In June 2016, Astellas signed a new collaborative development agreement with the Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo (IMSUT) on the rice-based oral vaccine “MucoRice-CTB” against diarrheal diseases caused by cholera and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (E.coli).

In developing countries, diarrhea caused by pathogenic bacteria such as Vibrio cholerae and enterotoxigenic E.coli, is a major cause of death among infants and young children. However, existing cholera vaccines present several issues, including the need to store and transport the vaccines at a constant low temperature, and their ineffectiveness against enterotoxigenic E.coli. MucoRice-CTB is stable at room temperature and easily produced. Therefore, it is expected to meet the unmet medical needs of existing cholera vaccines.

MucoRice-CTB is a rice-based oral vaccine expressing a cholera toxin B (CTB) subunit in the intrinsic storage protein of rice using genetic engineering. It was developed by Prof. Hiroshi Kiyono, Project Researcher Yoshikazu Yuki and their colleagues at the International Research and Development Center for Mucosal Vaccines, IMSUT.

Under the agreement, IMSUT provides investigational medicines and study data, etc., which are necessary for phase 1 and 2 of clinical trials of MucoRice-CTB for cholera and enterotoxigenic E.coli, and Astellas is responsible for conducting and managing the clinical trials.

Through this collaborative development, Astellas will work to develop vaccines against infectious diseases affecting developing countries.