Listed on TSE Growth in June 2023
[invested in March 2021].
A venture company from Yamaguchi University developing next-generation CAR-T cells with therapeutic efficacy against solid tumours. It has developed PRIME CAR-T cells, which not only have an impairing effect on cancer cells, but also mimic the lymph node cytokine environment (IL-7 and CCL19) and assemble and activate the patient’s T cells like lymph nodes around the solid tumour. It has already been licensed to Takeda, Chugai, Adaptimmune (US), Autolus (UK) and others, and Takeda has started clinical trials for two types of PRIME CAR-T cells. The PRIME CAR-T cells developed in-house started clinical trials in 2022.
Listed on TSE Growth in Dec 2021
[invested in Dec 2020].
Growth in digital therapeutics (DTx) development and new drug support business using block/chain technology; in February 2022, the company filed an application with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for manufacturing approval of a sleep therapy app. Also developing DTx for cancer, kidney disease, etc
Shares sold in October 2023
[invested in March 2022].
Company founded by the researchers responsible for the commercial production of the world’s first CART cellular medicine, Kimuria. The company has developed management software for GMP manufacturing of cellular medicines that seamlessly integrates the management of raw materials, manufacturing processes, quality control of cellular preparations, inventory and shipping management. While such software has been put to practical use in small molecule pharmaceuticals, it has not yet been put to practical use in cellular pharmaceuticals or regenerative medicine, and is the Achilles’ heel of the practical implementation of regenerative medicine, for which there is a high need worldwide. The market is expected to expand in the future with the emergence of cellular pharmaceuticals and regenerative medicine markets.
Unexited investment companies
［Investment in December 2022]
A venture company originating from Kyoto University that leads the world in the practical application of iPS cell-derived allogenic CA-T cells and TCR-T cells. It is also closing in on the development of super pluripotent cells with reduced antigenicity. The company is a key player in the industrialization and expansion of the market for next-generation regenerative medicine. The company has already co-developed an in vitro CAR-T cell line for blood cancers with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. The company is also developing its own pipeline of CAR-T cells for cancer and CAR-T cells for the prevention of serious infections.
［Investment in May 2022]
A company that develops fully human antibody drugs with strong specificity and affinity and high therapeutic and prophylactic efficacy from B lymphocytes of people recovering from infection or disease and healthy individuals through its proprietary EB virus transformation technology. The company has completed patient enrollment in a Phase 2 clinical trial for the treatment of cytomegalovirus infection in the United States, and has also developed common antibody that neutralize new coronavirus mutants from the Wuhan strain to Omicron strain BA.5. An antibody bank is also being created to develop antibody drugs for a wide range of infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
[Investment in April 2022].
A venture company from the National Cancer Institute. The company is developing next-generation CART and TCRT cells to eradicate T lymphocyte and solid tumors. The company already possesses two fundamental technologies that enable next-generation CART cells to be tough enough to persistently attack cancer in the patient’s body, as opposed to the Achilles’ heel of current CART cells, which is their short-lived therapeutic effect. This platform technology can be deployed in a wide range of regenerative medicine. The company has the potential to change regenerative medicine.
[Investment in April 2022].
A company that develops antibody drugs against GPCRs (G protein-coupled receptors) through its proprietary MoGRAA discovery engine, which combines immunotechnology and B cell selection technology. GPCRs are currently the drug target of 20% of all drugs on the market. However, there remain many GPCRs for which no drugs have yet been developed. The development of antibodies against GPCRs, which are membrane proteins, has been extremely difficult in the past, but the company has broken through this barrier with its proprietary technology. There are more than a dozen anti-GPCR antibodies in the pipeline. In addition to licensing out the technology to domestic and foreign companies at an early stage, the company is also developing the technology in-house.
［Investment in March 2022].
A venture company originating from Oita University. Using its proprietary chemical synthesis technology, the company develops a library of middle-sized molecular compounds that inhibit or activate protein-protein interactions that have attracted attention in recent years: a dragable and original compound library that specifically recognizes two rotations of an alpha helix. He also applied AI to develop a middle-sized molecule compound library that expanded diversity by more than 1000-fold. The main business was transferred to Irimajiri Biotechnology Corporation, and the company was dissolved in October 2023.
［Investment in March 2022]
A venture to develop therapeutic drugs for neurodegenerative diseases and anticancer agents based on the autophagy phenomenon elucidated by Nobel Prize-winning Professor Emeritus Yoshinori Osumi of the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Activation of autophagy also leads to anti-aging, and the development of functional foods, supplements, and cosmetics is also underway with a number of companies for practical use. The majority of autophagy research internationally is conducted by Japanese researchers, and the company has formed a consortium of autophagy researchers in Japan to put the latest research results to practical use.
[invested in January 2022].
A venture company developing cellular and small molecule medicines for a wide range of kidney diseases based on iPS cell technology. For the time being, it is hurrying to commercialise a treatment for acute renal failure using iPS cell-derived nephron progenitor cells and a small-molecule medicine selected using iPS cell-derived renal disease model cells. In the medium to long term, the company is also challenging the development of kidney cell-derived exosome preparations and the regeneration of the kidney itself. In addition, R&D is also being conducted with a view to the practical application of regenerative medicine for the liver and pancreas.
