Innate Immune Regulation Research Unit

About Us

The Innate Immune Regulation Research Unit was established in August 2022 and is based in Tsukuba, Japan. Our goal is to create highly effective drugs for intractable immune-related diseases such as chronic inflammatory disorders, allergy, organ fibrosis, and tissue degenerative diseases, focusing on innate immune regulation. Astellas has accumulated experience in the immunology area through research and development of multiple immunomodulatory drugs. As for the area of innate immunity, Astellas has targeted pattern recognition receptors and innate lymphoid cells and has achieved the discovery of several development candidates.
In the innate immune system, various cells including monocytes/macrophages, neutrophils, innate lymphoid cells, and natural killer cells interact with each other and are involved in the maintenance of homeostasis. The immune signaling network among these immune cells and surrounding tissue is considered to be disrupted and abnormal in a diseased state. We aim to develop truly valuable therapeutic agents through analysis of the immune microenvironment in diseases to find the molecular targets and pathways that play a central role in it.

Our Approach

We will identify causal drug targets through the analysis of genetic linkage for the disease and an understanding of the immune microenvironment. We will select an optimal modality from a variety of options, including small molecule compounds and modified antibodies, and promote a more efficient creation of drug candidates using AI and robotics.
Furthermore, we will increase the probability of success in clinical trials by actively promoting translational science research using clinical samples from the early stages of drug discovery.

Our Approach



Takanori Koike, Ph.D.

Unit Head

Takanori Koike, Ph.D.

Dr. Koike worked in drug discovery research as a medicinal chemist in the areas of oncology, metabolic disorders, urology, and immunology, and has contributed to the creation of multiple development candidates, including marketed products. He has been a member of the Microglia Research Unit since its launch and has led several in-house research projects as well as research collaborations. He assumed the present position in August 2022.


Shuichiro Kakimoto, Ph.D.

Scientific Director

Shuichiro Kakimoto, Ph.D.

Dr. Kakimoto has worked as a researcher in many drug discovery research and development projects in the area of immunology, neuroinflammation, neuroscience, and the sensory organs, and has been involved in the creation and in-license of multiple product candidates, which have delivered more than 7 IND compounds in total, including those eventually launched. He led many in-house research projects and multiple collaborative research programs with external partners. In April 2019, he launched the Microglia Research Unit and, as head of the unit, led the establishment of a drug discovery platform and pipeline on pattern recognition receptors. He assumed the present position in August 2022.


[Novel NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors]



Assets and capabilities that Astellas expects from its partners

  • Novel mechanisms and target molecules to regulate function and phenotype in the innate immune system
  • Analysis technologies for immune microenvironment including single cell analysis and spatial gene expression