Canbas: Takumi Kawabe on the Origins and Funding of CanBas




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Video title: Canbas: Takumi Kawabe on the Origins and Funding of CanBas
Released on: November 17, 2010. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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  • Summary
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  • Participants
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Takumi Kawabe, CEO of CanBas, about the origins and funding of CanBas. They discuss:

• Importance and significance of G2 checkpoint

• Origins of CBP501

• Alliance with Takeda and reasons for agreement termination

• Future growth strategy of CanBas
Origins and funding of CanBas
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at the Japan Biotech Forum in London. On this show I have Takumi Kawabe, who is President and CEO of a biotechnology company called CanBas based in Japan, welcome to the show.
Takumi Kawabe:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Fintan Walton, your company was founded about 10 years ago, tell me little bit about the origins of CanBas ?
Takumi Kawabe:
I always wanted to find a cure for cancer patients since I was high school, and I did research in United States for five years and after that I came back to Japan Nagoya Medical City University were I found a one key compound to disrupt cell cycle G2 checkpoint and we spun off from University.
Fintan Walton:
And at that time it was the early days of venture capital in emerging within Japan so was it difficult to set up?
Takumi Kawabe:
Yes, actually we are the first to be invested by one venture capital which was specialized for the biotech industry, so we are the one of the first to be invested by Japanese investors.
Fintan Walton:
As you say the origins happened 10 years ago you've got funding, I also understand you've got funding from business angels as well, is that correct?
Takumi Kawabe:
Yes, at that time we met the angel fortunately a rare angel in Japan and their investors and those two lead us to have found the company.
Importance and significance of G2 checkpoint
Fintan Walton:
Now what is the important of the G2 checkpoint, tell us where its significance is?
Takumi Kawabe:
It starts in year at the beginning of the year 1990 where people found that cell cycle there is a two checkpoints G1 and G2 and in most cancer cells G1 checkpoint is disrupted or it's not working that's why tumor cells are highly dependent on G2 checkpoint. On the other hand normal cells has healthy G1 checkpoint which is the major checkpoint for DNA damage that's why if you disrupt G2 check point you can selectively kill cancer cells but not normal cells.
Fintan Walton:
So it's a very important target obviously?
Takumi Kawabe:
Yes, it's right.
Origins of CBP501
Fintan Walton:
Being a biotech company in Japan which had an evolving venture capital business, how is your journey tell us how things have gone in the last 10-years for CanBas ?
Takumi Kawabe:
Japanese investors they invest little amount of money to each time, so that's why we had more than 50 companies, venture capital companies to invest us. So it was very difficult to have much fund each time, so every time we've raised fund it's two years where while fund reaches not that much and we cleared our milestone which we said to investors and each time we cleared milestone and get another fund and that was what happened.
Fintan Walton:
So the products that you've got currently, for example you've got CBP501 where are the origins of those drugs? Are these ones do you discovered yourselves, you in-licensed you got obtained from universities?
Takumi Kawabe:
Everything inside us, I did the research in a school university and we found the lead compound which disrupts cell cycle G2 checkpoint it was designed by the molecule which is involved in G2 checkpoint, but after that we did the cell cycle phenotype based optimization which means we don't search for single molecule for our compound we just try to see the phenotype where cell cycle G2 cancer cells does not accumulate G2 but normal cells does not be affected by our compound which basically what we call phenotype based, cell cycle phenotype based optimization that gave us CBP501 and other pipelines as similar way to screening.
Alliance with Takeda and reasons for agreement termination
Fintan Walton:
How are your pursuing 501, because one stage you had an alliance with Takeda [PharmaDeals ID = 26917] there is also I understand different ways of using 501 in relation to other anti- cancer products, so could you tell us little bit more about what the story is there?
Takumi Kawabe:
Yes, after we established we found CBP501, we found that it works very well in combination with cisplatin but not with other cytotoxics drugs, and it actually enhance activity but does not increase adverse activity so that's why we focused on cisplatin combination and since we have very great scientific advisory board member and those lead us to do clinical studies by ourselves so everything has been done by ourselves even while we are collaborating with Takeda the clinical study was managed by us, so nothing has been changed we have been managing studies, screening and preclinical study and clinical study by ourselves that's what our scientific advisory board members suggested us to do for that these cancer drugs get personal full form touch should bring that into clinic that's what we are doing.
Fintan Walton:
And of course you know Takeda terminated the agreement with you was that for clinical reasons or was it just for their own strategic reasons?
Takumi Kawabe:
Right that was their strategic reason for a major and the big company, there was no say no concern about safety and efficacy in clinical studies that was press released by Takeda and us together.
Future growth strategy of CanBas
Fintan Walton:
Like all biotechnology companies trying to raise money is difficult the economic conditions for raising money are tougher than they have been before, so how does a company like CanBas deal with that type of situation?
Takumi Kawabe:
Right, it's very tough even in Japan and many companies are having trouble as that, but fortunately for us we have enough cash to complete these Phase II studies and running companies at least three years which is very good. We had been very successful in raising fund and as well as we get some fund from Takeda that we are really fortunate on that side.
Fintan Walton:
So what is the strategy for CanBas going forward?
Takumi Kawabe:
The best thing is to have the international partner at this stage before the end of Phase II, but at least we want to find a partner to do Phase III study together or even we could license out for Phase III it depends on the economic conditions.
Fintan Walton:
Fintan Walton, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show. Thank you.
Takumi Kawabe:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Takumi Kawabe
CEO
Dr. Takumi Kawabe co-founded CanBas in 2000, and has served as CEO since 2003. Previously, he was Associate Professor at the Molecular Medicine Research Institute of Nagoya City University. He completed 5 years of post-doctoral training in Dr. Stanley Korsmeyer's laboratory at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. Dr. Takumi Kawabe holds an M.D. from Kyoto University Medical School, completed residency at Kyoto University Hospital and Kyoto National Hospital, and holds a Ph.D. in Immunology and Molecular Biology from Kyoto University.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
CanBas
CanBas focuses on the discovery and development of novel drugs for the treatment of cancer. Our lead product is CBP501, a modified synthetic peptide for concomitant use with cisplatin and pemetrexed. CBP501 is in US Phase II development for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). CanBas is publicly traded and listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers.