AstraZeneca (AZ) has teamed up with UK-based drug discovery company Heptares in a four-year collaboration to develop new therapies that target proteins linked to nervous system and cardiovascular disorders.
The deal includes a £3.8m payment to Heptares, which will also be eligible for royalties from any successful products, while AZ will gain the worldwide rights.
The collaboration will make use of Heptares' G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) discovery expertise and proprietary technologies - including its StaR technology, which engineers stabilised receptors allowing GPCRs to be investigated.
GPCRs are one of the largest family of proteins, yet have an inherent instability when removed from cell membranes, according to a statement from AZ.
Research conducted under the collaboration will focus on a number of specific GPCR targets linked to central nervous system/pain, cardiovascular/metabolic and inflammatory disorders from projects in AZ's small and large molecule portfolio, including projects from AZ's biologics unit, MedImmune.
Martin Mackay, president of research and development, AZ, said: "Our work will focus on a range of different diseases across our small and large molecule portfolio with the goal of discovering innovative treatments for patients in areas of medical need."