1. Prof Yozo Nakazawa presents CAR-T Cell Therapy at the AMED Symposium

Prof Yozo Nakazawa presents CAR-T Cell Therapy at the AMED Symposium

CAR-T Cell Therapy: Growing Hopes for the Treatment of Cancer

At the Public Symposium held by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) - The Future of Regenerative and Cellular Medicine, and Gene Therapy- , I had the opportunity to give a lecture on our research, and in a round-table talk to exchange opinions with Prof. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University.

The CAR-T Cell therapy is a next-generation cancer therapy, in which blood (T cells) taken from a patient is enhanced its ability to bind to kill cancer cells using genetic modification technology and after being cultured in sufficient quantities, then given back to the patient’s body. Currently, two types of foreign-made CAR-T cells (CD19 CAR-T cells and BCMA CAR-T cells) targeted for B-cell tumors (acute lymphoblastic leukemia and malignant lymphoma) or multiple myeloma approved for the treatment in Japan. Because of their dramatic clinical efficacy, they are expected to be clinically applied to other types of cancer.

In the symposium, I referred new CAR-T cells under development at Shinshu University, especially GMR CAR-T cells for myeloid leukemia and HER2 CAR-T cells for bone and soft tissue sarcoma and gynecological malignancies, which are currently undergoing investigator-initiated trials at Shinshu University Hospital. We have been working on the clinical development of domestically produced CAR-T cells based on our CAR-T design and manufacturing technology in nine projects of AMED so far. In a round-table talk, Dr. Yamanaka emphasized the existence of a kind of 'valley of death' in Japanese drug discovery, that is, the lack of a mechanism to bridge basic and applied research in academia to clinical development in pharmaceutical companies. We have also faced and suffered from this valley of death many times. There's a great concern that it will lead to 'Drug-Lag' (delay in the introduction of new drugs into Japan) to 'Drug-Loss' (the situation where no new drugs enter Japan) if the situation continues as it is. To overcome the valley of death, we have established an academia drug discovery platform to develop CAR-T cells from basic and applied research to non-clinical testing, manufacturing and quality testing, and physician-led clinical trials (up to the stage of development by pharmaceutical companies), all in one-stop at Shinshu University, which has got attention from the government and companies. We will continue to push forward with research and development so that CAR-T cells from Shinshu University can be delivered to as many patients as possible as soon as possible.

Department of Pediatric, School of Medicine, Shinshu University

Center for Advanced Research of Gene and Cell Therapy in Shinshu University (CARS)

Yozo Nakazawa


Experimental CAR-T cells in the laboratory


Produced CAR-T cells for clinical trials at the Cell Processing Center, Shinshu University Hospital

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