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Astellas Pharma and YASKAWA Electric to Explore Cell Therapy Ecosystem Integration

Astellas Pharma YASKAWA Electric Integration
The Silicon Review
21 May, 2024

The partnership seeks to potentially develop a seamless platform linking early-stage research to commercialization

Today, Astellas Pharma Inc. announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with YASKAWA Electric Corporation to explore the creation of a groundbreaking cell therapy ecosystem. This initiative aims to integrate pharmaceutical and robotics technologies, leveraging both companies' strengths. The memorandum, while legally non-binding, sets the stage for detailed discussions on this innovative collaboration. Commercializing cell therapy presents significant challenges, primarily due to the complexities in product manufacturing. These processes require substantial investments, making it difficult for startups and academic institutions to bring their innovations to market independently. Astellas has been tackling this issue since late 2017 by incorporating the humanoid robot "Maholo," developed by YASKAWA's subsidiary, the Robotic Biology Institute, into their research.

The partnership seeks to potentially develop a seamless platform linking early-stage research to commercialization. Utilizing the advanced capabilities of the Maholo robot, the platform aims to produce high-quality cell therapy products more efficiently, thereby shortening the R&D period. Additionally, this ecosystem could be made available to startups and academia, fostering innovation and reducing the financial burden associated with investigational drug manufacturing. Astellas will contribute its expertise in cell manufacturing technology, clinical development, and regulatory compliance, while YASKAWA will provide cutting-edge robotics and factory automation technologies. This collaboration aligns with Astellas' vision of transforming innovative science into valuable healthcare solutions for patients.

The financial impact of this memorandum on Astellas' results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2025, is anticipated to be minimal. However, the long-term potential for advancing cell therapy commercialization and supporting emerging innovators is significant.