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From Bio Journal - July 2023





The coming genetic management of the entire Japanese population

On June 2, amendments to the My Number Act, etc., which would abolish the current health insurance card and integrate it with the My Number Card, were passed into law. As a result, My Number insurance cards will become mandatory from the fall of 2024. What the government is now aiming for through this integration is the management of the health and illness of the entire population over their whole lifetime. This is known as "life-course data", and aims at the management of the health and illness of the entire Japanese population from prenatal diagnosis to the grave. The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) has been the most active in making this integration a reality. Keidanren released its proposal "Health Care in the Age of Society 5.0" on March 20, 2018, and began to actively lobby the government to collect, coordinate, and utilize life course data. On February 14 this year, it also released its fourth set of recommendations.

The life course data will comprise a collection of information on the health and medical care of a person's entire life from birth to death, linking disparate pieces of information together, ultimately analyzing this through big data to make future predictions regarding individuals and groups, while also using the data in national policy, medicine and pharmaceuticals, and the health industry. This is the aim for the My Number insurance cards. Using the My Number insurance card, health and medical information for the entire Japanese population from hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, smartphones, etc., such as health checkup data, nursing care receipt data, genetic data, and dietary data, etc., known as medical big data, will be collected, linked, analyzed, managed, and projected into the future.

One aspect of life course data initiatives that governments and the business community are pressing for is management and use at the genetic level. The idea is to attempt to predict and manage health, and treat lifelong illnesses by taking blood and other biological samples along with information about a person's illness, health and family history. Information is already being collected at the genetic level, known as genetic cohort studies.

On March 5, 2021, it was announced that previously-conducted individual genetic cohort studies would be merged. A cohort is a large population group. Iwate Medical University, Tohoku University, Nagoya University, the National Cancer Research Center, Keio University and the Aichi Cancer Center will act as hubs in sharing the genetic information collected from individual persons. At this point, genomic information about the disease and health of 366,000 people has been compiled. Based on that genomic information, applications in genome medicine, such as disease prediction, personalized medicine, and genetic medicine, will be developed.

The Genome Medicine Act was passed on June 9. This is because the use of genes, called the ultimate privacy, requires certain restrictions on medical research and medical care. When this genomic information is linked to life course data, not only will it be possible to predict individual health and disease futures with precision, but also predict and manage these for entire families.






Shinshu University insect food development venture company procures 200 million yen funding

The Shinshu University insect food development venture company Morus, which has been pushing forward with R&D and commercialization of insect food from silkworms and other sources, has recently achieved a capital procurement of 200 million yen. Morus was created on the basis of research by Professor Kunihiro Shiomi of Shinshu Universityfs Faculty of Textile Science and Technology and appears set to develop biotechnology applications such as genome editing. The venture announced that it will use the funding to accelerate development and commercialization.
(Morus 2023/5/10)



















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