Future directions of anticancer drug development in Japan

Hideyuki Akaza, Koji Kawai, Takashi Tsuruo, Shigeru Tsukagoshi, Keisuke Aiba, Yasuhiro Shimada, Yoshihiro Kakeji, Hideki Ishikawa, Tadashi Ikeda, Seigo Nakamura, Tomohide Tamura, Nobuyuki Yamamoto, Seiji Isonishi, Shiro Hinotsu, Masaru Hirose, Jun Katsura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


At the 13th Oncology Forum, future directions of anticancer drug development in Japan were discussed. Development of anticancer drugs in the 1990s was based on the concept of total cell kill, but now development of molecular targeted drugs becomes the mainstream. Unfortunately, molecular targeted drugs and antibody agents are mostly foreign products and translational research in Japan is poor as it stands now. As future directions of anticancer drug development, international collaborative development is considered essential, but there are various obstacles to the conduct of international collaborative studies. Companies, medical institutions and regulatory agencies must make collaborative efforts to overcome these obstacles. As future development of anticancer agents in individual cancer regions in Japan is considered, gastric cancer therapy is progressing considerably with the advent of S-1 and in the future, development of multi-agent combination therapy including molecular targeted agents is expected. Much progress in colon cancer therapy has been made owing to accumulation of evidence in recent years. Multi-agent chemotherapy combined with antibody agent, which is advancing overseas, is introduced to Japan. Clinical development of combination therapy with a high therapeutic index, including compounds discovered in Japan, is expected in the future. Although conventionally hormone therapy has been considered as first-line treatment of breast cancer and used in combination with chemotherapy, with the advent of antibody agents in recent years, HER2 sensitivity has greatly affected the algorithm of treatment. Future development of molecular targeted drugs and individualised diagnosis using cDNA array, etc. are likely to advance individualisation of treatment. On the other hand, large-scale clinical trials are required to prove a small difference in adjuvant therapy, etc. and accordingly international studies are becoming indispensable. For urological cancers, molecular targeted drugs have been proved effective in renal cancer and future development of molecular targeted drugs for prostate cancer and testicular tumors is desirable. At that time, elucidation of the mechanism of action of molecular targeted drug and strategic drug development designed to increase its efficacy are expected. As a future direction of anticancer drug development, there are many cancers in whose international collaborative studies Japan can participate. Studies of prostate cancer and renal cell carcinoma can be internationalised while internationalisation of studies in ovarian and pancreatic cancers is essential. Phase III should be performed as international collaborative studies and depending on the type of cancer and drug, collaborative studies in an Asian region are effective. When participating in an international collaborative study, Japan needs to recruit subjects at a speed similar to the rest of the world, but differences in medical environment including clinical trials pose a problem. To solve this problem, it is considered effective not only to pursue the Western environment but also to improve staff such as nurses and CRC. The number of Japanese patients necessary for Phase III studies is individual developmental strategy and needs to be examined by both companies and regulatory agencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-360
Number of pages10
JournalGan to kagaku ryoho. Cancer & chemotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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