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24 November, 2021 - 16:40 By Tony Quested

California gold rush for Sosei Heptares

Cambridge’s Japanese-owned life sciences company Sosei Heptares has clinched a lucrative deal with California-based NASDAQ-quoted business Neurocrine Biosciences.

The vision is to develop novel muscarinic receptor agonists for schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Neurocrine Biosciences anticipates initiating a Phase 2 study with the selective M4 agonist HTL-0016878 in schizophrenia in 2022 and Phase 1 studies for a dual M1/M4 and selective M1 agonist in 2023.

Sosei Heptares receives $100 million upfront, ongoing R & D funding and up to $2.6 billion in potential development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments – plus tiered sales royalties.

Sosei Heptares, which has corporate and R & D facilities at Granta Park in Cambridge, retains the rights to develop M1 agonists in Japan in all indications with Neurocrine Biosciences receiving co-development and profit share options.

Muscarinic receptors are central to brain function and validated as drug targets in psychosis and cognitive disorders. Sosei Heptares has discovered selective muscarinic M4, M1 and M1/M4 dual agonists that offer the potential to deliver therapeutic effects while avoiding both the harmful side effects caused by non-selective agonists and efficacy issues experienced in some older patients caused by positive allosteric modulators that require cooperativity of diminishing levels of acetylcholine. 

Sosei Heptares achieved this through application of its world leading G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) stabilised receptor platform (StaR®) and subsequent translational medicine studies.

Shinichi Tamura, President and CEO of Sosei Heptares, said: “The deal highlights the significant potential value within this portfolio and brings to bear the substantial expertise of the Neurocrine team, which is highly experienced in developing and commercialising novel products for patients with neurological and psychiatric diseases globally. 

“It also enables Sosei Heptares to retain rights in Japan, where we are confident that we can make important progress leveraging our own expertise to advance novel candidates that aim to address this major unmet need. 

“Overall, the deal is a great example of our strategy to combine our drug design and early development capabilities with those of later stage development and commercialisation partners, while also providing significant funding to expand and advance our own pipeline.”

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