the development of FBPA PET, and progress in studies of the radiation biology of BNCT. In the years that followed, as JSNCT members are well aware, studies to expand indications have been pursued in Japan and the rest of the world.

BNCT is an interdisciplinary treatment method that combines a variety of scientific fields, including medicine, biology, chemistry, pharmacology, and physical engineering. In August 1997, the first neutron capture therapy seminar was organized by Dr. Kazuo Yoshino as a forum for researcher groups in these fields to exchange views, and this led to a call for the establishment of a research meeting to further promote studies of BNCT. Against this backdrop, in August 2003, the Japanese Association of Neutron Capture Therapy was launched with Dr. Koji Ono as president, and in 2004, the organization was renamed the Japanese Society of Neutron Capture Therapy, which has continued to this day. Drs. Mitsunori Kirihata and Junichi Hiratsuka were the second and third presidents of the Society, respectively, and both have contributed immensely to the development of the Society.

The world’s first accelerator-based neutron sources for BNCT were developed in Japan in 2010. BNCT, which previously used nuclear reactors for research and treatment, has since undergone rapid changes and is expected to reach a major turning point in the next several years. Phase I accelerator-based BNCT clinical trials for brain tumor have been completed, and preparations for phase II study are under way as phase I clinical trials for head and neck cancer continue. In addition, there are plans of enhancing the use of BNCT accelerators in universities and hospitals in the future. Under these circumstances, in order to pursue the policy of combining basic research and clinical studies and promoting industry-academia partnerships as aimed by past presidents, as well to further fuel BNCT studies, I would like to announce three principal policies as listed below, all of which will be implemented for the further development of the Society.

 1. Development of BNCT specialists and information sharing
 2. Development of new drugs with available resources in Japan
 3. Internationalization of the Society

Over the past four years, three lecture meetings have been held as part of the training program for BNCT specialists. Since it has become increasingly important in the future to develop BNCT specialists, including Society-certified doctors, we will continue to work on the development of human resources in this field. We will also strive to ensure information sharing among these specialists through the training programs.

New drug development is also an urgent issue that needs to be addressed for the further development of BNCT. The two agents that have been used to this day were synthesized some 60 years ago, and no new boron agents have emerged so far. The Mishima Memorial Award for Chemistry was created this year to honor outstanding researchers in drug development for clinical studies (The first awardee was Dr. Kazuo Yoshino.). JSNCT will also pay particular attention to further accelerating new drug research and development. To this end, we will work with Society members in all areas in hopes of combining basic research and clinical studies, using available resources in Japan for the development of new drugs through industry-academia partnerships, establishing methods for the evaluation of thus developed drugs, and initiating translational research.

The first issue of JSNCT Letter, the Society’s academic journal, was published in May of this year. In the future, we will enrich its contents so that it can be used effectively as a forum for information exchange among members and a tool for disseminating the Society’s activities to academic circles in the world. To this end, we will issue an international version of JSNCT Letter and actively distribute copies around the world. At the same time, we plan to add an English page to our website to make Japan’s BNCT accessible to not only researchers around the world but also the general public. We will also hold discussions with Society members on how JSNCT should contribute to the development of BNCT in the world.

I will concentrate my energies on fulfilling my responsibilities as president of the Society. In this regard, I am asking for your full cooperation and support.

Sincerely yours,

Hiroyuki Nakamura Ph.D.
President of JSNCT
Tokyo Institute of Technology