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QST and Toshiba Awarded 2017 MEXT Minister Prize for Development of Superconducting Rotating Gantry Irradiation System for Heavy-Iron Radiotherapy

19 Apr, 2017

Tokyo, Japan; April 19, 2017 – Every year, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) awards the MEXT Minister Prizes for Science and Technology to individuals and organizations that have made important contributions to advancing science and technology. This year, Yoshiyuki Iwata and Yuka Takei of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST), and Tomofumi Orikasa of Toshiba Corporation’s Energy Systems & Solutions Company were awarded the 2017 Science and Technology Prize in recognition of their development of a superconducting rotating gantry irradiation system for heavy-iron radiotherapy, a state-of-the-art cancer therapy.

Heavy-ion radiotherapy irradiates cancerous tumors with heavy particle beams, such as carbon ions, and has proved to be a highly effective tool for treating radiation-resistant cancers.

The MEXT prize winners took on the task of designing and manufacturing the world’s first superconducting electromagnets for a rotating gantry, in order to realize a smaller, lighter heavy-ion irradiation system. This eliminates restrictions in directing the beam, and makes it possible to bring heavy-iron radiotherapy to general healthcare facilities. In addition, an increase in the speed of 3D scanning irradiation has improved the efficiency of cancer treatments with a rotating gantry system.*

Messrs. Iwata, Takei and Orikasa’s work and achievements are expected to promote the use of heavy-ion radiotherapy systems in general medical treatment facilities. The new gantry is patient-friendly in that it reduces stresses during treatment and also alleviates difficulties and side-effects resulting from treatment. Successful development of world’s first small rotating gantry is also expected to make Japan’s home-grown heavy-ion radiotherapy system more competitive in international markets.

3D scanning irradiation uses a narrow heavy-ion beam that paints continuously over the target tumor.

From left to right, Yuka Takei and Yoshiyuki Iwata of QST, and Tomofumi Orikasa of Toshiba.