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Courtagen, Astellas Partner on Mitochondrial Disease Drug Development

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Courtagen Life Sciences announced yesterday that it has signed an agreement to collaborate with Astellas Pharma for the early-stage development of therapeutics for mitochondrial disease.

Mitochondrial disease is a class of rare genetic disorders caused when cellular mitochondria do not properly produce energy. Its symptoms vary from patient to patient, but can include muscle weakness, neurological problems, developmental delays, and increased risk of infection.

Under the terms of the deal, Courtagen will use its ZiPhyr bioinformatics platform — which analyzes genetic variant data using proprietary algorithms to determine the pathogenicity of mutations and identify potential disease targets — to help Astellas develop a predictive model to test mitochondrial disease drug candidates.

"There is considerable overlap in the symptoms of many neurological and mitochondrial disorders, making a precise diagnosis difficult," Michael Catalano, senior director of marketing at Courtagen, told GenomeWeb in an email. "Courtagen's extensive clinical database of patients ... includes clinical symptoms and genetic information, which can link a patient's phenotype with his or her genotype [and help] develop precision medicines and complementary diagnostics."

Astellas will retain the rights to any therapeutics developed through the collaboration, while Courtagen will retain the diagnostic rights. Additional terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.