AstraZeneca has signed a licencing agreement with Sosei Group’s wholly owned subsidiary Heptares Therapeutics to develop novel immuno-oncology treatments.

Under the deal, AstraZeneca will acquire exclusive global rights from Heptares to develop, manufacture and commercialise the adenosine A2A receptor antagonist, HTL-1071, a small molecule immuno-oncology candidate.

Both the firms will also work together to discover further A2A receptor-blocking compounds for development in cancer immunotherapy.

"We hope to develop novel treatments with the potential to transform the lives of patients."

AstraZeneca innovative medicines and early development unit oncology head and vice-president Susan Galbraith said: "By combining the pioneering A2A receptor programme with the strength of AstraZeneca’s oncology portfolio, we hope to develop novel treatments with the potential to transform the lives of patients."

As part of the deal, AstraZeneca will pay an upfront payment of $10m to Heptares, in addition to significant near term milestone payments based on agreed pre-clinical and/or clinical events.

Heptares will also secure more than $500m and double-digit tiered royalties on net sales, subject to successful completion of development and commercialisation milestones.

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Heptares CEO Malcolm Weir said: "The A2A receptor programme at Heptares has been an outstanding example of our Structure Based Drug Design approach in action, resulting in a novel clinical candidate, HTL-1071, with a highly attractive profile."

According to AstraZeneca, the deal is subject to customary clearances under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.