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Nagasaki University and Astellas launch collaborative research for screening new anti-dengue virus drugs for neglected tropical diseases
The Nagasaki University and Astellas Pharma Inc. announced that they have signed a collaborative research agreement to discover new drugs for the treatment of neglected tropical diseases ("NTDs") caused by dengue virus. This is the second execution of a collaborative research agreement on NTDs after the Nagasaki University and Astellas signed the previous one to discover new drugs for the treatment of NTDs caused by protozoan parasites on November 12, 2012.

NTDs, prevalent mainly in tropical areas of developing countries, are infectious diseases spread by parasites, bacteria or viruses. As it is estimated that approximately 1 billion people are affected with NTDs worldwide, NTDs are a serious healthcare issue that is being addressed on a global scale. Among them, diseases caused by dengue virus, such as dengue fever/dengue hemorrhagic fever are with high unmet medical needs for treatment and development of new therapeutic drugs. There is no existing drug to treat dengue fever/dengue hemorrhagic fever in the market as well as under development, and the effectiveness of some vaccines to prevent dengue virus currently under development is unclear at this time.

Under the collaborative agreement, the Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University (NEKKEN), which is one of the leading research institutes on tropical infectious diseases in Japan, and Astellas will cooperate on a drug-discovery research project. Astellas will provide multiple compounds with possible anti-dengue virus activities, and NEKKEN will evaluate these compounds in experimental model of infections with dengue virus for dengue fever/dengue hemorrhagic fever. The research will be advanced with advice from Professor Kouichi Morita, M.D., Ph.D., at the Department of Virology in NEKKEN, who is a key opinion leader on tropical infection research in Japan.

The collaborative research is largely divided into two phases. In the first phase (first screening), the anti-dengue virus activities and cytotoxic activities of compounds will be measured in vitro. In the second phase (second screening), compounds found to be with anti-dengue virus activities in the first screening will be tested for in vivo activity by evaluating drug efficiency in animals infected with the dengue virus.

The Nagasaki University and Astellas will work together to accelerate the discovery of new drugs for patients suffering from dengue fever/dengue hemorrhagic fever in the world, through their collaborative research aiming to contribute to improve global public health problems.

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