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

October 12, 2009

WELWYN GARDEN CITY, England, October 12 /PRNewswire/ –

– Terms Include up to $200 million in Potential Fees and Milestones Plus
Royalties

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

StaR technology enables GPCRs, normally membrane-bound, to be worked on
in solution, allowing the use of structure-based drug discovery technologies
and the discovery of novel drugs addressing this important set of targets.
Heptares is deploying this technology principally to generate small molecule
drugs against currently difficult or intractable GPCR targets in several
disease areas.

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

“This is an excellent early deal for Heptares, endorsing our StaR
technology and further strengthening our financial position,” said Malcolm
Weir
, CEO of Heptares Therapeutics. “The deal with the Novartis Option Fund
demonstrates confidence that our approach can unlock the potential of GCPR
targets and forms a solid foundation for other partnerships with leading
pharmaceutical companies.”

“The potential of GPCRs as targets for drug discovery is well recognized,
but it has always been a challenge to gain structural information on GPCRs,”
said Anja Koenig for the Novartis Option Fund. “We believe that the power of
Heptares’ technology to resolve GPCR structures and their expertise in small
molecule chemistry will lead to rapid progress in the drug discovery
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 MVM Life Science
Partners and Clarus Ventures.

About Heptares Therapeutics Ltd

Heptares is a drug discovery company focused on identifying novel 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 to progress promising
candidates internally and through strategic alliances.

GPCRs are the single most important family of drug targets in the human
body, but because of their inherent instability they are refractory to
structural studies and biochemical screening. StaR technology enables the
engineering of stabilised GPCRs, making them amenable to these vital drug
discovery approaches. There are many clinically relevant GPCR targets across
a wide range of therapeutic areas where discovery is advancing slowly and for
which structural information, novel screening approaches and potential
antibody therapeutics would greatly enhance progress.

Heptares was founded in 2007 and its StaR technology arose out of the
pioneering work of Heptares’ founding scientists at the MRC Laboratory of
Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK) and the National Institute for Medical
Research (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 part of the
Novartis Venture Funds. Established in 1996, the Novartis Venture Funds
currently manage over $750 million in committed capital and is invested in
more than 50 private companies. The objective of the Novartis Option Fund is
to seed innovative companies through initial and follow on investments. The
initial investment is coupled with an option to a specific therapeutic
program providing early validation for the company’s technology by a larger
pharmaceutical partner. The Novartis Venture Funds’ team of eight investment
professionals located in Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, Massachusetts,
brings together extensive expertise in the biotech and pharmaceutical
industry 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

SOURCE Heptares Therapeutics Ltd


Source: newswire