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10/8/2010 7:20:30 AM
OSAKA, Japan & JUPITER, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE:4502.to - News), a global pharmaceutical company, and Envoy Therapeutics Inc., a recently formed drug discovery company, today announced that they have formed a three-year research alliance aimed at discovering drugs for schizophrenia that will have greater efficacy and safety compared to current therapies.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder that affects more than 20 million people worldwide. Patients with schizophrenia may hear imaginary voices or may believe that others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These experiences can be terrifying and can cause fearfulness, withdrawal, or extreme agitation. Individuals with schizophrenia have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves, creating a significant inconvenience to their families.
Developed at Rockefeller University, with its roots in the government funded Gene Expression Nervous System ATlas (GENSAT) project, Envoy’s “bacTRAP” technology combines innovative genetic engineering with new molecular biology techniques for labeling and extracting the protein-making components of specific types of cells.
To make a protein, a cell first creates a messenger RNA copy of a gene. Next, the cell sends this messenger RNA out of the nucleus to the protein-making parts of the cells, the ribosomes. The ribosomes then read the genetic sequence of the mRNA and put amino acids together into a chain that becomes a protein. Envoy engineers bacterial-artificial-chromosome (BAC) transgenic mice that express a green fluorescent protein-ribosomal protein fusion in a specific cell type, enabling the capture of cell-type-specific ribosomal mRNA through translating-ribosome affinity purification (TRAP). The technology allows scientists to identify new drug targets by measuring the in vivo expression of translated genes in specific, medically relevant cell types among the many intermingled cell types present in the central nervous system without requiring the isolation of cells. Takeda’s corporate venture arm, Takeda Research Investment, Inc., invested in Envoy’s first financing in October 2009, consistent with the group’s goal to nurture external innovation and help Takeda build on its heritage of innovative drug discovery.
Using its proprietary bacTRAP® technology, Envoy’s scientists will identify proteins that are selectively expressed in specific cell types within the brain that are known to be affected in patients with schizophrenia. Scientists at the two companies will then work together to evaluate and select those proteins that hold the greatest potential for therapeutic modulation. Under the terms of the agreement, Takeda will make a $3 million upfront payment as well as providing $2.25 million per year in research funding and fees. In addition, Envoy will receive potential progress-dependent milestone payments and royalties should one or more compounds advance to clinical development and commercialization.
“We are enthusiastic about collaborating with Takeda on this comprehensive effort to create novel, superior therapies for the millions of patients suffering from schizophrenia," said Paul Greengard, Nobel Laureate and co-founder of Envoy. “The central nervous system expertise of Takeda’s research organization is world renowned. We are excited by the opportunity to accelerate our vision of helping people suffering from brain diseases, while clearly demonstrating the utility of our powerful technology.”
“Using our research sites in the UK, Singapore and Japan, this collaboration with Envoy offers the potential for Takeda to develop entirely new classes of therapeutics to treat the devastating effects of schizophrenia where there is a high unmet need for patients,” said Shigenori Ohkawa, a member of the Board and Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. “The novel drug targets we will identify and pursue are a key focus of Takeda’s stated mission of contributing to the health of patients worldwide.”
Located in Osaka, Japan, Takeda is a research-based global company with its main focus on pharmaceuticals. As the largest pharmaceutical company in Japan and one of the global leaders of the industry, Takeda is committed to striving toward better health for individuals and progress in medicine. Additional information about Takeda is available through its corporate website, www.takeda.com.
About Envoy Therapeutics
Envoy Therapeutics’s mission is to discover new drugs with superior efficacy and fewer side effects than existing treatments. The company’s bacTRAP® technology enables the identification of proteins in vivo that are produced by specific cell types without requiring the isolation of those cells. The technology is especially powerful in tissues of the brain, where many hundreds of cell types are intermingled. Because therapeutically modulating the activity of a specific cell type has until now been prevented by the inability to determine which proteins are uniquely expressed by that cell type, Envoy brings a new day in drug discovery. Additional information about Envoy Therapeutics is available through its corporate website, www.envoytherapeutics.com.