Japan to create its bioeconomy from “bio-digital integration” (バイオとデジタルの融合)

The term will serve as a unifying concept leading to “smart cells” of plants and microorganisms by combining genome analysis, genome editing and metabolic engineering of cells supported by robotics, cloud computing, big data informatics and artificial intelligence.  These technologies will allow to modify living cells and improve genomic selection for a wide range of applications in medicine, energy, materials and agriculture. Target organisms will include agricultural plants, livestock, fish and silkworms, and microorganisms used in the production of fermented food, fuel or speciality  products, including process scaling (もの作りmonozukuri = make things).

Details have been summarized in a 44 page report prepared in June 2019 for the EU – Japan Centre, Brussels

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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Nihon Ita Glass to launch PicoGene PCR1100 mobile RT PCR device

The device allows for rapid, high-precision genetic field testing, for instance early inspection of food poisoning by bacteria. The device uses a compact fluorescence detector which applies  the “SELFOC” microlens developed by the company in the 2000s as a unique core technology.

Nikkei Biotech news release, April 12, 2019

© Nihon Ita Glass Co.

Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma to explore iPS-based regenerative medicine for kidney failure

The method is based on the “embryonic organ niche method” developed by the Tokyo Jikei Medical University and others. In this method, human cells are implanted at the organ development site (organ niche) of a baby pig and grown to a normal organ. Nephron precursor cells made from human iPS cells which have differentiated into glomeruli and proximal and distal tubules are injected into the fetal kidney of a genetically modified porcine fetus. The kidney primordia is then transplanted into a patient to promote the maturation of human kidney function. The program is in collaboration with Meiji University which will develop genetically modified pigs, and Bios, a startup company which has succeeded in animal experiments to regenerate functional mature kidneys using the the embryonic organ niche method

Dainippon Sumitomo news release, April 5, 2019

Spiber and wig-maker Aderans plan to produce human wigs from spider silk

Spiber, a spin-out of Keio University and successful in the scale-up of spider silk production, has teamed up with Aderans, a Tokyo-based wig-maker. The two companies plan to jointly develop a new structural material for human wigs based on recombinant spider silk. Aderans will utilize its hair-related technologies to reproduce the unique feel and properties of natural hair. Spider silk does not easily break, and it is expected that the high-tech wigs can be coloured and permed.

Spiber has announced in December 2018 that they have secured Cool Japan Funds to build a new factory in Thailand which will produce several hundred tons of recombinant spider silk from 2021 on.

Spiber press release, March 19, 2019

© Spiber press release, March 19, 2019

Gene Techno Science to develop dental pulp-derived stem cells for treatment of childrens’ diseases

Gene Technos Science Co. shareholders have approved to make Cell Technology, acquired in January 2019, a wholly-owned subsidiary. Cell Technology has a partnership with over 2000 medical institutions across Japan to provide services for dental pulp-derived and other stem cells. It supplies such cells to companies such as Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Nikon and Sekisui for research and GeneTechnoscience is preparing to develop this product line further into cell therapeutics. JCR Pharma and Teijin have already implemented Phase I/II clinical tests of dental pulp-derived stem cells for the treatment of acute cerebral infarction in Japan.

Gene Techno Science news release, March 12, 2019

Nikkei Biotech news release, March 15, 2019

RIKEN and Hitachi succeed in automated culture of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell sheets derived from human iPS cells

A joint research team of Hitachi and RIKEN have successfully used a completely closed  automatic cell culture system for culturing RPE cell sheets derived from human iPS cells. using a culture device. By analysis of various markers it was demonstrated that these RPE cell sheets showed the same level of quality as those cultured by skilled technicians.

Hitachi news release, March 14, 2019

© Hitachi and RIKEN

RIKEN researchers prepare adhesive silk by tyrosinase-catalysed oxidation

Hiromitsu SUGAKAWA and colleagues at RIKEN Bioresources Research Center have treated an aqueous silk protein solution with tyrosinase, thereby converting tyrosine residues in silk to DOPA. Amino acid analysis by ninhydrin confirmed that the treated silk contained about 1 mol% of DOPA. The adhesiveness of this DOPA-containing silk protein was greatly improved, especially under basic conditions, probably by interaction between deprotonated lysine and DOPA, as with mussel adhesion protein. DOPA-silk also showed high adhesion to paper, polypropylene resin, wood and silk thin film.

RIKEN news release, March 11, 2019

© RIKEN, Japan

ToMMo publishs JG1, the “Japanese Reference Genome Sequence”

ToMMO, the Tohoku Medical MegaBank Organization, is focused on genomic medicine, which requires to accurately analyze the genome sequence of individuals based on differences to a “reference genomic sequence”. As the “international reference genome” was created based on genomes from European and African populations, ToMMo has now created its own reference genome JG 1 based on the genome sequences of 3 Japanese individuals. it is expected that this will improve the accuracy of analysis of individual variations within Japanese genomes. JG1 will be published on the Internet so that it can be widely used for research and clinical genome analysis.

AMED news release, February 25, 2019 T

MHLW approves two gene therapies in Japan

The two items approved were

  • Anges Co. HGF gene therapy for treatment of critical limb ischemia (AMG0001, beperminogene perplasmid)
  • Novartis CAR-T cell therapy Kymriah (Tisagenlecleucel) for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic B-cell leukemia

Nikkei Biotech news release, February 21, 2019

VIGO Medical Co. to test effect of pure oxygen supply with major Japanese football club

In a cooperative project with NEDO, the company will supply its Oxy’s® oxygen generator to Japan First League Oita Trinita players for a year and perform blood tests of athletes’ vital measurements (body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, mileage, number of sprints increase and decrease). By analyzing the results, the efficacy of high concentration oxygen such as blood flow promotion and fatigue recovery for top athletes will be investigated.

NEDO news release, February 19, 2019

© VIGO Medical Co.

Keio University team to start application of regenerative medicine for subacute spinal cord injury

Professor Ekuo OKANO of Keio University School of Medicine and colleagues have obtained MHLW approval for clinical studies on allogenic iPS cell-derived neural progenitor cells for the treatment of subacute stage spinal cord injury. They will now investigate the safety and effectiveness by increasing the number of transplanted cells in spinal cord injury in a chronic and a subacute phase. The initial clinical research will be done on 4 patients with 2 million transplanted cells and an observation period of 1 year.

Keio University news release, February 18, 2019

University team develops methane dry reforming catalyst for operation at 500 C

The team at Kochi University and Tokyo University of Technology succeeded to develop a Ni / Y 2 O 3 catalyst which allows to produce synthesis gas from methane and CO at below 600 C without coking. The catalyst is composed of Ni and Y2O3 which are topological intertwined in a nano phase separation structure. The “rooted” catalyst was stable for a period of 1000 hrs or more.

JST news release, February 15, 2019

© Japan Agency of Science and Technology JST

Tanabe Mitsubishi turns product development over to venture company

Mitsubishi Tanabe announced that phase I of its antibody-drug complex MT-8633 against solid cancer will be carried out by Open Innovation Partners, a Tokyo-based venture. It is believed that this move is meant to raise development speed.

Tanabe-Mitsubishi Pharma news release, February 14, 2019

Daiichi Sankyo to apply for approval of gene therapy for cancer treatment

The application for domestic manufacturing and marketing is based on a doctor-based interim analysis of 13 subjects (corresponding to phase II) with the oncolytic herpes simplex virus vector G47Δwhich showed a 92.3 % survival rate.

Nikkei Biotech news release, February 14, 2019