Bio Japan, Asia's largest gathering of biomedical industry players, was held in mid-October as usual in Yokohama, at the Pacifico convention location found in the Minato Mirai 21 district of the port city. This year, organized again by the professional convention organizer subsidiary of travel agency giant JTB, saw some changes this year, like more emphasis on materials (coincidentally, Tokyo Motor Show was also abuzz about the new materials, but more about this in theTMC story).
Unlike last year, rather than having many booths out in the hallway area, the confab was made slightly more compact as the optics and measurement shows that had been sited next to BioJapan was this year moved away from the Yokohama venue. Instead, more emphasis on regenerative medicine and subsequent materials used in this upcoming biomed field was showcased by a contiguous event at Pacifico Yokohama. Also, no medical doctor's congress was held nearby this year.
In addition to the mainstay Japan Bioindustry Association (JBA), support was gathered from various sectors including medical materials and device manufacturers for BioJapan while Forum for Innovative Regenerative Medicine (FIRM) whilst being closely linked with JBA pushed for use of such innovations as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. IPS cells, discovered by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka for which he has obtained due recognition, saw further breakthroughs recently.
In particular as to iPS cell use in medicine, a team at Japanese public research institute RIKEN had of late successfully applied use of the regenerated cell in treating macular degeneration (though not known as “MD” which as disease stands for “muscular dystophy” generally), a leading cause of the loss of eyesight, a condition oftentimes found in the elderly. As it stands, Japan now has the most greying population in the world and such conditions have become prevalent in the island nation.
Other products aimed at supplementing regenerative medicine like scaffolding materials made of various chemical compounds were also high. Beyond these and medical devices too, there were material developments made using biotech as foundation technologies, like biomass in the form of fuel including those to be used by aircraft and wood pulp-derived cellulose nanofiber which promises to yield very strong yet ultra- lightweight composites that can be used for cars and suchlike.