Gencia and Takeda to develop novel mitochondrial therapeutics

Posted: 11 September 2015 | Victoria White

Gencia and Takeda aim to jointly research and develop two preclinical drug candidates, one each in the areas of inflammation and oncology…

Gencia and Takeda have entered a partnership to develop a new class of small molecule drugs as potential treatments for haematological and inflammatory diseases.

Called Mitochondrial Agonists of the Glucocorticoid Receptor (MAGR), such compounds may offer the therapeutic potential of conventional glucocorticoid drugs (steroids). However, MAGR are chemically distinct and may function differently than steroids.

The initial aim of the collaboration will be joint research and development leading to two preclinical drug candidates, one each in the areas of inflammation and oncology. Takeda will explore opportunities to conduct clinical trials for drug candidates identified by the partnership.

Under the agreement, Gencia will receive upfront payments and preclinical milestones for the two compounds and aggregate clinical, commercialisation and sales milestones with the potential for approximately $500 million in payments by Takeda. Gencia also will receive royalties on sales of any successfully commercialised products arising from the partnership.

Gencia’s MAGR agonists have shown activity in steroid-sensitive and steroid-resistant models

Allen Cunningham, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gencia, said, “Takeda’s strength in drug discovery and development, and in particular their commitment to oncology and inflammation drug research, provides Gencia with the opportunity to advance our mitochondrial targeting platform and MAGR compounds into the clinic, and ultimately to patients in need of these therapies. We are very pleased to have Takeda as our partner in this endeavour.”
Tetsuyuki Maruyama, Ph.D., General Manager, Head of Pharmaceutical Research Division at Takeda, added, “We are delighted to partner with Gencia to create new medicines designed to be chemically and functionally different from steroids, but that may still be effective in treating a broad spectrum of diseases for which chronic steroids are currently prescribed. We expect to change the paradigm for how patients are treated by potentially avoiding the issues that result from long-term steroid use.”

Glucocorticoid drugs are used in front-line, combination, maintenance and relapse therapy in the treatment of many haematological and inflammatory diseases. However, side-effects, lack of response or induced resistance frequently limit glucocorticoid use. Gencia’s MAGR agonists have shown activity in numerous steroid-sensitive and steroid-resistant pharmacology models. Gencia and Takeda will explore potential therapeutic uses of MAGRs and the possibilities for their safe and effective chronic use.