Sosei Heptares, a corporate brand of Sosei Group Corporation, has signed a new drug discovery partnership and option-to-license agreement with AbbVie for discovering, developing and marketing new therapies for neurological ailments.

Under the deal, the companies will develop small molecules that can modulate new G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets linked to neurological diseases. 

The alliance will use StaR technology and the structure-based drug design (SBDD) platform of Sosei Heptares, as well as the wide-ranging capabilities of AbbVie in neuroscience and disease area. 

This new agreement builds on an initial multi-target discovery deal entered by Sosei Heptares and AbbVie in June 2020, focusing on inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

According to the new partnership, Sosei Heptares will carry out and finance the research and development (R&D) works till the conclusion of the investigational new drug (IND)-facilitating studies. 

At this point, AbbVie will hold an exclusive option for licensing up to three programmes and will subsequently oversee the clinical, regulatory and commercial development. 

On signing of the deal, AbbVie will make an upfront payment of $40m to Sosei Heptares.

Furthermore, Sosei Heptares is entitled to get up to $40m in near-term research milestone payments over the coming three years.

The company will also receive up to $1.2bn in additional potential payments on meeting option, development and commercial milestones.

Additionally, AbbVie will make tiered royalty payments based on global product sales to Sosei Heptares.

Sosei Heptares UK Research & Development head Matt Barnes said: “We are delighted to enter this new multi-target discovery collaboration with AbbVie in the neuroscience area, a therapeutic area in which we share deep and complementary experience and expertise. 

“We have established a highly productive working relationship with our counterparts at AbbVie over the past two years through our initial collaboration and are very pleased with how this is progressing.”

In May, AbbVie entered an exclusive global licence option agreement for Cugene’s CUG252 to treat autoimmune and inflammatory ailments.