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 https://www.eu-japan.eu
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...
A NEDO-supported consortium of Toshiba Energy Systems, Tohoku Electric Power and Iwatani Industry will establish by 2020 the "Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field" which manufactures and supplies up to 900 tons of hydrogen annually generated by 10,000 kW...
The app カラダわかるNavi („understand your body“) requests to enter daily diet and exercise records on a smartphone, then evaluates calorie intake and nutritional balance and provides advices on meal improvement and best time for next meal. Meal composition is analyzed by...
Japanese startup develops simple cancer pre-diagnosis using C. elegans, raises 1.4 billion yen (11 million €)
The N-NOSE test developed by Takuya HIROZU monitors if C. elegans roundworms evade or come closer to a drop of urine obtained from a test person. C. elegans has significantly more smell receptors than dogs and evades healthy urine but not the urine of cancer patients....
Within the ERATO Ishiguro project on Human Robot Interaction, a team of ATR, Osaka and Kyoto University developed a multimodal dialogue control system making full use of cameras and microphones to improve a natural presence in daily situations of the android "ERICA"...
On April 19th and 20th, hydrogen was used as the only fuel to provide 2800 kW of heat and 1100 kW of electricity to the two facilities of Kobe Port Island central civic hospital, to Port Island sports center, and to Kobe International Exhibition Hall. The performance...
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...
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...
Kyoto University develops global land altitude database from satellite big data, useful for Tsunami risk prediction and water resources management
In cooperation with two Japanese space-related research organizations, researchers at the school of bioinformatics of Kyoto University have developed a „world mesh code“ where world position information is linked with latitude, longitude and area division, based on...
In collaboration with Mr. Yutaro Shimode, a professor at Kyoto Sangyo University, NEC has developed a lacquer black tone with the beauty of urushi-like traditional craft lacquerware. The bioplastic (NeCycle R) is composed of polylactic acid and a grounded extract of...
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...
In Otsukas oral eingenommenem Antipsychotikum ABILIFY (Aripipiprazol) ist ein Miniatursensor integriert, der über ein Pflaster erfasst, ob das Medikament überhaupt eingenommen wurde, und mit Zustimmung des Patienten über ein webbasiertes Portal für...
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Mitsubishi’s Life Science Institute (LSI) will start clinical trial on treatment of spinal cord injury with Muse cells
LSI announced that a domestic clinical trial for spinal cord injury in the subacute phase will be started using the Muse cell product “CL2020”.. The company has been conducting clinical trials already for three other diseases, acute myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction, and epidermolysis bullosa, and aims to apply for approval in 2020 and 2021 for any of the four diseases. Muse cells are pluripotent stem cells discovered by Prof. Mari Dezawa of Tohoku University. They occur in mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) of bone marrow and other organs, and they can differentiate into any ectoderm, mesoderm or endoderm. They can be stored through cryopreservation.
Mitsubishi LSI news release, July 10, 2019
The “smart cell industry” program of NEDO (2016-2020) aims to produce industrial materials from plants and microorganisms in economically viable yields based on metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. The five new topics (2019-2020) are
- Microbial production of polyamide materials (Toray)
- Cholesterol esterase derived from recombinant Burkholderia stabilis (Asahi Kasei Pharma)
- Microbial production of ergothioneine, a rare amino acid (Nagase Sangyo)
- Soy sauce koji mold with high content of long-chain ceramide (Fukuoka Soy Sauce Brewing Association)
- Enzyme engineering for production of chemicals with high added value (Amano Enzymes)
NEDO news release, May 7, 2019
High yield production of tetrahydropapaveroline, a pharmaceutical raw material, using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering
The group of Akihiko KONDO at Kobe University has used computer simulations, newly designed metabolic pathways and introduction of an engineered silkworm enzyme into E. coli to produce tetrahydropapaveroline (THP), a precursor compound of various benzylisoquinoline alkaloids which are used as analgesics. The project was carried out within NEDO’s “smart cell industry” program.
NEDO news release, May 7, 2019
Nature Communications (2019) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09610-2
As indicated by Koichi AKAISHI, Chief Policy officer of the Cabinet Office, the government’s new bio-strategy will include support of company investments in the following 10 areas:
(1) high-performance biomaterials
(3) sustainable primary production systems (agriculture)
(4) organic waste and organic wastewater treatment
(5) life improvement, healthcare and functional food
(6) digital medicine
(7) bioproduction systems (medicine, regenerative medicine, cell and gene therapy)
(8) bioproduction system (industrial products)
(9) bioanalysis and research tools
(10) large-size wood buildings
There will be a roadmap for regulations, standards and standardization necessary for market creation in each area, to be published in December 2019.
Nikkei Biotech news release, May 31, 2019
RIKEN held an opening ceremony on April 19, 2019, for a collaborative laboratory on natural products and chemical biology at Hangzhou Future Science and Technology Park. The collaborative laboratory will identify useful substances from natural compounds collected from microorganisms and plants, and conduct research that will lead to drug discovery. Since China is a Kampo/TCM country, there is a large demand for such research, and RIKEN will use this collaborative laboratory as a hub for Chinese natural drug chemistry research, as well as fostering exchange of young science and technology personnel from Japan and China.
RIKEN news release, April 26, 2019
ToMMo established after the Great Eastern Earthquake so far has analyzed whole genomes of 5000 healthy local people and about 100,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Since 2016, CiRA and ToMMo started collaborative research and established healthy iPS cells from somatic cells of participants in cohort surveys linked with genomic and health information. Differentiated into various differentiated cells such as neurons and hepatocytes in order to create differentiated cells with the same genome as the participant, genome wide association analysis (GWAS) was conducted to examine the correlation between SNP and health information. The concept is to evaluate disease development risks, drug efficacy and toxicity risks using differentiated cells, and to use this healthy control group for iPS cell research on diseases. CiRA and ToMMo have now successfully established iPS cells on a trial basis from frozen peripheral blood mononuclear cells of six cohort participants. The iPS cells have all satisfied the morphological characteristics of iPS cells, and have expressed the relevant undifferentiated marker genes (NANOG, Otc3 / 4) and transcription factors.
CiRA/Kyoto University news release, April 17, 2019
Under a NEDO contract, the team of Yasushi ODORU at Kansai University has succeeded to substitute the conventional platinum catalyst for organosilicon synthesis by a catalyst based on iron oxide nanoparticles coated with DMF. The new catalyst has high activity even in small amounts, and can be recycled by temperature change. It can be used as a catalyst for various types of silane coupling agents, such as for automotive fuel-efficient tire additives.
NEDO news release, April 15, 2019
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
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, 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
The company is a spin-off of the University of Tokyo, using the research results of Osamu NUREKI. They develop in vivo gene therapy using adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for single gene 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
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
The imaging system will help to judge wheter a polyp detected by the endoscope is neoplastic or not. It has obtained regulatory domestic approval for sales in Japan.
Nikkei Biotech news release, March 4, 2019