Japan's Sosei buys U.K. biotech Heptares Therapeutics

SINGAPORE--Japan's Sosei Group said it has acquired all of Heptares Therapeutics, a U.K.-based biotech focused on Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, in a deal worth as much as $400 million. Heptares has development partnerships with Takeda Pharmaceutical, AstraZeneca ($AZN) and other global giants.

The deal called for Sosei to pay Heptares $180 million, the rest contingent on the biotech continuing to successfully develop its pipeline of drugs, some of which Sosei said it considers potential blockbusters.

Malcolm Weir

Heptares is to be folded into the Sosei Group as a wholly owned subsidiary with co-founder Malcolm Weir staying on as CEO and taking on the additional title of chief research and development officer of Sosei Group. Shinichi Tamura is to continue as the group's CEO and chairman.

Sosei said it figured it bought a company highly successful in discovering drugs and carrying them through clinical trials. Sosei said it also would gain access to new global markets as well as added expertise in Europe, Japan and the United States. Not the least, it also was acquiring a firm with "a significant cash balance," it said in a release.

Among Heptares drugs already in development, Sosei said, were several targeting once-orphaned serious diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, ADHD and schizophrenia.

Sosei also gained collaborations Heptares already had with several major drug makers such MedImmune, Merck's ($MRK) Cubist, MorphoSys and Novartis ($NVS), in addition to AstraZeneca and Takeda.

Weir founded Heptares in 2007 and the firm developed its own technology platform capable of designing drugs based on a detailed understanding of the drug's target.

- read the press release here (PDF)