Heptares Therapeutics completed the research phase of the four-year antibody drug discovery collaboration it forged with AstraZeneca subsidiary MedImmune back in May of 2011. Heptares delivered StaR® proteins—thermostabilized G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs)—for targets MedImmune nominated for antibody discovery, resulting in MedImmune making milestone payments to Heptares for each target nominated and StaR protein delivered.

Per the 2011 pact, AstraZeneca agreed to pay Heptares $6.25 million up front as part of a deal to discover and develop GPCR-targeted drugs, focusing on specific GPCR targets linked to CNS/pain, cardiovascular/metabolic, and inflammatory disorders. Heptares could receive future royalties on sales of successfully commercialized drugs resulting from the agreement.

StaR proteins, according to Heptares, can preserve epitopes from the desired pharmacological state of the GPCR to aid the generation of panels of antibodies targeting the disease-relevant form of the receptor. Heptares CEO Malcolm Weir said in a statement that MedImmune will be using the StaR proteins as antigens to generate novel antibodies.

“The ability of our StaR platform to generate antigen for antibody drug discovery, as exemplified by the success of our collaboration with MedImmune, highlights the potential of this technology to transform GPCR-targeted drug design and development,” he added.

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