The Keio Journal of Medicine

Why Do Japan's Advanced Medical Treatments Never Get Ahead?
Nobuyo Hatanaka, Shinichi Matsumoto, Yuji Tanaka and Masahiro Kami

Islet cell transplantation is a minimally invasive procedure which effectively controls blood glucose level for diabetic patients but is considered as experimental. After islet transplantation, type 1 diabetic patients could become insulin free with stable glycemic control. But for long term effects, only stable glycemic control was maintained and not insulin free status. In 2004 Kyoto University performed the first Japanese islet cell transplant using non-heart beating donor. Of note, due to the lack of cadaveric donors in Japan, the same group performed the world's first successful case of living donor islet transplantation in 2005. Both patients achieved transit insulin-independence; however excellent glycemic control was able to be maintained for a prolonged period. Even though the series of islet transplants at Kyoto University showed promising results, the leading scientist did not continue his research in Japan. This was because it is extremely difficult to implement newly developed treatment as a standard therapy in Japan.