Heptares announces ORBIT initiative to broaden application of G protein-coupled receptors in drug development

Initiates first collaboration with Imperial College London focused on an orphan receptor implicated in a range of immune disorders

Heptares Therapeutics has announced the ORBIT initiative, which aims to promote and broaden the application of the firm's proprietary structure-based drug design expertise directed at G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to create new medicines.

The Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, UK-based firm is committing up to £5m over the next three years to fund this new initiative.ORBIT (Opportunities in Receptor Biology for Industrial Translation) will see Heptares collaborate with leading academic groups and emerging biotechnology companies. The initiative aims to leverage the expertise of collaborators to seek out new links between GPCRs and diseases and develop a better understanding of disease biology relating to a broad range of GPCR targets. In parallel, Heptares will apply its GPCR-targeted drug discovery and translational medicine capabilities to generate new small molecules and biologics for advancement through its development pipeline.

The first collaboration under this new initiative is with academics at Imperial College London’s National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) and is focused on an orphan receptor that is implicated in a range of immune disorders including asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.

Professor Maria Belvisi, Head of the Respiratory Pharmacology group at the NHLI, and an expert in the respiratory field, said: 'This new collaboration between Imperial College and Heptares brings together highly complementary teams seeking to rapidly advance both basic research and drug discovery in relation to this and other GPCR targets of interest. We are thrilled to be the first partner for Heptares in this innovative new initiative and look forward to a close and productive relationship.'

Fiona Marshall, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Heptares, added: 'GPCRs are regarded as one of the most important families of drug targets and the opportunity for Heptares’ structure-guided discovery and development capabilities to create new medicines is vast. We are delighted to launch the ORBIT initiative and excited to announce our first programme with the Respiratory Pharmacology group at Imperial College.'

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