TOKYO, October 1, 2021 - Juntendo University (President: Hajime Arai, M.D., Ph.D.) and Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE: 4503, President and CEO: Kenji Yasukawa, Ph.D., “Astellas”) today announced that the parties have established, inside Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine, a joint research course entitled, "Direct Reprogramming Regenerative Medicine Course" (Professor & Director, Diagnostics and Therapeutics of Interactable Diseases, Intractable Disease Research Center, Genome Medical Center: Yasushi Okazaki M.D., Ph.D., Specially Appointed Professor: Masahito Matsumoto, Ph.D.). The course will be retained for a term of three years from October 2021.

This joint research course aims to create a new modality that maximizes the therapeutic effect for diseases with high unmet medical needs, such as type 1 diabetes, by direct reprogramming using the K factor*1 . It will also conduct research to expand this modality to other diseases. Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine will be acquiring the basic data including the study of the optimal combination of direct reprogramming factors that include the K factor, and Astellas will be conducting the applied research for disease treatment by gene therapy using this factor and selection of the optimal modality.

Direct reprogramming is a biology that directly converts the fate of cells without passing through the pluripotent state. The technology that enables direct reprogramming in vivo has attracted attention as a new regenerative medicine technology. Unlike conventional therapies, direct reprogramming not only removes unwanted cells or replenishes necessary cells; it also converts unnecessary cells into necessary cells. It is therefore expected to show high efficacy against intractable diseases that have been thought to be incurable.

Juntendo University and Astellas have been conducting joint research collaboration on the establishment of differentiation methods for therapeutic cells by direct reprogramming based on the agreement executed in 2018. This time, as part of this joint research collaboration, the two parties have established this joint research course to further strengthen the partnership and progressively conduct research on direct reprogramming as a new therapeutic paradigm.

Through this joint research course, Juntendo University and Astellas will take on the challenge of drug discovery based on direct reprogramming technology, with the aim of providing patients with new treatment options.


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