Heptares to buy G7 to bolster GPCR capabilities

CHF 1000 notes
Heptares is set to acquire G7 for CHF 12 million

Heptares Therapeutics is set to buy fellow European G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) specialist G7 Therapeutics. The takeover will give Heptares access to additional technologies to stabilize GPCRs and a research outpost in Zurich, Switzerland.

Welwyn Garden City, U.K.-based Heptares has landed a string of Big Pharma pacts and a buyout by Sosei on the strength of its GPCR stabilization technology and accompanying structure-based drug design capabilities. Now, it has moved to the other side of the deal table to expand its toolkit, paying CHF 12 million ($11.8 million) in cash to acquire G7.

“We believe that the platform G7 has developed is truly complementary to our StaR platform and will expand our capacity to explore more of the ‘GPCRome’ to deliver novel candidates against targeted GPCRs for both our proprietary pipeline and for partnered programmes,” Heptares CSO Fiona Marshall said in a statement. Marshall will lead Heptares’ new Zurich subsidiary.

G7 built its business on two approaches to GPCR stabilization, SaBRE and CHESS. Heptares’ belief that G7’s methods complement its StaR platform is underpinned by evidence the acquired technologies are effective when low numbers of the target GPCR are present on cells. The G7 technologies are also designed to be “particularly powerful in the numbers of stabilizing mutations that can be identified in a short time for rapidly generating high quality GPCRs.”

The idea that Heptares and G7’s platforms are complementary has some external validation. In its pursuit of sources of stabilized GPCRs to combine with its Ylanthia antibody library, MorphoSys struck a deal with Heptares in 2013. Two years later, MorphoSys put G7 on the map by striking a separate pact with the Swiss biotech. MorphoSys added G7 to its list of GPCR collaborators to access “unique technology” capable of ensuring “the function of the receptor stays fully intact.”

G7 was cofounded by former uniQure CEO and current Hookipa Biotech leader Jörn Aldag. The biotech executive teamed with the academics behind the CHESS technolgy—Andreas Plückthun and Daniel Scott—to set up the company. G7 kept a fairly low profile during its few years as an independent company.