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In this edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Braizon Therapeutics (Braizon). We will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.
Braizon is a Japanese biotechnology company originating from both the University of Tokyo and Tokyo Medical & Dental University. Braizon is commercializing a unique and innovative technology for the delivery of drugs into the central nervous system (CNS) via the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This platform technology encapsulates a wide variety of drug modalities, removing a significant development challenge for the many potential CNS drugs that cannot cross the BBB, including antibodies, nucleic acid medicines, and beyond.
Braizon was founded in 2015 with the aim of applying and implementing innovative technologies for the delivery of drugs to the brain. They have a total of three company locations with two in Japan, and one in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Braizon’s website provides details about their current research, product pipeline, and the executive team. In August 2018, Braizon raised a total of ¥645M ($5.8M) in Series B funding from Fast Track Initiative and 2 other investors. 
Braizon’s founding technology for drug delivery across the BBB was the result of a unique collaboration between Dr. Takanori Yokota at Tokyo Medical & Dental University and Dr. Kazunori Kataoka at the University of Tokyo. Both highly respected in their chosen fields. Through their combined research efforts, they established the Glycemic Control Protocol for activation of glucose transport specifically at the BBB allowing glucose-decorated polymer micelle drug carriers to enter the CNS at previously unprecedented rates.  The patent for this technology was subsequently granted in 2017, the same year the research was published in the scientific journal, Nature Communications.
The company is constantly improving its technology platform before moving into preclinical trials with lead candidates. Braizon is in need of rapid formulations within its delivery platform and an aggressive preclinical timeline to keep up the pace with internal development. Per Braizon’s website, their pipeline assets (that have reached early clinical evaluation) will be driven to market via collaborative partnerships and out-licensing to interested parties. 
Some of the ways service providers can get their foot in the door would be to support Braizon in the following areas: CMOs for Phase I/II clinical trial supplies, bioanalytical CROs, preclinical CROs, and service providers who have experience with drug delivery systems using glucose-decorated micelles.
Braizon’s Pipeline and R&D Focus
Braizon Therapeutics is currently building an innovative platform technology for developing a unique pipeline of treatments for people who suffer from neurological disorders. The team at Braizon is known to carefully select all of their drug candidates early in development. With rapid platform encapsulation, efficient assessment of efficacy, and streamlined preclinical processes, Braizon can quickly identify and establish the likelihood that a potential drug can improve the quality of life for patients.
In a recent interview, Braizon’s CEO, Dr. Mariko Tosu said, “Our nanoparticle technology has the advantage of delivering various modalities such as small molecular, antisense oligonucleotide, and antibody drugs across the BBB directly into the brain. This means that our technology supports not only new drug development but also repositioning existing and/or failed drugs for new therapeutic indications.” 
As mentioned above, Braizon’s main goal is to further develop its technology and drug delivery system for accessing parts of the brain through the BBB. Even though they're in the discovery stage, Braizon has a unique approach to using glucose transporters and glucose-decorated micelles as a means of effective drug delivery into the brain. 
- Kazunori Kataoka, Ph.D. — Scientific Advisor at Braizon Therapeutics, Kazunori earned his Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tokyo. His professional interests are synthetic chemistry, medical bioengineering, and biomaterial science. He is engaged in the research and development of DDS and nanomachines applying polymer nanotechnology. Prof. Kataoka has been the recipient of many awards, including the Humboldt Research Award, Leo Esaki Prize, and Gutenberg Research Award. He has been elected as a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and a fellow of the US Academy of Inventors (NAI) since 2017. 
- Takanori Yokota, M.D., Ph.D. — Scientific Advisor at Braizon Therapeutics, Takanori is a professor of the Department of Neurology and Neurological Science at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, a Board Certified Neurologist of the Japanese Society of Neurology, and a Board Certified Member of the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University. His professional interests are focusing on neurology and gene therapy with nucleic acid. He accepted a position as Professor of Department of Neurology and Neurological Science at Tokyo Medical and Dental University in 2009 and is leading and growing the department. Prof. Yokota has published more than 150 outstanding scientific papers and been the recipient of many awards including the Distinction Award of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2018. 
One of the biggest challenges in the industry is making effective drugs for CNS disorders and actually accessing the blood-brain barrier. Part of the protective security system for the brain, the BBB is a vital component of the CNS, but unfortunately also restricts the entry of therapeutic drugs. New drug delivery platforms like Braizon’s are needed, especially for biological drugs to reach quantities effective for treatment within the BBB.
Dr. Mariko Tosu said, “We aspire to become the Intel in the realm of CNS disorders, powering the basic technology to deliver drugs into the brain beyond the blood-brain barrier.” 
Braizon’s mission is to bring innovation into clinical practice and overcome all kinds of barriers to successful CNS therapies. Age is a major risk factor, particularly for neurodegenerative diseases, and the approval rate for new drugs is struggling to keep pace with the aging population around the world. Access into the CNS is possible for a wide range of drug modalities using their patented DDS platform, providing very high delivery rates across the BBB.
How can I find emerging biotech startups in Japan?
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