Boehringer, Sosei Ink Potential $732M Deal for Schizophrenia Treatment

Boehringer Ingelheim_iStock, Sundry Photography

Pictured: Boehringer Ingelheim's office in Silicon Valley/iStock, Sundry Photography

German pharma Boehringer Ingelheim is paying €25 million ($27.3 million) upfront and further milestone payments of up to €670 million ($732.6 million) in a deal with Sosei Heptares to develop potential first-in-class treatments targeting all symptoms of schizophrenia, the companies announced Monday.

Under the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim has the exclusive option to license Sosei Heptares’ portfolio of GPR52 agonists, which are a G protein-coupled receptor target. Sosei is also eligible for an option payment of €60 million ($65.5 million) and possible development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments. The London-based pharma, whose parent company is Japan’s Sosei Group Corporation, will also net customary tiered royalties on future product sales.

The drug class is intended to treat the positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia at the same time. Positive symptoms include hallucinations and delusions, while negative symptoms are apathy and withdrawal. Cognitive symptoms include attention, planning and memory deficits.

Boehringer will have the exclusive option to license the portfolio of GPR 52 agonists after the completion of Sosei’s Phase I and Phase Ib trials and Phase II enabling activities with the antipsychotic HTL0048149. Sosei will retain control and sponsor the trials until the potential option is exercised, which is estimated to occur in 2025. The portfolio that Boehringer gains will include the HTL’149 asset and other “differentiated backup compounds” that are designed by Sosei.  

“This collaboration highlights the potential GPR52 has shown in preclinical research as a novel, first-in-class target for treating schizophrenia and related neurological disorders. We’re delighted to partner with Boehringer Ingelheim and leverage its leading expertise in neurological disease research and innovation,” Matt Barnes, president of Heptares Therapeutics and head of UK R&D at Sosei Heptares, said in a statement, “Together, we will focus on accelerating the development of this highly innovative program, which is currently in a Phase 1 clinical study, towards patients in need.”

Hugh Marston, global head CNS discovery research at Boehringer Ingelheim, said in a statement that the partnership with Sosei “is highly complementary to our other development programs aiming to bring a new precision medicine approach to the treatment of mental health disorders with therapies, which we hope will transform the lives of those living with schizophrenia.”

Boehringer has been securing several deals over the past few months. In early January 2024, the company announced it entered into a multi-target collaboration agreement with Suzhou Robi Life Science and Ribocure Pharmaceuticals to develop an siRNA treatment for nonalcoholic or metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis in a deal potentially worth over $2 billion.

In November 2023, Boehringer inked a potential $509 million collaboration agreement with Phenomic AI to develop targets for stroma-rich cancers, some of the hardest cancers to treat, utilizing its single-cell RNA computing platform. 

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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