Takeda kicks up GPCR work with Sosei Heptares, dishing out $26M to get GI drug discovery going
Takeda is joining the growing group of big-league players enlisting the GPCR experts at Sosei Heptares for drug design work.
Much like the Genentech deal unveiled days ago, the partnership with Takeda comes with $26 million in upfront and near-term milestones, with milestones adding up to $1.2 billion. Sosei Heptares will apply its technology — which generates both small molecules and antibodies based on stabilized GPCR structures — on a range of diseases, focusing initially on gut inflammation and motility disorders.
While the GPCR family represents popular targets for drug development, many receptors remain unexplored, according to Sosei Heptares.
Takeda’s interest in that work goes back years, Sosei Heptares R&D chief Malcolm Weir said, with an early investment from the venture arm and a two-year alliance centered on the central nervous system (which ended in 2011). With a longstanding relationship and mutual interest in GI, the discussions advanced naturally.
“It really crystalized around the fact that we were looking to do some more deals, and therefore we were open to it,” Weir told me.
He’s keeping the details under wraps but is happy to add that Takeda is footing the bill for everything on their end leading up to the development phase, at which point there will be a handover. The royalties for marketed products down the line will also hopefully add to the cash flow.
Shinichi Tamura, who recently returned to the CEO role at Sosei Heptares, highlighted the two companies’ shared heritage in Japan and global ambitions. On the ground, though, most of their work will take place in Cambridge, UK, where Heptares originated before getting acquired by Sosei in 2015.
In addition to generating leads for a slate of deep-pocket partners including Allergan, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Pfizer, Daiichi-Sankyo, PeptiDream, Kymab and MorphoSys, the 130-strong R&D team in the UK also boasts of a wide-ranging internal pipeline. Target indications include neurology, metabolic diseases, cocaine-use disorders and pulmonary arterial hypertension.