National Health Research Institutes and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Limited, join forces in the area of genome research to develop rar

  • Date: 2020-12-23
  • Update: 2020-12-23
  • Source: 國家衛生研究院
  • Views: 677

National Health Research Institutes and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Limited, join forces in the area of genome research to develop rare disease drugs.

Together, these parties have signed a memorandum of cooperation to implement precision medicine.


TAIPEI - December 23, 2020: National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) signed a bilateral memorandum of cooperation with Takeda to develop further understanding and early detection of certain rare genetic diseases, various neurodevelopmental diseases and cancers. The collaboration seeks to broaden the research and development of drugs that will benefit patients and reinforce efforts to widen the application of precision medicine.



The bilateral agreement entered into between NHRI and Takeda is an important milestone for Taiwan's government because it promotes the development of Taiwan's biomedical industries. In future, the parties will also look to cooperate to establish an Asian ethnic disease gene database that will benefit the development of Taiwan's biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.


Takeda Pharmaceuticals has had a presence in Taiwan for 58 years. It is a global, values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader committed to discovering and delivering life-transforming treatments, guided by their commitment to patients, their people and the planet. Gen Asano, President and General Manager of Takeda Taiwan, emphasized that Takeda Taiwan will launch innovative medicines and provide a better quality of life for patients with rare diseases.


The "Flagship Program of Precision Medicine for the Asia Pacific Biomedical Silicon Valley" (the Flagship Program) was implemented four years ago by the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) in response to the "5+2 Industry Innovation Project" with the aim to promote four areas:

  1. the sequencing of human whole genomes that are disease-related,
  2. the development of precision medicine in practice,
  3. bringing about improvements in the health of the Taiwanese community, and
  4. promoting development of Taiwan's biomedical industries.


The Flagship Program has built a national high-throughput next-generation genome sequencing facility, and, in cooperation with the National High-speed Network and Computing Center and Illumina, Inc., has developed a huge database of Taiwanese genomes. Taiwan has laid the foundations to better leverage precision medicine, beginning the development of future clinical systems and molecular diagnostic methods for a range of rare diseases and various cancers. These advances are important to obtain a precise diagnosis for an individual. Currently the program's diagnosis rate for rare diseases has reached a high level of approximately 70%.


The first disease which will be the subject of the bilateral cooperation is Fabry disease. Fabry disease is a sex-linked rare disease due to the presence on the X chromosome of a mutated gene. These mutations are in the gene responsible for the production of α-galactosidase A. Internationally, the incidence of Fabry disease is 1 in 50,000-60,000 people; however, the incidence of Fabry disease in Taiwanese is much higher than the incidence in other countries because of a special gene mutation. The incidence of the mutated gene among Taiwanese males is about 1 in 1,250 from newborn screening. Typically, Fabry disease displays its initial clinical symptoms during childhood or adolescence. A patient will initially have intermittent pain in the hands and/or feet, then later there is involvement of the heart, cerebrovascular system, and kidney as the patient enters adulthood, which are the main causes of death. There are three Fabry disease specific treatments, including two kinds of enzyme replacement therapies. The Ministry of Health and Welfare of Taiwan has passed The Rare Disease and Orphan Drug Act for decades and these drugs are included in the rare disease drug category of Taiwan's National Health Insurance system accordingly.


NHRI, through an alliance with Illumina, has created a foundation for population genomics in Asia. With the support of the "5+2 Industrial Innovation Program", the NHRI has established a public-private partnership (Public-Private-Partnership, PPP) model, one aspect of which is the establishing of a Taiwan company, TGIA, Inc. The aim of TGIA, Inc. is to implement industry-academic cooperation, to develop further the clinical cooperation network that was established by the Flagship Project, and to operate the "Asia Pacific Biomedical Silicon Valley" industrial cluster. Taiwan's rare disease genome research is gradually maturing and has now entered the stage of implementing drug research and development. 

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