Discovery and Preclinical Research Division

Tsukuba Area

Conducting basic research to discover innovative new drug candidate compounds for people around the world

The Discovery and Preclinical Research Division (Tsukuba Area) embraces the challenge of discovering unique drug candidate compounds that show outstanding efficacy and are extremely safe in the three priority areas of oncology, allergy/immunology, and urology. The Divisionʼs researchers have knowledge and experience in various specialized fields, such as chemistry, biology, informatics, molecular design, pharmacokinetics, and drug discovery using natural substances. By bringing together these abilities, the Division is advancing drug discovery research based on medical needs analyzed from a global perspective. In addition, the Division is actively working to expand its drug-enabling platform technologies, and is accelerating drug discovery activities by pursuing external research collaboration in and outside of Japan to supplement its own technology. Regular discussions are held with international experts, and through this kind of collaboration and interaction, the Division is actively engaged in raising the quality of research and fostering human resources with an international outlook.

Oncology field

As a specialty pharma in the field of oncology, Taiho Pharmaceutical is committed to creating anticancer drugs with diverse mechanisms of action. In the field of cancer metabolism, the Division harnesses the abundant experience and expertise that the company has accumulated in the development of UFT and TS-1, to discover highly potent anticancer agents with novel mechanisms of action. In the area of molecular targeted drugs, the Division investigates cancer biology at the molecular level and integrates its knowledge of medicinal chemistry and biomarker research to reach the goal of discovering novel anticancer drugs with a good safety profile that are highly effective and specific against particular cancers. In the cancer immunology field, the Division is working to discover innovative anticancer drugs while expanding its unique drug-enabling platform technologies.

Allergy/immunology and urology fields

Focusing on future medical needs, the Division pursues innovative therapeutic drugs in the field of immunology, where most autoimmune diseases are still difficult to treat, and in the field of urology, an area of increasing needs in todayʼs aging societies. The Division embraces the challenge of elucidating and understanding complicated pathological mechanisms to identify novel targets and develop new drugs. Innovative technologies and novel ideas are exploited to reach the goal.

The laboratories and departments collaborate seamlessly with each other to conduct research. Collaboration with external academic institutions is also actively pursued, as is open innovation.

The drug discovery site responsible for the future of Taiho Pharmaceutical

The Discovery and Preclinical Research Division (Tsukuba Area) is located in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, the largest academic city in Japan, where about 300 research institutes and companies are located. With responsibility for the future of Taiho Pharmaceutical, this drug discovery site carries out the processes from finding research "seeds" to selecting clinical candidate compounds, in order to prepare for GLP toxicity trials.

The Division devotes itself to creating a workplace where researchers can demonstrate their abilities, while maintaining good work-life balance. It has rooms designed to facilitate good communication among employees. The open well-lit cafeteria has a cheerful atmosphere and a view of Mt. Tsukuba, one of Japanʼs 100 famous mountains. It is also equipped with a full range of amenity facilities including an outdoor recreation area, tennis courts, and an on-site daycare center for children.

In this fulfilling research environment, more than 200 researchers are engaged in daily efforts to discover innovative drugs that will satisfy unmet medical needs.

  • At monthly discovery research meetings, those in charge of each research project report on their progress, followed by lively Q&A sessions.
  • Mt. Tsukuba is visible from the spacious employee cafeteria, which has a vaulted ceiling 18 meters high.
  • Large cherry trees in full bloom in spring.
  • With a daycare on the premises, the Division fosters a supportive environment for employees raising children.
  • Staff re-energizing themselves with a lunch-hour table tennis match.

Tokushima Area

Bridging to clinical trials by assessing the efficacy and safety of new drug candidate compounds

A new compound produced in drug discovery research goes through preclinical studies using various cells, experimental animals and animal models to predict the effects and adverse reactions in humans. This step is followed by human clinical trials to evaluate medical efficacy and safety, which, if successful, indicate that the candidate has potential to contribute as a new drug. Regulatory authorities issue various guidelines and standards regarding these studies for clarifying drug safety, efficacy, and quality, all of which must be carried out in testing facilities that have been approved by the regulatory authorities.

The Discovery and Preclinical Research Division (Tokushima Area) has built up a wealth of reliable data according to good laboratory practice (GLP*) to conduct the testing required for pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing approval applications submitted to Japanʼs Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency and other relevant authorities. The Division also pursues tie-ups with everyday practice settings to advance research aimed at uncovering additional indications, to promote proper drug use.

GLP: A standardized set of reliable practices and principles for conducting preclinical laboratory studies