Sosei Heptares: it’s all about making life-changing medicine

By George Charles

Sosei Heptares’ mission is to make life-­changing medicines using world­-leading science and our vision is to become one of Japan’s global biopharmaceutical champions. We are advancing a broad and deep pipeline of development programmes in-house and with partners across multiple therapeutic areas, including neurology, immunology, gastroenterology and inflammatory diseases.

Our science and technology-­led approach to the discovery and development of new medicines leverages our proprietary G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)­-targeted Stabilised Receptor (StaR®) technology and structure-based drug design (SBDD) platform.

Why GPCRs?

GPCRs are a super-family of integral cell membrane proteins that are present on cells and tissues throughout the body. With around 400 known receptors, GPCRs are involved in signalling pathways that influence a wide range of biological processes that are implicated in many human diseases and disorders. GPCRs are targeted by approximately 34% of currently marketed drugs, which account for around 27% of the global market share of pharmaceutical sales.

Despite the prevalence of GPCRs, targeting this group of receptors remains challenging when wanting to design drugs specific for their structures and with optimised pharmacological characteristics rather than using traditional random compound-screening approaches. This is due to the instability of GPCRs when isolated from the cell membrane, which often prevents structure determination.

What makes us different?

Sosei Heptares has built a unique and powerful platform capability that overcomes this limitation to unlock the potential of GPCRs though:

  • Engineering of functional, stabilised GPCRs by engineering a small number of single point mutations on the receptor, so they retain their structural integrity even after they are removed from the cell membrane without compromising the receptor pharmacology
  • Determination of 3D structures of GPCRs and complexes with bound ligands by X-ray crystallography, Cryo-electron microscopy and biophysical mapping
  • Deployment of a fragment-based drug discovery approaches to GPCRs
  • Design of novel agents directed towards high-value yet historically hard-to-drug GPCR targets and with better safety and efficacy profiles.

A detailed, visual representation of the StaR process and the facilities at Sosei Heptares can be seen via the link below.

An Introduction to StaR Technology

Behind the scenes look at our State-of-the-Art R&D Centre

We currently have over 30 programmes in development in a range of indications, focused on areas of unmet patient need across neurology, immunology, gastroenterology, and inflammatory diseases.

Sosei Heptares is proud to support In2scienceUK because we absolutely believe in getting the experience of working as a scientist early on, not only to understand if science is the right career for you, but also to inform what type of scientist you would like to become. Learning the theory about experiments is very different to completing them in a lab-based setting and we want to support students and young people of all backgrounds to be able to access this. We are proud to have raised £1,090 for In2scienceUK so far, and we hope to inspire more young people to pursue careers in STEM!