Eisai has formed a biotech start-up in the USA, H3 Biomedecines, which will focus on discovering and developing next-generation cancer drugs.

H3, which will be wholly-owned by the Japanese group, is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Eisai has pledged up to $200 million in research funding and the unit says it intends to use knowledge about the genetic basis of human cancers to generate new treatments "aimed at fulfilling the promise of personalised cancer medicine".

The Tokyo-based group says the establishment of H3 is groundbreaking in that it provides access to "resources and capabilities of an established pharmaceutical company, while also encouraging and rewarding innovative and entrepreneurial spirit". Eisai also argues that its affiliation will enable H3 "to take a longer-term view of its drug discovery activities than is typical of many venture-backed start-up companies".

Eisai’s chief executive Haruo Naito said the start-up "represents a new approach to cancer drug discovery that holds enormous promise". H3, capitalised at $1 million, will have Stuart Schreiber and Todd Golub serving as academic advisors and as founding members of the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Eisai claims the doctors "have transformed the way medical research is done".