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Chugai sets up antibody research company in Singapore

Chugai Pharmabody Research will focus on generating new antibody drugs

Japanese pharma company Chugai is to set up a new research company based in Singapore.

The firm hopes Chugai Pharmabody Research (CPR) can generate five or more antibody-based drug candidates per year for its product pipeline.

Chugai is putting 1.5m Singapore dollars (approximately $1.2m) into establishing the company, which will be operational from January.

It will employ around 60 people and be led by chief executive Koichi Matsubara and chief operating officer Hisafumi Okabe.

Chugai said its proprietary innovative antibody engineering technology would be used by CPR to generate candidates with the potential for a dramatically improved therapeutic effect.

The company's 'Recycling Antibody' enables a single antibody molecule to repeatedly block the function of the target antigen, and its 'Sweeping Antibody' built on this to enable the elimination of the target antigen from the plasma.

“These novel antibody engineering technologies are expected to achieve therapeutic effects in numerous diseases that were previously considered not possible using conventional antibodies,” the company said.

Chugai boosted its antibody pipeline recently, licensing in September Japanese rights to Roche's humanised anti-Met antibody MetMAb for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The deal also included rights in that country to Roche's humanised anti-interleukin(IL)-13 antibody lebrikizumab for bronchial asthma.

The company has long-standing ties with Roche, which has a 60 per cent stake in Chugai and a long-standing co-marketing agreement for the arthritis drug RoActemra (tocilizumab).

Chugai has been actively working to build networks with research institutes in its native Japan and overseas, and CPR will be Chugai's fourth satellite research institute.

Its establishment follow that of C&C Research Laboratories in South Korea, Pharmalogicals Research in Singapore, and Forerunner Pharma Research Co in Tokyo.

19th December 2011

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