LONDON & CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—A strategic collaboration has been newly announced between Heptares Therapeutics, the wholly owned subsidiary of Sosei Group Corporation, and Kymab Limited for the discovery, development and commercialization of novel antibody therapeutics targeting several G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). The initial focus for the deal will be immuno-oncology.
GPCRs are broadly expressed on cells in the innate and adaptive immune system and play roles in modulating cell migration and recruitment to the tumor environment, as well as activation, survival, proliferation and differentiation. These receptors act at critical checkpoints that can be targeted pharmacologically.
“GPCRs have long been intractable targets for antibody discovery resulting in dearth of products. We believe that our proven StaR technology can unlock this substantial opportunity, not just in immuno-oncology but also across other therapeutic areas where GPCR-targeted biologics could have a significant impact. By entering into strategic collaborations with companies with world-leading antibody discovery technologies, such as Kymab, we have the potential to discover, develop and commercialize a highly valuable pipeline of new biologic products,” Malcolm Weir, chairman and CEO of Heptares, said in a press release.
Per the terms of the agreement, Heptares will apply its StaR platform to generate stable antigens based on multiple GPCR targets chosen by both companies. Kymab will then leverage its Kymouse human antibody discovery platform to create antibodies in response to immunization with these antigens. Heptares and Kymab will advance promising leads will be progressed using their respective skills, resources and development capabilities to bring potential products to the clinic. The agreement stipulates that the two companies will jointly conduct and share the costs of each antibody discovery and development program.
“Antibodies are important therapeutic agents for cancer and other indications,” David Chiswell, CEO of Kymab, remarked in a statement. “Our collaboration with Heptares will allow us to combine stable antigens based on multiple GPCR targets with our world-class Kymouse platform, which has unparalleled diversity and will therefore rapidly identify and yield highly selective potent human monoclonal antibodies for unmet medical needs.”
The deal follows less than two weeks after Heptares announced another partnership. On April 7, the company shared that it had inked a definitive agreement with Allergan Pharmaceuticals International Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of Allergan plc, under which Allergan will license exclusive global rights from Heptares to a broad portfolio of novel subtype-selective muscarinic receptor agonists in development for the treatment of major neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Allergan will pay $125 million to Heptares up front, with the potential for contingent milestone payments of up to approximately $665 million, dependent upon successful clinical development and launch of the first three licensed compounds for multiple indications, and up to roughly $2.5 billion if certain annual sales thresholds are met in the years following product launch. Heptares also stands to receive up to double-digit royalties on net sales of all products resulting from this agreement. Allergan will commit up to $50 million to a research and development program jointly conducted by both companies to advanced candidates through Phase 2 clinical studies, and will be responsible for the development of licensed compounds upon initiation of Phase 2b studies, as well as for manufacturing and commercialization of the products.
The agreement covers first-in-class selective small-molecule agonists targeting muscarinic M1 and M4 receptors in the brain. Allergan will receive exclusive rights to a clinical and preclinical portfolio of M1, M4 and dual M1/M4 agonists, including HTL9936 and HTL18318, selective M1 agonists currently in Phase 1 clinical development.