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Pfizer signs high-level deal with GPCR specialist Heptares

Wide-rangingdeal will involve up to 10 drug targets

Pfizer HQ 

Pfizer is the latest big pharma company to partner with UK-based G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) specialist Heptares, agreeing a wide-ranging deal involving up to 10 drug targets.

GPCRs are the largest family of proteins found in the membranes of cells and have been a key research target in drug discovery for years as they are involved in almost all physiological processes in the body. 

There are over 375 GPCRs encoded in the human genome, and they are the site of action of 25%-30% of current drugs, including six of the top ten best-selling drugs in the US in 2010.

Pfizer's strategic-level deal with Sosei subsidiary Heptares will see the UK firm apply its technologies to engineer stabilised target GPCR proteins - selected by Pfizer - that will be used to screen compounds for activity. 

The US pharma giant - which has just announced a $160bn merger agreement with Allergan - will be responsible for developing and commercialising any potential therapeutic agents against the targets - either small-molecular biologics drugs - and will pay up to $189m per project to Heptares as well as an undisclosed upfront payment.

Pfizer is also taking a $33m equity stake in Sosei - equivalent to around 3% of the Japanese company - in a transaction due to close before the end of the year. 

This is the second major deal announced by Heptares in a week and comes after it agreed a $410m alliance with Teva to develop new therapies for migraine. It also has collaborations in place with AstraZeneca (AZ), Merck & Co's Cubist unit, MorphoSys and Takeda.

Pfizer's agreement with Heptares is notable because it spans so many targets and indications, according to the UK firm's chief executive Malcolm Weir.

The specific targets under investigation are not being disclosed, but Heptares has indicated in the past it is working on a broad range of targets in "Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, depression, chronic insomnia, addiction, migraine and diabetes", among others.

Article by
Phil Taylor

1st December 2015

From: Research

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