Clinical applications of iPS cell technology have made a step forward

According to a survey by Nikkei Biotech, there are now seven cases of doctor-initiated clinical trials based in iPS cells in Japan. The most recent one is Jun Takahashi of CiRA’s clinical trial, in collaboration with Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, using heterologous dopamine progenitor cells for the treatment of Parkinsons’s diseases at patients in Kyoto University School of Medicine’s Hospital for which data on safety and effectiveness must now be obtained, and cost reduction is also a major issue. Patients with Parkinson’s disease are said to be 160,000 in Japan. Dainippon Sumitomo, in cooperation with Helios, also prepares for clinical trials of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells derived from heterologous iPS cells and targeted at patients with age-related macular degeneration. Terumo’s clinical use of cardiomyocyte sheets derived from heterologous iPS cells for the treatment of severe heart failure has already been conditionally accepted by MHW’s Regenerative Medical Evaluation Committee.

Nikkei Biotech news release, August 27, 2018

Smart drones in a 4G LTE network as airborne police: Japan

NEDO, KDDI, Teradrone and SECOM, utilizing a 4 G LTE standard, conducted security experiments on multiple autonomously flying drones in Kanagawa Prefecture and succeeded in remote patrol security. By remote monitoring of camera images installed in the drones from the...

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Dai Nippon Printing: thin and stretchable skin displays

Based on developments at the University of Tokyo (JST ERATO Someya Project*) the company is developing a thin and stretchable skin display which it plans to market within 3 years**. In this device, 16 × 24 px micro light emitting diodes and stretchable wires are...

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Low-pressure ammonia synthesis makes progress

The group around Hideo HOSONO at Tokyo Institute of Technology has succeeded to further optimize a catalyst which permits to produce ammonia from molecular nitrogen and hydrogen at relatively mild conditions (400 C, 0.1 MPa = 1 bar). The best catalyst found so far is...

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University of Tokyo team separates polymer mixture by porous metal complexes (MOF)

The group of Takashi UEMURA at the University of Tokyo has used porous metal complexes (MOF) consisting of metal ions connected in regular nano-sized spaces to separate modified and non-modified polyethylene glycol. Using MOF with a pore size of 0.57 nm as the adsorbent, PEG with unmodified terminal group OH was efficiently incorporated into the pores, while PEG modified with trityl groups (size = 0.72 nm) at the terminal was not adsorbed at all. Interestingly, the method worked even with PEG with more than several hundred repeating units, which could be separated at a purity of 99% or more from a mixture of modified and unmodified PEG.

JST news release, September 13, 2018

Shionogi linceses ROHTO’s cell technology for treatment of decompensated cirrhosis

Shionogi linceses ROHTO cell technology for treatment of decompensated cirrhosisCurrently ROHTO Pharmaceutical conducts Phase I/II for 15 patients with decompensated cirrhosis. Treathment is based on a regenerative cell product ADR – 001 that uses allogenic adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC).  To treat liver cirrhosis, humoral factors such as cytokines and growth factors produced by MSCs are thought to support lysis of excessive extracellular matrix causing fibrosis, proliferation of hepatocytes, activation of hepatic progenitor cells, suppression of inflammatory response, etc. Shionogi has acquired domestic development and marketing rights on ADR – 001 and entered for the first time in a cell technology program.

Shionogi news release, September 13, 2018

RIKEN research team achieves highly accurate NMR chemical shift prediction by combining quantum theory and AI methods

The team of Jun KIKUCHI at RIKEN has developed a method which predicts chemical shifts in NMR in high accuracy by combining quantum chemistry theory (deductive procedure) and machine learning using 91 types of learning algorithms (inductive approach). The utility of the model was demonstrated by applying it to assignments of experimental NMR signals of a complex metabolic mixture.

RIKEN news release, September 12, 2018

University of Tokyo group elucidates metabolic control network for insulin action

The group of Shinya KURODA and colleagues at the University of Tokyo has reconstructed a large-scale metabolic control network (transomics network) of genes whose expression conge by insulin stimulation and of (phosphorylated) proteins and metabolites whose concentrations change accordingly. They found that at high insulin concentrations gene expression is induced by transcription factor induction via the Erk pathway and that glucose metabolism via the Pi3k – Akt pathway is selectively controlled at low insulin concentration, respectively. It is thought that clarifying the selective response of the transomics network to insulin concentration will help to elucidate the physiological action of insulin and mechanisms related to type 2 diabetes.

JST news release, September 11, 2018

Mitsubishi LSI announces clinical trial for treatment of cerebral infarction with MUSE cells

The Mitsubishi Life Science Institute has launched a clinical trial with MUSE cells (multi-lineage differentiating stress enduring cells) for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction in January, 2018. Now, LSI annunces a clinical trial CL2020 with MUSE cells targeting patients with cerebral infarction. In this trial, MUSE cells will be administered intravenously.

LSI news release, September 3, 2018

Yasuhisa ASANO receives lifelong achievement award from Japanese Society for Biotechnology

Professor Yasuhisa ASANO, Director of the Biotechnology Research Center at the Prefectural University of Toyama and Leader of the ERATO ASANO Active Enzyme Molecule Project from 2012 – 2018, will receive the Lifelong Achievement Medal of the Japanese Society for Biotechnology at the Annual Meeting of SBJ a at Kansai University on Sept. 5th, 2018.

