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vol.11
MiRTeL Co., Ltd.

MiRTeL Co., Ltd.

vol.11 MiRTeL Co., Ltd.

Eiji Tahara, President and CEO

Working on the frontier of pre-symptomatic and early-stage disease detection: MiRTeL’s CEO discusses the importance of continuous testing for disease prevention

In Japan, health care costs consistently increase annually. Based on data released on September 13th of this year, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare estimates that the national health care costs were approximately ¥42.3644 trillion for 2015, and by 2025, they are predicted to increase to ¥60 trillion.
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Thus, the reduction of health care costs is an urgent issue for Japan. The question is: what is the most effective approach? An answer lies in disease prevention and early-stage diagnosis. Although it is critical to achieve physical health to avoid becoming easily ill, early-stage detection, in the event that one does nevertheless contract a disease, reduces the risk of requiring long-term treatment. Hence, it can reduce health care costs.

There has recently been great interest in disease prevention and early-stage detection, and MiRTeL Co. is working on a new frontier in testing technologies that enable early risk prediction for cancer and dementia.

Eiji Tahara, MiRTeL’s President and CEO, states that “The market relating to pre-symptomatic prophylaxis is expected to expand to ¥10 trillion in 2020, and the demand for continuous testing for disease prevention is also expected to increase.”

MiRTeL Co. is a venture company established by Hiroshima University in September 2012. Its aim is the practical application of the research results of Professor Hidetoshi Tahara, at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Hiroshima University.

Professor Tahara’s opinion was that regardless of how good research results are, if they remain within the walls of the university, they are of no benefit to people at all. Additionally, one student who had conducted research with Professor Tahara died of early-onset gastric cancer. Based on this experience, Professor Tahara had a strong desire to apply to the university’s research clinically. Therefore, he established a company with that objective.

The kernel of MiRTeL’s business is testing two technologies. The first is the telomere test, a pre-symptomatic detection test using the only currently available technique for measuring telomere G-tail length, applying Professor Tahara’s research findings. The second technology is the MiR test, an early-stage disease detection test based on disease-specific micro-RNA in blood. The telomere test is used for detection in the pre-symptomatic state, enabling disease prevention by providing patients with opportunities for lifestyle improvement. Conversely, the MiR test detects micro-RNA in blood, and the increase or decrease of each RNA sequence can be used for early-stage detection of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. It is highly rated, as it can be performed with only a small volume of blood, does not require dietary restrictions, etc., and the test precision reaches at least 90%. Thus, considerable attention is being given to MiRTeL’s technologies.

After graduating from Hiroshima University’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Eiji Tahara worked for a pharmaceutical company. While seconded to conduct research overseas, he was involved in fundamental research on cancer, etc., and then returned to the healthcare business world. He joined MiRTeL the next year, in 2013, when it was established.

Mr. Tahara explained as follows:

It should go without saying that MiRTeL’s testing technologies are accurate, and they also offer the major advantage of being simple to perform. However, if medical institutions do not introduce the telomere test or the MiR test, patients will have no opportunity to be helped by one of them. Thus, the first step for MiRTeL was to inform physicians throughout Japan about these technologies, so that they would become interested in them.

In 2016, MiRTeL established a base at EGG JAPAN, in Marunouchi, Tokyo. In April of this year, in preparation for increased personnel numbers, MiRTeL moved into a larger office within EGG JAPAN. Mr. Tahara added the following:

At MiRTeL, first, to educate the relevant people about our testing technologies, we hold regular seminars. Healthcare-related professionals from all regions of Japan attend the seminars, and Marunouchi, where EGG JAPAN is situated, has easy access to them. As there is a seminar hall within the facilities, people who arrive at Tokyo Station by the super-express can be easily directed to the seminar. I myself frequently travel between Tokyo and the corporate HQ in Hiroshima, and good access by public transport is therefore important for me as well.

Mr. Tahara discusses his aim of making the testing technologies more widely available, while maintaining a base at EGG JAPAN. To date, the tests have been introduced at 180 sites in Japan, from Hokkaido to Miyazaki, but Mr. Tahara discusses his aim to establish a system that can provide disease-related support, in collaboration with dietary supplements companies, etc. Mr. Tahara is looking toward a bright future for healthcare. It is our own lives that are saved by these treatments, and they can thus be expected to lead to healthier and better lives.
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Eiji Tahara

Eiji Tahara

In 2001, Eiji Tahara was awarded a PhD in pharmacology by Hiroshima University’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Subsequently, he worked as a researcher in the New Drug Discovery Laboratory, Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., in areas such as improving biodiagnostic agents, involving HLA typing. Then, for two years from 2005 he worked in cancer research as a visiting scientist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the United States. Next, after being appointed Vice Senior Researcher by the Drug Discovery Laboratory at Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., he was active as the R&D Manager for Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd., at sites in 50 different countries. After leaving Wakunaga in 2013, he joined the Business Development Department of MiRTeL, and was appointed President and CEO the following year. He is also a frequent special lecturer in human cultural studies and functional nutritional diseases at the Prefectural University of Hiroshima Graduate School.

MiRTeL Co., Ltd.

MiRTeL was established as a Hiroshima University venture company in 2012, and business activities with MiRTeL® tests were launched in 2013.

The company’s aims are to reduce disease risk by prevention, based on the telomere test, and to detect and diagnose disease at a very early stage using the MiR test, enabling prompt treatment to achieve a healthy aging society.

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