• Policy
  • Alopecia
  • Aderans Research & Development
  • Research Partners
  • Endowment Department・Joint Research
  • Research Partner Companies

Aderans Research & Development

"Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid" in which researchers of basic medicine and clinical medicine work together

Dr. Seigo Kitano, President of Oita University who is a leading authority on endoscopic surgery emphasizes the importance of "prevention of hair loss caused by anticancer drugs in order for patients to undergo cancer treatment without fear" as mental care especially for breast cancer patients. He formed the "Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (CIA Research Group)" in which researchers of basic medicine and clinical medicine work together with the aim of developing a novel therapy.

Practice minimally-invasive treatment gentle on patients

Practice minimally-invasive treatment gentle on patients Dr. Seigo Kitano, President of Oita University decided to become a surgeon “because I thought that it was a surgeon who eventually could help a patient by performing an operation on his own”. He has pursued a treatment gentle on the patient for a long time thinking “Nonsurgical procedure is less painful and heals wound faster”.Dr. Kitano who had already engaged himself in endoscopic therapy observed an endoscopic surgery performed by one of his study group members in Colorado, United States in November 1990. After returning to Japan, he performed the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy in western Japan in December 13, 1990. Since then, “I would conduct endoscopic cholecystectomy for two patients each in the morning and in the afternoon and I had many surgeons who observed the surgery, which brought the total to 500 or so” said Dr. Kitano. He was quick to practice endoscopic surgery which was referred to as the beginning of minimallyinvasive therapy and showed a surgery he was conducting to nationwide surgeons. Moreover, he has made every effort in promoting endoscopic surgery for a long time thinking that medicine is not an adventure and the most important thing is to do it safely. He also played a central role in producing a system on board-certified specialists for endoscopic surgery which pass rate is said to be 30%.

While I talked with Dr. Kitano, he repeated a word “minimally-invasive therapy”. Minimally-invasive therapy means that the procedure not only cures a difficult disease but also alleviates physical burden as much as possible and moreover adds higher efficacy. Endoscopic surgery which aims at minimizing surgical incisions to reduce trauma to the body leading to reduced postoperative pain and faster recovery is now even regarded as synonymous with minimally-invasive therapy. “More than 60% of colorectal cancers and 45% of gastric cancer can be treated by endoscopic surgery requiring only small incisions. In case of open abdominal surgery, a patient has trouble with walking for 1 week, while a patient undergoing endoscopic surgery can walk next day” said Dr. Kitano.
“The most important thing is to live a life which prevents a person from developinga cancer before contracting it” he added. This made me reflect myself. He gave tips for avoiding cancer as follows: do not smoke, eat a healthy diet, keep your weight in the normal range, avoid stress and enjoy everyday life.

Dr. Kitano said merrily that he himself enjoys paragliding or scuba diving on holiday.
Nonetheless, if a person develops a cancer, the person needs to undergo cancer treatment such as surgical treatment for removing cancer by a surgeon as typified by Dr. Kitano. In addition, chemotherapy with anticancer drugs is also important as one of therapeutic options. Thanks to the ever-improving effective anticancer drugs, the number of patients overcoming cancer is increasing. Oita University Faculty of Medicine is the center of community healthcare. Also, the University is not only a hub for endoscopic therapy as typified by Dr. Kitano, but also proceeds with research with the goal of practicing minimally-invasive approaches in the treatment with anticancer drugs.

Set up the “Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (CIA Research Group)”

Now, it is said that one out of every two people and one out of every three people are likely to develop cancer and die of cancer, respectively in Japan. However, most of the people suffering from cancer are immunocompromised elderly people, while relatively younger people in their forties or fifties are likely to develop cancers peculiar to women including breast cancer, uterine cancer or ovarian cancer.

In case of treatment with anticancer drugs, a woman in her prime who develops breast cancer suffers from fear canthat her hair is losing. I hear that Oita University undertakes research on anticancer drugs which cause no hair loss.

It has so far been thought that nothing can be done about chemotherapy-induced hair loss or that it is alright because the disease has been cured. However, patients’ attitudes have been changing recently. Thus, we need to consider their wish that they can undergo treatment without fear if they do not suffer from hair loss or irritated scalp. This is why we started research on prevention of side effects caused by anticancer drugs by putting clinicians and basic researchers together. First, we thought what we could do for these patients. As a result, we found that application of an alphalipoic acid derivative we researched and developed in rats treated with anticancer drugs inhibited hair loss. Taking into account that the alpha-lipoic acid derivative is used in skin care products, we developed a medication using the alpha-lipoic acid derivative by an industry-academia partnership.

We are now conducting a clinical study in which 103 patients will use a lotion containing alpha-lipoic acid derivative by May 3 and we will follow them for six month or 1 year. Generally, chemotherapy is conducted after surgery. Even if you do not use this medication, your hair loss will be healed in 6 months. We will see what difference it will make when you use the lotion containing alpha-lipoic acid derivative.

Do you intend to verify it by a clinical trial?

As I am a person who is involved in development from the viewpoint of “Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (CIA Research Group)”, I will not take part in the clinical trial. As we have a patent for the derivative, some other researchers are supposed to evaluate its evidence.

At the meeting of the Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid
At the meeting of the Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid

When was the “Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (CIA Research Group)” formed and what for?

Oita University Faculty of Medicine started research with the aim of inflammatory diseases and developing a novel treatment from the perspective of antioxidation, basic biological phenomenon as a project in collaboration with industry and academia in spring of 2009.
In order to promote this project, we inaugurated the “Research Group on Cancer, Inflammation and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (CIA Research Group)” by having university researchers with top-class research achievement in the field, corporate researchers as well as our university’s clinical and basic courses related to novel antioxidants including alphalipoic acid derivatives and vitamin E derivatives join the project. This Research Group aims to elucidate the mechanism of cancers or inflammatory diseases and develop a novel treatment by boosting research and by promoting its application from a wide perspective focusing on these novel antioxidants.

Could you tell me more specifically what kind of persons join this Research Group?

They are researchers on anticancer agents or analysts, most of whom belong to Osaka University, Kyoto University and Keio University. Also, nurses attend the Research Group. It is also important to learn how many times a day a hair lotion should be applied. As antioxidants are similar to skin whitening cosmetics, some companies related to cosmetic products join us.

Are alpha-lipoic acid derivatives effective for androgenic alopecia?

When I talked with Dr. Sotaro Kurata who runs his clinic in Oita and is a permanent executive board member of the Japan Society of Clinical Hair Restoration, he told me that antioxidants might be effective for AGA. I came up with the idea of eliciting cooperation from Aderans in order to promote this research. I recommend that you should ask Professor Masafumi Inomata in charge of the research about the progress of the research in detail (refer to the next page).

Interviewer/writer: Akiyoshi Sato Photographer: Naoyuki Tamura

History of development, products and services based on research of Aderans
Return to the Top Page