Sosei Heptares partners with a UK-based cancer research organization to bring its drug to trial
Cancer research has been a focus for Sosei Heptares for several years, and their latest deal hopes to progress one of their newer therapies.
On Friday, the Japanese company inked a deal with Cancer Research UK to bring one of its cancer drug candidates into the clinic. According to Sosei, the agreement will have Cancer Research UK run a Phase I/IIa trial of Sosei’s cancer candidate HTL00397322, an EP4 antagonist. The candidate will be evaluated as both a combination therapy and a monotherapy. While no exact financial details were given, Sosei will still hold the program’s license after the study reads out.
“We are extremely pleased to collaborate with Cancer Research UK to advance HTL0039732 into Phase I/IIa clinical trials and take a step towards bringing new treatments to cancer patients,” said Heptares Therapeutics president Matt Barnes in a statement.
The candidate targets a specific type of EP4 receptor, which is involved in cancer cells evading the immune system and affecting tumor cell growth. Blocking this type of receptor may improve patient survival if used in combination with other immunotherapies, Sosei says.
Sosei is shooting for a range of cancers, including colorectal, gastroesophageal, head and neck and castrate-resistant prostate cancer.
Cancer has long been on the minds of Sosei researchers. In 2017, the company offered MiNA Therapeutics an exclusive option to acquire the company for $45 million in cash. MiNA at that time was working on RNA technology for a Phase I/IIa test in liver cancer.
Sosei has also been seeking partnerships for other sectors of its business, as in January the company started to collaborate with Alphabet’s Verily. The companies are aiming to use Verily’s immune profiling and Sosei’s GPCR drug design capabilities to develop new drugs mainly in the immunology, gastroenterology and immuno-oncology spaces.