TOKYO -- The University of Toyama plans to commercialize a regenerative medicine product made using its proprietary technology within three years in partnership with two companies.
The move comes at a time when the Japanese government is pushing to make regenerative medicine an economic growth engine.
Toshio Nikaido, a professor at the university's school of medicine, has developed a method for removing all moisture from amnions -- the membranous sacs surrounding human embryos -- using microwaves and far infrared rays without damaging the membrane. Dried amnions can be transplanted, for example, to repair damaged corneas or cerebral dura mater -- a thick membrane surrounding the brain.
Nikaido has acquired a Japanese patent for the technology and is filing similar applications in the U.S. and Europe.
It is difficult to preserve amnions once they have been removed from pregnant women. But Nikaido says the new method makes it possible to keep their properties intact for up to two years after extraction. He says his research team has confirmed through 100 clinical tests that the method does not cause any rejection problems or a recurrence of disease.
Hiroshima-Prefecture-based pump maker Puequ and Tokyo-based machinery manufacturer TSS, which has a production base in Toyama Prefecture, will set up a new company this month to commercialize the technology.
The company will first seek to obtain marketing approval from the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency. Plans call for selling amniotic sheets measuring 2-by-2cm for about 40,000 yen ($379) each by 2017. It targets sales of 40 billion yen, including exports, within the first five years.
Commercialization will require a large quantity of amnions. The new company will arrange to collect the material from domestic medical institutions, which typically discard it.