Tokyo, March 29, 2018 - Astellas Pharma Inc. (President and CEO: Yoshihiko Hatanaka, “Astellas”) today announced an agreement for collaborative research with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative1 (DNDi) and seven other pharmaceutical companies2 in a consortium called Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Drug Discovery Booster. The consortium is supported by funding from the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund)3.

The NTD Drug Discovery Booster is a consortium whose purpose is to identify lead compounds4 for new antiparasitic drugs (leishmaniasis5 and Chagas disease6). As a part of the agreement, Astellas will screen focused sections of its compound library to find compounds with potential efficacy against protozoan parasites based on seed compounds7 presented by DNDi and provide them for DNDi. DNDi will screen these compounds in order to identify improved hit compounds8. This cycle will be repeated up to three times per seed, with each cycle informed by the collaborative efforts of the various consortium members.

NTD are mainly parasitic or bacterial virus infections prevalent among people living in poverty in developing nations in tropical regions. At least 1 billion people worldwide are reported to be infected from one of the 20 neglected diseases9 listed by the WHO, many of which cause serious social difficulties.

Through the consortium, Astellas will contribute to the discovery of new drugs for patients in various parts of the world suffering from leishmaniasis and Chagas disease and will continue to resolving Access to Health issues.

Astellas’ agreement with National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology for collaborative research to discover anti-protozoan parasite drugs (Chagas disease) announced in April 2016 has now concluded. As a part of the project, basic technology for the discovery of molecules essential for protozoan parasite survival were developed using genome editing technology. This technology has made it possible to select highly suitable target molecules for drug discovery.  

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