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ARM Innovation Hub
28 September, 2020 - 10:07 By Tony Quested

Sosei Heptares rakes in more Pfizer millions

Rob Cooke, Sosei Heptares

Sosei Heptares, which has a major research hub in Cambridge, has earned more megabucks from its ongoing collaboration with $52 billion turnover US pharma giant Pfizer.

Pfizer reports that the first subject in a clinical trial has been dosed with a new drug candidate nominated from the multi-target drug discovery collaboration between the companies. 

This milestone triggers a payment of $5 million to Sosei Heptares. The candidate was nominated for advancement by Pfizer in June 2019 generating a $3m milestone payment at that time. 

Pfizer nominated three distinct clinical candidates from the collaboration with Sosei Heptares during 2019, two of which have now subsequently entered clinical trials. 

The collaboration has leveraged Sosei Heptares’ unique StaR® technology and Structure-based Drug Design (SBDD) capabilities to design oral small molecules that modulate different G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets across multiple disease areas of interest to Pfizer.

This candidate is the eighth GPCR-targeted drug candidate to enter clinical trials originating from Sosei Heptares’ StaR® technology and structure-based drug design (SBDD) platform.

Dr Rob Cooke, chief technology officer of Sosei Heptares, said: “The start of this new clinical trial is another great example of the productivity of our StaR® technology and structure-based drug design approach.

“It also highlights our ability to work collaboratively and successfully with leading pharma companies, applying cutting-edge complementary capabilities to discover and develop completely new drug candidates with potential to treat major diseases. We are extremely pleased with the progress being made in our long-term partnership with Pfizer.”

Sosei Heptares and Pfizer entered a multi-target drug discovery collaboration in November 2015 to research and develop potential new medicines directed at up to 10 GPCR targets across multiple therapeutic areas.

Many of these targets have clinical or biological validation as key points for therapeutic intervention potentially targeting a range of diseases but have proven difficult to address with conventional discovery approaches because of inherent technical challenges.

To address these challenges, Sosei Heptares and Pfizer scientists worked closely together to leverage their respective complementary expertise in enabling GPCR-focused structure-based drug design and development initially directed to the GPCR targets selected by Pfizer. 

Pfizer is responsible for developing and commercialising any potential therapeutic agents (small molecules or biologics) for each target and will have exclusive global rights to any potential resulting agents.

Sosei Heptares has delivered multiple stabilised receptors (StaR® proteins), X-ray structures and biophysical data on certain programs, triggering multiple significant milestone payments from Pfizer resulting from the nomination of new clinical candidates and entry into clinical trials. 

Further possible milestones payments are contemplated under the agreement, with potential for royalties also payable provided the criteria under the agreement are satisfied.

Pfizer also made a $33m equity investment in Sosei Heptares in 2015. In the future, Pfizer and Sosei Heptares anticipate publication of select research findings from their collaboration.

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