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Japanese Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo to sue Ono Pharmaceutical over cancer drug patent royalties

The Japan Times

KYOTO - Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo plans to bring his patent royalty dispute with Ono Pharmaceutical Co. to court as early as September, seeking an additional payment of ¥15 billion, according to informed sources. In the planned lawsuit with the Osaka District Court, Honjo will claim that he is entitled to 10 percent, or about ¥15.4 billion, of the amount Ono Pharmaceutical and U.S. drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. received from U.S. drug giant Merck & Co. when they settled a patent infringement lawsuit. Ono Pharmaceutical set aside some ¥400 million at a regional legal affairs bureau from January 2017 to March 2018 to make payments to Honjo. Honjo, a professor at Kyoto University, won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with a U.S. scientist for their immunology research that led to the development of the cancer drug Opdivo, which is at the center of the royalty dispute. In October 2006, Honjo and Ono Pharmaceutical entered into a contract that limited his compensation to 1 percent or less of the drug's sales.


Nobel winner Honjo eyes decision on Opdivo lawsuit in July

The Japan Times

OSAKA - Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo said he will make a decision as early as July on whether to sue Ono Pharmaceutical Co. to demand a hike in the licensing fee for cancer drug Opdivo, which was developed based on his research. "It would lead to serious trouble in the future if this case is settled in an ambiguous way," Honjo said in a recent interview, hinting at his intention to continue negotiating with the drugmaker. The 2018 Nobel laureate in medicine is in a dispute with the company over a licensing fee set under a patent agreement signed in 2006, arguing his current share of the patent income is significantly low. Ono Pharmaceutical is seeking to settle the dispute through negotiations and has offered to donate up to ¥30 billion ($277 million) to Kyoto University, where Honjo is a distinguished professor. It would be difficult for the company to comply with his demand, which involves a major change in the terms of the agreement, because such a revision would influence contracts with other researchers and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, industry sources said.


Split over Japan's virus law between cities and government widens

The Japan Times

The power of words is being tested in Japan, where efforts to fight the novel coronavirus -- bound by a law tailored to a different disease -- remain strictly voluntary. But that may soon change, after a nationwide surge in new infections triggered debate at all levels of government on not only how the law should be changed but when. "Revising the law is necessary for our intended results to become reality," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said during an interview with The Japan Times. "Legal authority and financial resources -- the central government needs to define and clarify these things." Earlier this month, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to revise the law in a way that would give municipal leaders legal authority to order businesses to close should they disobey virus countermeasures.


Kyoto University performs world's first iPS cell transplant for Parkinson's

The Japan Times

KYOTO – Kyoto University said Friday it has conducted the world's first transplant of induced pluripotent stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease. Nerve cells created from the artificially derived stem cells, known as iPS cells, were transplanted into the brain of a patient in his 50s in October in a treatment researchers hope to develop into a method that can be covered under Japan's health insurance system. "By also cooperating with companies, we want to develop a mass production system that enables us to deliver nerve cells derived from iPS cells to all over the world," said Jun Takahashi, a professor at the university's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application who led the research team, at a news conference. Parkinson's disease reduces dopamine-producing neurons in the brain and results in tremors in the hands and feet and stiffness in the body. While there are treatments to relieve the symptoms, there is currently no cure for the disease.


James Allison, Tasuku Honjo win Nobel for cancer research

FOX News

James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University will share the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize for 2018. Researchers from the United States and Japan won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discoveries that help the body marshal its cellular troops to attack invading cancers. One cancer doctor said "an untold number of lives ... have been saved by the science that they pioneered." James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University will share the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize for 2018. Their parallel work concerned proteins that act as brakes on the body's immune system.