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Four major manufacturers and a research institute have agreed to work together on developing next-generation cancer treatment equipment that drastically reduces the cost of heavy ion radiation therapy.

Hitachi Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. as well as the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology will share research costs to develop a new heavy ion cancer treatment device in about 10 years, they said Tuesday.

The companies hope to beat global rivals in developing a machine for a market estimated at over ¥1 trillion globally.

Heavy ion therapy, which aims carbon ions at cancer cells to destroy them, is believed to impose fewer burdens on patients than surgery and other cancer treatment methods but currently requires a large laser acceleration machine.

Installation of a conventional machine costs well over ¥10 billion, but the companies and institute plan to slash the cost to promote wider use of heavy ion radiation therapy to treat cancer in more hospitals.

The cost for such treatment could drop to about ¥1 million from the current ¥2.5 million to ¥3 million, the partners said.

The five parties aim to use powerful lasers to reduce the size of the machine while adding more types of ions to achieve effective treatment, they said.

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