Dr. Yoshinori Ikeura, President and CEO
Driven by chemistry and guided by pharmacology and clinical services, drug research has always paved the way for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries to better understand and cure complex and life-threatening diseases. Today, the proliferation of genomic sciences allows pharmaceutical firms to dissect the genetic basis of several complex diseases and identify the most suitable drug targets for the development of avant-garde medicines. The phases of the conventional drug discovery model, however, are marked by several multi-faceted and convoluted processes. This is where Japan-based Axcelead steps in with its “better” approach, such as “better target,” ‘‘better molecule” and “better translation” to streamline drug research and development. The company provides, not to mention essential drug discovery functions, comprehensive analytical capabilities such as bioinformatics, multi-omics, and phenotype analysis with genetically-modified animal and disease models to enhance a pharma company’s ability to identify novel and efficacious drug targets. “Our integrated drug discovery (IDD) service ensures that our clients are able to develop high-quality molecules as drug candidates and perform effective translational research on novel and existing drugs and diseases,” says Dr. Yoshinori Ikeura, CEO of Axcelead.
Founded in 2017, Axcelead comprises over 200 experienced scientists and holds a strong name for itself in the overall pharmaceutical sector (including regulatory agencies) and it has been getting attention from drug discovery related players including pharmaceutical, academia, start-ups in Japan. Since its Takeda days, Axcelead researchers have successfully worked on more than 500 drug target validation campaigns. Furthermore, with access to proprietary data associated with the extensive compound library and drug discovery projects of Japan’s leading drug research organization, Takeda Pharmaceutical company, Axcelead is aiding pharma companies to overcome every hurdle in their drug discovery processes.
From the initial research to pre-clinical development, Axcelead’s IDD service offers tailored services to streamline the overall drug discovery process. “By combining our technology, know-how in drug discovery, and Takeda’s legacy data, we provide customized services to meet the needs of our clients,” states Ikeura. The IDD service also eliminates the costs and time involved in communicating with multiple CROs, thereby enhancing project promotion.
On the other hand, the company’s high-throughput screening (HTS) service can quickly find high-quality compounds with a superior probability of hit identification, regardless of the difficulty in drug target bonding. “We provide our HTS service for various target classes using our proprietary compound library with an automated HTS system of 300,000 data points in a day,” states Ikeura. This service has been a boon to drug discovery researchers to significantly increase the drug discovery success rate by simplifying the process of obtaining high-quality lead compounds.
Ikeura recalls an example of current Axcelead researchers’ efficacy in optimizing critical drug discovery procedures in Takeda days and identifying exceptional hit compounds for a drug target that had already been worked on by several of its competitors. Interestingly, every prior lead compound belonged to the same side-effect caused by a specific chemotype. As a result, the clinical development of the molecule was discontinued. By establishing original assay systems and screening for unique libraries, Axcelead identified lead compounds that did not cause the previously observed side-effect during clinical development. Soon, however, the clinical trial of the newly discovered compound was put on hold due to a different type of toxicity. The scientists currently at Axcelead although were able to convince the pharmaceutical authorities that the compound was safe for use in humans. Subsequently, the drug was launched as a first-in-class product that later became a market-leading medicine.
Looking ahead, Axcelead plans to be recognized as the world’s most preferred research partner for drug discovery. Ikeura believes that with Axcelead’s ability to provide comprehensive solutions through integrated research service coupled with its consultation, the company is perfectly poised to deliver simplified drug target identification and holistically enhance the conventional drug discovery processes.