The order – financial terms of which were not provided – will see Hitachi supply automated cell culturing technologies designed for the manufacture of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS).
Dainippon is developing a cell therapy for Parkinson’s-related dopamine neuron loss and neurodegeneration in collaboration with both Hitachi and Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University (CiRA).
Part of the project – which is funded by the Japanese Agency of Medical Research and Development (AMED) - involves the development of processing methods and technologies for the production of stem cells for regenerative therapies.
The Japanese drug firm has announced several regenerative medicine-based research projects in recent years, beginning in 2015 when it partnered with Sanbio to develop SB623, an allogenic cell therapy for ischemic stroke to improve motor abilities.
Regenerative medicine – which engineers or replaces damaged cells within human patients – has become a popular area of research in Japan since Shinya Yamanaka won the 2012 Noel Prize for medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.
Regenerative medicine is also a big focus for the Japanese Government.
Laws introduced in November 2014 – the revised pharmaceutical affairs law and new regenerative medicines legislation – mean such products could be reviewed and approved in just two years, if deemed to be effective.
Japan’s Government further underlined its commitment to regenerative medicine in its budget in January 2015, allocating Y2.5bn ($20.8bn) to “the industrialisation of regenerative medicine evaluation fundamental technology development business.”