Japan's Terumo joins push in regenerative medicine

Japan's Terumo said it will start producing and selling cell sheets to help treat cardiac arrest under the brand name HeartSheet, the latest of several Japanese drug manufacturers to commercialize so-called regenerative medicine lines.

The company actually was approved in September 2015 to start selling the product and it said sales will start in April. It plans to set up a production line at its R&D facility in Kanagawa Prefecture and to spend $2.5 million on the project with hopes the line will generate about ¥1 billion to 2 billion ($8 million-$16 million) over 5 to 10 years, the company said.

Regenerative medicines use human cells to help replace damaged tissue and doctors hope to use such cells to treat conditions that are otherwise difficult or impossible to cure with other drugs.

Japanese government officials believe the domestic market for regenerative medicines could be worth ¥95 billion by 2020 and ¥1 trillion by 2030, according to a Nikkei report.

The country revised its pharmaceutical laws in 2014 to cut the time it takes for regenerative medicines to be approved for use.

Terumo is just the latest entrant to the field. As FiercePharmaAsia reported in December, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma are also jumping into the game.

Takeda announced then it would spend $164 million on a joint research project with the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) on induced pluripotent stem cells and Sumitomo is also partnering with CiRA on a stem cell treatment for Parkinson's disease. Fujifilm also joined in with its $307 million acquisition of Cellular Dynamics and Astellas Pharma is buying Ocata Therapeutics for $379 million to develop treatments for age-related macular degeneration.

- here's the report from the Nikkei