Heptares Announces Agreement with Novartis Option Fund to Apply its StaR™ Technology
News Oct 29, 2009
Heptares Therapeutics Ltd, the drug discovery company focused on G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets, announced that it has entered into an option agreement with the Novartis Option Fund under which Heptares will apply its proprietary StaR™ technology to generate novel drug leads against a nominated, unspecified GPCR target of interest to Novartis.
The agreement includes upfront and potential milestone payments to Heptares totaling up to $200 million plus royalties. Full financial terms were not disclosed.
StaR technology enables GPCRs, normally membrane-bound, to be worked on in solution, allowing the use of structure-based drug discovery technologies and the discovery of novel drugs addressing this important set of targets. Heptares is deploying this technology principally to generate small molecule drugs against currently difficult or intractable GPCR targets in several disease areas.
Under the terms of the agreement with the Novartis Option Fund, Heptares will apply its StaR technology to a target identified by Novartis and drive a drug discovery programme against that target.
“This is an excellent early deal for Heptares, endorsing our StaR technology and further strengthening our financial position,” said Malcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares Therapeutics. “The deal with the Novartis Option Fund demonstrates confidence that our approach can unlock the potential of GCPR targets and forms a solid foundation for other partnerships with leading pharmaceutical companies.”
“The potential of GPCRs as targets for drug discovery is well recognized, but it has always been a challenge to gain structural information on GPCRs,” said Anja Koenig for the Novartis Option Fund. “We believe that the power of Heptares’ technology to resolve GPCR structures and their expertise in small molecule chemistry will lead to rapid progress in the drug discovery programme against Novartis’ nominated target.”
The Novartis Option Fund invested £7 million in Heptares’ £21 million fundraising announced in February 2009 in a syndicate with MVM Life Science Partners and Clarus Ventures.