Oct. 14, 2011_ Ube Industries, Ltd. (Head office: Ube City, hereafter "Ube") and Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Head office: Osaka City, hereafter "Santen") announced today that they have entered into a license and collaboration agreement (hereafter, "Agreement") with regard to Ube's EP2 agonist compound as an ophthalmic treatment drug (development code: DE-117). The Agreement provides Santen with global rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize DE-117.
Ube had been pursuing research and development of EP2 agonist compound on its own. However, now Ube and Santen have agreed to co-develop DE-117 as a treatment drug for glaucoma and ocular hypertension, and will collaborate in developing the compound as a prostaglandin drug product with a new mechanism of action. The goal is to obtain manufacturing and marketing approval on a worldwide scale.
Ube has positioned pharmaceutical business as one of its sectors for strategic development, and is striving to expand it in two focus areas: one is new drug discovery area,the other is contract manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and intermediate products. In the drug discovery fields, the goal of Ube’s R&D activities is to "discover new useful in-house drug products which can make valuable contribution to society". So far, Ube has succeeded in the launch of 3 products with its partner companies, antiallergic agent/ antihypertensive agent/ antiplatelet agent, which are also being developed worldwide. Ube has great expectations for DE-117 as a novel in-house pharmaceutical product to follow the above 3 products, and a candidate compound with potential for global development in the ophthalmic disease treatment field.
The goal of Santen’s medium-term management plan for FY2011-2013 is to become "a specialized company with a global presence". In order to enhance the development pipeline of global strategic products, R&D investment is identified as one of the focus areas. By obtaining global development/ manufacturing/ commercializing rights for DE-117, Santen now has a global candidate compound to follow "Tapros" (generic name: Tafluprost), a prostaglandin (FP agonist) which Santen has been marketing since 2008 for treatment of glaucoma and ocular hypertension.
Santen and Ube hope that DE-117 will offer an additional treatment options for glaucoma and ocular hypertension, thereby contributing to improving the QOL (Quality of Life) of patients. The contents of the license and collaboration agreement between Santen and Ube will not be disclosed.
Glaucoma is a disease in which the optic nerve (which transmits visual information to the brain) is damaged, thereby causing gradual loss in the visual field. Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is believed to be the main cause of optic nerve damage, and IOP lowering is considered to be the most effective treatment for preserving visual function. It is said that in the Japanese population, 70% of glaucoma patients have "normal tension glaucoma (NTG)", a type of glaucoma which causes visual field loss even though the intraocular pressure is within the normal range. However, progression of NTG can also be delayed by IOP lowering.
EP2 agonist (agonist of EP2, a subtype of prostaglandin E2 receptor) was recently found to have an IOP lowering effect in the ophthalmological disease field. EP2 agonists are expected to display potent IOP lowering effect with a novel mechanism of action, different from the other glaucoma treatment agents currently on the market.