Team at Tohoku University improves protein design by AI

The group of Mitsuo UMEZU first prepared a small number of variants of green fluorescent protein (GFP) by conventional random mutagenesis and measured their fluorescent properties in ordert o acquire learning data for artificial intelligence. Next, by Bayesian optimization, an artificial intelligence techniques, they predicted which mutation if introduced would convey the desired function. This made it possible to propose a small variant group („smart hot library“) which abundantly should contain protein variants having the desired function and which could easily be tested. In this study, they succeeded to change GFP to YFP (yellow fluorescent protein) and find new YFPs with higher fluorescence intensity at longer wavelength compared to known YFPs. About 3% of the new YFPs was not contained in a library prepared by conventional random mutagenesis, but about 70% of all YFPs in the AI-supported library had improved properties.

Tohoku University news release, August 31, 2018

Implanta Innovations and Sumitomo Rubber: improved procedure for rubber tree genetic transformation

The method is based on „whiskers“ prepared from potassium titanate. Genetic material used for transformation is added to such whiskers which by means of ultrasound integrate with high efficiency into the germ plasm of Para rubber, the rubber tree. As a systematic proof, the fluorescent protein gene from Chiridius poppei, a marine plankton, was introduced and expressed at high level.

Implanta innovations lecture at 36th Japan Plant Cell Molecular Biology Society held in Kanazawa City, August 26 to 28, 2018

Japan Patent Office installs “IP Acceleration Program for Startups (IPAS)”

In this program, an “IP Mentoring Team” consisting of patent attorneys and venture business experts is sent to the startup for about 1 month. The patent office supports the cost. The project will be continued in FY 2019, and the estimated requested amount is 130 million yen.

Nikkei Biotech news release, August 31, 2018

Hayashibara finds that trehalose adds to broiler breeding without antimicrobial additives

In collaboration with Yamanashi Prefecture and Tohoku University, Hayashibara Co. found that if trehalose was added by 0.5% to a broiler feed without antimicrobial additives, broilers became significantly heavier at the age of 43 days and productivity had improved. The gross revenue improved by 6.17 yen (8.8%) due to the addition of trehalose. Trehalose improves the intestinal innate immune response when mixed with feed, and gene expression levels of inflammation-related factors in the intestinal tract of the broiler decreases. Trehalose is also known to suppress unpleasant odors when broiling chicken, and it is also expected to have a function to enhance water retention.

Hayashibara news release, August 30, 2018

Takeda focuses regenerative medicine projects to collaboration with CiRA (T-CiRA)

According to an interview with Nikkei Biotech, Takeda has reduced its staff concerned with regenerative medicine projectds to researchers in charge of T-CiRA, and other researchers have been transferred to the Central Nervous System Disease and other units of Shonan Health Innovation Park. According to the interview, the number of target researchers is estimated to be about 20 people.

Nikkei Biotech news release, August 30, 2018

Osaka Gas pioneers microbial production of ß-hydroxybutyric acid (D-BHB) as food additive

D-BHB belongs to the group of ketone bodies such as acetoacetic acid which are generated in the liver as metabolites of fatty acids. D-BHB made in the liver is converted into acetoacetic acid in the mitochondria and then metabolized through the TCA cycle as an an alternative source of ATP when glucose is deficient. Ketone bodies may accumulate in metabolism during low-carb diets, and ingestion of ketone bodies have been shown to have effects on exercise capacity, prevention of diabetes, anti-aging, etc. Osaka Gas uses Halomonas sp. KM-1 When cultured for 40 hours under aerobic conditions with sugar, sodium glutamate etc., leading to production of PHB. When further cultured for 1 hour under anaerobic conditions, intracellular PHB is converted to D – BHB at concentrations of 90 g/L. Production has been scaled already to about 1 t.

Osaka Gas news release 2018

Horiba develops sensitive, maintenance-free sensor for hypochlorite measurement in water

Hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite are used in the food industry for sterilizing food and cooking equipment, and the real-time measurement of effective chlorine concentration is necessary for sanitary control. Horiba Instruments, under a JST contract, has developed a diamond-based electrochemical sensor device which is not affected by pH or temperature and allows for maintenance free real-time measurements of hypochlorite.

JST news release, August 29, 2018

Tsmuk Co. introduces next-generation RODEM wheelchair

“RODEM” is a next-generation smart mobility wheelchair that combines robotic, mobility and wheelchair features. It allows for transfer to beds, chairs, toilets, etc. without changing the orientation of the body.

【1】It is possible to smoothly transfer from bed and chair

【2】It is easy to turn even in a narrow place

【3】Remote control with smartphone

【4】Expanding the living space and increasing the degree of independence

【5】Feeling forward, due to forward tilting posture

NEDO news release, August 28, 2018

University of Tokyo team develops „intelligent Cell Sorter“ based on deep learning of cell images

The group of Keisuke GODA at the University of Tokyo combined a fluorescent-activated cell sorter (FACS) with high-speed micro-imaging and high-speed data processing based on a 10 Gigabit Ethernet. After cycles of deep learning with cell samples, the machine was able to discriminate cells by high-speed imaging. The system was successfully tested with microbial, animal and plant cells.

JST news release, August 28, 2018