Japanese firms push into cell therapy | February 19, 2018 Issue - Vol. 96 Issue 8 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 96 Issue 8 | p. 12 | News of The Week
Issue Date: February 19, 2018

Japanese firms push into cell therapy

Giants Takeda, Fujifilm, and Astellas stake their presence in emerging sector
Department: Business
Keywords: Pharmaceuticals, Japan, regenerative, autologous, pluripotent, iPSC
The need for cell therapies is growing as people live longer in Japan and other developed countries.
Credit: Jean-François Tremblay/C&EN
A photo of people, several of them 50 and over, walking on a sidewalk in Tokyo.
The need for cell therapies is growing as people live longer in Japan and other developed countries.
Credit: Jean-François Tremblay/C&EN

Three big Japanese companies—Fujifilm, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and Astellas Pharma—have struck deals in the field of cell therapy as they seek competitive advantage in the emerging business.

Fujifilm, the relentlessly diversifying photo giant, will team up with the drugmaker Takeda to develop regenerative medicine treatments for heart failure. The two will collaborate to bring to market heart muscle cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)—cells that don’t have to be custom-made for each person. The partnership will combine Fujifilm’s growing expertise with manufacturing iPSCs with Takeda’s track record of securing regulatory approval for new treatments.

Separately, Astellas will pay up to $102 million in up-front and milestone payments to acquire Seattle-based Universal Cells. The two started collaborating in the fall to develop an undisclosed single treatment; acquiring the U.S. company will allow Astellas to use its technology in any number of therapeutic areas. Universal Cells’ know-how lies in manipulating the human leukocyte antigen to lower the risk of donor rejection in cell therapy.

Major Japanese firms have demonstrated a keen interest in the cell therapy business in recent years. Fujifilm notably paid $300 million in 2015 for Cellular Dynamics, a U.S. firm that has developed a cell therapy for macular edema, an eye disease that can lead to blindness. Hitachi Chemical, meanwhile, has been positioning itself as a contract manufacturer of autologous stem cells—cells that are extracted from individual patients and grown in incubators before being grafted back in.

Chemical & Engineering News
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David White (February 21, 2018 5:59 AM)
This news really makes me happy, I have brain damage caused by tumour removal now there is a chance I will be as well as I was in my twenties.
Mizanur Rahman (April 16, 2018 4:11 AM)
Certainly, encouraging news to know. A lot of patients passing measurable life due to defective genes they are bearing which can be cured by the cell therapy.

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