Present State of and Future Perspectives on the J-MICC Study

TANAKA, HideoHideo Tanaka, MD, PhD
Principal Investigator

With 98,000 participants registered by the end of 2013, the recruitment procedure for the J-MICC Study, which was initiated in 2005, will soon be completed by achieving the goal of registering 100,000.

Last January, the Committee for Cooperative Research Promotion was organized to examine and coordinate external researchers’ requests for access to biospecimens and measurement data belonging to the research institutions involved in the J-MICC Study, with a view to promoting their effective use for medical research on a nationwide basis. To the present, a total of 7 requests have been made and appropriately dealt with as approaches to carry out cooperative research projects.

In our cross-sectional studies combining baseline data and those on more than 400 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), a large number of SNPs related to chronic renal failure, liver dysfunction, and impaired glucose tolerance have been identified, while a total of 12 original papers written in English have been published in the past 2 years.

As one of our important plans scheduled for this year, the Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) will be conducted as a joint research project with BioBank Japan (BBJ) to identify SNPs related to the 47 diseases, including cancer, targeted by BBJ. We will provide BBJ with DNA data from approximately 14,000 individuals as a general healthy control group by the end of this year for the project, which are considered to be key to the identification of genetic susceptibility of chronic diseases, including cancer, in Japanese people. After termination, the GWAS data on the 14,000 subjects will be fed back to our Central Office, so that we can promote research in our institutions for the development of individualized cancer prevention methods by effectively using them. We also expect that the use of these data, in addition to biospecimens, to support external research activities will provide basic infrastructure for Japanese medical research.

On the other hand, the recruitment procedure for a community resident cohort study conducted by the Tohoku Medical Megabank (MMB) Organization was initiated last May to register 80,000 participants living in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures in 4 years by 2016. Considering the importance of creating appropriate environments to perform integrative analysis through cooperative systems among different genome cohort studies in Japan in the future, we, J-MICC, have promoted cooperation with the Yamagata Molecular Epidemiological Cohort Study and Keio University Tsuruoka Metabolomic Cohort Study. In line with this, we are currently conducting a validity verification study for the integration of questionnaire data with the JPHC-NEXT, one of the representative genome cohort studies managed by the National Cancer Center, as a step toward future integrative analysis. Aiming to establish systems to fully independently conduct genome cohort studies in Japan, we will further promote communication and information-sharing among researchers, as well as our collaboration with Tohoku MMB.

January 2014

Message from the Principal Investigator (in office from May 22, 2010)

Chief of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention
Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute
Hideo Tanaka

Our “Japan Multi-Institutional Collaborative Cohort Study” is the first full-fledged cohort study on molecular epidemiology in Japan.

This study is intended to investigate both living circumstances and genetic contributors of groups of people to find developmental factors for cancer and other lifestyle-related diseases, and thus gain useful information to establish life-style related disease prevention methods suitable for each person’s constitution, or tailor-made prevention. It is also called “J-MICC Study,” derived from its English abbreviation.

Since 2005, we have been recruiting people from 35 to 69 years in age who were willing to cooperate with and participate in the J-MICC Study. So far we have gained the cooperation of approximately 80,000 people at 13 cooperative institutions, including universities and cancer centers, throughout the nation. We will continue recruiting until March 2013. Moreover, we will start conducting the second survey of participants who have already been in the study for five years. The follow-up surveys will continue until 2025 to comprehend participants’ health information and the development of life-style related diseases, including cancer, which is necessary to achieve the above-mentioned purpose of the study. The pertinent materials will be safely preserved so that the next generation of outstanding researchers can conduct data analyses until 2035, after the completion of the follow-up surveys.

As seen above, cohort study is a large-scale observation study on the human population, which requires sufficient funds, time, human resources and organizational power from a long-term perspective in order to achieve its goal. We believe that the most important thing for that purpose is to gain public understanding of the necessity for infrastructure for such long-term research, and to share the desire to create a more healthful society for future generations of Japanese people.

Thank you for your understanding and support for the future of J-MICC Study.

January 6, 2012