Sosei pens inflammatory and autoimmune disease drug pact with AbbVie


Sosei Heptares saw its shares shoot up around 12% in Tokyo this morning on news it has signed a new pact with AbbVie.

The biopharma is getting $32 million upfront for an exclusive early-stage discovery collab, including an option for a license agreement, to create and sell up to four therapies that modulate G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets “of interest to AbbVie.”

GCPR is one of the most sought-after and common R&D targets, with this deal set to initially focus on discovery of new small molecules targeting inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

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The pact, details of which were pretty brief in the statement, will see Sosei apply its so-called StaR tech and GPCR-focused Structure-based Drug Design capabilities and fund R&D activities through to IND-enabling studies.

AbbVie may then pay to exercise its exclusive license options and assume responsibility for global development and commercialization, the pair said in a statement. Sosei could bag $377 million in biobucks, plus royalties on any sales, as part of the deal per target, so could hit $1billion-plus if everything works out perfectly under the deal.  

Sosei has penned similar deals before, including a 2016 pact with then Allergan, now, ironically, AbbVie, worth up to $3.3 billion in biobucks and with a focus on Alzheimer’s, although one drug from that original partnership has already been pulled.

Malcolm Weir, Ph.D., executive vice chairman of Sosei, said: “We are delighted to begin this new partnership with AbbVie, which further extends the application of our technology to novel and exciting targets, and we look forward building a close working relationship as the programs advance. Collaborating with leading pharmaceutical companies is a core element of our successful value-generating strategy.

“The ability to combine our unique technology and structure-based discovery and early development capabilities, particularly around challenging drug targets, with AbbVie’s extensive therapeutic area, development and global commercialization expertise is a powerful approach to creating new improved therapeutics for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”

This comes amid a small deal spree for AbbVie, which in the past few months has signed: a deal worth $60 million upfront, with $805 million in biobucks, for Alpine Immune's lupus asset; a new pact to focus on SHP2 inhibitors, which target a key node in cancer and immune cells, with early-stage biotech Jacobio Pharmaceuticals; and a major $750 million upfront deal with Genmab for a stake in a pipeline of anti-cancer bispecifics led by epcoritamab, which could be worth up to $3.2 billion in milestones.

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