News & Media

07 October 2013, Nikkei Biotech ONLINE

Special Interview with Keizo Koya, CEO and Eita Kitayama, President of Boston Strategics Corporation

“Boston Strategics has completed dozens of contracts after launching a company one and half years ago”

by Osami Kono

Link to Article

Keizo Koya, CEO (left), Nana Izumi, Office Manager (center), and Eita Kitayama, President (right)

Boston Strategics Corporation (US) was founded by Dr. Keizo Koya (CEO) and Mr. Eita Kitayama (President) in April 2012. Dr. Koya has led various pharmaceutical R&D organizations in multiple global companies, such as Fuji film and Synta Pharmaceuticals in US. Mr. Kitayama worked at Nippon Shinyaku (Japan), Covance (US), and Synta Pharmaceuticals (US). The primary service of Boston Strategics is to provide pharmaceutical R&D support for pharmaceutical companies developing therapeutics.

Boston Strategics has created a highly efficient pharmaceutical R&D platform by using “True” Open Innovation™. They had an exhibition booth at the Japan Cancer Association (JCA) annual meeting in Yokohama (October 3-5, 2013). I had an opportunity to meet with both of them to ask about the current status of Boston Strategics.

[Question] “What companies does Boston Strategics have as clients? What kinds of collaborations do you have?”

[Answer] “We have made contracts primarily with Japanese pharmaceutical companies so far. There are various types of contracts according to types of projects. Preferably clients ask Boston Strategics to create a strategic development plan and operate the plan to develop their drug candidates with keeping their own intellectual property (IP) and supporting all costs of R&D. It is much less efficient and costly if Japanese companies, which are not so familiar to global pharmaceutical development and have less experience working with CROs, try to manage the development by themselves. Their involvement sometimes causes more problems, unfortunately.” “In-licensing is another way to work with Boston Strategics. If clients do not want to invest further,Boston Strategics can license-in their drug candidates and develop them through raising additional fund. It is possible and might be better to establish companies focusing on developing these compounds separately from Boston Strategics when we have many in-license projects. According to the stipulations outlined in the contracts, we provide a wide variety of services. Some include preclinical development and Phase 1 or Phase 2 clinical trials; some take care of only strategic planning of drug development. We have made dozens of contracts and several candidates are in clinical development already.”

[Question] “Boston Strategics established a special alliance with MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), University of Texas in July. MDACC is one of the greatest facilities in US for anti-cancer drug R&D. What does mean this alliance to Boston Strategics?”

[Answer] “It is not easy for Japanese pharmaceutical companies to have positive collaborations with MDACC unless they have considerably attractive drug candidates. Since Boston Strategics has established a special relationship with MDACC, we can motivate them to create very positive collaborative projects relatively easily. Oncologists at MDACC are very experienced and motivated to help their patients. They do not like to be told to just follow clinical protocols blindly provided by pharmaceutical companies with ‘deep pockets’, or asked too much  by staff at pharmaceutical companies who do not have enough expertise to develop oncology drugs. Rather, they truly want to have a collaborative and scientific partnership with appropriate partners who can communicate with them properly to provide the best translational and clinical research for their patients. They want to continuously improve clinical development plans by providing new proposals created based on new data, and become frustrated if the partner cannot, or does not communicate with them positively. Not many Japanese pharmaceutical companies have the right expertise to be their best partners. However, Boston Strategics can work with them, especially because several senior managers ofBoston Strategics used to work at MDACC and established positive relationship with them. One well-respected oncologist (MD) who has been working with them for many years will be joiningBoston Strategics soon. Scientists and oncologists at MDACC know various experimental and novel anti-cancer drug candidates very well. Many oncologists in Japan say that they know them as well. However most of them know these candidates mostly only by reading scientific papers. In contrast, oncologists at MDACC have worked with these drug candidates themselves. They are experienced with specific side effects of novel candidates in humans, for example. This type of difference in between Japanese oncologists and oncologists at MDACC is not insignificant. Rather, it is an important difference. We look forward to more positive collaborations with other Japanese companies and M.D. Anderson, and to the opportunity to assist them in adding significant value to their oncology drug candidate pipeline.”

[Original article in Japanese; translated by Strategia]