Ricoh Company and Elixirgen Scientific have announced that they will jointly develop biomedical products and services to support drug discovery based on cell differentiation technology.

Under the collaboration, the companies will manufacture and deliver cells that have been differentiated from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and chips seeded with differentiated cells, as well as evaluation services for drug responses.

The partnership will combine cell differentiation induction and bioprinting technologies to improve the efficiency of drug discovery processes.

As part of the agreement, Ricoh will acquire a 34.5% interest in Elixirgen Scientific and launch a biomedical business in North America this year, which is expected to be worth around $1.86bn by 2025.

Ricoh Company healthcare business group general manager Nobuhiro Gemma said: “We are thrilled to partner with Elixirgen Scientific on this new biomedical development initiative. By combining the technologies from our two companies, it will be possible to produce disease-specific cell chips derived from multiple iPS cell lines, for example.

“These cell chips can evaluate the diversity of human responses of chemicals at one time in terms of efficacy and toxicity before moving to the clinical trial stage.”

Elixirgen Scientific’s quick-tissue technology is capable of inducing iPS and embryonic stem cells to become different cell types, while Ricoh’s bioprinting and inkjet head technologies enable precise control of the number and placement of cells.

Gemma further added: “We have also been developing technologies such as 3D Bioprinter and reference DNA plates, and with today’s announcement, this agreement establishes Ricoh firmly as a player in the biomedical field.”