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Development of Original Japanese Treatment Techniques using Patent and Academic-Industrial Collaboration

2014.06.10

Unit Name:
Development and Clinical Application of Emerging Medical Technology, Biomaterial, and Medical Devices
Unit representative:
Associate Professor Masataka Sakane, Faculty of Medicine

Unit members:
7 (7 faculty members, 0 postdoctoral fellows, none from other organizations)

Key words:
medicine-engineering collaboration, biomaterial, regulatory science

URL:

 

    Patients’ diseases are usually treated with drugs and/or surgery. With the background of the fact that a number of revolutionary drugs and medical devices have been developed in universities overseas, mainly in the US, partially owing to their unique nature, many venture companies targeting drug discovery have been established based on the results of studies performed by universities in Japan. However, the field of medical devices, which play important roles in disease treatment, is still underdeveloped. To invent medical devices, it is essential to achieve not only medicine-engineering collaboration, but also academic-industrial collaboration. Our research unit, named the “Development and Clinical Application of Emerging Medical Technology, Biomaterial, and Medical Devices”, aims to develop and clinically apply advanced biomaterials, medical devices, and medical technologies based on clinical needs, using the wisdom and techniques of researchers of Tsukuba City.

Desire for early clinical application of better surgical techniques

    In Japan, medical devices for diagnostic purposes are being developed and manufactured, but more than 90% of those designed for disease treatment are from overseas. As a clinician and surgeon, I have a strong desire to treat patients with better techniques, but it takes a long time and large amount of money to develop novel medical devices. Cooperation with clinicians and review boards is also essential. Given this situation, to minimize the time from the achievement of study results to their application to clinical settings, so-called “bench-to-bed”, our research unit is working to develop advanced biomaterials, medical devices, and medical technologies, and promote their clinical application with the ideas of: 1) initiation of research based on clinical needs; 2) cooperation with companies from the early stages of the research; and 3) early consultation with an investigative department of the government (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Conceptual diagram of the activities performed by the research unit of the “Development and Clinical Application of Emerging Medical Technology, Biomaterial, and Medical Devices”

Figure 1: Conceptual diagram of the activities performed by the research unit of the “Development and Clinical Application of Emerging Medical Technology, Biomaterial, and Medical Devices”

Worldwide release of novel Japanese treatment techniques consisting of medical devices and surgical methods

    Our goal is to treat diseases using our new techniques. It will take a certain period of time to achieve this goal, but we are increasingly developing useful products. For example, in 2009, Kuraray Co., Ltd, the University of Tsukuba, and the National Institute for Materials Science developed artificial bone as a novel medical product that is currently on sale. Its main characteristic is not a material, but a structure with unidirectionally interconnected pores (Figure 2), and the clinical application of such bones is becoming increasingly prevalent as new findings regarding them have recently been reported.

Figure 2:  Artificial bone with a new structure

Figure 2: Artificial bone with a new structure

    In Japan, because it is not possible to obtain a patent for treatment or surgical techniques, patents for treatment techniques must be applied for in combination with medical devices; however, we can apply for patents singly for treatment/surgical techniques in other countries. We hope that we will be able to release original Japanese medical techniques and materials (e.g., surgical instruments) worldwide using patent and academic-industrial collaboration, and that young researchers with an interest in such activities will increase.

Social contributions and achievements
● Applications for patents for components that support filling materials, the method for manufacturing such components, and bone-repairing kit
●Holding of the Medicine-Engineering Collaboration Forum 2014 (Figure 3)
●Holding of the 5th Symposium by the CREIL Center (February 14, 2013)
Figure 3: Poster about the Medicine-Engineering Collaboration Forum 2014

Figure 3: Poster about the Medicine-Engineering Collaboration Forum 2014

(Interviewed on September 19, 2013)


Research Administration/Management Office at U Tsukuba TEL 029-853-4434