Asahi Kasei Medical. Co., Ltd.
Within the Asahi Kasei Group’s healthcare segment, Asahi Kasei Medical (Asahi) operates medical device businesses, and pharmaceutical manufacturing related businesses. The origin of Asahi’s business dates back to 1974, when Asahi succeeded in developing Bemberg™ hollow fiber dialyzer (artificial kidney) by utilizing Asahi Kasei’s fiber technology. Ever since, Asahi has been offering products to meet a variety of medical needs around the world, such as:
- Filters/columns using hollow fibers and adsorption technology, for apheresis-based treatments,
- Leukocyte removal filters using nonwoven fabric technology, for blood transfusions, and
- Virus removal filters, for manufacturing plasma fractionated products and biopharmaceuticals.
In the 1960s, Stewart developed the first hollow fiber dialyzer. The predominant design of dialyzers in use at that time employed either flat plates with cellulosic sheet membranes or cellulosic tubing wound into coils.
In 1974 Asahi began manufacturing Bemberg™ hollow fiber dialyzer using Asahi’s original cellulose fiber technology based on Asahi’s long experience as a chemical and fiber maker. In the years since then, Asahi has worked to improve the quality-consistency and technology of dialyzers and dialyzer system technology to meet growing demand for hemodialysis therapy at home and abroad.
AM-15 Hemodialyzer (Overseas model)
In the mid-1980s Asahi went on to develop plasma separator and plasma adsorption columns that could selectively adsorb and remove pathogenic substances.
In Japan, the membrane-type filter using cellulose diacetate as the hollow fiber material was developed in the 1970s to remove cancer cells and bacteria from the removed ascites fluid of patients with refractory ascites. This filter proved to have an ability to separate blood into plasma and blood cells. This filter received Japanese manufacturing approval in 1981 as a membrane-type plasma separator (Plasmaflo™ AP).
Immusorba™ TR and Immusorba™ PH were developed as non-biological immunoadsorption columns. Immusorba™ TR and Immusorba™ PH are immobilized on polyvinyl alcohol gels with tryptophan and phenylalanine as ligands, respectively. Immusorba™ TR is clinically used against autoimmune neurological diseases such as myasthenia gravis and Guillain–Barré syndrome, and Immusorba™ PH is used against collagen diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Insurance reimbursement for therapeutic apheresis (plasma exchange, double filtration plasmapheresis, and plasma adsorption) is applied for the following diseases in Japan as of October 2023.
|Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
|Hemophilia with inhibitors
|Postoperative liver failure
|Acute liver failure
|Chronic hepatitis C
|Allogenic liver transplantation with ABO incompatibility or antilymphocyte antibody positive
|Allogenic kidney transplantation with ABO incompatibility or antilymphocyte antibody positive
|Post-transplant antibody-related rejection
|Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
|Anti-glomerular basement membrane disease type rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis
|Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody type rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis
|Diabetic nephropathy with severe proteinuria and dyslipidemia
|Malignant rheumatoid arthritis
|Systemic lupus erythematosus
|Toxic epidermal necrosis
|Severe blood type incompatibility pregnancy
Leukocyte removal filters
With the goal of enabling a safer supply of blood products for transfusion, Asahi developed nonwoven polyester microfiber filter that selectively adsorbs and removes white blood cells from blood. Asahi commercialized this leukocyte reduction filter as Sepacell™. Sepacell™ use began in the mid-1980s to help sufferers of thalassemia, also called Mediterranean anemia, which causes a hemolytic anemia that requires frequent blood transfusions.
Sepacell™ RZ (Whole blood filter) Sepacell™ PL (Platelet transfusion filter)
Virus removal filters
Asahi’s bioprocess business is built on the manufacturing and marketing of cellulose filters designed specifically for virus removal in biotherapeutics.
Launched in 1989, Planova™ filters are developed specifically for removing viruses from biotherapeutic drug products such as biopharmaceuticals and plasma derivatives. Planova™ filters have earned a high reputation worldwide for their outstanding virus removal effectiveness, high protein throughput and well-documented performance. (https://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/medical/en/company/business/index.html#manufacturing)
Planova™ 15N, 20N and 35N Virus Removal filters
Display of historical products
Asahi’s various historical products are displayed in a showcase at Asahi’s Oita Works.
Upper row: Dialyzer products
Middle row: Therapeutic apheresis products
Lower row: Sepacell™ products (left side), Planova™ products (right side)
Upper row: Therapeutic apheresis products
Middle row: Dialyzer products
Lower row: Dialyzer products