Fujifilm takes on the challenge of making regenerative medicine a reality
In the world today, there are still many diseases for which there are no effective treatments, and millions wait in hope of their discovery. One radical approach to this problem that is attracting widespread interest is regenerative medicine, in which human cells are grown artificially and used to regenerate the patient’s diseased or damaged tissues or organs and restore their function. Aiming to lead the way in regenerative medicine, Fujifilm is working to make these extremely promising treatments a reality. This is the story of how Fujifilm is taking on major challenges in regenerative medicine and achieving success in the field.
A total healthcare company’s sense of responsibility to apply its technology
At first glance, Fujifilm may seem an unlikely candidate to become a leader in regenerative medicine, yet its engagement in the healthcare industry goes back many decades. Founded in 1934, Fujifilm was already offering X-ray film by 1936. In 1983, Fujifilm began sales of Fuji Computed Radiography (FCR), becoming the first in the world to offer a digital X-ray diagnostic imaging system. Through these and many other products, Fujifilm has long contributed to the evolution of diagnostic medicine. In addition, in recent years Fujifilm has contributed to preventive medicine with supplements as well as anti-aging skin care cosmetics, and to medical treatment with pharmaceuticals. In this way, Fujifilm has transformed itself into a company covering prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. As a comprehensive healthcare company, Fujifilm therefore saw the revolutionary treatments that regenerative medicine could offer as a key part of its mission.
Another important factor in Fujifilm’s decision to enter this field was the company’s extensive portfolio of technologies, many of which seemed applicable to regenerative medicine. One example is photographic film, which was Fujifilm’s core product at the time of its foundation and for many years thereafter. Film is a precision chemical product that integrates color-producing reagents and nearly 100 different chemical compounds in total in an ultra-thin layer just 20 micrometers thick. To produce photographic film requires technologies that control many different chemical reactions on a microscopic scale. By coincidence, 20 micrometers is about the diameter of a single liver cell. Fujifilm’s technologies for controlling microenvironments appeared to have extraordinary potential in the world of regenerative medicine.
Fujifilm also possessed a wealth of knowledge about collagen, a protein that is one of the main components of photographic film. In regenerative medicine, collagen plays a critical role in growing cells and restoring tissues. To fulfill demand for the highest quality photographic film possible, Fujifilm had refined a wide range of collagen-based technologies, including methods for processing and controlling the protein, which is extremely sensitive to such environmental parameters such as moisture and temperature. Fujifilm saw a clear opportunity to leverage its collagen technologies in this exciting new field.