Mitsuhiro Ebara believes plastic sheets called "smart polymers" may one day prove to be a cheap solution to curing cancer.

Cancer is known to respond better to the simultaneous use of hyperthermia and chemotherapy, and Ebara, a researcher at the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, is working with his fellow researchers to develop technology using smart polymers, or plastics that respond to changes in the environment, such as temperature, pH, light and magnetic fields, to treat various diseases.

Using the polymers, which he hopes would be available even in developing countries, Ebara wants to create a medical technology that would be "accessible to anyone, anytime and anywhere," replacing costly immunotherapy drugs like Opdivo with cheap materials like the plastics commonly found in ¥100 shops.