UCB has signed an agreement with ConfometRx, a US company founded by Stanford University professor and Nobel Prize winner Brian Kobilka, to discover medicines "addressing unmet medical needs in neuroscience".

As part of the two-year multi-target pact, UCB and ConfometRx will investigate G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) modulation and its use in the design of differentiated drugs. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed but it includes an upfront payment, research funding and success-based milestones.

GPCRs are the largest family of signalling proteins in the human genome and, being "involved in virtually all physiological processes…represent the single largest target class for medicines on the market", UCB said. Ismail Kola, president of new medicines at the Belgian drugmaker, said GPCR crystallisation "remains a challenge and requires state-of-the-art technologies as well as expertise".

He noted that Prof Kobilka was awarded the chemistry Nobel prize in 2012 for his work in the field of GPCR structural biology, and said that the collaboration with ConfometRx "is another example of UCB's strategies at work where we are continuing to build super-networks of innovation".

Cimzia filed for psoriatic arthritis and axSpA

Meantime, UCB has submitted regulatory filings in Europe and the USA to expand the label on Cimzia (certolizumab pegol).

Across the Atlantic, Cimzia is currently approved for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease and for RA in Europe. Now, the company hopes to get marketing authorisation extended to cover psoriatic arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis.