Sosei Heptares and Takeda Ink $1.2 Billion+ Deal to Develop GPCR Targets

Takeda

Sosei Group Corporation inked a strategic multi-target partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical to find, develop and commercialize small molecules and biologics that modulate G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets. The initial focus will be on gastrointestinal targets.

Under the terms of the deal, Sosei will use its proprietary GPCR-focused structure-based drug design abilities with Takeda’s discovery, development and therapeutic expertise to work on multiple GPCR targets selected by Takeda. Although they will involve a variety of diseases, the initial focus is on high-priority gastrointestinal targets.

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Takeda will pay $26 million upfront and in near-term payments to Sosei, as well as pay for research over the length of the deal. Potential milestone payments could exceed $1.2 billion. Sosei is also eligible for tiered royalties on net sales of any products that come out of the deal. Takeda holds global rights to develop and commercialize drugs for each novel target through specified pharmacological approaches.

“Takeda and Sosei Heptares have enjoyed a strong relationship over the years, with its venture arm having been an early investor in Heptares,” stated Malcolm Weir, executive vice president and chief R&D officer at Sosei. “Today’s newly announced partnership is the culmination of recent discussions to identify new and exciting programs where our combined expertise can be directed towards challenging diseases and targets to deliver new medicines for patients.”

About two weeks ago, Sosei entered a similar deal with Roche’s Genentech, to also focus on GPCR targets of interest to Genentech. That was also for $26 million upfront with milestones that could exceed $1 billion.

Of interest to these companies is Sosei Heptares’ expertise in GPCRs. There are hundreds of these compounds coded for in the human genome, and they are the target of about a third of all marketed drugs. Many believe the so-called “orphan” GPCRs will made good targets for new drugs.

Although these two deals definitely mark the industry’s interest in Sosei Heptares, it’s not all coming up roses. In March 2018, Teva Pharmaceutical returned rights to HTL0022562 to Sosei, which was being developed for migraine and other severe headaches. That was part of a cost-cutting effort by Teva’s new chief executive officer Kare Schultz. Teva already had a migraine drug, fremanezumab, which has since been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for migraine under the brand name Ajovy.

And in September 2018, Sosei and Allergan voluntarily suspended clinical trials of HTL0018318 in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia because of safety problems. The drug is a selective small molecule muscarinic M1 receptor agonist. It was in Phase I trials in the U.S. and Phase II trials in Japan.

Still, the two deals are big deals for Sosei.

“The therapeutic approach presented through this collaboration provides an exciting avenue for discovery in gut inflammation and motility disorders,” stated Gareth Hicks, head, Gastroenterology Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda. “We’re eager to advance the identified targets through our research pipeline, in partnership with Sosei Heptares, to accelerate the development of new therapies for patients.”

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