Astellas and MBC BioLabs Announce 2023 Future Innovator Prize Awarded to

TippingPoint Biosciences and Altay Therapeutics

  • Both companies have earned a year-long opportunity for access to a distinguished life-science incubator in San Francisco, CA, along with the invaluable expertise provided by Astellas to advance their research endeavors
  • Award helps biotech start-ups accelerate early research efforts

Read original article at Astellas

TOKYO and SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Astellas Venture Management LLC (President: William Watt, Ph.D., “AVM”), a wholly-owned venture capital subsidiary of Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE: 4503, President and CEO: Naoki Okamura, “Astellas”) and Mission BioCapital BioLabs (“MBC BioLabs”), a life-science incubator, today announced TippingPoint Biosciences and Altay Therapeutics as the winners of the Astellas-sponsored “Future Innovator Prize” at MBC BioLabs. The award, now in its fifth year, offers entrepreneurial scientists, emerging startups and small biotechs one-year priority usage of MBC BioLabs’ state-of-the-art lab facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as access to Astellas’ research and development capabilities and business leaders.

Astellas received more than 25 applications for the prize. After careful consideration and a competitive pitch process, both companies were chosen for strength of the innovation in their approach, the therapeutic potential of their research and expandability of their technological platforms.

“Every year, the Astellas Future Innovator Prize competition proudly recognizes, and rewards entrepreneurial enterprises distinguished by their groundbreaking scientific advancements and innovative platforms, showcasing their potential to enhance the future well-being of patients on a global scale,” said William Watt, Ph.D., President, Astellas Venture Management LLC. “We extend our congratulations to TippingPoint Biosciences and Altay Therapeutics for their remarkable achievements in therapeutics research. With this award, presented in collaboration with MBC BioLabs, we are seek to empower them to advance their scientific endeavors, and translate their innovations into transformative treatments for patients across the globe.”

TippingPoint is a biotechnology company that is focused on leveraging cutting edge research on how the genome is packaged in the form of chromatin. Such packaging is critical for dictating which genes can be transcribed and which cannot. Cancer biologists have long known that defects in chromatin organization allows cancers to thrive and that destabilizing such defects can drive cancer cell death. Yet to date, targeting entire cancer chromatin states without affecting normal chromatin has been intractable. TippingPoint Biosciences is the first company to create a platform that drugs only the aberrant chromatin in cancer, without affecting properly packaged chromatin. Targeting the unique network of interactions in defective cancer chromatin is expected to reduce toxicity and drug resistance. TippingPoint’s drugs will hopefully become the next generation therapies for cancers with unmet needs.

“It’s such an honor to be a recipient of the Astellas Future Innovator Prize, which will further support TippingPoint’s research,” said Laura Hsieh, CEO of TippingPoint Biosciences. “Astellas’ deep industry expertise coupled with MBC BioLabs’ resources will play integral roles in accelerating our drug discovery development and successfully implementing TippingPoint’s programs. We are grateful to both MBC and Astellas in helping us achieve our mission to improve and save the lives of patients who suffer from diseases with unmet needs.”

Co-recipient Altay Therapeutics is a pre-clinical stage drug discovery company developing disease modifying therapies by targeting previously undruggable transcription factors. Altay’s novel platform utilizes genetics, structural work and AI to enable identification of druggable small molecule binding pockets.

Using their approach, they are developing three assets to treat cancers, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). Across these indications they have generated strong in vitro and in vivo data and are now preparing for IND-enabling studies to enter the clinic.

Both TippingPoint Biosciences and Altay Therapeutics will reside at MBC BioLabs with the next year sponsored by Astellas. Both will be closely supported by the team from AVM and the Astellas Biomedical Innovation Hub organizations in the San Francisco area to maximize their progress.

About the Astellas Future Innovator Prize at MBC BioLabs

Astellas awards up to two prizes for pioneering scientists with innovative research that complements Astellas’ areas of interest in alignment with its Focus Area Approach and pipeline, including Blindness & Regeneration, Mitochondria, Genetic Regulation, Immuno-Oncology, Cell Therapy, and other areas.

The 2022 Astellas Future Innovator Prize winners were Bespoke Therapeutics and Cellinfinity, chosen for the potential of their innovations to deliver therapeutic advances in immuno-oncology for unmet medical needs and their potential synergy with Astellas’ Focus Area Approach.

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About Astellas Venture Management LLC

AVM is the wholly-owned venture capital organization within Astellas, dedicated to supporting pre-clinical, cutting-edge science that can bring VALUE to patients. For over 15 years, AVM has provided equity investments to private, early-stage companies developing therapeutic programs and platform technologies, helping them to advance their innovations faster. AVM is a strategic investor, making investments in science that will enhance the current Astellas R&D pipeline or that could catalyze new directions in discovery research. For more information, please visit our website at

About Astellas

Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are promoting the Focus Area Approach that is designed to identify opportunities for the continuous creation of new drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs by focusing on Biology and Modality. Furthermore, we are also looking beyond our foundational Rx focus to create Rx+® healthcare solutions that combine our expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners. Through these efforts, Astellas stands on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients. For more information, please visit our website at

About MBC BioLabs

MBC BioLabs is dedicated to helping life-science startups succeed. By renting space as small as a single lab bench and providing these entrepreneurial scientists with access to millions of dollars of equipment, MBC BioLabs allows companies to be fast, focused, and frugal. It has four sites: one in the Mission Bay neighborhood in San Francisco and two campuses in San Carlos, California. Each site has a complete molecular biology core facility that allows companies to do experiments on day one. MBC BioLabs has partnerships with leading pharmaceutical and life-science companies as well as a built-in venture capital firm, Mission BioCapital. These partnerships provide entrepreneurs with valuable insights about where to focus their efforts and accelerates the innovation pipeline. Since opening in 2013, MBC BioLabs has helped launch and grow over 300 companies. These companies have brought 153 programs to the clinic, produced 13 approved diagnostics, and raised over $143 billion. For more information, please visit the website at

Cautionary Notes

In this press release, statements made with respect to current plans, estimates, strategies and beliefs and other statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements about the future performance of Astellas. These statements are based on management’s current assumptions and beliefs in light of the information currently available to it and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: (i) changes in general economic conditions and in laws and regulations, relating to pharmaceutical markets, (ii) currency exchange rate fluctuations, (iii) delays in new product launches, (iv) the inability of Astellas to market existing and new products effectively, (v) the inability of Astellas to continue to effectively research and develop products accepted by customers in highly competitive markets, and (vi) infringements of Astellas’ intellectual property rights by third parties.

Information about pharmaceutical products (including products currently in development) which is included in this press release is not intended to constitute an advertisement or medical advice.

SOURCE Astellas Pharma Inc.

For further information: Astellas Pharma Inc., Media Contact, David Caruba, Astellas Research Communications, TEL: +1 908-347-0154, EMAIL:; or MBC BioLabs, Media Contacts, Flavia Nachbar, Public & Alliance Relations Coordinator, MBC BioLabs, TEL: +1 415-347-8287, EMAIL: