Japanese Drug Makers Invest in Genetics-Based Drugs

Japanese drug makers are looking into the future and investing in drug development based on the human genome. Major Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturers are now looking for links between drugs and genetics since the effective completion of the human genome map. Drug makers are collecting genetic information from patients on certain medications, attempting to find connections between a person’s genetic predisposition and their reactions to drugs.

For example, Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd., Japan’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturer, is currently working together with the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) to study patients on Takeda’s diabetes medication, Actos ™. Another example of genetic information collection in Japan is GlaxoSmithKline KK. The Japanese branch of the UK drug maker is presently collecting genetic data on drugs still in development before they are introduced into the marketplace. The data collection is done during the clinical trials stage to examine patient reactions to drugs based on their genetic attributes.

In November 2003, the collection of genetic information in Japan was aided by the opening of a free public database of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs); types of DNA sequence variations signaling genetic difference. The database contains information on SNPs of over 1,000 Japanese individuals compiled by the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association.