Specific Treg Research Unit

The Specific Treg Research Unit is responsible for drug discovery targeting immune homeostasis*; more specifically, the regulatory T cells (Treg), which are known to play a central role in maintenance of immune homeostasis. We pay particular attention to "Specific Treg" that has specificity for pathogenic antigens and/or injured organs. Our aim is to develop innovative therapeutics for autoimmune diseases and achieve high efficacy and safety through efficiently inducing “Specific Treg” in living bodies.

We focus on research programs aimed at in vivo “Specific Treg” induction.

*Please check here for the explanation of immune homeostasis.

Akamatsu M, Mikami N, Ohkura N, Kawakami R, Kitagawa Y, Sugimoto A, Hirota K, Nakamura N, Ujihara S, Kurosaki T, Hamaguchi H, Harada H, Xia G, Morita Y, Aramori I, Narumiya S, Sakaguchi S.
Conversion of antigen-specific effector/memory T cells into Foxp3-expressing Treg cells by inhibition of CDK8/19.
Sci Immunol. 2019 Oct 25;4(40):eaaw2707. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aaw2707.

WO/2018/139660 PCT/JP2018/002826

Pandion and Astellas collaboration to deliver pancreas-targeted immunomodulators
(Pandion is a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck & Co Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA.)


Hidehiko Fukahori, PhD

Unit Head

Hidehiko Fukahori, PhD

Fukahori had worked as a researcher in the areas of autoimmune diseases, organ transplant and allergies, and has been involved in the creation of multiple product candidates including one that was launched. He has led many in-house research projects and multiple collaborative research programs with external partners. In 2019, he took a Research Unit Head position in the immunology area. He has been in the present position since April 2021.


Deep knowledge of Treg biology and innovative modality / technology are the keys to materialize the research concept of “Specific Treg.” Through many years of R&D experience in the immunology area, Astellas has acquired its capabilities to lead “Specific Treg” drug discovery. Going forward, close collaboration with external partners will be indispensable for the creation of truly innovative therapeutic agents. I am very much looking forward to working with various partners and pursuing together creation of therapeutics that can bring cures for patients.


Masahiko, Akamatsu

Science Lead

Masahiko Akamatsu, PhD

Akamatsu investigated immunosuppressants at the Astellas Research Institute of America for three years. After returning to Japan, he participated in joint research with Professor Shimon Sakaguchi of Kyoto University (at that time), who discovered Treg, and Professor Shuh Narumiya of Kyoto University. As a principal scientist representing Astellas, he contributed to the discovery of unique compounds that induce Treg conversion, one of the outstanding outcomes of this joint research.