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Biotech Trends in Japan: From Fashion to Cell Therapy

We recently attended the Interphex tradeshow in Osaka and observed some interesting trends.

When we talk about “trends”, many people automatically think about fashion, and so it was at Interphex, where we noticed the latest trend in hospital nurse uniforms that featured cute cartoon designs. You could be forgiven for thinking that this trend originated in Japan where the cute anime culture is so prevalent, but no, the trendy new nurse uniforms come from the USA.

But hospital fashion is not the only trend to transcend borders and cultures – the same can be said for biopharma industry trends.

In the West, the biopharma trend of the moment is continuous processing (or QbD), and this is clearly a key concern in Japan too. Japan is a relatively late adopter of single use, but this subject has become an increasingly hot topic as biopharma firms in the country rapidly adopt these technologies. As a result, the words “continuous” and “QbD” attracted keen interest at Interphex.

One of the key areas targeted by Abenomics in the restructuring of Japan’s economy focuses on pharmaceutical investments in the cell therapy and vaccine arena, and another term creating a lot of buzz at Interphex was “cell therapy”.

It is perhaps not very surprising that cell therapy is a hot trend in Japan – the country excels in the concept of shokunin or “master of the skill”. Shokunin usually refers to excellence in small scale, highly detailed work and when we think about cell therapy, this term seems highly appropriate.

Interphex Osaka was dominated by a focus on hospitals as well as cell therapy, which was in stark contrast to Interphex Tokyo last year. However, we did not notice many suppliers with real technologies for the cell therapy sector, interestingly.