Heptares Therapeutics Announces Agreement With Novartis Option Fund to Apply its StaR(TM) Technology and Generate Novel Drug Leads Against a GPCR Target

Monday, October 12, 2009 General News
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WELWYN GARDEN CITY, England, October 12

- Terms Include up to $200 million in Potential Fees and MilestonesPlus Royalties

Heptares Therapeutics Ltd, the drug discovery company focusedon G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets, announced today that it hasentered into an option agreement with the Novartis Option Fund under whichHeptares will apply its proprietary StaR(TM) technology to generate noveldrug leads against a nominated, unspecified GPCR target of interest toNovartis. The agreement includes upfront and potential milestone payments toHeptares totaling up to $200 million plus royalties. Full financial termswere not disclosed.

StaR technology enables GPCRs, normally membrane-bound, to beworked on in solution, allowing the use of structure-based drug discoverytechnologies and the discovery of novel drugs addressing this important setof targets. Heptares is deploying this technology principally to generatesmall molecule drugs against currently difficult or intractable GPCR targetsin several disease areas.

Under the terms of the agreement with the Novartis OptionFund, Heptares will apply its StaR technology to a target identified byNovartis and drive a drug discovery programme against that target.

"This is an excellent early deal for Heptares, endorsing ourStaR technology and further strengthening our financial position," saidMalcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares Therapeutics. "The deal with the NovartisOption Fund demonstrates confidence that our approach can unlock thepotential of GCPR targets and forms a solid foundation for other partnershipswith leading pharmaceutical companies."

"The potential of GPCRs as targets for drug discovery is wellrecognized, but it has always been a challenge to gain structural informationon GPCRs," said Anja Koenig for the Novartis Option Fund. "We believe thatthe power of Heptares' technology to resolve GPCR structures and theirexpertise in small molecule chemistry will lead to rapid progress in the drugdiscovery programme against Novartis' nominated target."

The Novartis Option Fund invested GBP7 million in Heptares'GBP21 million fundraising announced in February 2009 in a syndicate with MVMLife Science Partners and Clarus Ventures.

About Heptares Therapeutics Ltd

Heptares is a drug discovery company focused on identifyingnovel drug candidates targeting validated G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs)in several disease areas. Based on its unique StaR(TM) technology platform,Heptares has built an integrated drug discovery capability and aims toprogress promising candidates internally and through strategic alliances.

GPCRs are the single most important family of drug targets inthe human body, but because of their inherent instability they are refractoryto structural studies and biochemical screening. StaR technology enables theengineering of stabilised GPCRs, making them amenable to these vital drugdiscovery approaches. There are many clinically relevant GPCR targets acrossa wide range of therapeutic areas where discovery is advancing slowly and forwhich structural information, novel screening approaches and potentialantibody therapeutics would greatly enhance progress.

Heptares was founded in 2007 and its StaR technology arose outof the pioneering work of Heptares' founding scientists at the MRC Laboratoryof Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK) and the National Institute for MedicalResearch (London, UK).

For more information, see http://www.heptares.com

About the Novartis Option Fund

The Novartis Option Fund is a $200 million fund that is partof the Novartis Venture Funds. Established in 1996, the Novartis VentureFunds currently manage over $750 million in committed capital and is investedin more than 50 private companies. The objective of the Novartis Option Fundis to seed innovative companies through initial and follow on investments.The initial investment is coupled with an option to a specific therapeuticprogram providing early validation for the company's technology by a largerpharmaceutical partner. The Novartis Venture Funds' team of eight investmentprofessionals located in Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, Massachusetts,brings together extensive expertise in the biotech and pharmaceuticalindustry and venture capital.

For more information: http://www.venturefund.novartis.com

Contact Information: Heptares Therapeutics Ltd Dr Malcolm Weir Phone: +44(0)1707-358-629 Mobile: +44(0)7968-947268 E-mail: malcolm.weir@heptares.com Citigate Dewe Rogerson Dr Mark Swallow, Dr Chris Gardner Phone: +44(0)20-7282-2948 E-mail: mark.swallow@citigatedr.co.uk

Contact Information: Heptares Therapeutics Ltd, Dr Malcolm Weir, Phone: +44(0)1707-358-629, Mobile: +44(0)7968-947268, E-mail: malcolm.weir@heptares.com; Citigate Dewe Rogerson, Dr Mark Swallow, Dr Chris Gardner, Phone: +44(0)20-7282-2948, E-mail: mark.swallow@citigatedr.co.uk

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