Deal-hungry Takeda forges another R&D alliance

Takeda's U.S. facility. (Image: Takeda)

Takeda has added another early-stage research partnership as it reboots its R&D operations, this time teaming up with two Seattle-based academic centers in a project focused on its key targets of cancer, gastrointestinal disease and neurological disorders.

The link-up with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington—dubbed The Seattle Partnership for Research on Innovative Therapies, or SPRInT—is aimed at taking “promising biological targets associated with disease to the next step to develop candidate drugs into potential treatments for patients,” says the Japanese drugmaker.

It’s the latest move by Takeda as it tries to forge closer ties with researchers around the world. In the last few months alone the company has teamed up with Stanford University to create a program looking to turn discoveries at its labs into new therapeutic candidates, forged a similar alliance with the Ohio-based Harrington Discovery Institute, and joined the European Open Targets initiative, a public-private partnership that uses genomics data for drug target identification.

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“Takeda seeks to collaborate with the best scientists around the globe to deliver innovative treatments for patients across our three core therapeutic areas of GI, neuroscience and oncology,” said Steve Hitchcock, Ph.D., the company’s head of research.

The deal with Fred Hutch and UW will “leverage our collective capabilities to accelerate the discovery of scientific breakthroughs in the lab and deliver them to patients,” he added.

A joint research committee comprised of Takeda, Fred Hutch and UW scientists will select several ongoing research projects to be supported over the three-year agreement, which can be renewed if all goes well.

As well as reaching out to academic partners, Takeda has been racking up a slew of collaborations with biotech companies, most recently signing a neurology pact with Wave Life Sciences, taking over stem cell specialist TiGenix, and licensing rights to Denali’s drug delivery technology for neurodegenerative diseases.

Takeda is several years into a restructuring drive implemented by Takeda CEO Christophe Weber to transform the centuries-old company into a modern-day R&D powerhouse. Two years ago, it announced a major shake-up of its clinical and drug development as it moved hundreds of its staff over to contract research organization PRA Health.