By integrating imaging and manufacturing technologies, we are contributing to better medical care through the development of advanced technologies in such areas as diagnostic imaging systems, healthcare IT and in vitro diagnostics.
Canon’s founder and first president, Takeshi Mitarai, who was also a doctor, was strongly committed to “contributing to society through medicine.” In 1941, not long after the company was established, Canon launched the first radiographic camera made in Japan to help detect pulmonary tuberculosis. Ever since, Canon has contributed to the early detection and treatment of disease by supplying ophthalmological instruments and diagnostic equipment using digital radiography and other technologies. In Phase V of the Excellent Global Corporation Plan, Canon is reinforcing medical operations as one of its new core businesses. The Canon Group expanded in 2016 to include Canon Medical (formerly Toshiba Medical Systems). Canon Medical has been developing medical systems operations for around a century, building up technical expertise in diagnostic equipment such as CT, MRI, X Ray and Ultrasound systems that reduce the burden on patients while providing highly detailed images for diagnostic purposes. Our aim is to supply solutions for patients and health professionals by combining AI with our proprietary image-processing technologies to support better medical diagnoses and improve patient outcomes.
With demand for wide-ranging healthcare services rising worldwide as populations age, the market is projected to grow. In July 2019, as part of moves to strengthen the medical business further, Canon invested in Japanese Organization for Medical Device Development, Inc. (JOMDD). The aim is to create original value and help to accelerate business development using JOMDD’s open innovation platform to support incubator alliances focused on the commercialization of medical devices and other products.
In August 2019, Canon also initiated joint research with the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University (CiRA) aimed at realizing high-quality autologous iPS cells. The aim is to develop techniques for low-cost examination based on Canon’s proprietary optical, measurement, image-processing and quality control technologies to support the manufacturing of iPS cells at lower cost and with shorter lead times.
Canon USA’s Healthcare Optics Research Laboratory in Boston conducts research into the latest technical advances in areas such as diagnostics and healthcare support in partnership with Harvard Medical School-affiliated institutions Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Going forward, partnering with leading medical institutions in Japan and abroad, we plan to strengthen and expand our medical business centered on Canon Medical.
The expansion of Canon’s medical business helps contribute to the realization of SDG 3: “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” By further broadening open innovation programs with advanced medical institutions in Japan and other countries, we hope to contribute to SDG 17: “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development” by finding solutions in the healthcare field and creating new value.
Canon’s medical business spans the three domains of diagnostic imaging, healthcare IT and in vitro diagnostics. Across all these fields, our aim is to provide solutions that increase medical efficiency while ensuring patient comfort.
In diagnostic imaging, based on the pursuit of open innovation with leading medical institutions and universities worldwide, we are focusing on development of technologies to provide high-resolution images enabling accurate diagnosis while making procedures less invasive for patients based on reduced radiation exposure and shorter scan times.
In healthcare IT, by applying AI and other approaches, we aim to make medicine more efficient by providing medical information with high utility value based on integration and analysis of the vast amounts of data spread across medical institutions.
In the field of in vitro diagnostics, to detect disease earlier and help prevent the spread of infections, we are trying to introduce more advanced medicine through solutions to test blood, genetic and other samples, and with DNA chips for high-speed genetic analysis.
The challenge with diagnostic scanners that utilize X-rays is exposing patients to as little radiation as possible while ensuring sufficiently high-resolution images to allow accurate diagnosis. Canon Medical has developed a technology called Advanced intelligent Clear-IQ Engine (AiCE) for CT image reconstruction. Employing a type of AI technology called deep learning to reduce noise in CT images, AiCE makes possible high-quality images while exposing patients to a lower dose of radiation. This technology is used in the world’s first ultra-high-resolution CT scanner Aquilion Precision, the Aquilion ONE/GENESIS Edition dynamic volume CT scanner, and the Aquilion Prime SP scanner. In July 2019, we added it to the Vantage Centurian MRI scanner as well. The unprecedented image quality and speed of imaging provide high-resolution diagnostic images while making procedures less invasive for patients using shorter scan time.
Applying its know-how in sensitive detection technology, Canon Medical supplies in vitro diagnostic systems that detect the significantly small amount of virus present in the early stages of infection. Detecting viruses such as influenza accurately at an early stage is extremely useful to medical practitioners. The rapid detection system only requires the patient to sneeze into a paper tissue, making it ideal for testing even small children. Faster detection will make it possible to treat infections earlier, reducing the incidence of serious cases and limiting the spread of disease.
Canon Medical’s wide range of in vitro diagnostic systems for testing blood and other samples enable a range of clinical tests. With tropical viruses such as Ebola and Zika posing a growing global threat, we are developing DNA testing kits to help the early detection of infections in partnership with Nagasaki University under a research program sponsored by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED). In 2018, we began selling the first RNA reagents in Japan for Zika virus detection. In 2019, we also developed a fluorescent LAMP reagent capable of room temperature storage and transportation. Field tests for Ebola virus detection have been conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to support its use in tropical regions, and the research program is continuing.
Our aim going forward is to reduce patient burden while enabling more efficient medical care by developing faster tests that require smaller quantities of specimen.