Osaka University and Chugai to Collaborate on Immunology Research

Osaka University and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd have announced the conclusion of a comprehensive collaboration agreement for advanced research in immunology between the Osaka University Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC) and Chugai.

IFReC was selected for the World Premier International Research Center (WPI) Initiative Program initiated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in 2007 and launched at Osaka University in October 2007. Headed by Director Shizuo Akira, an eminent immunologist, IFReC convenes approximately 30 of the world’s top-class principal investigators from Japan and overseas in the fields of immunology, live imaging and bioinformatics to conduct innovative immunological research. In March 2011, a new research building was completed on Osaka University’s Suita Campus providing superior research facilities and an international environment in which to focus on research. The research conducted by IFReC is of the highest standard and recognized globally, with papers published in major international journals and prestigious international prizes awarded to its researchers.

Chugai is a leader in the field of biopharmaceuticals and antibody pharmaceuticals in Japan. In 2005 the company succeeded in developing the first domestically-created antibody drug, Actemra. Currently, Chugai is developing ACE910 (emicizumab) and CIM331 (nemolizumab) using its proprietary antibody engineering technologies. Going forward, Chugai aims to utilize middle molecule technologies, which are expected to become another central technology for the development of new drugs, to focus on the research and development of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceuticals.

This comprehensive collaboration will maintain an academic environment that allows researchers at IFReC to focus on basic research originating from their own ideas, with the aim of contributing back to society the results of the advanced immunology research. In addition, through the combination of the global top-class research in immunology at IFReC and the knowledge of innovative drug research accumulated by Chugai through its proprietary technologies, the obstacles between basic research and clinical application research will be eliminated. It is expected that this will lead to the unprecedented discovery of innovative novel drugs in the field of immunology.

Chugai will, according to the agreement, provide one billion yen per year for a period of 10 years in return for access to information on results relating to independent basic research projects at IFReC1) and the right of first refusal for joint research. In addition, a Collaboration Promotion Laboratory will be set up at IFReC to implement collaboration research toward clinical application.

IFReC and Chugai aim to have five to ten joint research projects in progress constantly. The collaboration of two organizations at the top-level of research and technology in the world will seek to achieve significant results that contribute to the benefit of the medical community and human health around the world.


【Outline of the comprehensive collaboration agreement】




Period: April 2017 to March 2027


Investment: 1 billion yen per year




To benefit the society through further advancement of the basic immunology research at IFReC as well as contributing to society through the creation of innovative novel drugs by utilizing the immunology research capabilities at IFReC in the research and development of innovative pharmaceuticals at Chugai.


Research area: Immune-associated diseases


【Collaboration scheme】






IFReC researchers will continue academic basic research without restriction.




Research outcomes of independent research projects1) that IFReC is engaged in will be regularly disclosed (reported) to Chugai twice per year.




Chugai will select research projects2) for joint research on the basis of the reports.




IFReC researchers will engage in joint research with Chugai.




In and after the final stages of non-clinical research, Chugai may engage in research development independently.








Excluding research projects already under contract with a third party.




The number of joint research projects to be engaged in will be decided through discussions between IFReC and Chugai.


  • Comment from Osaka University President Shojiro Nishio

Osaka University promotes collaboration with industry based on the concept From university-industry cooperation to university-industry creation (co-creation) and aims for innovation toward creation of social value. Chugai has its own drug design development technology and global network and is a leader in the field of biopharmaceuticals and antibody pharmaceuticals in Japan. The conclusion of a comprehensive collaborative agreement with Chugai is expected to enhance realization of the innovation the university is aiming for. "This collaboration is a new form of university-industry cooperation at Osaka University. The funding for research activities at the basic research stage will promote basic research for the long-term and strengthen university-industry cooperation." The success of this collaboration will be an important foundation for university-industry co-creation at the university and the scheme is expected to be applied widely.

  • Comment from IFReC Director Shizuo Akira

Since its launch in 2007, IFReC has been conducting research toward comprehensive understanding of the immune system and has achieved internationally-acclaimed exceptional results in the field of basic immunology. For researchers to continue to advance research based on their own ideas and in order to advance applied research, we aim to evolve into a research center that is engaged in medical and clinical immunology. "This collaboration will cement IFReC’s research foundation and maintain IFReC’s level even beyond the end of the support period for the WPI program in April 2017, thereby facilitating our achievement and continuance of the four WPI objectives (advancing leading-edge research, creating interdisciplinary domains, establishing international research environments and reforming research institutions)."

  • Comment from Chugai, Chairman & CEO Osamu Nagayama

In recent years, in conjunction with advances in science and technology, academic research capabilities are evolving to elucidate in greater detail the mechanisms of the onset of disease at the molecular level. The pharmaceutical industry is expected to contribute to improving the quality of medicine by creating innovative pharmaceuticals and at the same time lead Japan’s economy as a high added-value industry. Drug discovery technology is making immense changes through the use of genome research and biotechnology etc., giving rise to the need for a new style of university-industry cooperation. It is a great honor to have been selected by Osaka University to partner with IFReC in this comprehensive collaboration. "Chugai has innovative proprietary technologies for antibody engineering and middle molecules, which enables drug discovery of targets that could not be done previously. Through the combination of these technologies and the diverse research results achieved through the global top-class immunology research at IFReC, we are confident of providing multiple innovative pharmaceuticals to patients."

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