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21 December, 2020 - 12:42 By Tony Quested

Sosei Heptares and GSK clinch $1/2bn immune disorders alliance

Cambridge-centric Sosei Heptares and global pharma giant GSK have signed a global collaboration and licensing deal targeting immune disorders of the digestive system.

Sosei Heptares is eligible to receive an upfront payment, research funding and potential near-term development milestones of up to $44 million, potential downstream payments of up to $437m plus tiered royalties.

The single-target agreement is focused on the discovery and development of selective, oral, small molecule agonists of GPR35, an important orphan G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) with genetic association to inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal immune disorders, for which there remains significant unmet need for millions of sufferers worldwide.

Under the agreement, GSK licenses global rights to a portfolio of GPR35 agonists designed by Sosei Heptares using its StaR® technology and structure-based drug design (SBDD) platform. The licensed portfolio includes an advanced lead preclinical compound as well as multiple differentiated back-up compounds.

Sosei Heptares and GSK will collaborate on research and early preclinical development and GSK will lead clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation.

Shinichi Tamura, chairman, president and CEO of Sosei Heptares, said: “We continue to make great progress in leveraging our unparalleled SBDD capabilities and significant investment in translational biology and therapeutic area strategies to create targeted and differentiated small molecules with potential to address clear unmet needs in gastrointestinal and immune disorders.

“This approach has yielded multiple opportunities for generating value through our strategy of drug discovery, early development and partnering. We are very pleased that GSK has the confidence to become our new partner on the GPR35 agonist program, which we created using this strategy. We are confident this will be a productive collaboration and that GSK’s significant expertise in this important therapeutic area will support and drive the advancement of these novel agents through development.”

John Lepore, senior VP, Research at GSK, added: “Using genetics to prioritise potential treatments for a challenging immune disorder like IBD exemplifies the approach we are taking at GSK to develop novel transformative medicines. 

“Sosei Heptares is a world leader with an established track record in GPCR drug discovery, so we are confident in our potential to jointly identify high quality clinical candidates to deliver important new medicines for the millions of patients who are waiting.”

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