Eisai to close Andover site, move to new Alzheimer’s drug discovery center in Cambridge

Eisai is set to close its site in Andover, Massachusetts, and move its operations across the state to Cambridge. The Japanese drugmaker’s new drug discovery facility will focus on immune-driven Alzheimer’s and receive more than $100 million over the next three years to get up and running.

Eisai consolidated its operations at the $65 million, 150,000-square-foot Andover facility in 2007 but went on to cut its headcount and tweak its focus. That led to the creation of the 90-person Andover innovative Medicines Institute, which has spent the past two years working on genetically validated targets in immuno-dementia, immuno-oncology and autoimmune indications.

Now, Eisai is moving its physical location to Alewife Research Center but keeping some of the earlier ideas. When the Eisai Center for Genetics Guided Dementia Discovery opens in Cambridge early next year, it will cement Eisai’s interest in using genetic discoveries to treat immune-driven Alzheimer’s.

“We will apply our unique novel precision chemistry approach in the context of human genetics to deliver tailor-designed small molecule and antisense oligonucleotide solutions,” Eisai’s Nadeem Sarwar said in a statement. “Our goal is to discover next-generation targeted immuno-dementia therapies to complement and go beyond targeting A-beta and tau.”

Sarwar currently heads up the Andover institute and will move to Cambridge to lead the new site. In Cambridge, Sarwar will oversee a research center organized around four functions: data sciences, immuno-dementia, discovery technologies and precision chemistry.

Moving these functions 25 miles south to Cambridge puts Eisai in closer contact with current and future collaborators. External collaborations were central to the ethos of the Andover institute run by Sarwar. Eisai sees its new base in Cambridge enabling it to identify new scientific and business ties, while giving it “greater access and flexibility” to nurture its existing collaborations.  

That line of thinking is drawing a who’s who of large and small drug developers based around the world to Cambridge. Property developers have responded with new projects, such as the site Eisai is moving into in North Cambridge. Lab space is set to become available at the site this summer.