Tomoki Todo M.D., Ph.D.
President, the 25th Annual Meeting of JSGCT
Chairman of Board of Directors, JSGCT
Professor, Division of Innovative Cancer Therapy,
The Institute of Medical Science,
The University of Tokyo
Dear guests, colleagues and members of JSGCT,
It is my honor and great pleasure to host the commemorative 25TH JSGCT Annual Meeting to be held from July 21 to 23, 2019 at the Hongo Campus of The University of Tokyo. The historical Yasuda Auditorium where the first through fifth Annual Meetings took place is set to be the center of the venue. In conjunction with the Annual Meeting, International Gene & Cell Therapy Symposium is held from July 20 to 21 at the Ito International Research Center in the same campus.
In the recent years, gene and cell therapy has finally broken through the long basic research era. We are seeing new gene and cell therapy drugs getting approved one after another in Europe and USA, causing therapeutic revolution in practically all disease categories. Genetically-engineered oncolytic viruses for cancer, AAV vectors for genetic diseases, ex vivo gene therapies for severe combined immunodeficiency, and CAR-T therapy for leukemia are some examples of gene and cell therapy that we can now use in clinics. Companies all over the world including the so-called mega pharma are targeting their R&D in the gene and cell therapy field, and the competition is getting higher by day. With the help of rising new technologies such as gene editing, we are certainly seeing the dawn of the new era of gene and cell therapy development.
Although the researchers in Japan have greatly contributed in developing unique and leading technologies in this field, our country is still lagging behind USA and Europe in clinical development. Whereas gene and cell therapy development always originates in new techniques from academia, Japan has a very poor environment for academia to utilize bio-venture companies, tremendously high regulatory hurdles for starting clinical trials using unprecedented techniques, and low governmental funding opportunities for basic gene and cell therapy researches. In order to be able to compete with the World, it is necessary to speed up the academia-initiated clinical development by focusing on the problems of and thereby improving the Japanese environment and regulations and by accelerating the industry-academia collaboration. It is also imperative to support the education of next-generation researchers. The role of JSGCT has become increasingly important. I hope this Annual Meeting would facilitate the translational research itself as well as the discussion and resolution of the issues surrounding gene and cell therapy development in Japan.
Very recently, some of the gene and cell therapy products originating in Japan have been approved for marketing or reached the final stage of development. Reflecting the recent advances in Japan, I set the theme of this Annual Meeting to be "Delivering Original Therapies from Japan to The World". We have planned a meeting that would aid to understand the global situations and to accelerate the development of gene and cell therapy for all participants from any standpoints including academia, industry and government.
I sincerely hope that the 25th JSGCT Annual Meeting will be stimulating and enjoyable for all participants.
I look forward to welcoming all of you at The University of Tokyo in July 2019.