Sosei Heptares has entered into an exclusive discovery collaboration and option to license agreement with AbbVie to develop advanced small molecules targeting inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Under the collaboration, the companies are initially aimed at the discovery, development and commercialisation of medicines that modulate G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets chosen by Abbvie.

AbbVie Discover Immunology vice president Lisa Olson said: “Continued innovation across Immunology remains a key AbbVie priority.

“Combining AbbVie’s more than two decades of expertise in Immunology with researchers developing cutting-edge technologies best positions us to offer patients new hope for advanced, next-generation treatment for autoimmune diseases.”

Sosei Heptares will receive $32m upfront and $377m in future milestone payments

Under the terms of the agreement, Sosei Heptares is entitled to receive an upfront payment of up to $32m and up to $377m, in near-term milestone payments, along with the potential option, development and commercial milestones, and tiered royalties on global sales of those medicines.

AbbVie will hold the option to expand the collaboration up to a total of four targets and can exercise its exclusive license options and assume responsibility for global development and commercialisation by paying the license fees.

Sosei would leverage its unique StaR technology and GPCR-focused structure-based drug design (SBDD) capabilities under the collaboration. The company will fund the research and development activities by completing Investigational New Drug (IND) enabling studies.

Sosei Heptares executive vice chairman Malcolm Weir said: “We are delighted to begin this new partnership with AbbVie, which further extends the application of our technology to novel and exciting targets, and we look forward building a close working relationship as the programs advance.

“The ability to combine our unique technology and structure-based discovery and early development capabilities, particularly around challenging drug targets, with AbbVie’s extensive therapeutic area, development and global commercialisation expertise is a powerful approach to creating new improved therapeutics for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”