Exploring innovation in stem cell and regenerative medicine in Japan: the power of the consortium-based approach

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This article describes a recent trend in Japanese research, development and commercialization toward the application of stem cell technologies. Japan is the world's third largest economy and has a significant national presence in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology businesses; as such, stem cell R&D is abundant in the country. As indicated by the second largest share of patent applications worldwide, Japan had been expected to assert significant added value in the commercialization and industrial application of stem cell technologies; however, difficulties have impeded clinical development in this area, particularly the very small number of clinical trials and approved products for regenerative medicine or cell therapy. To address this ‘Japan paradox’, this report provides an overview of approaches for the commercialization of stem cell technologies in areas such as drug discovery, cell therapy and regenerative medicine, by discussing representative case examples of listed firms.

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