Society > Together with Patients and Healthcare Professionals Research & Development

Basic Approach to Discovery Research

Under its corporate philosophy of “We contribute to the healthier lives of people around the world through the creation of pharmaceuticals,” Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma is working to continually discover new drugs that address unmet medical needs (medical needs for which there are no effective treatments or drugs). Our focus is on the two priority disease areas of the central nervous system and immuno-inflammation. At the same time, we are addressing new areas and new modalities* for a better future and will identify areas and technologies that will become the pillars that support our future.

In order to increase opportunities for establishing drug discovery targets and acquiring new technologies, as part of our drug discovery activities, we are creating an environment that makes it easier to generate new synergies, such as Shonan Health Innovation Park (Shonan iPark), and aggressively promoting open shared business in collaboration with industry, academia, and government, and we are also using external drug discovery resources. In addition, we will pursue synergies within the MCHC Group to contribute to the realization of a healthy and sustainable society through the extension of healthy life expectancy by quickly working to discover the drugs of the future, which will aim not only at the treatment of disease but also at prevention, remission, and complete cures.

*Modality refers to a treatment method, such as small molecule compounds, protein drugs, including peptide drugs and therapeutic antibodies, as well as nucleic acid drugs.

Intractable Disease Initiatives

ALS is an idiopathic, progressive disease in which the principal symptoms are muscular atrophy and muscle weakness. In Japan, it has been designated as a intractable disease by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. There are said to be about 20,000 ALS patients in the U.S., with ALS emerging in 5,000 to 6,000 people every year. However, there was only one type of ALS treatment agent in the world, and a new type of ALS treatment agent was eagerly awaited. In June 2015, the RADICUT BAG for IV Infusion 30mg (generic name: edaravone; Japan product name: Radicut) received approval in South Korea in December 2015 and from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2017, and was launched (U.S. product name: Radicava). Edaravone has also been approved in Canada, Switzerland, China and Indonesia.

We are expanding the number of countries where we operate so that we can deliver edaravone to as many patients around the world who are fighting ALS as possible, and we are now applying for approval to three ASEAN countries.

We are now developing MT-1186, an oral suspending agent of edaravone as a new treatment option to reduce the treatment burden of ALS patients (global P3 clinical trials began in November 2019).

Advancing Open Innovation

The environment for the discovery of new drugs is significantly changing, and the difficulty of discovery has increased year after year. In this type of environment, we are aggressively advancing open innovation to implement the sustained discovery of new drugs that have value for patients and on the medical front lines.

To accelerate open innovation, we moved into Shonan Health Innovation Park (Shonan iPark) in Kanagawa Prefecture in May 2019 and started a new strategic base. In addition to pharmaceutical companies and drug discovery ventures, Shonan iPark also houses drug discovery support services, research/medical equipment, as well as AI and IoT companies. We are posting some of the researchers from our Yokohama Site and the former Toda Site (closed in fiscal 2019) at Shonan iPark, and expanding opportunities to collaborate by forming human networks with resident companies. Notably, we have begun gene drug discovery in an effort to provide new drugs and medical services to prevent and cure rare and intractable diseases.

We will continue to play a unique role in addressing global health issues while collaborating with companies in the MCHC Group and utilizing MP Healthcare Venture Management, an investment subsidiary, and Tanabe Research Laboratories U.S.A., an overseas research base. In this way, we will combine external R&D seeds and our in-house core competencies in drug discovery and be the first to deliver original value to patients.

Main Alliance Partners (fiscal 2019)

Date announced Alliance details
August 2019

Began research and development of products used in gene therapy for hemophilia B

Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), Jichi Medical University
September 2019

Began joint screening to create pipeline compounds for tropical infectious diseases (Chagas’ disease and leishmaniasis)

Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)