business-agreement-300x133Heptares Therapeutics, the wholly owned subsidiary of Sosei Group, announces the launch of a new research collaboration, under its ORBIT initiative, with the University of Cambridge.

This new collaboration will support a 3-year programme with the academic group of Dr Anthony Davenport at the Department of Experimental Medicine and Immunotherapeutics at the University of Cambridge.

Research activities will focus on the discovery of novel molecules that target and modulate the apelin receptor, a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) found on the surface of cells in the lung, heart and vascular system, and implicated in a range of cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Davenport commented: “We have made great strides in recent years to increase our understanding of the role of the apelin receptor system and its involvement in cardiovascular diseases. It is an exciting target and we are delighted to be advancing this research with Heptares to better understand the role of apelin and related peptides with a view to informing the optimal way of targeting the apelin system to treat cardiovascular diseases.”

Fiona Marshall, Chief Scientific Officer of Heptares, said: “The collaboration with Dr Davenport’s group is a great example of how the ORBIT programme supports our strategy to expand the reach of our technology to new targets, in particular through an investment in translational medicine and understanding the role of GPCRs through studies on human tissues. The apelin receptor is emerging as an exciting new target in the regulation of cardiovascular function and offers a unique approach to treat a number of serious cardiovascular diseases.”

Further information about ORBIT: ORBIT (Opportunities in Receptor Biology for Industrial Translation) is a collaborative research initiative launched by Heptares in February 2016 and designed to promote and broaden the application of its proprietary structure-based drug design expertise directed at GPCRs to create transformative medicines. Heptares is committing up to £5 million during the next 3 years to fund this new initiative.

ORBIT will see Heptares collaborate with leading academic groups and emerging biotechnology companies. ORBIT aims to leverage the expertise of collaborators to seek out new links between GPCRs and diseases and develop a better understanding of disease biology relating to a broad range of GPCR targets. In parallel, Heptares will apply its world-leading GPCR-targeted drug discovery and translational medicine capabilities to generate a new wave of novel small molecules and biologics for advancement through its development pipeline.

Since its launch in February 2016, Heptares has initiated two programmes under the initiative: with Imperial College London’s National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) focused on an orphan receptor that is implicated in a range of immune disorders including asthma and inflammatory bowel disease; and with the University of Cambridge based on the apelin receptor in cardiovascular diseases.