TOKYO, Japan, and Haifa, Israel, July 30, 2021 - Minovia Therapeutics, Ltd. (CEO; Natalie Yivgi-Ohana, Ph.D., “Minovia”) and Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE: 4503, President and CEO: Kenji Yasukawa, Ph.D., “Astellas” ) today announced a worldwide strategic collaboration and license agreement for the research, development, and commercialization of novel cell therapy programs for diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.
Through this strategic collaboration, Astellas and Minovia aim to accelerate the creation of allogeneic mitochondrial cell therapy programs. The two companies will jointly research cell therapy program candidates comprised of cells derived from Astellas’ proprietary genetically-engineered, induced pluripotent stem cells and augmented with Minovia’s proprietary MAT platform technology. The goal of these programs will be to treat diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, through the transfer of healthy mitochondria to restore the patients’ tissues.
Minovia is a leading company in the field of mitochondrial cell therapy that utilizes mitochondrial transfer to deliver healthy mitochondria to a patient’s diseased cells. Minovia has a unique technology platform called Mitochondrial Augmentation Therapy (MAT), where the patient’s own cells are isolated, loaded with healthy mitochondria obtained from a healthy donor, and then re-infused back into the patient. Minovia is currently conducting research, development and clinical studies with MAT in mitochondrial diseases.
Astellas is engaged through its US subsidiary companies, Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AIRM) and Universal Cells Inc., to advance allogeneic, off-the-shelf, differentiated cell therapy programs derived from pluripotent stem cells1. The new collaboration with Minovia extends Astellas’ capabilities in mitochondrial biology, and follow its recent acquisition of Mitobridge, Inc. and Nanna Therapeutics Limited2,3.
“We are excited and honored to collaborate with Astellas,” stated Minovia’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Natalie Yivgi-Ohana, Ph.D. “We share with Astellas both their passion for mitochondrial science and their commitment to patients in need of new therapies. As Minovia continues the development of Mitochondrial Augmentation Therapy, we believe this partnership is critical to accelerate the development of off-the-shelf, allogeneic cell therapy programs for the many patients living with mitochondrial diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.”
Naoki Okamura, Representative Director, Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Financial Officer, at Astellas said, "We, at Astellas, have positioned mitochondrial biology as one of the Primary Focuses of our research and development strategy to develop therapies for patients with unmet medical needs. One of the aspirations of this Primary Focus is to establish a mitochondrial cell therapy platform. Minovia is pioneering mitochondrial cell therapy and has unique technologies for enhancing delivery of healthy mitochondria to the patients’ cells. This strategic collaboration with Minovia will accelerate and expand our pipeline of treatment options for patients with diseases with underlying mitochodrial dysfunction.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Minovia receives an upfront cash payment of $20M USD. Through the joint research program with Minovia, if Astellas develops and commercializes product candidates for diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, Minovia is eligible to receive up to $420M USD per product in future development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments from Astellas.
*1: R&D Meeting (December 10, 2020). Available at: https://sw4503.swcms.net/ja/ir-library/ir-meetings/inframe/main/014/teaserItems1/07/linkList/0/link/RDmeeting2020_pre_jp.pdf
*2: Astellas Corporate website “Accelerating the discovery and development of novel drugs that target mitochondrial functions.”. Available at: https://www.astellas.com/jp/en/stories/science/mitobridge
*3: Astellas Corporate website “Primary Focus - Mitochondria Biology”. Available at: https://www.astellas.com/jp/en/partnering/primary-focus#Mitochondria-Biology
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