Press Release

Sysmex Invests in Megakaryon Corporation to Contribute to the Practical Realization of Platelet Preparations Derived from iPS Cells

Sysmex Corporation (HQ: Kobe, Japan; Chairman & CEO: Hisashi Ietsugu) has accepted part of a third-party allocation of new shares (total of ¥3.7 billion) in Megakaryon Corporation (HQ: Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan; President & CEO: Genjiro Miwa). Megakaryon will use these funds mainly to conduct clinical studies in Japan and the United States on platelet preparations derived from human iPS cells1 and develop mass-production facilities for commercial use. Through this investment, Sysmex aims to reinforce its framework for collaboration with Megakaryon and establish quality control testing and other testing methods for platelet preparations derived from human iPS cells.

As the raw blood used to produce the blood preparations2 for blood transfusions is all provided through blood donations, adjusting the balance between the supply and demand is difficult. In particular platelet preparations can be used for only a short period, so it is important to pay careful attention to supply and demand. Along with a falling number of childbirths and an aging population in Japan, the amount of blood donated is expected to decline, leading to concerns about a chronic shortage of raw blood. At the same time, in some patients who receive repeated transfusions of blood platelets, an HLA3 antibody is produced because of the existence of HLA on the blood platelets, and it causes the elimination of the effectiveness in blood transfusions and thus creates another problems. The practical realization of platelet preparations derived from human iPS cells is expected to help address these problems.

Megakaryon possesses fundamental technology to produce platelet stably and in large quantities, by using immortalized megakaryocyte cell lines4 derived from human iPS cells. As a next step, commercializing platelet preparations requires further elemental technologies, including technologies to accurately analyze the produced platelets and control their quality. Utilizing the platelet analysis technology it has cultivated through long experience in the hematology field, Sysmex aims to work with Megakaryon to establish analysis technology for platelets derived from human iPS cells.

To this end, Sysmex has accepted a portion of Megakaryon’s third-party allocation of new shares (total of ¥3.7 billion), providing funds that will be used mainly to conduct clinical studies in Japan and the United States, as well as to develop mass-production facilities for commercial use. By further reinforcing its collaboration with Megakaryon in this way and establishing quality control-related testing and other testing methods, Sysmex aims to contribute to the commercialization of platelet preparations derived from human iPS cells.

Going forward, Sysmex will promote technological developments that increase healthcare quality and efficiency and take part in R&D toward the commercialization of leading-edge technologies.


Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell:
iPS cells produced from human skin or other cells by the transfection of several factors are capable of differentiation into many types of cells, related to tissues or organs. iPS cells were discovered by a Kyoto University research group led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. It is believed that theoretically these cells can be differentiated into cells that make up any human organ or body part. As such, attention is focusing on such cells with a view to realizing regenerating medicine. 

2 Blood preparations used in transfusions:
Blood preparations used in transfusions include whole blood preparations, red blood cell preparations, plasma preparations and platelet preparations. In the past, the main practice was for transfusions to employ whole blood—containing all its constituents—as sampled from donors. Nowadays, when performing blood transfusions it has become commonplace to transfuse only the blood components the patient requires (red blood cell preparations, plasma preparations and platelet preparations).
3 Human leukocyte antigen (HLA):
Distributed throughout almost all of cells and body fluids, HLA is known to act as a histocompatibility antigen (an important molecule related to the human immune system in recognizing its own and others). The body recognizes and begins to attack transplants which show a different type of HLA. For this reason, ensuring HLA compatibility is an important factor in hematopoietic stem cell transplants, organ transplants and regenerative medicine.

Immortalized megakaryocyte cell line:
Produced from human iPS cells using three genes, this type of megakaryocyte cell line can stably self-replicate outside the body and be frozen for storage. Functional platelets can be produced from this megakaryocyte cell line. Platelets can be stored at room temperature for only around four days and cease to function when frozen, which makes a stable supply of platelets difficult. Using immortalized megakaryocyte cell lines, however, platelets can be supplied steadily to meet demand.

  • Information contained in the press release is current as of the date of the announcement,
    but may be subject to change without prior notice.

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