Eisai Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Tokyo, President & CEO: Haruo Naito, “Eisai”) announced today that it has entered into a global agreement with the Broad Institute (Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, “Broad”), a collaborative research facility that includes researchers from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to jointly discover and develop new therapeutic agents for the treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and tuberculosis.

Under the agreement, Eisai and Broad will collaborate together on drug discovery initiatives toward novel treatments for NTDs and tuberculosis through optimization of compounds screened from Broad's chemical library. The first project will conduct drug discovery research aimed at the creation of a novel treatment for Chagas disease, an NTD. Chagas disease is transmitted by the bite of the assassin bug or vinchuca and is particularly endemic in poorer areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. Approximately 8 million people are believed to carry the disease and 100 million people are estimated to be living in endemic areas. In Latin America alone, about 14,000 people die from Chagas disease on average each year, meaning that the development of a novel treatment for this disease exists as a high unmet medical need.

This first project for the treatment of Chagas disease has also been awarded a grant for partial funding by the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), an international nonprofit organization (NPO) that aims to promote the discovery of new health technologies from Japan for eliminating infectious diseases prevalent in developing countries. Eisai and Broad will use the grant toward the project's implementation.

Eisai is committed to contributing to the improvement of public healthcare for people in emerging countries and the developing world and the expansion of economic development, the middle class and other factors that benefit those regions. The company considers this commitment as a long-term investment in its future and as such is an active participant in initiatives that focus on overcoming issues related to access to medicines in order to combat infectious diseases, including NTDs. In addition, Eisai is moving ahead with multiple new drug development projects targeting malaria and NTDs such as Chagas disease and the leishmaniases, based on its partnerships with international NPOs such as the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Sabin Vaccine Institute as well as Brazil’s national research agency, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.

The company remains actively committed to continuing the above and other initiatives to ensure access to medicines in emerging and developing countries in order to better contribute to increasing the benefits provided to patients and their families throughout those regions.

[ Please refer to the following notes for further information on neglected tropical diseases,
Chagas disease, and the GHIT Fund. ]

Media Inquiries:

Public Relations Department,
Eisai Co., Ltd.

[ Notes to editors ]

1. About Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NTDs blight the lives of more than 1 billion of the world's poorest 2.4 billion people. There are 149 countries and territories where NTDs are endemic, at least 100 of which are endemic for 2 or more of these diseases, and 30 countries and territories of which are endemic for 6 or more. These diseases not only survive and spread in conditions of poverty but also anchor large populations in poverty.
(NTDs designated by WHO for control or elimination: Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, cysticercosis / teniasis, dengue / severe dengue, dracunculiasis [guinea-worm disease], echinococcosis, food-borne trematodiases [fascioliasis], human African trypanosomiasis [sleeping sickness], the leishmaniases, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis [river blindness], rabies, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, trachoma and yaws [endemic treponematoses])

2. About Chagas Disease

Transmitted by the bite of the assassin bug or vinchuca, Chagas disease is a public health problem, particularly in poorer areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. About 8 million people are believed to carry the disease and 100 million people are estimated to live in endemic areas. Furthermore, the number of diagnosed cases has been increasing in recent years due to population mobility to areas classified as being nonendemic for Chagas disease such as Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Chagas disease has acute, asymptomatic and chronic phases; the chronic phase falls into a chronic asymptomatic phase and a chronic phase with organ dysfunction. The acute phase usually occurs unnoticed, but in cases of symptomatic acute Chagas disease, nonspecific symptoms such as fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes develop, which resolve spontaneously within about 4 to 6 weeks. In the asymptomatic phase, no apparent symptoms are observed and it often takes several decades to progress to the chronic phase. In the chronic phase, the central nervous, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular systems are affected in 10% to 30% of infected people, and peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, megacolon, or megaesophagus may be observed. If infected people are left untreated, about a third of them will develop serious heart or intestinal damage that could lead to death. On average, about 14,000 people die from Chagas disease in Latin America each year.

3. About the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund)

The GHIT Fund is an international nonprofit organization aimed to advance the research and development of new health technologies from Japan to fight infectious diseases prevalent specifically in the developing world, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Established as a public-private partnership between the Government of Japan, a consortium of pharmaceutical companies, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the GHIT Fund facilitates and funds research and development of new health technologies through partnership creation and grant-making activities. To learn more about the GHIT Fund, please see www.ghitfund.org.