Eisai extends CRO partnership for malaria drug discovery
- Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co., Ltd. announced Tuesday an agreement with Charles River Laboratories to extend the two companies' existing drug discovery partnership for a third year.
- Launched in February 2016, the collaboration is aimed at developing new treatments for tropical and neurological diseases, particularly novel anti-malaria drugs.
- Eisai expects working with Charles River, a contract research organization, directly at its European Knowledge Centre in Hatfield, U.K. will improve operational and cost efficiency for early-stage discovery projects.
Through the extended collaboration, Eisai will continue harnessing the expertise and resources of Charles River in synthetic and medicinal chemistry.
The research on malaria will work to develop treatments effective against drug-resistant strains of the disease, which remains one of the world's most prevalent infectious diseases.
While outside of Eisai's core focus in oncology and neurology, malaria has been of interest to the Japanese drugmaker. The company also has a development partnership with the Cambridge-based Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for antimalarial medicines, for example. Under a newly inked joint research agreement, the two will generate new compounds aimed at targets identified last year.
Work with both the Broad and Charles River is funded by the Global Health Technology Fund, a public-private partnership headquartered in Japan. Eisai announced June 1 it would grant ¥500 million to the Fund over a five-year period from 2018 to 2022.
With Charles River Laboratories, Eisai will also work with investigators from the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a multinational fund designed to support the development of new antimalarial compounds that can attack drug-resistant strains of the disease.
Malaria causes an estimated 430,000 deaths worldwide each year. Although there are current treatments for malaria, the parasites that transmit the disease through mosquito bites can develop resistance — making the search for alternative treatments more urgent.
Elsewhere, Eisai has been shaking up its drug discovery efforts. In 2016, the drugmaker launched a new unit at its Andover, Massachusetts site, hoping to speed development of precision medicines for cancer, dementia and autoimmune diseases.
Eisai’s work on dementia focuses on immune dysfunction, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease. Its immune-oncology research has resulted in the development of an EP4 receptor antagonist now in clinical testing, and its research at the Massachusetts facility focuses on myeloid lineage cells.
- Eisai Press release