[invested in 2021 Dec].
A company that develops safer and more effective oligo nucleic acid drugs through its unique cross-linked nucleic acid and other modified nucleic acid technology platforms. It is a venture company originating from Osaka University. Japan has a high level of chemical synthesis technology for nucleic acids from an international perspective, and this company has secured an international competitive advantage by utilising such Japanese technological accumulation. In addition to licensing out its technology to pharmaceutical companies and ventures at home and abroad, the company is also developing its own pipeline.
[invested 2021 Oct].
A venture company from Chiba University that develops ex vivo gene therapy in which target genes are introduced into fat cells and re-implanted into patients. It has an overwhelming competitive advantage in the treatment of paediatric genetic disorders that are not eligible for AAV gene therapy. The company has partnered with Daidopharma (L-CAT deficiency), Kyorin Pharmaceutical (Fabry disease, etc.) and others in the development of drugs for rare diseases. It has an extensive pipeline for other rare diseases such as haemophilia A.
[invested in 2021 Oct].
The only gene therapy development venture company in Japan with its own AAV vector patent. It is a venture company originating from Jichi Medical University and maintains a close relationship with the university to develop vectors and conduct physician-led clinical trials, starting physician-led clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease in October 2022 and for solitary ALS in January 2023. The company already has experience in gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients as part of clinical research at Jichi Medical University, where the efficacy and safety of the drug have been confirmed over a long period of time. The company’s AAV vector was judged to be safer than the preceding European and US AAV vectors because of its higher activity and lower dosage. The company out-licensed Upstaza, a gene therapy for AADC deficiency, to US-based PTC Therapeutics, which received marketing authorisation from the European Commission on 20 July 2022; plans to start clinical trials for two new gene therapies in 2023; and has a large pipeline of products.
[invested Aug 2021].
A venture company developing inhibitors/ agonists of protein-protein interactions, which are attracting attention as next-generation drug targets. It boasts the original PepMetics technology to develop a library of middle sized molecules that mimic α-helices and β-turns that do not take on the rigid conformation of proteins. It has already developed a specific inhibitor of Wnt signalling, the development of which had been interrupted due to side effects, and licensed it out to Eisai (anti-cancer drug) and Ohara Pharmaceutical (liver disease), both of which have progressed to Phase 2 trials and confirmed the efficacy and safety of the drug. The former is expected to expand the market as a treatment for cancer resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitors, and the latter as a treatment for liver fibrosis. In addition, the company has licensed out its mid-sized molecular library to a number of pharmaceutical companies, including Genentech (US), Servier (France) and Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany), Eli Lilly(US)and is also developing a platform business.
[invested in July 2021].
Spin-out venture of Takeda Pharmaceuticals. It aims to develop drugs for rare diseases through drug repositioning. However, the three drug candidates selected by the founders from Takeda’s discontinued products are expected to have medicinal effects not only for rare diseases, but also for central nervous system and cardiovascular diseases, which have a larger market. Furthermore, the company is currently developing the ‘AltVal’ service, which combines Takeda’s drug repositioning experience and know-how with the latest multi-omics technology to search for new drug effects from the discontinued products of its co-developer pharmaceutical partners. The first in-house development pipeline has already started Phase 1 clinical trials in Australia from 2022.
[invested in June 2021].
A venture company developing Xenoligo, a next-generation aptamer. By introducing nucleic acid derivatives and a mini-hairpin structure, it has created a high-performance aptamer with enhanced specificity and affinity, and is solving and overcoming the shortcomings of the first generation, which has been difficult to develop. The company has entered into a partnership with US-based CAGE bio for Xenoligo against interferon-gamma, which is now under development, and has started development as a treatment for alopecia areata. In addition, the company has a pipeline of Xenoligo for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as Hanna-type interstitial cystitis, dry eye, renal failure and purpura. Xenoligo is also used as an adsorbent molecule in apheresis (separation of blood components) columns, and is being developed as a medical device for the treatment of pregnancy-induced hypertension and other conditions. Xenoligo is also being developed as a diagnostic agent to replace antibodies, taking advantage of its ability to be fully chemically synthesised.
[invested in March 2021].
Venture company developing pullulan nanogels, a drug delivery system (DDS) that targets and delivers drugs to M2 macrophages in the tumour periphery, which have been reported to suppress the immune system and reduce the therapeutic efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors . The company is developing an innovative therapy to convert cold tumours (cancer) made unresponsive to cancer immunotherapy by M2 macrophages into hot tumours that can be treated with cancer immunotherapy by means of a drug embedded in pullulan nanogels. It is already being developed in collaboration with Astellas’ US subsidiary Xyphos, among others, and is providing an innovative platform for DDS, which has been a bottleneck in the development of biotherapeutics, including mRNA drugs.
[Invested 2021 Feb].
Pioneer of digital therapeutics (DTx) in Japan; launched Japan’s first DTx and nicotine addiction treatment application, CureApp SC, in December 2020. In September 2022, the company launched CureApp HT, an app for treating hypertension. The company is also currently promoting the development of NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, in partnership with Sawai Group Holdings) and DTx for cancer treatment (in partnership with Daiichi Sankyo). The company advocates innovating healthcare with programmes and is actively working on developing DTx in disease areas where cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be effective.