News | Press Releases

August 1, 2019

Canon, Canon Medical and CiRA to commence joint research aimed at realizing high-quality autologous iPS cells

Canon Inc.
Canon Medical Systems Corporationv
Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University

TOKYO, August 1, 2019—Canon Inc. (Headquarters: Ohta-ku, Tokyo, Japan; Chairman & CEO: Fujio Mitarai) Canon Medical Systems Corporation (“Canon Medical”; Headquarters: Tochigi Prefecture, Japan; President: Toshio Takiguchi) and the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University (“CiRA”; Headquarters: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan; Director: Shinya Yamanaka) announced today that the parties have agreed to commence joint research from August 1, 2019, with the aim of contributing to the field of regenerative medicine through the realization of higher-quality induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells1 for autograft purposes, or “my iPS cells2.”

Regenerative medicine is a field that involves such techniques as transplanting cells and tissues cultured outside the body to restore organ and tissue function lost through illness or injury. The field is expected to yield remedies for diseases that until now have had no effective treatments. As well as being crucial to the wider adoption of regenerative medicine, iPS cells are expected to have various applications that will contribute to the advancement of medicine, including in investigating the cause of diseases and in the development of new drugs.

CiRA commenced the iPS Cell Stock for Regenerative Medicine3 project in 2013. The iPS cell stock, the core component of iPS cell-based regenerative medicine, is produced at FiT (Facility for iPS Cell Therapy), which was established to produce iPS cells and iPS cell-derived cells.

Now, looking to encourage the further adoption of regenerative medicine, CiRA is also proceeding with efforts to realize my iPS cells, which would use iPS cells made from the patient’s own cells to mitigate the risk of immune rejection. In order to achieve this, it is integral to create new technology wherein a stable supply of iPS cells with guaranteed quality can be produced in a short period of time and at a low cost.

Current challenges in iPS cell production include reducing the cost of DNA testing and other examinations as well as establishing indicators, or “markers,” to easily and effectively determine cell differentiation—what kind of cells the iPS cells would become.

This joint research between Canon and CiRA will utilize the core technologies of the Canon Group—optical technology, measurement technology and diagnostic imaging technology—to develop a low-cost examination method as well as investigate markers to determine cell differentiation. Furthermore, through the use of the quality control technology and production technology the Canon Group has developed through its manufacturing, the research aims to identify and control the factors that affect the quality of iPS cells to achieve iPS cell production at a low cost and with a shorter lead time while maintaining high quality and safety.

Through this research, the Canon Group and CiRA will contribute to the further development and wider adoption of regenerative medicine.


1 When somatic cells, such as skin cells, are cultured with the introduction of a few genes, they become induced pluripotent stem cells, which are a type of stem cell with almost indefinite capacity to multiply that can be cultured to become almost any kind of cells in a body.
2 my iPS cells are one type of iPS cell the iPS Cell Stock for Regenerative Medicine aims to produce. Producing iPS cells using cells from the patient’s own body at a low cost over a short period of time, the project aims to bring regenerative medicine that uses autografts to a greater number of people.
3 The iPS Cell Stock for Regenerative Medicine (The iPS Cell Stock Project) prepares human leukocyte antigen (HLA) homozygous iPS cells for clinical applications. The use of HLA homozygous cells expands the number of people who can receive the cells as part of therapy as severe immune reactions are unlikely to occur. The project aims to store quality-assured iPS cells that have already been confirmed as safe, and to be able to promptly provide these cells to medical and research facilities both in Japan and overseas as required.

Comments regarding the joint research

“The Canon Group is taking steps to expand and strengthen our healthcare business, designating it as one of our core businesses. In addition to strengthening our presence in the field of diagnostic imaging equipment, our core competency, we have been considering entry into the fields of medical equipment for treatment and regenerative medicine with the aim of expanding the future scope of this business. Japan is leading the world in the medical fields that make use of iPS cells, and the realization of my iPS cells being pursued by Professor Yamanaka, especially, will be one of the decisive challenges faced during the age of the 100-year lifespan. To that end, the Canon Group is honored to contribute to the advancement of regenerative medicine.”
- Canon Inc. Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai

“Based on Canon Medical’s Made for Life philosophy, we are accelerating the development and commercialization of technology that contributes to people’s health. By applying our optical and image processing technologies and the engineering process control technologies that support our mass production towards realizing high-quality iPS cells at a low cost, the Canon Group will contribute to CiRA’s efforts to spur the wider adoption of regenerative medicine through iPS cells.”
- Canon Medical Systems Corporation President and CEO Toshio Takiguchi

“CiRA is continuing its research towards the challenging goal of producing iPS cells from the patient’s own cells, and providing these my iPS cells at a cost of approximately \1,000,000 by 2025. Combining the optical, measurement and diagnostic imaging technologies of the Canon Group with the data CiRA has accumulated through iPS cell production, I expect we will make progress in achieving that goal. Going forward, I would like to continue collaborating with people from various businesses and universities in order make the realization of my iPS cells a reality.”
- Center for iPS Cell Research and Application Director Shinya Yamanaka

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