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Nagasaki University and Astellas Launch Collaborative Research for Screening New Anti-Protozoan Drugs for Neglected Tropical Diseases - Selection of Potential Compounds by Evaluation of Anti-Protozoan activities -

November 12, 2012

Nagasaki and Tokyo, Japan, November 12, 2012 – The Nagasaki University and Astellas Pharma Inc. (Tokyo:4503,“Astellas”) today announced that they have signed a collaborative research agreement to discover new drugs for the treatment of neglected tropical diseases (“NTDs”) (1) caused by protozoan parasites.


NTDs, prevalent mainly among the poor in tropical areas of developing countries, are infectious diseases spread by parasites or bacteria. As it is estimated that approximately one billion people are affected with NTDs worldwide, NTDs are a serious healthcare issue that is being addressed on a global scale. Among them, diseases caused by protozoan parasites, such as leishmaniasis (2), Chagas disease (3) and sleeping sickness (4) are with high unmet medical needs for treatment and development of new therapeutic drugs.


Under the collaborative agreement, the Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University (“NEKKEN”), which is one of the leading research institutes on tropical infectious diseases in Japan, and Astellas will cooperate on a drug-discovery research project. Astellas will provide multiple compounds with possible anti-protozoan activities, and NEKKEN will evaluate these compounds in experimental model of infection with protozoan parasites for leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness. The research will be advanced with advice from Professor Kenji Hirayama at NEKKEN, who is a key opinion leader on NTDs research in Japan.

The collaborative research is largely divided into two phases. In the first phase (first screening), the parasiticidal effect of compounds against three species of protozoan parasites will be measured in vitro. In the second phase (second screening), compounds found to be effective for killing protozoan parasites in the first screening will be tested for in vivo activity by evaluating parasitemia and survival rates in animals infected with the protozoan parasites. Organ-specific infection levels will also be measured using a live imaging method (5).


The Nagasaki University and Astellas will work together to accelerate the discovery of new drugs for patients suffering from NTDs caused by protozoan parasites in the world, through their collaborative research aiming to contribute to improve global public health problems.


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