Advanced Medical Instrumentation Unit (Sugawara Unit)

Accelerator-based Cancer Treatment Instrumentation (without klystron, power supply, water cooling system and radiation shield)

Unit Head: Prof. Hirotaka Sugawara

The Advanced Medical Instrumentation Unit (AMI) is dedicated to conducting multidisciplinary R&D for cancer radiation therapy.

About BNCT (Boron Neutron Capture Therapy)


BNCT is an innovative cancer treatment procedure which does not require a patient to undergo surgery and suffer from pain, and provides minimum side effects.  BNCT destroys only diseased cancer cells using the boron-neutron reaction:

10B + n → 7Li + 4He

1. A boron-containing drug which selectively accumulates in cancer cells is administered to the patient.

2. The affected site is irradiated with an energy-adjusted neutron beam.

3. Neutrons react with boron; emitted alpha beam and lithium particles destroy cancer cells.

4. Particles travel to destroy cancer cells at cell-level.


  • BNCT usually provides sufficient treatment with just a single application, thus minimizing stress and improving high quality of life for patients.
  • BNCT is a new treatment option for patients not suitable for surgery or radiation therapy and for those suffering from refractory cancers, including invasive cancer, multiple cancer, recurrent cancer, and radiation-resistant cancer.
  • Lithium particles and alpha beams (emitted due to the boron-neutron reaction) only travel a distance of one cell width to destroy cancer cells, allowing for cell-level treatment.


  • There is a need to develop an enriched boron compound which can be drawn into cancer cells in a more efficient manner.
  • By downsizing instrumentation (nuclear reactor-based instrumentation to accelerator-based treatment instrumentation), treatments can be conducted at laboratories and medical facilities instead of at nuclear reactor plants.

Latest Posts

  • Welcome to Lina and Shubhra!

    Two new team members have joined the Unit in April. A warm welcome to Lina (research intern from University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris) and Shubhra (postdoctoral researcher)! Both will work on drug delivery systems.

  • Mini-Symposium "Radiation sensors and emerging applications in medical imaging, space science and materials science"

    New detectors have been generating new science. Especially, the detection of photons and charged particles is the basic technology that has been providing advanced measurement in the field of biology, space science, material science, nuclear application, and so on. Actually, the speakers proposed here are comprised of prominent researchers in the various fields such as medical imaging, astrophysics, high-energy physics and muon science.

  • SAKURA France-Japan collaboration

    Guillaume, Hong Huat and Vincent of the Sugawara Unit have recently performed carbon-ion irradiations at  the Heavy Ions Medical Accelerator in Chiba (HIMAC) of the National Institutes of Radiological Sciences NIRS/QST. Thanks to a bilateral France-Japan collaboration grant ("Sakura"), we have been able to work with our collaborators from QST (Dr Nakajima) and from the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) (Dr Saintigny).