NewsBoehringer Ingelheim and Sosei Heptares join forces to develop first-in-class treatments

Boehringer Ingelheim and Sosei Heptares join forces to develop first-in-class treatments

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Boehringer Ingelheim and Sosei Group Corporation announced they have entered a global collaboration and exclusive option-to-license agreement. At the center is a joint mission to develop and commercialize Sosei Heptares’ portfolio of first-in-class GPR52 agonists, a novel G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) target, with the intent to improve patient outcomes by simultaneously addressing positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a serious condition that affects about 1 in 100 people worldwide. Three clusters of symptoms characterize it :
  • ‘Positive’ symptoms – such as psychosis, delusions and hallucinations
  • ‘Negative’ symptoms – such as social withdrawal and apathy
  • Cognitive symptoms – such as attention, planning and memory deficits

The impact of these symptoms on people’s ability to cope with normal day-to-day life is significant. The related burden on carers and society at large is substantial, especially since the age of onset of the disease is typically in the 20’s. While ‘positive’ symptoms can be stabilized with antipsychotics, some of which can have side effects. There are currently no approved medicines for ‘negative’ or cognitive symptoms.

The development of a new schizophrenia treatment targeting GPR52 has the potential to address all three aspects of schizophrenia providing a novel precision treatment. This is based on the location of the receptor in the two areas of the brain that drive the positive (the striatum) and the negative and cognitive symptoms (the prefrontal cortex). The GPR52 agonism calms the striatum while boosting frontal cortical function, which achieves further precision in treatment.

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“We’re very excited to enter this partnership with Sosei Heptares with this novel approach, which aims to address a huge unmet need of those living with schizophrenia. This partnership is highly complementary to our other development programs aiming to bring a new precision medicine approach to the treatment of mental health disorders with therapies, which we hope will transform the lives of those living with schizophrenia,” states Hugh Marston, Global Head CNS Discovery Research at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Matt Barnes, President of Heptares Therapeutics and Head of UK R&D at Sosei Heptares, commented: “This collaboration highlights the significant potential GPR52 has shown in preclinical research as a novel, first-in-class target for the treatment of schizophrenia and related neurological disorders. We’re delighted to partner with Boehringer Ingelheim and leverage its leading expertise in neurological disease research and innovation. Together, we will focus on accelerating the development of this highly innovative program which is currently in a Phase 1 clinical research study, towards patients in need.”

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