Japan drugmakers steal a march on nucleic acid-based treatments

SINGAPORE--Several Japan drugmakers are making strides toward being major pioneers in the new pharmaceuticals field of nucleic acid-based treatments. A few already have clinical trials in the works for such things as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

A roundup of local activity in that research field by Nikkei Asian Review said various drugmakers were working on the new type of treatment that relies on finding a specific gene expression in a disease's genetic basis to find and change that expression to hamper or remove its effectiveness. Other treatments besides DMD being tried in Japan are for allergies, mental disorders, atopic dermatitis, liver cirrhosis and a type of lung disease.

Some multinational drug giants such as Pfizer ($PFE) are considered ahead of the Japan firms in the field, but nucleic acid drugs are only now reaching a market expected to grow into the billions of dollars in a few years.

Japan's first to market could be AnGes MG, a startup about to enter Phase III trials on the dermatology treatment. Nitto Denko has trials for its liver treatment under way in the United States and Bonac is shooting for a 2020 launch of its NA drug to treat pulmonary fibrosis.

Daiichi Sankyo, one of two Japan makers working on DMD treatments, has one to slow the disease's advance nearly ready to enter trials with joint-venture partner Innovation Network. It anticipates a market launch in 2020. The other DMD maker, Nippon Shinyaku, expects to beat Daiichi Sankyo by two years by drawing on technologies developed by bioventure Ribomic.

- read the Nikkei Asian Review story here

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