The new company is expected to advance two successful outcomes from T-CiRA collaboration for severe heart failure and Type 1 Diabetes to clinical application of iPSC-based medicine.
In June 2021, Orizuru Therapeutics Inc. (“OZTx”) announced the launch of its operations. OZTx is a research and development-driven company focusing on the development of iPSC—based regenerative medicine and the application of iPSC technology, and is based at Shonan Health Innovation Park ("Shonan iPark").
In 2015, the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application ("CiRA") at Kyoto University and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited ("Takeda Pharmaceutical") launched a joint research program, called T-CiRA, to accelerate research for the practical application of iPSC technology in drug development and regenerative medicine. The 10-year T-CiRA program has been led by Professor Shinya Yamanaka, Director of CiRA and Representative Director of the CiRA Foundation, with total funding of 20 billion yen in R&D from Takeda Pharmaceutical and human resources and facility-related support provided by Shonan iPark. Following the recent validation of the pre-clinical efficacy of two cell therapy projects, CiRA and Takeda Pharmaceutical agreed to transfer the research assets from the projects to OZTx.
OZTx has two primary business areas of focus. First is the working toward the clinical application of the two cell therapy projects for which pre-clinical efficacy was validated in the T-CiRA program: the iPSC-derived cardiomyocyte project led by Project Leader Yoshinori Yoshida (Associate Professor at CiRA) and the iPSC-derived pancreatic islet cell project led by Project Leader Taro Toyoda (Junior Associate Professor at CiRA). In addition, OZTx has entered into a patent transfer and research asset license agreement with Kyoto University and Takeda Pharmaceutical, which own the intellectual property of iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes and iPSC-derived pancreatic islet cells, to research, develop, and provide regenerative medicine products for both projects.
The second area of focus encourages the application of iPSC technology through the sharing of distinguished technologies in iPSC differentiation, culture, and purification, to rigorously support drug discovery research and develop the infrastructure for research in regenerative medicine. OZTx seeks to share its iPSC-related business activities broadly with communities and society, and also contribute to the delivery of iPSC-based regenerative medicine to patients and society in appropriate manners.
"We are very pleased that the innovative research outcomes from the T-CiRA collaboration where academic scientists and Takeda researchers work as one team are now transferred to OZTx toward their quick implementation," says Professor Yamanaka, Head of the T-CiRA program. To ensure continuity of research and development from T-CiRA, Professor Yamanaka has also been invited to chair the Scientific Advisory Board at OZTx. Dr. Yasushi Kajii, who oversees the T-CiRA collaboration on the Takeda side as Head of T-CiRA Discovery, also demonstrates his enthusiasm to collaborate with OZTx for implementation of the innovative iPSC technology, stating that, "I count on the establishment of OZTx so that pathways to bring outcomes from the T-CiRA collaboration to the bedside of patients suffering from intractable diseases can be strengthened."
OZTx is comprised of approximately 60 employees who have in-depth expertise in the latest iPSC technology as well as extensive experience in pharmaceutical R&D. Each of the 60 employees brings a strong commitment to the fore, demonstrating their passion and a sense of urgency to deliver iPSC technology to patients and society at large. The company is led by President, Representative Director, and Chief Executive Officer Kenji Nonaka, M.D., Ph.D. OZTx has raised a total of 6 billion yen through a private placement with numerous partners listed below that stand in solidarity with OZTx's strong mission to put this Japan-born iPSC technology to practical use in regenerative medicine:
- Seed round: Kyoto University Innovation Capital Co., Ltd. ("KYOTO-iCAP"), Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, SMBC Venture Capital Co., Ltd.
- Series A round: MUFG Bank, Ltd., SMBC Venture Capital Co., Ltd, MEDIPAL HOLDINGS CORPORATION, Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company Co. Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited, Nippon Venture Capital Co., Ltd.
OZTx is committed to developing high-quality products and services using the finest processes and seeks to contribute to society and patients by delivering regenerative medicine using iPSCs, which was first developed in Japan.
Source: Orizuru Therapeutics Inc.