In January 2012, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (‘Chugai’) established Chugai Pharmabody Research Pte. Ltd. (“CPR”), its fully-owned research center in Singapore, with the objective of accelerating creation of clinical candidates utilizing their proprietary antibody technologies.
On the occasion of their 5th anniversary, top officials at Chugai including the Chairman and CEO, Mr Osamu Nagayama and Sir David Lane, CPR Chairman and A*STAR Chief Scientist reaffirmed their commitment to drive discovery of therapeutic antibodies for the next-generation of treatments for diseases with high unmet needs such as cancer and severe autoimmune diseases.
The commitment is backed by Chugai’s announcement to expand their investment in CPR to S$476 million until 2021 (2012-2021). This will further accelerate on-going research projects and development of novel antibody engineering technologies, making it one of the largest pharmaceutical R&D operations in Singapore.
“The state-of-the-art proprietary antibody engineering technologies at CPR embody Chugai’s technology-driven approach. This has opened up the opportunity to create drug candidates that may bring significant improvements in treating diseases, which were previously considered impossible to treat using conventional antibodies, delivering hope to patients around the world,” said Mr. Osamu Nagayama, Chairman & CEO of Chugai. “This has been possible because of the excellent environment and highly skilled talent Singapore provides for the industry to advance and push the boundaries of antibody drug discovery.”
The Chairman of Chugai, further affirmed Singapore’s strong commitment in biomedical field that has provided an environment that encourages open innovation through collaborations between the industry, government and academia.
Chugai has leveraged this through their close relationship with A*STAR – where its Chief Scientist, Sir David Lane, sits as the Chairman of the CPR Board.
“Since the start of CPR’s operation in 2012, my conviction has been strengthened that CPR’s antibody technologies and their researchers are of world-class standing. Singapore’s dynamic R&D and biomedical infrastructure lets them explore the best of their potential, steadily bearing first-in-class and best-in-class drug candidates as the fruits,” said Sir David Lane. “I am very proud to be involved in discovering breakthrough products that will bring viable treatment options for many patients currently fighting debilitating disease worldwide and also build Singapore’s presence as an international research hub.”
The technology-driven approach of Chugai is spearheaded by their proprietary antibody engineering technologies such as the Recycling, Sweeping and Bispecific antibodies.
Antibodies are created by the immune system to neutralize antigens – foreign substance or toxins, such as bacteria and viruses. Unlike conventional antibodies that can only bind to an antigen once, the Recycling antibodies can bind multiple times and therefore can be administered in smaller doses with longer dosing intervals.
Sweeping antibodies have added benefits over Recycling antibodies, eliminating the antigens from the body.
Bispecific antibodies can bind to two different antigens at the same time, while normal antibodies bind to a single antigen only.
These technologies put together, surpass current antibody technologies and can potentially unlock a wide range of new treatments for other diseases.
As part of CPR’s continued engagement and commitment to Singapore, they employ about 100 employees, have expanded the working spaces and ramped up the development activities for new drug candidates. One of CPR’s antibody projects is currently under phase one trials with others in preparation for clinical development.