Collaborative Research to Discover Anti-protozoan Parasite Drugs

Partnership objectives

To discover Anti-protozoan parasite drugs for the treatment of Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease (NTD).

Chagas’ disease is endemic in 21 countries across Latin America and kills more people in the region than any other parasite-borne disease, including malaria. Chagas’ disease is endemic in 21 countries across Latin America and kills more people in the region than any other parasite-borne disease, including malaria. Copyright Astellas

What are the health needs and challenges?

Chagas’ disease is endemic in 21 countries across Latin America and kills more people in the region than any other parasite-borne disease, including malaria. More than 25 million people are at risk worldwide most of whom are living in Latin America, and patient numbers are also growing in non-endemic countries such as the United States and Australia, as well as in some European countries. The disease is transmitted by an insect known as the ‘kissing bug’ and, without treatment, is potentially fatal. Existing treatments are known to have serious safety limitations and their efficacy diminishes the longer the patient has been infected. 

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

In April 2016, Astellas signed a new collaborative research agreement with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) to discover Anti-protozoan parasite drugs for the treatment of Chagas disease, one of Neglected Tropical Diseases. Since 2012, Astellas has been collaborative with five research institutions in Japan as well as with an international non-profit organization to discover new drugs for the treatment of NTDs caused by protozoan parasites belonging to trypanosomatidae. By utilizing the knowledge obtained through this collaborative research, Astellas and AIST will now pursue collaborative research to discover new drugs for the treatment of Chagas disease.

Under this collaborative research agreement, Astellas and AIST will work together to validate whether genes crucial for the survival of Trypanosoma cruzi can be pinpointed in a short period of time by using gene editing technology. Astellas will mainly be responsible for selecting appropriate genes to be verified, and AIST will lead the gene editing process.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

In case this approach is validated, the formation of AIST-driven research consortium, in which multiple research institutions will participate to conduct extensive genome editing studies on the genes of Trypanosoma cruizi and pursue discovery of new drugs for the treatment of Chagas disease in a larger framework, is planned. Astellas also plans to consider joining the consortium.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Astellas

Partner(s) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals

Therapeutic Focus Neglected Tropical Diseases

Disease(s) Chagas Disease

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Technology Transfer - Scientific Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing, Research & Development - Development of Treatments, Research & Development - Operations Research

Targeted Population(s) Patients in needs of treatment

Region(s) Latin America & Caribbean

Number of Countries 34

Country(ies) Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela

Research Country(ies) Japan

Start Date 2016

More information Press Release

Anticipated completion date Ongoing