Toray is building 'artificial kidney' factory in China

February 08, 2012

Toray Medical will manufacture a polysulfone membrane dialysis device, which it calls an artificial kidney, in a plant under construction in Qingdao, China.

In the dialysis process, solutions from a patient suffering kidney failure are diffused across a semipermeable membrane such as polysulfone film while circulating outside of the body. Urea and other waste products, potassium, and phosphate diffuse into the dialysis solution. Polysulfone dialysis membranes are well known to have excellent biocompatibility in clinical use.

Toray says that its new nanotechnology-based product called TORAYLIGHT NV "is significantly more effective than earlier Toray products in limiting platelet adhesion, which affects antithrombotic performance."

A challenge with earlier artificial dialysis systems was the need to stop biological defense reactions from causing platelet and protein adhesion when the blood is in contact with the hollow-fiber membranes.

"With Toraylight NV, platelet adhesion has been reduced to less than one-hundredth of the level that occurred with earlier Toray products," according to Toray. "The result is excellent antithrombotic performance. By dramatically reducing platelet adhesion, Toraylight NV maintains high dialysis performance throughout the procedure."

The new material is also described as compatible with Toray's proprietary gamma ray crosslinked polymer sterilization technology, which minimizes elution.

"Following the full-scale launch of Toraylight NV, we aim to expand our dialysis business through the continuing development of biocompatibility technology, including the use of polysulfone membranes to further improve the dynamics of external blood circulation," Toray said in a corporate strategy document.

Toray launched its hollow membrane dialyzer in Japan last year, and now has its eyes on the Chinese market, which imports most of the equipment used for kidney dialysis.

A company called TMQ was established by Toray and two subsidiaries as a joint venture with Qingdao Jifa Group Co. to manufacture and sell dialysis machines. The plant for manufacturing of the dialysis machines is currently under construction and is expected to begin operations in the first half of 2012.

TMQ is planning to build a plant for manufacturing dialysis membranes at a site adjacent to the dialysis machine plant by investing about 6 billion yen ($78.1 million), with the goal of starting sales in the latter half of 2014. The new plant will double Toray Group's production capacity for TORAYLIGHT NV products.

In a press release, Toray stated that demand in the global dialysis market is expected to expand led by Asia and other developing nations. "In particular, demand is expected to increase significantly in China boosted by factors including state policies on establishment of medical insurance systems," the company stated.

Toray said it will bring its entire dialysis technology to China. "Toray and TMC position TMQ as the beachhead for the pharmaceutical and medical product business in China, and plan to strengthen the customer service in China and expand from the existing dialysis machine and artificial kidney business into other fields," the press release stated.

Medical is one of the key growth areas for Toray under a corporate strategic plan referred to internally as "AP-G 2013".

The shareholders in TMQ are Toray Industries, Inc. (50%), Toray Medical Co., Ltd. (25%), Qingdao Jifa Group (15%), and Toray Industries (China) Co., Ltd. (10%).



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