Fujifilm enters the PET (positron emission tomography) radiopharmaceutical market

Investing approx. 6 billion yen to establish R&D sites in Kanagawa and Osaka Broad contributions from diagnosis to the treatment of Alzheimer's disease combining with the drug “T-817MA”

November 4, 2014

FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Shigehiro Nakajima; hereinafter Fujifilm) has announced that it is entering the market for PET (positron emission tomography)* radiopharmaceuticals, used in the functional diagnosis of various diseases including brain / heart diseases and tumors. The company will invest around 6 billion yen to establish R&D sites in the Saito Western area (Ibaraki City, Osaka, Japan) and Tonomachi area (Kawasaki City, Kanagawa, Japan) precincts, designated as a part of the Comprehensive Special Zones for International Competitiveness**.

PET involves administering a radiopharmaceutical, i.e. compound labeled with positron-emitting nuclides*** such as 18F (fluoride), to a patient receiving tomographic examination, and is useful in functional diagnosis of various diseases. It has a higher sensitivity and spatial resolution than conventional nuclear medicine examination, and provides functional images suitable for diagnostic purposes, thereby serving a major role in the diagnosis and prognosis of patients as well as determining treatment policies.

Today in the field of brain disease, the aging of our society has led to an increase in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. One of the suspected causes of Alzheimer's disease is the abnormal buildup of protein called amyloid-beta in the brain, with studies finding that this protein buildup starts 15 – 20 years before the manifestation of dementia symptoms. There are high expectations for the use of PET radiopharmaceuticals to detect amyloid-beta, as an effective approach to improving diagnostic accuracy for Alzheimer's disease. Through its 100% subsidiary, FUJIFILM RI Pharma, Fujifilm has worked in the radiopharmaceutical field of SPECT*4. The company now plans to expand its business into the PET field with R&D on a pharmaceutical agent that targets amyloid-beta.

This year on October 14, FUJIFILM RI Pharma signed an agreement with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, Eli Lilly and Company*5 for a joint development of Eli Lilly's PET radiopharmaceutical “florbetapir (18F) injection” (hereinafter “florbetapir”) in Japan. “Florbetapir”, for which the Eli Lilly and Company has obtained approval for the world's first radiopharmaceutical that visualizes amyloid-beta plaque*6 in the brain. Already approved in the United States, E.U. countries and Switzerland, the drug is used on suspected Alzheimer's patients with cognitive impairment to aide in diagnostic assessment. Under the joint development agreement with Eli Lilly Japan, FUJIFILM RI Pharma will work to obtain domestic approval for“florbetapir” in Japan, while also working toward improving the diagnostic accuracy of cognitive impairment with the agent”

The Fujifilm Group is currently undertaking the development of the Alzheimer's disease drug “T-817MA”. There are high expectations for “T-817MA” as an innovative treatment for the Alzheimer's disease, as it offers a powerful protection for neurons promotes neurite outgrowth and demonstrates strong efficacy in animal models. Fujifilm's goal is to become a company that covers the prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, and will continue with the development of “T-817MA” and “florbetapir” to contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of the Alzheimer's disease, while also exploring ways of preventing Alzheimer's disease.

Defining fields with unmet medical needs such as ‘oncology’, ‘Alzheimer's disease’ and ‘infectious diseases’ as areas of focus, Fujifilm will actively promote R&D for business applications, and contribute to the development of healthcare around the world through the provision of innovative drugs.

  • * Abbreviation of ‘Positron Emission Tomography’
  • ** In response to socio-economic changes such as the change of industrial structures and international competitive conditions as well as rapid population aging, Japan has established the ‘Comprehensive Special Zones for International Competitiveness’ program, one of the points included in the comprehensive special zone system, is to comprehensively and intensively promote measures for reinforcing its industries' international competitiveness and revitalizing regional economies with the aim of enhancing the country's socio-economic vitality and achieving sustainable development. In December 2011, seven communities became the first group of precincts to be designated as the Comprehensive Special Zones for International Competitiveness, with the objective of establishing industrial and functional hubs for driving Japan's economic growth.
  • *** A Specific type of atoms defined by the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus
  • *4 SPECT involves administering a radiopharmaceutical, i.e. compound labeled with single-photon emitting radionuclide (e.g. 99mTc and 123I), to a patient receiving tomography. Similarly to PET, it is useful for the functional diagnosis of various diseases. SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography.
  • *5 Including the Eli Lilly and Company (U.S. headquarters) as well as Eli Lilly Japan (Eli Lilly and Company's Japanese subsidiary) and Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc. (Eli Lilly and Company's subsidiary)
  • *6 Amyloid-beta plaque (senile plaque) is the concentrated deposit of amyloid beta that inhibits neurons. The brain of an Alzheimer's disease patient is said to have 5 to 10 times more amyloid plaques than that of a healthy person of the same age.
Overview of the R&D sites for PET radiopharmaceuticals
Company name FUJIFILM RI Pharma Co., Ltd.
Comprehensive Special Zones for International Competitiveness Life Innovation in Keihin coastal areas Kansai Innovation
R&D site Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture Ibaraki City, Osaka
Total floor area Approx. 2,000 m2 Approx. 2,000 m2
Investment Approx. 6 billion yen

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