Singapore’s pool of highly skilled talent, robust intellectual property protection, and thriving public-private R&D partnerships have attracted some of the world’s leading companies to conduct innovative projects here. Tokyo-based Chugai, which specialises in prescription drugs, is among them.
In 2012, it started in Singapore with a S$200 million investment in CPR over five years. Located in Biopolis, CPR leverages Chugai’s proprietary “Recycling Antibody®” and “Sweeping Antibody®” technologies to generate antibodies.
Chugai credited the strong support from EDB and government agency A*STAR for its ability to start operations at CPR smoothly and more quickly compared to other countries.
Singapore’s strong infrastructure for biomedical research further encouraged Chugai to expand its business plan for the CPR. In 2015, Chugai announced it would hire about 40 more local employees and boost its investment here to a total of S$476 million from 2012 to 2021. This expansion made it one of the largest biopharmaceutical research operations in Singapore.
Chugai has also teamed up with A*STAR to conduct research on a new antibody drug against the dengue virus. This joint project was born through a collaboration between CPR and A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN).
In 2017, it received a US$5.3 million grant from the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund to tackle this mosquito-transmitted disease, which can infect roughly 390 million people globally every year.
There is currently no effective drug to treat dengue fever, but the joint project aims to optimise a new human antibody identified by SIgN researchers, optimized by Chugai’s proprietary antibody engineering techniques.