Pfizer agrees drug discovery collaboration with Heptares focused on GPCR targets


Heptares could potentially receive up to US$189m in milestone payments and royalties

Pfizer and UK-based clinical stage drug discovery group Heptares Therapeutics have entered into a drug discovery collaboration to research and develop potential new medicines across multiple therapeutic areas based on protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets.

There are more than 375 GPCRs encoded in the human genome linked to a wide range of human diseases. They transmit signals from outside the cell across the membrane to signalling pathways within the cell, between cells and between organ systems.

Under the deal, Heptares will use its technology to produce StaR proteins with high-resolution crystal structures and other technologies to support the discovery of potential novel agents directed to up to 10 GPCR targets selected by Pfizer.

Pfizer will be responsible for developing and commercialising any potential therapeutic agents, either small molecules or biologics derived from StaR antigens, for each target, and will have exclusive global rights to any resulting products.

Heptares, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sosei of Japan, will receive an initial payment on signing the agreement in return for delivering certain StaR proteins and structures for targets selected by Pfizer that it has already generated.

The firm could also receive up to US$189m per target in potential research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments as well as tiered royalties on future sales.

In addition, Sosei and Pfizer Seiyaku KK have entered into an equity agreement under which Pfizer KK will purchase $33m of newly issued Sosei common stock.

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Pfizer's Rod MacKenzie, who is Senior Vice President, PharmaTherapeutics Research & Development, said the collaboration will help accelerate screening and identification of lead GPCR programmes across multiple therapeutic areas within Pfizer's preclinical portfolio and ultimately help the company to increase the speed at which its brings potential new therapies to patients.