Mayor of London announces Takeda, UCL R&D partnership

pharmafile | October 14, 2015 | News story | Research and Development London, R&D, Takeda, UCL, neurology 

Takeda is teaming up with researchers at University College London (UCL) to identify and validate novel target genes for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease.

The agreement was announced during a trade delegation to Japan led by London Mayor Boris Johnson’s.

The Mayor’s announcement, at the BioJapan event, comes amid publication of a new strategy and report by PWC that reveals Japan has been the second largest life sciences investor in London and the South East over the past decade, having spent some £160 million during this time.

The Takeda/UCL partnership seeks to understand neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s or Motor Neurone Disease, and how they can be disrupted, It will also focus on identifying and understanding the role genes and genetic mutations play in these diseases so that they can be targeted with more effective new treatments.

The collaboration, which includes support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre will initially run for a three-year period.

It will be carried out by Takeda’s Cambridge-based research unit, and is one of the largest university partnerships formed by Japan’s largest pharma company in the UK. Takeda and UCL scientists will work side-by-side across a range of pre-clinical drug discovery areas, including bioinformatics, molecular biology and pharmacology.

Dr Tetsuyuki Maruyama, general manager of Takeda’s pharmaceutical research division, comments: “At Takeda, we work with partners to accelerate innovation. We are looking forward to collaborating with UCL’s world-class researchers. This cooperation will help us to identify and validate novel therapeutic pathways in central nervous system diseases, which is one of Takeda’s core therapeutic areas – ultimately leading to new treatments for patients suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.”

Takeda is a major international investor in London’s life sciences industry, with a development centre in central London as well as a presence in other areas of England, including the Cambridge research site, but is certainly not alone in being attracted to the British capital and its environs.

Commenting on the collaboration, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says: “London is a world-leading scientific city with some of the greatest universities in the world, at the very forefront of the drive to understand terrible, life-altering diseases and how they can be stopped. Working with global partners is a crucial part of turning research breakthroughs into better treatments, and I’m absolutely delighted that Takeda is deepening its commitment to London through this partnership.”

PWC’s report is based on interviews with senior figures in nine leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies. It found that the top reasons cited for London and the South East’s popularity with overseas life science investors is the presence of international talent and top universities, its strong ecosystem of large and small companies, and its favourable business environment, from labour laws to intellectual property.

The life sciences sector of London and the greater south east is home to 1,896 life sciences companies generating £16.6 billion annually and employing 62,855 people UK-wide.

The Mayor is joined at BioJapan by MedCity, an organisation that he launched in April 2014 to promote and lead the growth of the world-leading life sciences cluster of London and the greater south east.

MedCity will use its presence at BioJapan to launch a major new drive to promote cell therapy collaborations between the UK and Japan.

The campaign includes contributions from pharma companies including Takeda and Pfizer, research centres including Oxford and Cambridge universities, Osaka University, University College London, King’s College London and the Cell Therapy Catapult, and UK Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman.

Dr Eliot Forster, executive chair of MedCity, says: “I’m absolutely delighted to be bringing some of our most exciting biotechs to Japan to showcase the innovative, diverse ways that cell therapies are being developed and commercialised in the UK. With Japan also having such a strong track record and commitment to this field, there are huge opportunities for us to work together to fast-track a potentially game-changing new science.”

Joel Levy

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