We are eager to develop innovative new drugs for pain management. We will work hard to make them available to patients worldwide in the shortest possible time!

We are looking forward to opportunities with many scientists who have creative ideas and bring their technical expertise to our research.

Pharmaceuticals Research Center
Laboratory for Pharmacology
Laboratory for Drug Discovery


Creating for Tomorrow

“ New drug candidates and drug development technologies in the core research fields of Asahi Kasei Pharma ”


Laboratory for Pharmacology

Suguru Koyama, PhD

Principal Scientist
Laboratory for Pharmacology

Asahi Kasei Pharma aim to develop novel analgesics for effectively treating chronic pain, such as neuropathic and nociceptive pain. To this end, we have been making full use of a variety of assay systems that are available for drug discovery research, both in vitro and in vivo.

In the field of pain management, the selection of promising drug candidates is one of the key challenges in developing innovative new drugs. Another critical issue is improving the accuracy of predicting the effects of these candidates in human based on the results of the non–clinical pharmacology studies. To overcome these obstacles, we must work in partnership with researchers who can provide original insights or unique expertise. To date, we have developed an electroencephalography bioassay for analgesic efficacy in collaboration with an academic institution overseas. This test is designed to bridge the gap between non-clinical and clinical efficacy. Furthermore, we have already launched joint research projects based on the many novel ideas we received last year, in response to the announcement of this open innovation program (The program was started last year). We are confident that these activities will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of pain research. We also believe that they will lead to the discovery of innovative new drugs that can address unmet needs in pain management. We aim to make further strides in our research missions in the near future. To achieve this goal, we invite submissions of proposals from potential research collaboration partners. In our ongoing commitment to fulfill Asahi Kasei Group’s mission of “Creating for Tomorrow,” we intend to develop novel pain medications with our collaborators. We sincerely hope to soon be saving patients worldwide who suffer from chronic pain.

Recruitment theme 

Drug Candidates

1.1 New drug-target molecules or new drug candidates in the field of pain management
  • Our scope of indication: Neuropathic pain, osteoarthritic knee pain, postoperative pain, and cancer pain
  • Out of our scope: Drug-target molecules and drug candidates that directly act on opioid receptors or inflammatory pathways (e.g., COX)
a )
Drug targets should ideally be novel molecules, potentially leading to the development of innovative (first-in-class) drugs. We will consider proposals involving multi-target drugs. Combinatorial therapies fall outside the scope of this program announcement.
b )
Proposals should ideally provide in vivo data. (In vivo studies with relevant knockout mice are also acceptable.) Proposals with evidence from human studies (such as SNP analysis) will also be considered.
c )
Proposals concerning drug-target molecules that have already been or are being evaluated in Asahi Kasei Pharma may not be considered.

Drug Development Technologies

1.2 New animal models of pain or new techniques for pain measurement that could be useful from the viewpoint of translational research

Specifically, we are interested in the following:

  • New models of chronic pain or new pain assessment methodologies that utilize non-human primates
  • New models of diabetic neuropathy or its bioassay systems that utilize rodents
1.3 Simple and reproducible electrophysiological techniques for in vivo evaluation including analysis of drug candidates during non-clinical studies (The analysis must use rodents or higher mammals.)
A technique that can quantify pain-induced neuronal firing (activity) without surgery. (Minor procedures for inserting electrodes into living tissue such as the spinal cord could be acceptable)
1.4 Technologies to differentiate human iPS cells into dorsal root ganglia, dorsal-horn neurons, or glial cells (microglia or astrocytes)
Differentiated cells should possess the functional characteristics of their corresponding primary cultures. The characteristics include expression patterns of marker genes/proteins, profiles of cellular responsiveness, and activities of reference compounds.
Proposed technologies should allow for the robust and reproducible production of differentiated cells for in vitro screening in multiwell (> 96) plates.
1.5 Phenotypic assay systems utilizing neuronal (e.g., dorsal root ganglia or dorsal-horn neurons) or glial (e.g., microglia or astrocytes) cells
Proposed assay systems should be comprised of pain-related input and output units. Input/output signals related to inflammatory pain (involving, for example, NSAIDs, COX2, or prostaglandins) are outside the scope of this program announcement.
Proposed assay systems should be suitable for in vitro medium-throughput screening performed in a multiwell (> 96) format.
When neuronal cells are incorporated into phenotypic assays, one of the following co-culture systems must be used to maintain the cells: 1) dorsal root ganglia – dorsal-horn neurons, or 2) neurons – glia.
1.6 Verified biomarkers related to therapeutic effect or disease progression of neuropathic pain in humans (patients) and animal models


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