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Heptares and UK Medical Research Council Extend GPCR Collaboration

WELWYN GARDEN CITY, England, and BOSTON, June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Heptares Therapeutics, the leading GPCR drug discovery company, has extended its collaboration with the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), including its leading research groups at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB, Cambridge, UK) and MRC National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR, London, UK), on the structure and active conformations of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), and other transmembrane proteins. Building upon their existing relationship with the MRC, and in particular the group led by Chris Tate at the MRC LMB - an internationally recognised expert in structural biology of integral membrane proteins - Heptares will own certain IP and technology in the field, including that pertaining to agonist-induced GPCR states responsible for cell signalling, a key area for drug design.

"Our collaboration with the MRC over the past five years has increased our fundamental understanding of GPCR structure and function tremendously," said Malcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares Therapeutics. "Applying this knowledge has enabled Heptares to establish a leadership position in GPCR-targeted drug discovery and to create a structure-based discovery platform capable of addressing one of the most important but challenging target families. Continuing this relationship with MRC will ensure Heptares remains at the forefront of GPCR research and we are very pleased to continue working together."

Dave Tapolczay, CEO of MRC Technology, the MRC's technology transfer agent, said, "This collaboration between the MRC and Heptares is a great example of how world-class UK science can be developed in a commercial environment. The MRC has been responsible for some of the most important scientific discoveries of the past century, and it is exciting to see this collaboration developing into a real success story."

Heptares was founded in 2007 based on the pioneering research into GPCR stabilisation and structure carried out at the MRC LMB and NIMR. Since then, the Company has greatly advanced, streamlined and integrated this technology to create a powerful structure-based drug discovery platform that is enabling the generation of novel drug candidates that are potent and highly selective for important, yet previously poorly drugged or undruggable, GPCRs. The potential of this platform has also been recognized by pharmaceutical companies seeking to unlock the potential of GPCRs, enabling the Company to sign drug discovery deals with companies including AstraZeneca, MedImmune, Shire and Takeda.

About Heptares Therapeutics

Heptares discovers and develops new medicines targeting GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors), a super-family of drug targets linked to a wide range of human diseases.  The company has licensed its first drug candidate to Shire, established R&D collaborations with Takeda, AstraZeneca and MedImmune, and raised $40M in venture financing from MVM Life Science Partners, Clarus Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund and Takeda Ventures.  Heptares is an industry pioneer in GPCR structure-based drug design and has built a unique capability for discovering novel molecules that modulate historically undruggable or challenging GPCRs. Our integrated discovery platform includes proprietary technologies for engineering stabilised GPCRs in their natural pharmacological conformations, identifying previously unknown chemistries for GPCR protein-drug interactions, and deploying advanced fragment-based approaches to GPCR target space for the first time. Using this approach, we are generating a broad pipeline of drug candidates for serious CNS and metabolic disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety & depression, chronic insomnia, addiction and diabetes.  For more information, please visit

About the Medical Research Council

For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century.  

About MRC Technology

MRC Technology is a technology transfer company responsible for translating cutting edge scientific discoveries into commercial products.  MRC Technology adds value to cutting edge scientific discoveries through strategic patent protection and creative licensing of intellectual property (IP), through partnered research or through further scientific development. MRC Technology also has small molecule drug discovery and therapeutic antibody facilities, providing lead stage therapeutic assets to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.  

SOURCE Heptares Therapeutics
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