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In the world today, there are still many diseases for which there are no effective treatments, and millions wait in hope of their discovery. One radical approach to this problem that is attracting widespread interest is regenerative medicine, in which human cells are grown artificially and used to regenerate the patient’s diseased or damaged tissues or organs and restore their function. Aiming to lead the way in regenerative medicine, Fujifilm is working to make these extremely promising treatments a reality.
Fujifilm possessed a wealth of knowledge about collagen, a protein that is one of the main components of photographic film. In regenerative medicine, collagen plays a critical role in growing cells and restoring tissues. To fulfil demand for the highest quality photographic film possible, Fujifilm had refined a wide range of collagen-based technologies, including methods for processing and controlling the protein. Fujifilm saw a clear opportunity to leverage its collagen technologies in the medical and regenerative medicine field.
In FUJIFILM’s corporate R&D laboratory in Tilburg, FUJIFILM developed an artificial biomaterial based on human collagen type I. This recombinant polypeptide, commercially available under the name cellnest, enhances cell attachment making it particularly suitable as matrix for cell culturing and tissue engineering in regenerative medicine.
FUJIFILM can process cellnest into various formulations, like for instance granulates or sponges. For 3D cell culturing FUJIFILM developed marcoporous microspheres as injectable microcarriers for cell production and cell delivery. Unique features are:
In addition to their ability to transform into the cells of any organ or tissue in the body, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can grow and expand virtually without limit. Cellular Dynamics International, Inc., which joined the Fujifilm Group in May 2015, is leveraging world-leading iPSC development and production capabilities to create iPSC banks to address various diseases and conditions.
iPSC-derived cells play an increasingly important role in improving and shortening several steps in the drug development pipeline. As robust and readily available disease models that exhibit relevant phenotype and function, iPSC-generated cells are fuelling the discovery of new medicines. With many potential new drugs failing to launch because of efficacy and toxicity issues, there is a need for better tools to assess safety liability. Due to their consistent biology, abundant supply, and reproducible results, iPSC-derived cells enable researchers to predict toxicity and efficacy early in the discovery process. iPSC-derived cells are nowadays used in complex models and regenerative medicine applications, such as the formation of organotypic tissue systems, the repair of human tissues and the bioengineering of transplantable human organs using various technologies.
In 2014, Japan Tissue Engineering Co., Ltd. became a consolidated Fujifilm Group subsidiary. This company is a pioneer that launched the first two regenerative medicine products to receive approval from the Japanese government. Japan Tissue Engineering currently offers two main products: autologous cultured epidermis JACE® and autologous cultured cartilage JACC®. The company also offers contract development and manufacturing services for other companies and institutions.
The regenerative medicine market is expected to grow to some USD 120 billion by the 2030s. Yet for Fujifilm, regenerative medicine is much more than an attractive business opportunity. The real significance of engagement in this market lies in curing currently intractable diseases and bringing new hope to sufferers and their loved ones. Aiming to be recognized worldwide as a leader in regenerative medicine, Fujifilm will continue to move forward with this extremely important challenge.