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Eisai Enters Collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and University of Liverpool to Discover Novel Anti-Wolbachia Targeted Anti-Filarial Drugs

Joint Research Project Awarded Ghit Fund Grant

Tokyo, Mar 20, 2014 - (JCN Newswire) - Eisai Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Tokyo, President & CEO: Haruo Naito, "Eisai") announced today that it has entered a collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (Liverpool, United Kingdom, "LSTM") and University of Liverpool (Liverpool, United Kingdom, "UoL") to jointly identify new drugs effective against lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis (river blindness), both major types of filariasis.

Under the collaboration, Eisai will work with LSTM, a non-profit institution with a mission to develop and implement new tools and technologies for the control and treatment of tropical diseases, and UoL, a world-class academy that has made major contributions toward understanding the mechanisms of drug action of several classes of anti-parasitic drugs, to identify and develop novel drug candidates that efficiently eliminate the bacteria Wolbachia. Wolbachia live inside the parasitic worms, known as filariae, that cause lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, two infectious diseases that together affect more than 150 million people worldwide. As filariae are dependent on these Wolbachia for growth, development, reproduction and survival, these worms can be effectively eradicated by first eliminating the Wolbachia inside them.

While current anti-filarial treatments are effective against larvae and microfilariae, they require many years of consistent, annual mass drug administration in a given endemic community in order to also successfully eliminate the adult worms. Anti-Wolbachia therapy is expected to lead to worm sterility and effective worm eradication, thereby reducing treatment timeframes and providing superior therapeutic outcomes compared to existing anti-filarial drugs. Further, as anti-Wolbachia programs are still in their infancy, this collaboration is expected to potentially provide a unique opportunity to make a significant contribution to communities affected by filariasis.

To date, the screening of more than 10,000 potential anti-Wolbachia compounds has revealed approximately 50 compounds as confirmed hits, leading to identification of about six chemotypes with anti-infective potential. Eisai and its collaboration partners will focus on two of these six proposed types and aim to identify a single candidate for potential drug development within one to two years.

This unique approach was also evaluated and subsequently awarded a two-year grant by the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), an international non-profit organization that aims to promote the discovery of new health technologies for eliminating infectious diseases prevalent in developing countries.

In support of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s program to eliminate lymphatic filariasis by 2020, Eisai is supplying diethylcarbamazine (DEC) free of charge to WHO. Under its collaboration with LSTM and UoL, Eisai aims to make new treatments available as early as possible to patients with filariasis and thereby further increase the healthcare benefits provided to these patients and their families in developing and emerging countries.

About Eisai

Eisai Co., Ltd. (TSE: 4523; ADR: ESALY) is a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world. Eisai focuses its efforts in three therapeutic areas: integrative neuroscience, including neurology and psychiatric medicines; integrative oncology, which encompasses oncotherapy and supportive-care treatments; and vascular/immunological reaction. Through a global network of research facilities, manufacturing sites and marketing subsidiaries, Eisai actively participates in all aspects of the worldwide healthcare system. For more information about Eisai Co., Ltd., please visit www.eisai.com.

Source: Eisai

Public Relations Department,
Eisai Co., Ltd.

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