EPSRC - Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine

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Project outcomes of the recent visit to Japanese Institutions


Thomas Heathman, a DTC PhD Researcher visited Japan in September 2015 funded by a grant won with Professor Nick Medcalf, funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The project was to initiate collaborative research in the field of regenerative medicine manufacture between internationally renowned centres based in Japan and United Kingdom.  The aim was to combine the knowledge and expertise of the Centres to facilitate technology and knowledge transfer between the two countries, allowing both to access new markets and funding for future research.  Establishing international manufacturing standards in regenerative medicine will be critical in order to facilitate the development and implementation of closed and automated technology within these manufacturing processes.

During his visit to Japan, Tom visited Professor Masahiro Kino-Oka, Osaka University; Professor Teruo Okano, Tokyo Women’s Hospital; Professor Yasuhiko Tabata, Kyoto University.

Of the recent visit Tom says: “Given the scale-out nature of regenerative medicine products, i.e. one batch per patient, driving down the cost of goods at commercial scale production will be challenging for the biopharma industry and will necessitate the use of these closed and automated manufacturing technologies.  By initiating these discussions between the UK and Japan we have been able to begin the process of harmonising and influencing the respective regulatory bodies, to facilitate the implementation of closed and automated technology in regenerative medicine manufacturing processes. Establishing these initial links during this project will ensure that both nations are well placed to take full advantage of this in the future.”

Since the project completion, Loughborough University has hosted a Japanese delegation to discuss the implementation of international standardisation in regenerative medicine manufacture. In addition, two publications have been initiated with a view to facilitate advances in, and feasibility of, distributed manufacturing for regenerative medicine products.

In addition to knowledge transfer, the following areas have been identified to continue the success of the visit:

  • Technology integration between EPSRC Centre and Osaka Universities.
  • Establishing links to facilitate PhD training in Japan
  • Manufacturing standardisation in regenerative medicine