Source: www3.nhk.or.jp
Author: press release

A drug for a new cancer treatment called photoimmunotherapy has been granted government approval for the first time. Japan’s government approved the drug last week to treat head and neck cancers, which are difficult to treat with other methods.

US National Institutes of Health researcher Kobayashi Hisataka, who created the method, and Rakuten Medical, which developed the drug, held a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Photoimmunotherapy involves a combination of a drug that uses antibodies to target cancer cells and chemicals that react to light.

The drug is administered intravenously, and is activated when the patient’s body is illuminated with near-infrared laser light, killing cancer cells.

Kobayashi said he’s overjoyed that the method he’s been engaged in for decades was approved in Japan, and hopes it will be another option for cancer treatment.

Rakuten Medical Chairman Mikitani Hiroshi said he believes the method can be combined with chemotherapy, and hopes to use it to treat patients as soon as possible.

Procedures are to be carried out so that use of the drug is covered by insurance. Since the drug was approved quickly, its safety and effectiveness will continue to be assessed after it goes onto the market.

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