Increasing the Accuracy of Preclinical Trials Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc. IP

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Hamamatsu Pharma Research assesses drug efficacy for pharmaceutical companies through small rodent and nonhuman primate (NHP) preclinical trials

Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc. performs preclinical trials using rodent and nonhuman primate (NHP) models to judge the efficacy of pharmaceuticals. The company’s high skill level and unique NHP models have made it a leading R&D center that is frequently relied upon by Japanese pharmaceutical companies.

CEO Hiroyuki Takamatsu is passionate about pharmaceutical development. The former pharmaceutical company employee established Hamamatsu Pharma Research in 2005 so that, rather than being limited to perfecting a single product at a time, he could contribute to the development of as many new products as possible.

The operating theater at Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc.; courtesy of Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc.

The venture found quick success, and in 2010 moved to its current location in Hamamatsu. “We do business with virtually all of Japan's pharmaceutical companies,” Takamatsu says. In 2013, the company grew again with the opening of its primate center.

Unique Methods & Superior Skills

According to Takamatsu, roughly two-thirds of drugs that pass the preclinical phase of testing fail in clinical tests. “The biggest problem for drugs in clinical trials is that they don’t work on humans,” he says. “And why is that? Species difference. Could it be that the difference between rodents and humans is too large?”

His solution? “To deal with this discrepancy, our unique method is to use NHPs," he says.

Great depth and breadth of skill are required to work with NHPs, which, in itself, protects many of Hamamatsu Pharma Research’s techniques. “Even to get an NHP to jump, training is necessary, and the required know-how is rare,” Takamatsu says. “We have a training system that sets us apart from other companies.”

Aided by state-of-the-art imaging technology at the nearby Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu Pharma Research has developed unique, NHP-specific disease models that allow it to accurately replicate neurological, pain-related and cardiovascular disorders—including photochemically induced thrombosis (blood clots)—and, more recently, ophthalmological conditions.

CEO Hiroyuki Takamatsu outside the Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc. headquarters in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture; courtesy of Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc.

It's these original methods, Takamatsu says, that allow his company to succeed in Japan, and may form the basis of research results that could be patented worldwide.

Testing with Care

Animal welfare is a top priority at Hamamatsu Pharma Research. The company is accredited with the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), and has recently begun receiving NHPs with spontaneously occurring conditions to work on treatments.

The Hamamatsu Pharma Research Primate Center; courtesy of Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc.

Global Pharma Future

Takamatsu has eyes beyond Japan. “Japan makes up just 10 percent of the worldwide pharmaceutical market,” he says. “The U.S. makes up 30 percent, and R&D has no borders.”

Within the next decade, Takamatsu hopes to be doing twice as much business abroad as in Japan. In early 2016, he opened a branch office in San Diego, California, which is working on networking with bioventure start-ups and creating partnerships with contract research organizations. Hamamatsu Pharma Research aspires to use a foothold in the American pharmaceutical research market to connect with pharma giants worldwide, helping to bring ever more potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals to market.

Based on interview in December 2016

Hamamatsu Pharma Research, Inc. CEO Hiroyuki Takamatsu’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 Japan Challenging Spirit Category award (right), as well as the company’s Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) accreditation plaque.