Astellas Pharma Inc. (Head Office: Tokyo, Japan, President & CEO: Toichi Takenaka, Astellas)
and MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd (MerLion) of Singapore today announced the signature of
a collaborative agreement to discover and develop new drug candidates derived from natural products
Under the collaboration agreement, MerLion will receive a pipeline of validated drug targets from the
Astellas portfolio and will utilise its extensive natural sample collection, its modern high throughput
screening facilities and experienced natural products chemistry skills for the identification of new
chemical seeds. Astellas will conduct the optimisation of such novel compounds and generate drug
candidates for future development.
Successful drug candidates will be subject to agreed licensing terms in return for milestone and
royalty payments. Further details of the financial terms are not disclosed.
"We are delighted to have signed this agreement with the newly-merged Astellas" said Dr. Tony Buss,
CEO of MerLion. "The collaboration provides many opportunities for novel candidate generation
across the broadened Astellas target portfolio and strengthens our long-term relationship with the
Japanese pharmaceutical industry".
"Our collaboration will extend the window of natural product drug discovery and allow us to take our
expertise a step further," said Dr. Isao Yanagisawa, Senior Corporate Officer, Senior Vice President,
Drug Discovery Research of Astellas. "We look forward to a productive and powerful relationship
About MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd
MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd is a privately-held Singapore based pharmaceutical company,
focusing on the discovery and development of new drug candidates from natural sources. MerLion
Pharma collaborates with leading pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and research
institutes to identify and develop new drug candidates for a wide range of molecular targets.
MerLion has a strong pipeline of pre-clinical candidates displaying novel chemistry and modes of
action. It plans to accelerate development of these compounds towards the clinic whilst maintaining a
productive discovery engine, supplying new leads and candidates via collaboration and independently.
MerLion Pharma is staffed by over 65 employees and occupies 28,000 square feet of laboratory and
office space in the Singapore Science Park.
MerLion works in partnership with large pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide. Revenues
are derived from up front payments, drug development milestones, royalties and licensing fees. The
company’s current partners include Abbott Laboratories, Arpida SA, Cancer Research Technologies,
Dow AgroSciences, the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (Singapore), Johns-Hopkins (USA),
KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, Merck and Co, NovImmmune SA, Nura Inc, Sankyo Co Ltd and Schering-
About Astellas Pharma Inc.
Astellas Pharma Inc., located in Tokyo, Japan, is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving
the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical
products. In April 2005, the company was formed through the merger of Fujisawa Pharmaceutical
Co., Ltd. and Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. The organization is committed to becoming a
global mega pharmaceutical company by combining outstanding R&D and marketing capabilities and
continuing to grow in the world pharmaceutical market. For more information on Astellas Pharma
Inc., please visit the company’s website at www.astellas.com.
For Further Information:
Business Development Manager
MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd.
Akihiro Tanaka, Ph.D.
Vice President, Corporate Communications
Astellas Pharma Inc.