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16 January, 2018 - 14:59 By Tony Quested

Heptares and Imperial tackle gastrointestinal tract disease

Malcolm Weir Heptares

Sosei subsidiary Heptares Therapeutics has entered a new drug research and development collaboration with Imperial College London. 

The multi-year collaboration unites complementary teams at Heptares and Imperial seeking to rapidly advance drug discovery and translational research focused on multiple new and existing G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) disease target opportunities associated with the gastro-intestinal tract.

Heptares is set to relocate to a new 35,000 sq ft facility at Granta Park, Cambridge in-mid 2018 by which time local headcount should be up to 130.

Gastrointestinal disease is the third most common cause of death. The GI tract represents the largest endocrine organ in the body producing multiple hormones that act on a diverse range of GPRCs located within the GI tract and throughout the body, many of which have been implicated in the pathophysiology of multiple GI diseases.

This collaboration aims to leverage the significant recent progress made in understanding how GPCRs in the GI tract can be modulated and will support the application of Heptares structure-based approaches to develop novel treatments for GI disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Malcolm Weir, chief R & D officer of Sosei and Heptares, said: “Collaboration with world-class academic research groups is integral to our long-term drug discovery strategy. These groups provide the fundamental science and biological insights to the role of GPCRs in human disease to which Heptares can apply its world-leading GPCR-targeted drug discovery and translational medicine capabilities to generate new drug candidate molecules for advancement through our pipeline.

“This collaboration with Imperial College London builds on existing GPCR programmes implicated in immune disorders and GI function and we are excited by the potential it offers to support the identification and translation of new therapies for patients with GI diseases.”

Under the collaboration, Heptares will fund and support various programmes of work in terms of target discovery and validation and will be responsible for the progression and commercialisation of any compounds resulting from the collaboration. The collaboration will also support ongoing discovery and development programmes at Sosei/Heptares.

Professor Jonathan Weber, acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London, added: “We hope this new partnership between Imperial and industry researchers will bring great benefits to science and public health.

“Breakthroughs in this field could ultimately help to the improve quality of life for patients living with inflammatory bowel disease, which affects more than half a million people in the UK alone.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Malcolm Weir

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