Gearing up with GPCRs

Heptares, Pfizer announce a collaboration for new medicines directed at G protein-coupled receptor targets

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LONDON & BOSTON—Heptares Therapeutics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sosei Group Corporation, has kicked off a strategic drug discovery collaboration with Pfizer Inc. to research and develop potential new medicines directed at up to 10 G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets in a variety of therapeutic indications.
“This strategic collaboration with Pfizer, spanning as it does many targets and indications, is another significant achievement for Heptares and recognizes the potential clinical benefit that may be realizable through the combination of our continuing leadership in GPCR structure-based design technology and Pfizer’s global therapeutic drug discovery and development capabilities,” Malcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares and chief R&D officer of Sosei Group, said in a press release. “We are delighted to be embarking on this new collaboration and look forward to an exciting and productive relationship.”
Heptares will apply its proprietary GPCR structure-guided platform to help produce stabilized GPCRs (StaR proteins), high-resolution crystal structures and other technologies to aid in the discovery of potential novel agents directed to GPCR targets chosen by Pfizer. For its part, Pfizer will assume responsibility for the development and commercialization of any potential therapeutic agents—either small molecules or biologics derived from StaR antigens—for each target, and will have exclusive global rights to any potential agents that result. Pfizer will make an initial payment to Heptares upon the signing of the agreement, in return for the delivery of certain StaR proteins and structures for Pfizer-selected targets that it has already generated.
All told, Heptares stands to receive up to $189 million in potential research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments per target, as well as potential tiered royalties on the net sales of any products commercialized by Pfizer.
“This extensive partnership with Pfizer is an important step toward realizing full potential of Heptares’ technology. Alliances of this kind also play an important role in achieving Sosei’s ambition for becoming a leading global biopharmaceutical company of Japanese origin,” added Shinichi Tamura, CEO of Sosei Group.
“Pfizer looks forward to this collaboration with Heptares to help us more quickly screen and identify lead GPCR programs across multiple therapeutic areas within our preclinical portfolio and, ultimately, help us increase the speed at which we bring potential new therapies to patients,” Rod MacKenzie, senior vice president of PharmaTherapeutics Research & Development at Pfizer, remarked in a statement.
In conjunction with this deal, Sosei and Pfizer Seiyaku KK (Pfizer KK) have established an equity agreement under which Pfizer KK will purchase $33 million of newly issued shares of Sosei common stock at a premium of 25 percent to the average closing price during the 20-day period prior to the closing date, which is expected to fall in December of this year. This investment will represent roughly 3.02 percent of the enlarged Sosei share capital, and is subject to review by Japanese financial authorities.
SOURCE: Heptares press release

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