News Release

Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.


January 19, 1998

Early in 1998 the Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Company will initiate an innovative joint research project on new drug delivery systems for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases together with the universities of Groningen, Leiden and Utrecht.

Drug delivery systems are new methods for targeting drugs specifically to those parts of the body where they are needed. The research project will focus on the development of such systems in order to improve the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, intestinal and liver inflammation and psoriasis. Tumour growth will also be investigated. Research in new methods of treating these diseases has a high priority for the pharmaceutical industry, especially as it can be expected that these diseases will increase in incidence as the population ages.

The unique form of this project, evidenced by the co-operation between Yamanouchi and the three universities in sharing knowledge, expertise and making full use of each others infrastructure, will greatly enhance the chance of successful development of new therapeutic entities.

Government Subsidy
The Dutch Government has recognised both the importance and the unique character of this project and has agreed to fund 37.5% of the total project of more than 10 million Dfl. (approx. US $ 4.9 mio). The government grant will come from the fund devoted to Scientific Co-operation in Industry, operated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Each university has committed itself to devoting several postdocs and Ph.D. students to the project, and the three university research departments will act as one unit. All participants will freely exchange Ph.D students and postdocs. Yamanouchi research staff will also be temporarily seconded to university departments as may be necessary.

Early Results
The main focus of the research will be to link molecules with proven activity against inflammation to carrier molecules that can then bind to target cells within the inflamed tissue. One of the binding sites to be investigated will be the adhesion sites used by white blood cells during inflammatory processes.

The first scientific results of the four year programme are expected in 1999.
"We want to have developed suitable carriers by that time. After that we will investigate whether the drugs are in fact delivered to target cells and have the intended effect of suppressing the symptoms of inflammation", said Dr. Molema, a pharmacologist from the University of Groningen. During the next stage the effectiveness of the systems will be thoroughly tested and the researchers expect that the project will soon provide a basis for further research in patients.

Following an extensive international evaluation, Yamanouchi selected three prominent Dutch Universities as partners: Leiden (Leiden/Amsterdam Centre for Drug Research), Groningen (Groningen Institute for Drug Studies) and Utrecht (Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences).
The network project will be managed by a six member steering committee. The universities are represented by Professor D.K.F. Meijer (Groningen), Professor D.D. Breimer (Leiden) and Professor D.J.A. Crommelin (Utrecht). Yamanouchi's European organisation will be represented by Professor P. van Brummelen and Dr. L.G.J. de Leede (project manager) and Mr. M. Adachi will represent the Japanese organisation.

Yamanouchi is a research based pharmaceutical company active world wide in the discovery, development, production and marketing of innovative medicines. While Yamanouchi is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in Japan it is also globally active with companies in Europe, the United States and Asia. The company head office is in Tokyo while the Yamanouchi Europe head office and the European research and development organisation, which carries out drug delivery technologies research, are situated in Leiderdorp, the Netherlands.

For further information please contact :

Dr. G. Molema
Groningen University Project Leader
tel + 31-50-3633287 or 3613733

Prof. Th. J.C. van Berkel
Leiden University Project Leader
tel + 31-71-5276216

Dr. G. Storm
Utrecht University Project Leader
tel + 31-30-2537388

Dr. L.G.J. de Leede
Yamanouchi Europe B.V. Project Manager
tel + 31-71-5455 772