Japanese Pharma Giant Astellas Sets Up Shop in Cambridge

Japanese Pharma Giant Astellas Sets Up Shop in Cambridge July 25, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Japan-based Astellas Pharmaceuticals (ALPMY) is setting up a new facility in Cambridge, Mass. which is in line with its 2016 strategic focus on innovation and enhancing its capabilities in developing dynamic new treatments to address unmet medical needs.

The Boston Business Journal reports that Astellas has leased a 10,000 square-foot space with the marquee of Astellas Innovation. Astellas has a history of sponsoring a debate series on innovation and the role of innovation, technology and critical thinking in addressing issues facing a global society. In its 2016 annual report, Astellas said it was promoting innovation by building a network research system focused on “dynamic research activities in the best possible environment.” By harnessing the innovation mindset, Astellas said it has “achieved positive outcomes such as shortening of R&D duration and increased cost efficiency.” With an increased focus on innovation, Astellas said it will make sufficient investments to support the program and achieve its growth goals.

“In addition to the fields we have focused on to date, namely urology, oncology, immunology, nephrology, and neuroscience, we have selected muscle diseases and ophthalmology as new focused disease areas for research where we will concentrate our resources. There is a high level of unmet medical needs in these therapeutic areas, and we aim to deliver new medicines while seeking alliance opportunities with external partners,” Astellas said in its annual report.

To support its focus on innovation, Astellas has flexed its M&A muscle by making several acquisitions including Ocata Therapeutics, Inc., now known as the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which is focused on ophthalmologic stem cell therapy. In October 2016, the company snapped up the small privately-held German company Ganymed Pharmaceuticals and its experimental Phase II drug IMAB362 as a first-line treatment in gastric cancer for $1.4 billion. Astellas said IMAB362 will expand the company’s oncological platform, which is a key economic driver for the company.

Earlier this year, Astellas acquired Belgium-based Ogeda SA for its lead drug candidate, fezolinetant, a selective NK3 receptor targeting hot flashes and menopause-related vasomotor symptoms. Following the April announcement of the acquisition, Yoshihiko Hatanaka, president and chief executive officer of Astellas, said Ogeda fits the company’s new innovation strategy.

With a new presence in Cambridge, Mass., Astellas has joined the ranks of biotech companies setting up shop in the white-hot biotech hub. The area is packed with innovative pharma and biotech companies, top research institutes and a highly educated workforce.

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