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Research & Development

Basic Approach to Discovery Research

The Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma corporate philosophy is "to contribute to the healthier lives of people around the world through the creation of pharmaceuticals," and on that basis, we are working to continually discover new drugs that address unmet medical needs (medical needs for which there are no effective treatments or drugs).

To that end, we will advance "R&D process reforms" and conduct discovery research with a focus on "expansion of medical and discovery technologies." Specifically, we will step up the utilization of open innovation with academic institutions and venture companies in Japan and overseas. We will also advance collaboration within the MCHC Group. In these ways, we will strive to contribute to healthy lifespans by working with a sense of speed 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.

Refractory 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 refractory 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, RADICUT? BAG for I.V. Infusion 30mg (generic name: edaravone; Japan product name: Radicut) received approval for an additional indication of ALS. This product received approval in South Korea in December 2015 and from the U.S. FDA in May 2017 (U.S. product name: Radicava). To facilitate the delivery of edaravone as an ALS treatment agent to as many patients as possible around the world, we have filed applications in Switzerland (April 2017) and Canada (December 2017). The Company entered into a joint research agreement (November 2017) with Order-made Medical Research Inc. (President & Representative Director: Yasufumi Murakami, Head Office: Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture) and Trans Chromosomics Inc. (President & CEO: Mitsuo Oshimura, Head Office: Yonago, Tottori Prefecture). The agreement is for joint research related to therapeutic antibodies for neurodegenerative disorders, including ALS.

Moving forward, we will continue to advance R&D aiming to discover new drugs that address unmet medical needs.

Advancing Open Innovation

The environment for the discovery of new drugs is changing, and the difficulty of discovery has increased. 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.

Advanced research in academia generates innovative ideas and discovery seeds, and we will strive to be the first to link those ideas and seeds to discovery research. In addition, by introducing themes and technologies from outside the Company, we are working to increase the speed of R&D activities.

In October 2017, together with Astellas Pharma Inc. and Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited, we started a program called JOINUS to discover new therapeutic drugs using drug-repositioning compound libraries. Through screening of these compound libraries based on advanced, innovative assays that leverage the strengths of academia, we expect to see an increase in collaboration that will lead to the development of new disease treatment agents. In addition, in June 2017 we started the second phase of external collaboration through the provision of funding for the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), which spans the government, corporate, and civil sectors and specializes in global healthcare R&D. Through the GHIT Fund, the Company had previously provided its compound library to Medicine for Malaria Venture, a research institution for new anti-malaria drugs. Multiple promising hit compound groups have been acquired. Moving forward, the Company will continue working to fulfill an original role in addressing issues in the field of global health.

We will work in collaboration with companies in the MCHC Group and utilize MP Healthcare Venture Management, an investment subsidiary, and Tanabe Research Laboratories U.S.A., Inc., an overseas research base. In this way, we will combine external R&D activities and our in-house core competencies in drug discovery and be the first to deliver original value to patients.