The aging demographics in society are creating a host of various challenges for society, such as expanding medical costs, nursing care problems, and an increasing number of people with dementia. Consequently, awareness about health is increasing and interest is expanding, from early detection of disease to prevention and health improvement.
Measures by Shimadzu Corporation
The Shimadzu Group is both a pioneer in diagnostic X-ray imaging and a leading company in mass spectrometry. We remain committed to taking on the daily challenge of developing new solutions in a broad range of healthcare fields, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and prognosis management, by collaborating with researchers working at the forefront of advanced healthcare research and development to achieve major changes in future healthcare.
Measure 01: Promoting Health
The Shimadzu Group helps improve health by analyzing the functionally beneficial components in food. In August 2019, Shimadzu signed a joint research agreement with the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and established the NARO Shimadzu Kyoto Laboratory for Food Innovation within Shimadzu’s Healthcare R&D Center for the purpose of analyzing the functionally beneficial components in foods.
The laboratory is intended to develop new methods that can quickly, easily, and accurately analyze components with functional benefits (such as food fiber, polyphenols, and carotenoids) in about 20 types of green teas, vegetables, fruits, and other foods or agricultural products developed by NARO in various regions of Japan. The laboratory will also build a component database to search for new functionally beneficial components.
The Shimadzu Group intends to plan and standardize solutions based on the results achieved by the laboratory and deploy them throughout the world in an effort to develop agricultural products with higher added value and also contribute to health and longevity in society.
Measure 02: Dementia
The Shimadzu Group has been researching biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease in blood. In 2014, we used mass spectrometry to detect 22 types of peptides associated with amyloids in the blood. In 2018, we collaborated with the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG) to establish a new blood analysis method* that can screen for Alzheimer's disease in a few drops of blood (equivalent to about 0.6 mL of blood plasma).
Currently, we are working with Shimadzu Group company Shimadzu Techno-Research to jointly deploy an amyloid MS contract analysis service* in Japan for providing biomarker values based on the percent of beta-amyloid in blood, as measured with a mass spectrometer, to institutions and researchers involved in drug discovery R&D. We plan to start this contract analysis service in the US and Europe from 2020.
In June 2020, we joined a research group, mainly formed by NCGG, to start a multi-facility industry-academia collaboration for developing a blood test-based system of identifying dementia biomarkers, named the blood-based amyloid, tau and other neuropathological biomarkers project (BATON project). Our intention is to develop and commercialize a system that can diagnose dementia, predict the risk of dementia in people without dementia, and so on from a blood test. The BATON project, which is expected to contribute to therapeutic drug development, dementia diagnosis, and preventive medicine, received funding from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development. It is operated by a joint research organization in partnership with the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Medical Center, the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Kindai University, Nagoya University, and Toray Industries.
The Shimadzu Group is committed to contributing to the project by providing new technologies in fields waiting for completion of therapeutic drugs and preventive methods.
* Intended for research purposes. Not approved, certified, or otherwise authorized for use as a medical device based on Japan’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Act or as an in vitro diagnostic drug. Therefore, it cannot be used for medical diagnostic purposes or associated processes.
Measure 03: Cancer
Photoimmunotherapy has been attracting attention as a new cancer treatment that can selectively target and destroy cancer cells by irradiating the cancer with light (near-infrared light) in patients administered a drug that binds to cancer cells. The method was developed by Dr. Hisataka Kobayashi, a Senior Investigator working at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the United States, a department in the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The Shimadzu Group intends to contribute to improving the accuracy and effectiveness of the treatment by using Shimadzu’s medical technologies, namely near-infrared luorescence imaging technology and mass spectrometry technology, to visualize and record the area being treated.
In 2020, we started joint research with the National Cancer Center Japan to develop new clinical applications with the aim of establishing the photoimmunotherapy method for use in satisfying clinical needs and promoting the method’s widespread use.