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14 May, 2019 - 21:57 By Tony Quested

Sosei Heptares secures $3m Pfizer milestone payment

Dr Malcolm Weir of Sosei Heptares

Sosei Heptares in Cambridge and Big Pharma player Pfizer have notched an early success in a multi-target drug discovery collaboration.

The partners say the research phase of the collaboration has delivered several milestones leading to the advancement of new potential candidate programs against G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets nominated by Pfizer in major disease areas.

These targets have clinical and biological validation as key points for therapeutic intervention targeting metabolic and inflammatory diseases but have proved challenging to address with conventional discovery approaches because of inherent technical challenges. 

To address these challenges, Sosei Heptares and Pfizer scientists have worked closely together to leverage their complementary expertise in enabling GPCR-focused structure-based drug design (SBDD) and development initially directed towards up to 10 GPCR targets nominated by Pfizer.

In addressing these targets, Sosei Heptares has delivered stabilised receptors (StaR® proteins), X-ray structures and biophysical data on certain programs, triggering milestone payments from Pfizer, including $3 million announced this week. 

Further milestones payments are contemplated under the agreement, with potential for royalties also payable provided the criteria under the agreement are satisfied.  Pfizer also made a $33 million equity investment in Sosei Heptares in 2015. In the future, Pfizer and Sosei Heptares anticipate publication of select research findings from their collaboration.

Dr Malcolm Weir, executive VP and chief R & D officer of Sosei Heptares, said: “Pfizer has a real appreciation of the potential value that structural studies can bring to drug design and discovery. 

“Sosei Heptares is delighted with the relationship and interaction that has developed between our respective scientists since starting the collaboration and particularly with the achievement announced today. 

“This was made possible, in part, through the collaborative application of our SBDD platform, which is also being used in other promising programs. We look forward in the coming years to the continued progress of these programs.”

Sosei Heptares is advancing a broad and deep pipeline of partnered and wholly owned product candidates in multiple therapeutic areas, including CNS, immuno-oncology, gastroenterology, inflammation and other rare/specialty indications.  Its leading clinical programs include partnered candidates aimed at the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (with Allergan) and next generation immuno-oncology approaches to treat cancer (with AstraZeneca). 

Additional partners and collaborators include Novartis, Daiichi-Sankyo, PeptiDream, Kymab – also based in Cambridge – and MorphoSys.

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