Verily links up with Sosei Heptares for GPCR drug discovery

G-protein-coupled receptors’ star has been on the rise in biotech in recent years as researchers have discovered the vast potential for GPCR-targeting drugs in treating a range of health conditions, from cancer and genetic disorders to inflammation and metabolic imbalances.



Among those hitching their wagons to that star are Verily and Sosei Heptares, which have struck a research agreement to discover new GPCR targets that’ll fuel the development of potential drug candidates.



The financial details of the strategic collaboration weren’t released, but Sosei Heptares’ past two team-ups in GPCR-based drug discovery have clocked in at $1 billion—with Genentech—and, just last November, $2.6 billion in a partnership with Neurocrine.



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In its latest collab, the biopharma will contribute its expertise in GPCR-structure-based drug design as well as its StaR stabilized receptor platform. Verily, meanwhile, will offer up its Immune Profiler platform, which combines laboratory phenotyping and advanced computational analysis technologies to build a detailed molecular map of the immune system.



Together, the companies will be pursuing two missions with the same ultimate goal of improving treatments for immune-based disorders. In addition to identifying GPCR targets and building novel drug candidates meant to modulate those targets, the partners are also aiming to use their combined tools to broaden the overall understanding of the GPCR protein group, especially in their effects on immunology, gastroenterology and immuno-oncology.



“Our complementary expertise in data-driven prioritization of novel therapeutic targets and expertise in GPCR drug development make for a perfect match to accelerate the development of future therapeutic options for patients suffering with immune-mediated disease,” said Jessica Mega, M.D., co-founder of Verily and the Alphabet subsidiary’s chief medical and scientific officer.



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The new project with Verily builds on Sosei Heptares’ past partnerships in the realm of GPCR targets. With Neurocrine, for example, the U.K.-based drugmaker is handing over access to several muscarinic receptor agonists identified using the StaR platform to treat neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and dementia.



Genentech, meanwhile, tapped Sosei’s GPCR-based drug design know-how in 2019 with a goal similar to that of the Verily collab. The partners are aiming to spot new targets for “a range of diseases,” which Genentech will then be able to further develop and bring to market.