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Shire signs CNS disorders deal with Heptares

pharmafile | March 23, 2012 | News story | Research and Development A2A, CNS, GPCR, Heptares, Shire 

Shire is to develop and commercialise a novel adenosine A2A antagonist discovered by Heptares currently in pre-clinical development.

UK-based Heptares discovers and develops new medicines targeting GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors), a super-family of drug targets linked to a wide range of human diseases.

Adenosine A2A is a GPCR involved in regulating dopaminergic pathways in the brain, and could eventually prove to be a new treatment for a range of CNS disorders. The partners have not disclosed a specific disease target, but similar rival drugs are already in development to treat Parkinson’s disease.

In exchange for exclusive rights to A2A antagonists discovered by Heptares, Shire will pay the company an upfront option grant and exercise payments, plus future milestone payments of up to $190 million, as well as royalties on product sales. Further terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

Jeff Jonas, senior vice president, Research & Development, Specialty Pharmaceuticals and Regenerative Medicine, Shire, said: “This agreement with Heptares is a reflection of our growth strategy of investing and focusing on highly targeted drug discovery platforms. We are impressed with the novelty and quality of the A2A antagonist leads generated by Heptares, resulting from what we believe to be the first time a structure-based drug discovery approach has been applied from the beginning to a GPCR drug target.”

Malcolm Weir, chief executive of Heptares: “The A2A programme is the most advanced example of the Heptares drug discovery platform, and highlights our ability to deliver fundamentally novel chemotypes as a basis for first-in-class and best-in-class medicines addressing a broad range of diseases.”

The Heptares A2A programme reflects a new approach to GPCR targets. Heptares has used its proprietary technology to stabilise the A2A receptor, enabling the application for the first time of structure-based drug discovery (SBDD) techniques including Biophysical Mapping (TM), fragment screening and x-ray crystallography to the receptor.

The advanced knowledge of the target generated by this approach enabled Heptares researchers to discover entirely new types of chemical structures for inhibiting the A2A receptor, potentially possessing best-in-class drug-like characteristics. This could be a radical advance after decades of largely unsuccessful medicinal chemistry in this field, but the company’s science has yet to be tested beyond the pre-clinical phase.

Heptares already has development deals with Takeda, AstraZeneca, MedImmune and Novartis Option Fund, and has raised $40M in venture financing from MVM Life Science Partners, Clarus Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund and Takeda Ventures.

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