Deliver our contribution to society by developing drugs that truly benefit patients

ONO’s R&D mission is “contribute to society by developing pharmaceutical products that bring true benefit to patients.” We are striving to create original and groundbreaking drugs by taking on the challenges of diseases that have not yet been conquered and areas of high medical need where patient satisfaction with treatment is still low.

Promoting open innovation in multiple fields and aiming to create innovative new drugs that meet medical needs

ONO focuses on the areas of oncology, immunology, neurology and specialties; all of which include diseases with high medical needs. In each of these areas, we are working to strengthen our drug discovery capabilities by delving into the biology of human disease with the aim of discovering new drugs that can satisfy medical needs. In particular, by actively promoting open innovation, which is one of our strengths, we aim to create breakthrough new drugs with medical impact by not only utilizing a variety of cutting-edge technologies, such as informatics, robotics, and genome editing, but also selecting the optimal modality (therapeutic approach), including small molecule compounds, antibodies, and cells for the unique drug discovery seed. In addition, we are working to improve the quality and speed of drug discovery research through the use of digital technology.
As of June 2023, a total of 10 new drug candidates in our priority therapeutic areas have proceeded to the clinical stage, and we are also continuing to bolster our efforts in translational research bridging the gap between basic and clinical research to accelerate drug discovery timelines and boost success rates. By organically leveraging informatics and research tools, such as human genome data and human iPS cells in the early stages of research, we are working to analyze the relationship between target molecules and diseases to find biomarkers that can more accurately predict and evaluate the efficacy of new drug candidates in humans.

Drug Discovery Strategy

Open Innovation

Since the 1960s, we have identified new drug discovery seeds through partnerships with universities and other research institutes in drug discovery research on prostaglandins, and have used these seeds as a starting point to create groundbreaking new drugs. This was more than 30 years before Professor Henry Chesbrough  of Harvard University proposed the concept of open innovation in 2003.
The Discovery Research Alliance Department and the Business Development Department cooperating with Research Centers and Clinical Development Divisions are presently taking the lead in collaborating on research with world-class researchers and forming drug discovery alliances with bio-venture companies with a focus on our priority research areas, and are actively in-licensing various drug candidates.
Partnerships with a sense of urgency are required to obtain the latest research information ahead of competitors and quickly use this information in drug discovery. Toward this end, we have sent Ono’s researchers with practical experience in drug discovery to our locally incorporated subsidiaries in the US and UK, and they are visiting world-leading researchers and bio-venture companies in the U.S. and Europe to launch more new partnerships.

Disease Expertise Enhancement

In drug discovery research, we focus on four therapeutic areas -- Oncology, Immunology, Neurology, and Specialty -- as priority research areas. We accumulate knowledge and expertise of diseases in each of these priority areas at the Research Centers of Oncology, Immunology, Neurology, and Specialty, (respectively established in the priority areas), with the aim of discovering new drugs for disease treatment that is high in medical needs where patient satisfaction with current treatment is low.

Priority Area

Major Initiative(s)


As a pioneer in cancer immunotherapy, the CenterONO works toward discovering innovative drugs for cancer patients with the experience, expertise, and know-how we nurtured through R&D of the immune checkpoint inhibitor OPDIVO. The Center isWe are also striving to find unique drug discovery seeds through open innovation and translational research. Furthermore, we are taking on the challenge of using new drug discovery modality.


Based on many years of its experiences in immunology research, which contributed to creating OPDIVO, ONO is working toward drug discovery with a main focus on biopharmaceutical development. We are taking on the challenge of creating breakthrough new drugs for both autoimmune and allergic diseases.


ONO conducts research focused on various topics, including not only neurons, a major component of the nervous system, but also glial cells, which maintain and support the environment necessary for the survival and function of neurons. We are dedicated to discovering innovative drugs to provide disease-modifying therapies, as well as symptomatic treatments, to patients with neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders or chronic pain.


ONO is working toward discovery of clinically valuable pharmaceutical products for diseases for which treatment is high in unmet needs, regardless of the disease indication. We have taken up the challenge of accurately identifying those needs in patients, medical professionals, and society, and then leveraging this knowledge to discover and develop highly original new drugs.

Characteristics of research and development

We aim to create new drugs that will bring innovation to the medical field by focusing on disease areas with high medical needs. To this end, we will strengthen and expand research and drug discovery alliances with world-leading universities, research institutes, and bio-venture companies in specific research fields, introduce innovative compounds in fields with high medical needs, and introduce new technologies. We are also actively promoting acquisition.


Drug Discovery







Drug Discovery







Research and development bases/system



Flexible thinking helps research advance. Researchers with cutting-edge technology from different fields gather and form project teams to exchange information and opinion and inspire with each other.



By reinforcing the bases of new drug development in Japan, Asia, the U.S. and Europe, we are aiming at efficient global collaboration, speedy clinical development and new drug application/approval in the U.S. and Europe as well as Japan and Asia.




The investigator-