Biotech billionaire builds “new-wave” pharma company

Dec 21, 2018

Japanese billionaire Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani has raised a total of $284 million to back his biotech startup.

The new company, Rakuten Aspyrian, is developing precision-targeted cancer therapies based on its proprietary Photoimmunotherapy platform. It has established its corporate headquarters in San Mateo, California, where it will expand clinical, commercial and corporate functions.

"We are excited to support Rakuten Aspyrian, and strongly believe in the potential of its Photoimmunotherapy platform, which the company is studying in clinical trials for the selective destruction of cancer cells with minimal effects on normal cells developed by Dr. Hisataka Kobayashi of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health," said Mr. Yoshitaka Kitao, CEO of SBI Holdings — the newest investor.

Rakuten Aspyrian's proprietary investigational compound, ASP-1929 Photoimmunotherapy, is currently in Phase 3 development for the treatment of patients with recurrent local regional head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.

The financing will also support manufacturing processes to support the initial launch and commercialization of ASP-1929 if approved in the United States, Japan and Europe.

Read the press release

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