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Research Highlights

Endeavor to Develop and Disseminate Curative Cancer Treatment from Yamagata!


Professor Chifumi Kitanaka, M.D., Ph.D. (Molecular Cancer Science)

It may sound surprising, but the majority of cancer cells within a tumor no longer retain the ability to give rise to a new (recurrent) tumor and are also vulnerable to conventional anti-cancer drugs and radiation. On the other hand, a small subpopulation of cancer cells called cancer "stem" cells possesses the ability to recur as well as resistance to such conventional cancer treatments, which eliminate vulnerable cancer cells but not cancer stem cells and thus contribute to extended survival of patients but not to cure of the disease. Significantly, we discovered that metformin, a drug widely used for the treatment of diabetes, has the effect of eradicating cancer stem cells of malignant brain cancer and successfully demonstrated that metformin prevents the recurrence of brain tumor in an animal experimental model for the first time in the world. Encouraged by the results, we are now planning a clinical trial of this drug, which is to be started in the near future. Furthermore, we believe we are the first to identify the essential role of a molecule termed JNK in the maintenance of stem cells of various cancers. Recently, we discovered in succession from among medicines known to be safe to humans two JNK inhibitors with the ability to prevent tumor recurrence. We keep on striving to develop innovative cancer treatment, waiting for the day to come when Yamagata is recognized as the birthplace of curative cancer treatment.


Metformin (-)
A large area of recurrent tumor is surrounded by arrowheads


Metformin (+)
No recurrent tumor is observed