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Eisai, Keio University to establish dementia research site

Monday, January 2, 2017

Eisai and Keio University have entered into a new joint research agreement for the discovery and development of new drugs targeting dementia. For this collaborative research, a research lab will be established, and researchers from Eisai and Keio University will work together to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers that could potentially lead to the development of new therapeutics and preventive medicines for dementia.

Under this joint research agreement, Eisai and Keio University will establish the Eisai-Keio Innovation Lab for Dementia (tentative name) as a base for industry-academia collaboration within Keio University’s Shinanomachi campus (Shinjuku ward, Tokyo) that will hopefully spur new innovation in the treatment of dementia. The lab will be an integrated research site for clinical medicine and basic medicine, and will be staffed by experienced researchers from both organizations.

Beginning with the Center for Supercentenarian Medical Research, Keio University possesses strengths in researching medicine and medical care through unifying basic and clinical science. Keio University has also published extensively about its world-class research into human iPS cells.

Eisai, which utilizes a drug development technology that produces small molecule compounds, mid-size compounds derived from natural products and antibodies, has been active in the field of developing new dementia drugs for over 30 years. Together with information provision activities relating to Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride), Eisai has accumulated a vast amount of experience and knowledge in the field of dementia.

At the Innovation Lab, Eisai and Keio University will bring together their respective strengths and, using new approaches that focus on genetic backgrounds, environmental factors, and protective mechanisms based upon healthy longevity, aim to speed up research of new drug targets and biomarkers for dementia as well as increase the probability of success in new drug discovery. The Innovation Lab will perform three functions: Clinical Omics Analysis, utilizing the latest mass spectroscopy technology; Data Science, utilizing artificial intelligence to determine new drug targets; and Biological Validation, which makes use of human iPS cell technology to advance the study of drug target biology. These research functions, along with the central concept of “Bidirectional Translation Cycle,” which repeatedly generates new hypotheses based on human biology and validates them with models, will lead to accurate understanding of the disease, through which useful biomarkers and drug targets can be discovered and applied towards new therapeutics.

“Dementia is one of the major social and medical issues in an aging society, and Eisai’s mission is to contribute to overcoming this issue,” said Teiji Kimura, chief discovery officer of the Eisai Neurology Business Group. “Eisai’s strengths are its computational technology, drug discovery and biomarker research capabilities in the field of neurology. Through this Innovation Lab, we can collaborate with Keio University which has world-class iPS cell technology and expertise in basic medical science and clinical science, leading to new innovations, and allowing us to get new treatments to patients as soon as possible.”

Hideyuki Okano, Dean of Keio University School of Medicine remarked, “The establishment of this innovation lab allows us to combine Eisai’s accumulated experience of dementia drug discovery such as Aricept with Keio University’s supercentenarian medical research and dementia research, mutually boosting our competitive power, and culminating in an amazing opportunity to develop practical applications.”

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