Japan’s Sosei has acquired Heptares Therapeutics of the UK in a deal that could be worth up to $400 million.

The Tokyo-headquartered group is paying $180 million of that upfront to get hold of Heptares’ medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), “a superfamily” of 375 receptors linked to a wide range of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, diabetes, schizophrenia and migraine. It has a number of partnerships in place for its StaR technology platform with the likes of AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck & Co-owned Cubist, MorphoSys and Takeda.

Heptares was founded in 2007 but currently has just one project in the clinic - a Phase Ib  trial of its muscarinic M1 receptor agonist for cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Sosei chief executive Shinichi Tamura said it is “an historic day” for the firm, claiming that Heptares is based on “truly world-class science and its drug discovery and development capabilities will contribute to a sustainable stream of new products for the group”. He added that “an independent subsidiary structure will ensure Heptares is able to maintain the culture and business model that has been the foundation of its success so far”.

His counterpart at Heptares, Malcolm Weir, said the deal represents “a great example of the translation of ground-breaking UK academic science into economic and potential therapeutic value”. He added that the Sosei link-up “secures significant investment into our technology platform and clinical pipeline well into the future”.