Back to the immunology drawing board, AbbVie inks discovery deal with old Allergan partner
Allergan’s neurology-focused R&D pact with Sosei Heptares hasn’t been all roses, but the BD team at AbbVie found enough to like about the G protein-coupled receptor specialist’s discovery engine to kick off a new collaboration. The goal? Finding small molecules targeting inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
The partnership starts small, with $32 million in upfront and near-term milestones plus potential option, development and commercial payments of up to $377 million. But if AbbVie chooses to execute on all four targets, the total deal value could grow to a size “in a similar ballpark” to the billion-dollar pacts with Genentech and Takeda, a Sosei spokesperson told Reuters.
“Collaborating with leading pharmaceutical companies is a core element of our successful value-generating strategy,” Malcolm Weir, executive vice chairman of Sosei Heptares, said in a statement.
The biotech brings its GPCR-stabilizing tech to the table, which allows for easier processing and screening as scientists pursue structure-based drug discovery.
Lisa Olson, the VP for discovery immunology at AbbVie, called it an extension of the pharma giant’s years-long pursuit for cutting-edge tech to push the envelope for autoimmune diseases.
Aside from this new relationship, AbbVie has inherited an R&D program first introduced by Allergan in 2016 before the two became one in a $63 billion megamerger in mid-2019. Sosei Heptares got $125 million upfront in that deal in exchange for a slate of subtype-selective muscarinic receptor agonists. There was also a $50 million commitment toward Phase II studies in addition to over $3 billion in promised milestones.
One of the key drugs in that deal, a muscarinic M1 receptor agonist dubbed HTL0018318, was abruptly yanked from an Alzheimer’s trial following an “unexpected toxicology finding” from a non-human primate trial. Sosei Heptares and Allergan have since moved onto testing the drug in dementia with Lewy bodies, although it no longer seems to be in AbbVie’s pipeline.