Tokyo, Japan, London and Cambridge, UK, 5 October 2023 – Sosei Group Corporation ("Sosei Heptares"; TSE: 4565) and Verily, an Alphabet precision health technology company, today announced the successful validation and nomination of a first G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) target into early drug discovery for immune-mediated diseases with an initial indication focus of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
This scientific breakthrough between the companies is the first research milestone stemming from the strategic collaboration announced in 2022 that brings together the complementary capabilities of Verily's immune profiling technology and Sosei Heptares' GPCR structure-based drug design (SBDD) platform. The companies select drug targets by leveraging sophisticated computational analysis of genetic and functional genomic data and focused laboratory validation, resulting in increased confidence that identified targets have the highest relevance to human disease and significantly improved chances of clinical success.
Matt Barnes, President of Heptares Therapeutics and Head of UK R&D, commented: “Our SBDD platform has proven to be highly productive in generating pre-clinical and clinical candidates against GPCR drug targets across multiple disease areas. The accumulated knowledge we have generated around the tractability of GPCRs when combined with the unique insights gained by Verily’s Immune Profiler technology has facilitated our ability to rapidly identify, validate and nominate our first drug target together. We’re excited about this significant milestone from the collaboration and intend to progress this target into early drug discovery as well as continue to identify additional immune targets for future programs that have potential to benefit patients worldwide.”
Verily's proprietary Immune Profiler is a next generation immune mapping platform that combines high-resolution molecular phenotyping performed in Verily's labs and advanced computational analysis techniques to generate insights into immune system functions, particularly those influenced by genetic factors. Immune Profiler’s advanced analytics were deployed to identify a specific GPCR target for the treatment of IBD and have the potential to unlock new opportunities to modulate immune cell function and ameliorate disease pathology in other immune-mediated diseases.
“Eighteen months ago, we started with a blank slate and rapidly distilled our focus down to a small number of GPCR targets, based on supporting genetic and immunogenomic evidence,” states Charlie Kim, Head of Molecular Science at Verily. “Going from target concepts to novel, validated biology on such a fast timeline is an exciting demonstration of the power of the combined approaches that Sosei Heptares and Verily have brought together.”
According to the European Federation of Crohn's & Ulcerative Colitis Associations, there are 10 million people worldwide living with IBD (either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis). In the US, the prevalence of IBD increased from 2001 to 2018 and in the UK, a recent study found that cases of IBD have risen by 33% between 2006 and 2016. There is no cure for IBD, and current medications such as steroids and immunosuppressants used to slow the progression of disease have varying levels of efficacy. Surgery, which has risk of complications and consequences for quality of life, is the only other option if standard treatments fail, and is still necessary for a large portion of IBD patients.