Eisai Inc., the U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Eisai Co., Ltd., has announced the launch of the Eisai Andover innovative Medicines (AiM) Institute, a discovery innovation unit within the greater Boston biopharma hub. With 90 integrated scientists at a state-of-the-art research facility in Andover, Massachusetts, the Institute is focused on executing novel therapeutic targets validated by human genetics and related data to discover and develop precision medicines for some of the hardest-to-treat medical conditions including dementia, cancer and auto-immune diseases.
Eisai established the AiM institute as part of its new 10-year EWAY Strategic Plan, which was announced at the Global Information Meeting in March 2016. The institute is part of the Company's end-to-end business model that efficiently integrates discovery, clinical and commercial functions. The AiM Institute brings together scientists, technologies and expertise across quantitative, biological, chemistry and translational sciences to target three key therapeutic areas: Immuno-dementia, immuno-oncology and auto-immune indications.
• In immuno-dementia, AiM is studying the subset of dementia patients with immune-driven pathology, targeting immune dysfunction and enhancing internal neuroimmune mechanisms identified by human genetics to develop novel targeted treatments for Alzheimer's disease and dementia;
• In immununo-oncology, as the tumor microenvironment has emerged as a viable target to prevent and treat cancer tumor growth, AiM is utilizing its expertise in immune cell biology, genomics and small molecules to discover novel precision immunotherapies targeting myeloid lineage cells. One such therapy, E7046, is a first-in-class orally active EP4 receptor antagonist currently under clinical development; and
• AiM is also building on Eisai's strengths in targeting toll-like receptors and prostaglandins with small molecules to prosecute genetically validated therapeutic targets for auto-immune indications, including for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
While the opportunity provided by human genetics to disrupt the drug discovery process is well established, realizing this potential has been hampered by conventional biopharma models structured with several siloed research groups "supporting" one another. By contrast, the AiM Institute is premised upon innovation without borders, and the ownership of a focused portfolio by a dedicated and multi-disciplinary group of scientists with a single mission: realizing a new paradigm in human biology driven drug discovery.
"The AiM Institute combines the focus, agility and innovative culture of a 90-person biotech-like organization with Eisai's operational expertise and experience in bringing new medicines to patients," said Nadeem Sarwar, president of the Eisai AiM Institute
To achieve its mission, AiM has established and will continue to seek collaborations and strategic alliances with a broad spectrum of external scientific partners who complement its internal scientific expertise. Current AiM collaborations are focused on human genetics, functional genomics, assay development, structural biology, computational chemistry, library synthesis, compound screening, and translational biomarkers. In addition, AiM scientists are proactively involved in several "pre-competitive" research consortia, and are actively encouraged to contribute data to collaborations as well as publish research findings. To enable such collaboration, AiM has initiated a variety of flexible, innovative collaborative agreements concentrated on accelerating drug discovery.
To develop and accelerate its focused discovery portfolio, AiM is integrating multidisciplinary scientists within a single and dedicated research facility. The close scientific integration of AiM scientists enables the initiation of translational and biomarker-related research from project inception, providing a more seamless transition from preclinical discovery to clinical development.
The AiM Institute is organized around five scientific engines:
• The Human Biology & Data Sciences Engine focuses on accessing, analyzing, integrating, interpreting and applying human biology data from several sources for the discovery and validation of novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers;
• The Integrated Biology Engine validates therapeutic concepts by evaluating genetic variants in human cell systems and in vivo disease models to understand how genetic variation changes the function of targets to cause disease. This engine's end goal is to generate an extensive preclinical package for an investigational new drug (IND) application filing, including preclinical proof-of-concept and translational biomarkers for dose-setting and patient selection;
• The Target Modulation Engine serves as the interface between chemistry and biology, connecting novel therapeutic targets with bioactive compounds. This engine focuses on accelerating drug discovery for human biology validated targets by developing hypotheses for target modulation mechanisms; experiment-supported structural biology; creation of target specific assays; selection of flexible, strategic screening approaches; and providing unique compound collections;
• The Integrated Chemistry Engine utilizes combined expertise in medicinal, synthetic, screening, structural, translational, and platform chemistry to create innovative solutions for human biology validated targets. Building upon Eisai's success in structurally complex fully synthetic small molecule drugs, this engine will explore previously inaccessible areas of complex molecular spaces to address novel and previously undruggable targets; and
• The Imaging Center of Excellence provides imaging expertise and in vivo applications to provide decision-making experimental data, strategies and solutions for global discovery and translational research. This engine applies MRI, CT, SPECT, and PET scanning, as well as radiochemistry solutions for neuroscience, oncology, immunology and drug safety.