Hot Heptares inks $200M tech pact with Novartis

The UK's fledgling Heptares Therapeutics has scored a $200 million collaboration pact with Novartis, putting its technology to work to identify novel drug candidates that can hit a designated G-protein-coupled-receptor target.  

For Novartis, the pact represents the latest in a string of deals to employ promising new biotechnologies to advance new therapies. For the fast-growing Heptares, a 2009 Fierce 15 company helmed by Malcolm Weir (photo), the pact underscores its potential in the closely-watched GPCR space. A group of scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology--including Richard Henderson and Chris Tate--helped design a new drug development platform for GPCRs and spun it off as a start-up two years ago. Its premier focus is on Parkinson's.

"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 program against Novartis' nominated target."

- check out the Hepartes release