Newswise — SAN DIEGO – (July 30, 2013) La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology and Kyowa Hakko Kirin California, Inc. (KKC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd. (KHK), a global specialty pharmaceutical company, today announced the signing of a new agreement that marks another milestone in one of the most enduring industry-academic collaborations in the world.
The six-year agreement continues a research alliance spanning more than two decades between La Jolla Institute, an academic nonprofit and a world leader in immunology research, and KKC, one of Kyowa Hakko Kirin's research and development centers in the United States. The collaboration leverages the pharmaceutical company's discovery and development capabilities and La Jolla Institute's expertise in basic research to accelerate translation of research discoveries into potential new treatments.
Under the terms of the agreement, La Jolla Institute will receive a combination of discretionary research funding, and funds dedicated to specific projects to be selected by a steering committee of La Jolla Institute and Kyowa Hakko Kirin leaders. The research funding agreement will span through the end of 2018. Kyowa Hakko Kirin California will receive first rights of negotiation to pursue translation of La Jolla Institute discoveries, stemming from research projects funded by KKC.
La Jolla Institute Chief Business Officer Patrick Ho says the agreement is a win-win for both parties. "La Jolla Institute benefits from the added funding to support research that may eventually make its way into KHK's pharmaceutical research and development pipeline," says Ho. "No doubt this collaboration is exceptional and stands apart among the Institute's agreements with pharmaceutical companies."
Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., La Jolla Institute president & chief scientific officer, says the contract "continues the long tradition of scientific excellence and mutual respect that has existed between our two organizations for the last 25 years."
Hiroshi Yano, Ph.D., the newly-appointed KKC president, says the agreement will further enhance the longstanding relationship. "While the investment efficiency of drug discovery and development is challenging for the pharmaceutical industry, this new agreement enables closer collaboration that will allow KKC and the La Jolla Institute to greatly enhance target identification and drug discovery efforts," says Dr. Yano. He notes that the new agreement structure, involving a joint steering committee for project selection, is "only achievable based on our mutual understanding and history. I appreciate the culture built by our predecessors."
La Jolla Institute Board Member David Webb, Ph.D., a scientist and biotech industry veteran, notes that the partnership is beneficial for everyone involved, most importantly for the millions of people worldwide who are desperately in need of new and better treatments for disease. "Collaborations between research centers like La Jolla Institute and pharmaceutical companies such as KHK create a bridge that propels major discoveries from the laboratory into drug development and ultimately into the hands of people suffering from disease," says Dr. Webb, chairman emeritus of Biocom, the San Diego-based life science industry trade association.
Dr. Yano expects new synergies to be created between KKC and the La Jolla Institute. "We have already seen that the science of the La Jolla Institute is advancing drug discovery in KKC, and I hope that KKC's drug discovery expertise will also help foster continued scientific breakthroughs at the Institute. My hope is that this virtuous cycle leads to improved human health worldwide."
Reflecting this goal, several La Jolla Institute discoveries are advancing toward becoming new treatments for debilitating disorders including psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis, thanks to the partnership. Several of these potential therapies, including a drug that eases immune rejection problems in patients following organ transplantation, are in phase II clinical human studies, with others at various stages of development.
Dr. Kronenberg notes that academic-industry relationships are critical to advance the true mission of nonprofit academic research institutes. "Our ultimate goal is to see our findings put into direct use for improving human health," he notes. "It's the reason we exist." However, most research institutes aren't equipped for clinical trials and other aspects of drug development, which underscores the need for relationships between research nonprofits and pharmaceutical companies.
"KHK has the kind of long-term commitment that is necessary to take discoveries from the bench, into human clinical studies, and, if successful, into approved drugs," he says. "It's a complementary process without which many important breakthroughs might never get beyond the laboratory stage."
While research agreements between academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies are commonplace today, the collaboration between KKC and La Jolla Institute dates back to the Institute's founding in 1988, at a time when such arrangements were quite rare. "Our institute was fortunate to have been founded by a group of individuals with incredible vision and foresight about the necessity for strong linkages between academia and the pharmaceutical industry," says Dr. Kronenberg. "Back then it was a very novel – even controversial – idea."
"Their wisdom has proven extremely accurate," he adds. "Today such arrangements are a pivotal piece of drug discovery efforts throughout this country."
About La Jolla Institute
Founded in 1988, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology is a nonprofit, independent biomedical research institute focused on improving human health through increased understanding of the immune system. Its scientists carry out research seeking new knowledge leading to the prevention of disease through vaccines and the treatment and cure of infectious diseases, cancer, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, Crohn's disease and asthma. La Jolla Institute's research staff includes more than 150 Ph.D.s and M.D.s. To learn more about the Institute's work, visit www.lji.org.
About Kyowa Hakko Kirin California
Kyowa Hakko Kirin California, Inc. (KKC) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kirin (KHK) of Japan, and acts as KHK's primary drug discovery and translational research center in the U.S, supporting KHK's vision to be a Japan-based global specialty pharmaceutical company. KKC seeks to discover novel drugs, drug targets, and to create new technologies, thereby contributing to the development of first-in-class therapeutics. For more information, visit http://www.kyowa-kirin-ca.com.
About Kyowa Hakko Kirin
Kyowa Hakko Kirin is a leading biopharmaceutical company in Japan focusing on its core business area of oncology, nephrology and immunology/allergy. Kyowa Hakko Kirin leverages antibody-related leading-edge technologies to discover and develop innovative new drugs aiming to become a global specialty pharmaceutical company which contributes to the health and well-being of people around the world. For more information, visit http://www.kyowa-kirin.com.