Astellas Ends R&D Pact with CoMentis

Astellas Pharma Inc. and the pharmaceutical company, CoMentis Inc., have ended their worldwide exclusive collaboration agreement for research, development, and commercialization of beta-secretase inhibitors for Alzheimer's disease, signed in 2008. Astellas has exercised its right to terminate the collaboration agreement, based on the outcome of the research and development collaboration. Astellas will return to CoMentis all rights granted under the collaboration agreement.

CoMentis, based in South San Francisco, California, engages in the research, discovery, and development of small-molecule drugs to treat neurovascular diseases , with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia<

Astellas has recognized impairment losses on other intangible asset of 8.1 billion yen ($75.7 million) in the first three months of the current fiscal year (from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015).

Separately, Astellas has signed a research collaboration with the Harvard Medical School focused on discovering the pathologic mechanism for retinitis pigmentosa and identification of new therapeutic targets. Astellas and Harvard will work with the aim to provide a new treatment option with a view of a gene therapy, to retinitis pigmentosa patients who have difficulty maintaining good vision.

This collaborative research will be led by Constance L. Cepko, Ph. D., professor of genetics and of ophthalmology at Harvard, who is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and is an authority on ophthalmology and gene therapy. Using adeno-associated virus vectors, genes that prolong vision in those who inherit retinitis pigmentosa will be identified and verified. Astellas will support the collaboration for up to three years. If the collaboration is successful in identifying genes that lead to promising treatment options for patients, Astellas will conduct further drug discovery on such promising candidates, and subsequent development and commercialization under an exclusive license from Harvard.

The partnership has been led by Innovation Management (AIM), a new division of Astellas established in October 2013 to enhance and accelerate the process of screening and acquiring external opportunities to strengthen innovation at the preclinical development stage. AIM oversees strategic alliance activities with external partners and is responsible for a series of activities at acquiring external innovation opportunities in the preclinical development stage, such as strategy planning, screening, scientific assessment and alliance negotiations

Source: Astellas Pharma (CoMentis) and Astellas (Harvard)

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