- Japanese drugmaker Eisai on Thursday launched a new drug discovery unit at its facility in Andover, Massachusetts, aiming to accelerate development of precision medicines for dementia, cancer and auto-immune diseases.
- Eisai is hoping to foster a "biotech-like" environment at the unit, similar to efforts by other drugmakers also seeking to become more nimble in R&D.
- Ninety scientists are already staffed to the new team, which Eisai is calling the Andover Innovative Medicines (AIM) Institute.
Japanese drugmakers are stepping up their efforts in the U.S. market.
Takeda, which earlier this summer announced a $725 million restructuring to remake its R&D efforts, has reportedly set aside $15 billion to spend on M&A in the U.S., according to a report from the Financial Times this week.
As part of the restructuring, Takeda plans to centralize its research operations to Shonan, Japan; San Diego, California; and Boston, Massachusetts.
Now Eisai has come out with plans to focus its R&D efforts, tasking the new institute (AIM) with developing targeted drugs in "immuno-dementia," immuno-oncology and auto-immune diseases. AIM is part of Eisai's 10-year strategic plan that the drugmaker unveiled in March.
In dementia, Eisai said it would study immune dysfunction with an eye towards Alzheimer's. AIM's efforts in immuno-oncology will zero in on myeloid lineage cells, headlined by an EP4 receptor antagonist currently in clinical testing.
AIM will be headed up by Nadeem Sarwar, who previously ran Eisai's Genetics and Human Biology division.
"The AiM Institute combines the focus, agility and innovative culture of a 90-person biotech-like organization with Eisai's operational expertise and experience in bringing new medicines to patients," Sarwar said.
Perhaps unsurprising given AIM's location near Boston, Eisai plans to be aggressive in seeking out partnerships to complement the discovery work.