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Aging Population Drives Regenerative Medicine in Japan

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Mother is the necessity of invention. We know that to be true in everything from manufacturing to industry and agriculture. It is even true in medicine. And right now, there is no bigger need in medicine than finding new and innovative healthcare solutions for an aging population. Perhaps that’s why the aging population in Japan is driving that country’s obsession with regenerative medicine.

Utah-based Apex Biologix supplies doctors and clinics with the equipment they need to offer regenerative medicine procedures including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell treatments. They can see what’s happening in Japan, and they hope that the U.S. will follow suit. They can see the potential of regenerative medicine to change the entire healthcare dynamic for our own seniors.

Japan’s Regen Boom

According to a February 26 article published by the Harvard Business Review, Japan is in the midst of a regenerative medicine boom thanks to a number of legislative acts designed to both support the industry and make it more efficient. The Japanese government wants to make it easier to move from approval to commercialization in order to get more regenerative medicine therapies to market.

One consulting firm told the Harvard Business Review that “the Japanese want to be the regenerative medicine center of the world.” To do that, government and business leaders are working as hard as they can to encourage foreign companies to locate to Japan, where they can get their therapies to market more quickly.

Japan Is Getting Older

Japan is currently facing an unprecedented population implosion thanks to its rapidly aging population and fewer children being born. In 1965, just 6.3% of Japan’s adult population was 65 or older. The percentage in 2015 was 26.6%. Some experts suggest that as much as 38% of the population could be 65 or older by the year 2065.

Just like her Western counterparts, Japan realizes that its growing number of seniors makes up the single largest group to make use of healthcare. Therefore, the push is on to find better ways to treat them. Japan’s leaders realize that it’s no longer enough to just write prescriptions and hope for the best.

They believe the future of medicine for their aging population is found in regenerative medicine procedures. Some government leaders and private sector companies are pushing hard to advance everything from PRP therapy to stem cell treatment and gene therapy. They are working to remove unnecessary regulatory burdens and increase safety, but without hindering investment or legitimate R&D.

We Could Learn a Lesson

It won’t much matter in a practical sense if Japan actually does go on to become the regenerative medicine center of the world. What will matter is whether Western countries learn lessons from what Japan is now doing. The first lesson to learn is that we need to start being proactive about our own aging population before we find ourselves in a position similar to Japan’s.

As America’s baby boomers get ever older, they will be accessing healthcare like never before. They will be the single largest group of people utilizing healthcare services. Do we want to continue pouring money into treatments that merely mask symptoms or do we really want to get to the core of what’s troubling patients in order to help them actually heal?

How we answer this question will determine the future of regenerative medicine in America. We can either shift our focus to healing or continue down the path of symptom management. We know where Japan is headed; will we find the courage to head that way too?

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