Yamaha Motors is adding patients to its motorcycle-heavy clientele, as the Japanese mobility giant rides into healthcare with the launch of Tuning Fork Bio – an antibody analysis company.

Tuning Fork Bio, which is based in Delaware, US, will partner with the Translational Research Centre at Fukushima Medical University (FMU TR) in Japan. 

Yamaha Motors stated that the antibody profiling service will help select suitable drugs for patients and aid in wider drug research.

The research centre in Fukushima has developed technology that transfers proteins onto glass slides at high densities. The resulting diverse protein microarrays can be used to search for specific antibodies a patient has in their blood. According to Yamaha Motors, the centre has prepared more than 20,000 protein samples and includes viral and bacterial antigens, in addition to proteins from humans.

Tuning Fork Bio, which has $10m capital, will utilise bioinformatics technology to analyse the microarray data. Applications include selection of antibodies suitable for indicators such as biomarkers or managing health conditions.

Yamaha Motors told Medical Device Network: “The FMU TR centre is responsible for the production of protein microarrays and the quantification of the reaction between blood components (serum or plasma) and protein microarrays. Everything else (in the case of microarray analysis, including ordering the analysis, analysing the data, and carrying out the diagnosis) is performed by the Tuning Fork Bio.”

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Yamaha Motors placed the healthcare field as a strategic business area in the 2022-24 mid-term plan as a next-generation core business. The Japanese company had previously flirted with the healthcare industry with its product Cell Handler – an automated system improving the efficiency and precision of cell culture processes.

A Yamaha Motors spokesperson told Medical Device Network that its collaboration with FMU TR came after the research centre used the Cell Handler system. Researchers at the FMU TR then introduced Yamaha Motors to their protein microarray technology.

Yamaha Motors added: “When we learned about the protein microarray technique and data, we learned how wonderful this technology is. Compared to other liquid biopsy areas (DNA, RNA, etc.), there is less competition. We thought that combining Cell Handler technology in the future will lead to innovation.”

Yamaha Motors said the newly launched company’s focus will be the US and Japanese markets, and that Europe is a possible future direction.

In terms of further commercalisation avenues in healthcare, Yamaha Motors told Medical Device Network: “Yamaha Motors has conducted joint research in personalised medicine with a Dutch research institute, and the company believes that entry into the field based on these investments is possible.”