Collaboration to develop treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders 

Neurocrine Biosciences and Sosei Group Corporation have collaborated to develop novel muscarinic receptor agonists, which Neurocrine Biosciences intends to study in the treatment for schizophrenia, dementia and other neuropsychiatric disorders. 

The agreement terms 

Under the terms of the agreement, Neurocrine Biosciences gains development and commercialisation rights to a broad portfolio of novel clinical and preclinical subtype-selective muscarinic M4, M1 and dual M1/M4 receptor agonists discovered by Sosei Heptares in development for the treatment of major neurological disorders. The most advanced programme, HTL-0016878, is a selective M4 agonist. Neurocrine Biosciences plans to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application and initiate a placebo-controlled Phase II study with HTL-0016878 as a potential treatment for schizophrenia in 2022. 


Muscarinic receptors are central to brain function and validated as drug targets in psychosis and cognitive disorders. Sosei Heptares has discovered selective muscarinic M4, M1 and M1/M4 dual agonists that offer the potential to deliver therapeutic effects while avoiding both the harmful side effects caused by non-selective agonists and efficacy issues experienced in some older patients caused by positive allosteric modulators that require cooperativity of diminishing levels of acetylcholine. Sosei Heptares achieved this through application of its world leading G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) stabilised receptor platform (StaR) and subsequent translational medicine studies. 

Official comments 

“Our partnership collaboration with Sosei Heptares to advance their selective muscarinic agonist portfolio leverages the strengths of both our organisations with one goal in mind, to bring important medicines to patients who need better treatment options,” said Kevin Gorman, Chief Executive Officer at Neurocrine Biosciences. “We continue to add potential best-in-class compounds to our growing pipeline, which further positions Neurocrine Biosciences as a leading neuroscience-focused biopharmaceutical company.” 

Shinichi Tamura, President and CEO of Sosei Heptares, added: “We are delighted to partner with Neurocrine Biosciences to advance our selective muscarinic receptor agonist portfolio. The deal highlights the significant potential value within this portfolio and brings to bear the substantial expertise of the Neurocrine team, which is highly experienced in developing and commercialising novel products for patients with neurological and psychiatric diseases globally. It also enables Sosei Heptares to retain rights in Japan, where we are confident that we can make important progress leveraging our own expertise to advance novel candidates that aim to address this major unmet need. Overall, the deal is a great example of our strategy to combine our drug design and early development capabilities with those of later stage development and commercialisation partners, while also providing significant funding to expand and advance our own pipeline.” 

Image credit: Josh Riemer

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