Pfizer and Heptares Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sosei, have signed a drug discovery collaboration agreement, focused on G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets across multiple therapeutic areas.

The companies will research and develop potential new medicines directed at up to ten GPCR targets.

Under the deal, Heptares will apply its GPCR structure-guided platform to help offer stabilised GPCRs (StaR proteins), high-resolution crystal structures and other technologies for supporting the discovery of potential new therapies directed to the GPCR targets to be selected by Pfizer.

Pfizer will oversee the development and commercialisation of any potential therapeutic agents for each target and will also have exclusive global rights to any potential resulting agents from the collaboration.

"This extensive partnership with Pfizer is an important step toward realising full potential of Heptares’ technology."

The deal will see Heptares receive an undisclosed initial payment as well as potential research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to $189m per target.

Sosei CEO Shinichi Tamura said: "This extensive partnership with Pfizer is an important step toward realising full potential of Heptares’ technology.

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"Alliances of this kind also play an important role in achieving Sosei’s ambition for becoming a leading global biopharmaceutical company of Japanese origin."

In addition, Heptares is eligible to receive potential tiered royalties on the net sales of any products that are commercialised by Pfizer.

Heptares CEO Malcolm Weir said: "This strategic collaboration with Pfizer, spanning as it does many targets and indications, is another significant achievement for Heptares and recognises the potential clinical benefit that may be realisable through the combination of our continuing leadership in GPCR structure-based design technology and Pfizer’s global therapeutic drug discovery and development capabilities."

Furthermore, Pfizer Seiyaku KK (Pfizer KK) has agreed to buy $33m of newly issued common stock of Sosei at a premium of 25% to the average closing price during the 20 days preceding the closing date, which is expected to occur this month.

The investment will represent about 3.02% of Sosei share capital, and is subject to review by Japanese financial authorities.