New access to an unstable receptor
London – UK-headquartered pharma major AstraZeneca and Heptares Therapeutics have entered a four-year collaboration focused on the potential discovery and development of new medicines targeting G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca has worldwide commercial rights to product candidates emerging from the collaboration. Heptares will receive US$6.25m in up-front R&D funding, and will be eligible for US$181.75m in possible milestone payments and royalties on the sale of any products. GPCRs are among the largest and most important family of drug targets. However, their instability has often prevented pharmaceutical researchers from understanding their molecular structures, and hampered efforts to design medicines aimed at GPCR targets. Now Heptares has developed a proprietary technology (StaR®) that allows stabilised versions of GPCRs to be investigated. 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. Since its spin-off from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) in 2007, Heptares has raised more than US$35m from venture investors formed partnerships with Shire, Takeda, and Novartis.