Heptares Therapeutics and PeptiDream have established a strategic collaboration to discover, develop, and commercialize therapeutics targeting a jointly selected, undisclosed G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) implicated in inflammatory diseases. No financial details have been disclosed.

U.K.-based Heptares, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Sosei Group, will apply its StaR® platform to generate 3D target structure information. Japanese firm PeptiDream will use its proprietary Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS) to identify macrocyclic/constrained peptides against the GPCR target and to optimize peptides and/or small molecules for further development.

The partners will combine their respective expertise and resources to advance candidates into the clinic and jointly conduct and share the costs of discovery and development. Any resulting products will also be co-owned.

Malcolm Weir, Ph.D., CEO at Heptares and chief R&D officer at Sosei, said, “In bringing together Heptares and PeptiDream technologies under this collaboration, we hope to create a powerful approach to drug discovery and development focused on the selected target.”

Kiichi Kubota, CEO and president of PeptiDream Inc., said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with Heptares and their world-leading GPCR-targeted technologies, with the goal of jointly discovering and developing first-in-class therapeutics against this important target. This strategic collaboration provides another opportunity for PeptiDream to partner with a world-class company like Heptares to mutually leverage our technologies and further accelerate our expanding strategic/internal pipeline.” 

Founded in 2007, Heptares is exploiting its GPCR structure-based drug design (SBDD) platform to develop an industry-partnered pipeline of small-molecule and biologic drugs against selected GPCR targets. The firm is exploiting the SBDD platform in parallel through technology alliances to identify novel small-molecule and antibody therapeutics targeting GPCRs selected by partners. 

Just yesterday, Heptares reported a new research collaboration with New York University (NYU) School of Medicine focused on discovering molecules that target a GPCR implicated in glioblastoma multiforme. Under the terms of the collaboration, the partners will jointly fund the initial discovery phase of the program. Heptares has an exclusive option to license relevant IP and to take any promising compounds through development and potential commercialization. NYU will be eligible for milestone payments and royalties on future product sales.

The NYU collaboration falls under Heptares ORBIT (Opportunities in Receptor Biology for Industrial Translation) collaborative research initiative, which it set up last year to promote and expand the application of its GPCR SBDD platform. The firm says it will commit up to £5 million ($6.5 million) in ORBIT funding over three years.

Tokyo-based PeptiDream is exploiting its PDPS platform to generate highly diverse, nonstandard peptide libraries for drug discovery. The firm is developing an early clinical and preclinical pipeline of peptide, small-molecule, and peptide–drug conjugates. In mid 2016, year Bristol-Myers Squibb started a Phase I study with a macrocyclic peptide candidate developed through the firms’ drug discovery and development partnership, initiated in 2010.


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