1. What is the significance of Takeda-CiRA collaboration on iPS Cell Research?
The significance of this partnership is that both Takeda and CiRA have the common goal of providing patients and healthcare professionals with innovative new treatments, and this partnership will allow us to develop these treatments as rapidly as possible for them. Our joint research will be well-funded and will yield new therapeutic applications of iPS cells, which have the potential to bring ground-breaking transformations to future medical treatments.Their applications span a variety of fields, including drug discovery, cell therapy and drug safety assessments.
2. How does Takeda plan to support Kyoto University’s CiRA in drug development and modelling of diseases?
CiRA is the world’s leading institution for research and application of iPS cells. We believe that our partnership can contribute to the research of CiRA and the promotion of iPS cell research. Given the long-term nature of this collaboration, we will be able to seek the best talents for the research conducted. The joint program will integrate Takeda’s drug discovery system with CiRA’s findings on iPS cell research, with the aim of creating a new model to transfer university knowledge to industry.
The T-CiRA is unique in that a significant number of academic researchers will be working side-by-side with many industry scientists in a large pharmaceutical research facility, taking full advantage of the availability of various expertise and resources of drug discovery on site. This is very different from the traditional academia-industry collaboration model in which industry provides funds for academia to conduct research at universities. If successful, T-CiRA could become a new role model of academia- industry collaboration.
3. With Nobel laureate Dr. Shinya Yamanaka working on the project, what are the major diseases in focus for developing new therapies?
We have identified potential initial research projects for developing new therapies including heart failure, diabetes mellitus, psychiatric/neurological disorders and cancer immunotherapy. Additional projects for other diseases will be added to the partnership as it progresses.
4. What are the products/developments that can be anticipated from Takeda’s US$267 million investment?
While it is too early to comment on specific products or developments, once the program is fully set up, approximately 10 projects will be pursued at any given time, including drug discovery research and the development of cell-based therapy as well as research into drug safety.Takeda will also provide research support in the form of facility, equipment, 50 Takeda researchers and other research services that may be needed over the 10-year project. Takeda will also provide access to special research assets, such as Takeda’s compound libraries.
5. How do you think the advances in iPS Cell Research will shape drug manufacturing?
iPS cell technology has the potential to help us provide treatments for patients as quickly as possible. For example, it allows us to access the continuous supply of human cell types, such as heart muscle, pancreatic beta cells and neurons, which were not previously available for drug testing. Until recently, we relied on animal models to guess whether drug candidates could be efficacious in humans. With iPS cell technology, however, we can perform “pilot clinical trials” in culture dishes using patient-derived iPS cells to predict the efficacy of drug candidates.
6. Who will own the potential iPS cell therapies that result from the collaboration?
In principle, discoveries made under this partnership will be owned by both parties. Takeda will have an option to receive an exclusive license for discoveries made.
7. What is contributing to the growing stem cell therapy market, what is attracting investments?
Scientific progress depends upon collaboration. iPS cell technology is at the forefront of pharmaceutical innovation, and Takeda strives to bring innovative treatments to patients. We believe this 10-year partnership will allow us time to conduct research to develop innovative therapeutic applications of iPS cells.
8. Deep experience in drug discovery and a PhD in cardiovascular genetics add value to the project. What are your strategies?
Takeda has a rich background in drug discovery, and we have deep experience on our team. My own experience includes extensive work in drug discovery, genetics and developmental biology. And, Dr. SeigoIzumo, Takeda’snew Head of Regenerative Medicine, has a similar background and a close working relationship with Professor Yamanaka. Our key strategy is to integrate the cutting-edge science of Professor Yamanaka and CiRA investigators with Takeda’s expertise in drug discovery and drug development, in order to bring innovative treatment to patients as soon as possible.
9. How does this collaboration fit into Takeda's existing strategy?
This partnership is a long-term collaboration and Takeda truly values being able to employ the latest technology in developing treatments. This collaboration is important because of its large scale and comprehensive nature. It also supports Takeda’s long-term research and development strategy and commitment to strive toward better health for people worldwide through leading innovation and technology in medicine. By collaborating with CiRA we are combining some of the best minds and tools to lead through innovation with iPS cells.