Photo/IllutrationA new facility of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co. in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, to culture and treat induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to produce cells for medical use (Provided by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co.)

SUITA, Osaka Prefecture--The world’s first facility to produce cells derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for commercial applications has been established here by a major pharmaceutical company.

The regenerative medicine center of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., which will make iPS-derived cells intended for medical treatment, was completed on March 1. It will produce cells specially for clinical trials for the time being.

With a total floor space of nearly 3,000 square meters, the facility is divided into three zones according to the type of cells to be produced. It is outfitted with equipment to block impurity particles when its staff work there as well as an automated culture system.

The new center will use iPS cells created by Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) and other institutes not only to proliferate them, but to convert them into retina and other cells. These iPS-derived cells can then be shipped to medical centers for treatment use.

According to Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma officials, a large amount of cells enough to treat hundreds of patients can be produced annually in each zone of the facility.

Working with the Riken research institute, CiRA, Keio University and other institutions, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is developing iPS cell-based products to treat age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and other eye diseases as well as Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries.

The company intends to make regenerative medicine one of its future core businesses and is looking to boost its sales in the field to 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) by 2030.

“The pioneer can gain an overwhelming advantage in the market of medical and pharmaceutical products,” said Masayo Tada, president of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma. “We will occupy a definite position in the field of regenerative medicine.”

(This article was written by Roku Goda and Satoshi Shinden.)