Courtagen and Astellas Collaborate to Develop Therapeutic Drug for Mitochondrial Disease

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Courtagen Life Sciences and Astellas Pharma announced a collaboration to use Courtagen’s molecular information platform to assist in the development of a predictive model to support early stage therapeutic development for mitochondrial disease.

Under the terms of the agreement, Courtagen will use its ZiPhyr bioinformatics platform, which analyzes genetic variant data using proprietary algorithms to determine the pathogenicity of mutations and identify potential disease targets. Doing so will assist Astellas’ efforts to develop a predictive model to test potential drugs to treat mitochondrial disease.

Astellas will retain the rights to any therapeutics developed through this collaboration, while Courtagen will keep the diagnostic rights. Additional details of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Astellas and Courtagen share a commitment to innovative clinical solutions that address the needs of patients suffering from mitochondrial-based disorders,” Brian McKernan, Courtagen’s chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Courtagen was founded on the idea of helping patients suffering from mitochondrial disorders, and now we are able to utilize our unique capability to correlate clinical data with specific genomic alterations and aid in the development of targeted therapeutics,” McKernan said.

Mitochondrial diseases are inherited illnesses that may develop at birth or later in life. These diseases commonly include problems with development and cognition, like poor growth, lack of coordination, weakness, pain or seizures. It is estimated that one in every 2,000 people in the world have a mitochondrial disorder, and there are is no known cure.

Courtagen is a molecular information company that works to bring robust neurological genome analysis to routine clinical care. Based in Woburn, Mass., Courtagen operates a Next Generation DNA Sequencing, bioinformatics and clinical interpretation business. The company’s work aims to help physicians unveil the linkages between the genotypes and phenotypes of several neurological diseases.

In 2015, Courtagen announced the introduction of several new Next Generation Sequencing tests for mitochondrial disorders, such as the nucSEEK Focus Nuclear Mitochondrial Gene Panel. The NucSEEK Focus test was designed to identify 181 genes associated with mitochondrial disorders.

Astellas, based in Tokyo, Japan, works to improve the health of people through the provision of novel pharmaceutical products with particular focus on urology, oncology, immunology, nephrology and neuroscience.

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