Participation in the Neglected Tropical Diseases Drug Discovery Booster

In March 2018, Astellas participated in the Neglected Tropical Diseases Drug Discovery Booster*1, a consortium whose purpose is to identify lead compounds*2 for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, both of which are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The consortium is supported by funding from the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (“GHIT Fund”).

NTDs are mainly parasitic, bacterial, viral or fungal infections prevalent among people living in poverty in developing nations in tropical and subtropical regions. At least 1 billion people worldwide are reported to be infected with the 20 NTDs listed by the World Health Organization (WHO), many of which cause serious social difficulties.

Through the consortium, Astellas will contribute to the discovery of new drugs for patients suffering from leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. 

*1 Neglected Tropical Diseases Drug Discovery Booster: A consortium launched by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit organization engaged in the development of new treatments for neglected diseases. In addition to Astellas, seven pharmaceutical companies, specifically Eisai Co., Ltd., Shionogi & Co., Ltd., Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, AstraZeneca plc., Celgene Corporation, Merck KGaA, and AbbVie, also participate in the consortium as partners. 
*2 Lead compound: A compound with confirmed pharmacological activity against a target disease. Optimization research (for improvement of activity, physical properties, pharmacokinetics, toxicity, etc.) is conducted based on lead compounds.

Advisory to the collaborative research for discovery of new drugs against Chagas disease

Since October 2018, Astellas has given advice to the project, “Target determination and exploratory research for discovery of new drugs against Chagas disease” as an advisory. The project has been conducted by Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University (NEKKEN) with High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

Astellas and AIST had conducted the collaborative research concerning Chagas disease from April 2016 to September 2017. As a part of this project, basic technology for the discovery of molecules essential for the protozoan parasite survival was developed using genome editing technology, thereby making it possible to select highly suitable target molecules for drug discovery. This result has been used in the project, “Target determination and exploratory research for discovery of new drugs against Chagas disease”.