23 February, 2015 - 06:47 By Kate Sweeney

Sosei acquires Heptares for $400 million

Dr Malcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares predicting blockbuster drugs

Japanese biopharma giant Sosei has acquired UK biotech business Heptares Therapeutics – founded on Cambridge IP – in a deal worth up to $400 million.

The acquisition creates a leading global biopharmaceutical company with a major drug discovery and development hub in the UK.

Heptares is based at the Biopark in Welwyn but is regarded as part of the Cambridge medical technology cluster.

Sosei is quoted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and has operations in Japan and the UK; Heptares is a clinical-stage private biotech focused on creating novel medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs).

Heptares said the combination had proven drug discovery and clinical development capabilities for generating innovative medicines. It believes the broad pipeline includes products with blockbuster potential.

Heptares will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Group, with its existing R & D operations continuing in the UK.

Shinichi Tamura, chairman and CEO of Sosei Group Corporation, said: “Today is an historic day for Sosei. Heptares is based on truly world-class science and its drug discovery and development capabilities will contribute to a sustainable stream of new products for the Group.

“While core to our future, an independent subsidiary structure will ensure Heptares is able to maintain the culture and business model that has been the foundation of its success so far.”

Dr Malcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares, added: “This is an excellent next step for Heptares which maintains our integrity and purpose within a group that has a clear and coherent vision.

“It is a great example of the translation of ground-breaking UK academic science into economic and potential therapeutic value and secures significant investment into our technology platform and clinical pipeline well into the future.”

Heptares has been exploring strategic opportunities that can both build on and go beyond the secured revenue stream in milestones and royalties derived from the two COPD products (Ultibro Breezhaler and Seebri Breezhaler) marketed by its partner Novartis.

The acquisition involves a pipeline of potentially transformative new medicines targeting serious diseases with major unmet need – e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, metabolic disease, schizophrenia, migraine, and others.

In addition to its pipeline and platform, Heptares has established collaborative partnerships with a number of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies that provide the company with a prospective stream of revenue through milestones and royalties.

Heptares was founded in 2007 based on the pioneering work of its founding scientists Richard Henderson and Christopher Tate at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and with investment from MVM Life Science Partners and led by co-founders Malcolm Weir and Fiona Marshall.

From these origins, and with additional venture funding from MVM, Clarus Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund, Takeda Ventures and the Stanley Family Foundation, Heptares has moved on to develop its unique StaR technology platform that enables it to design drugs precisely based on a detailed understanding of the structure of the drug target – an approach known as structure-based drug design.

By this method, Heptares aims to design and develop superior medicines that are more effective, with better selectivity and fewer side effects.

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