Otsu/Shiga, Japan – March 3, 2014 – Takara Bio Inc. announced today that it has obtained a project grant from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). On the same day, JST publicly disclosed on its website that Takara Bio’s TCR gene therapy projects would receive funding through JST’s A-STEP program (Adaptable & Seamless Technology Transfer Program through Target-driven R&D) for FY 2014.


The JST has acknowledged the vast potential of Takara Bio’s TCR gene therapy program because of our ground breaking technological innovations in the field.
The main mechanism of action for TCR gene therapy is via gene-transduced lymphocytes, which acquire the capability to specifically recognize and attack cancer cells and eliminate them. TCR genes that are capable of recognizing cancer antigens are transduced into the patient’s own lymphocytes, which are then re-infused into the patient. Our MAGE-A4 antigen-specific TCR gene therapy and NY-ESO-1 antigen-specific TCR gene therapy have both been selected for the A-STEP program. These therapies have been developed in collaboration with Mie University.

The outline of the selected project is as follows;

Funding agency Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
Project Purpose

HLA-A*24:02 positive patients with solid tumors which are
1) To prepare and conduct phase I and II clinical trials of MAGE-A4 antigen-specific TCR gene therapy in Japan
2) To prepare and conduct phase I and II clinical trials of NY-ESO-1antigen-specific TCR gene therapy in Japan
3) To establish a medical care system for the new gene medicine in order to acquire an approval for manufacturing and distribution

Contract Period Up to five years
Total amount Up to ¥1,000 million


The Japanese government is instituting a wide range of measures as an important governmental policy to accelerate the commercialization of the regenerative medicine, where the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) collaborate tightly to seamlessly advance the practical application and commercialization of regenerative medicine from basic research through clinical trials. JST, one of the core institutions responsible for the implementation of science and technology policy in Japan under the umbrella of MEXT, designs several types of the competitive funding programs called A-STEP, where the optimal R&D funding and R&D period will be offered depending on the R&D phase and objectives of each particular project. Takara Bio’s TCR gene therapy projects were chosen as the final R&D phase for practical application of drug development. With this governmental support, Takara Bio aims to advance its TCR gene therapy projects with further effectiveness and efficiency.


[ About Takara Bio Inc. ]

Takara Bio Inc. is an innovative biotechnology company based in Shiga, Japan. As a world leader in biotechnology research and development, Takara Bio was the first company to market PCR technology in Japan and is also the developer of the RetroNectin® reagent, which is a world-standard in gene therapy protocols. In addition to providing research reagents and equipment to the life science research market, Takara Bio has active research and product development activities in the fields of gene and cell-based therapy, and agricultural biotechnology including functional food and mushroom production businesses; and is committed preventing disease and improving the quality of life for all people through the use of biotechnology. Through strategic alliances with other industry leaders, the Company aims to extend its reach around the world. More information is available at http://www.takara-bio.com.