Fujifilm Corporation invests in the bioventure, TOKIWA-Bio Inc.
Through this investment, Fujifilm plans to acquire the license of TOKIWA-Bio's transgenic technology, “Stealth RNA Vector,” for its research activities and apply it to iPS cell production.
There are high expectations for applications of iPS cells in drug discovery support and cell therapy because of iPS cells' infinite proliferation ability and multipotency to differentiate into different types of cells. The production of iPS cells involves using vectors* to introduce reprogramming factors** into source cells, such as blood cells and skin cells. Recent studies have found that source cells' proneness to differentiation into various types of cells depends on methods of introducing reprogramming factors, therefore research and development is being undertaken across the world to develop a better transgenic technology for introducing reprogramming factors.
TOKIWA-Bio is a bioventure exploring the practical application of therapeutic drugs based on new transgenic technologies. It developed the “Stealth RNA Vector” technology, which uses artificially synthesized vectors to introduce multiple genes to cytoplasm without damaging genes in the cell. TOKIWA-Bio is currently applying this technology to the development of gene therapy drugs for rare diseases. It is also considering to apply the technology to produce genetically-engineered cells and iPS cells for biopharmaceuticals and regenerative medicine products.
Fujifilm operates iPS cell-related business, led by its U.S. subsidiary, Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (“CDI”), which is a leading company in the development and manufacturing of iPS cells. In the field of drug discovery support, the company currently supplies iPS cell-derived differentiated cells and other materials to a large number of major pharmaceutical companies and research laboratories around the world. In the field of cell therapy, it develops its own regenerative medicine products and also engages in contract development and manufacturing of iPS cells and other materials to be used for research purposes.
Fujifilm plans to acquire the license to use TOKIWA-Bio's “Stealth RNA Vector” technology in research activities through this investment and apply it first to the field of drug discovery support. Specifically, the company will combine this technology with the technologies and know-how for iPS cell culture and induction of differentiation, accumulated by CDI, to develop new iPS cell-derived differentiated cells and expand product lineup. Furthermore, the “Stealth RNA Vector” technology will be applied to the field of cell therapy to expand the contract development and manufacturing business of iPS cells for research use.
Fujifilm is working to accelerate the research and development of in-house regenerative medicine products through the achievement of synergies between the highly functional materials technology and engineering technology accumulated over long years of photographic film research, the therapeutic cell production technology of J-TEC, the world-leading iPS cell-related technology and know-how of CDI and the expertise in media held by Wako Pure Chemical Industries. In addition, the company is also working to contribute to the elevation of the regenerative medicine by expanding the contract development and manufacturing business of regenerative medicine products and media business.
- * Nucleic acid molecules capable of introducing genes to cells
- ** Genes that reprogram somatic cells such as blood cells and skin cells by giving proliferation ability and multipotency to differentiate into different types of cells. In order to produce iPS cells, it is necessary to artificially introduce reprogramming factors to cells.