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Sosei Heptares’ COVID-19 Program Identifies Potent Broad Spectrum Anti-Viral Small Molecules for Further Development

Sosei Heptares’ COVID-19 Program Identifies Potent Broad Spectrum Anti-Viral Small Molecules for Further Development


•       Program focused on inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 main protease, a highly conserved protein essential for viral replication

•       Structure-based design approach has identified potent compounds for further development as oral treatments for SARS-CoV-2 infection and related human coronaviruses

•       Program has advanced rapidly under an international collaboration of companies led by Sosei Heptares as part of its commitment to socially responsible investing


Tokyo, Japan and Cambridge, UK, 20 November 2020 – Sosei Group Corporation (“the Company”; TSE: 4565) announces a progress update for its R&D program focused on the design and development of novel drugs targeting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and to treat COVID-19.


The program was initiated in April 2020. To date, the Company has applied its world-leading structure-based drug design (SBDD) capabilities and cutting-edge technologies to precision-design new inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro protease, which plays a crucial role in viral replication1-4.


The Company is also aiming to leverage the highly conserved structure of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro protease as a basis for the design of novel oral small molecules against predicted future variants of SARS-CoV-2 and other related human viruses.  


Sosei Heptares has successfully designed three distinct series of compounds with attractive anti-viral drug-like properties and advanced the most promising molecules. These compounds have demonstrated high potency in inhibiting the activity of the Mpro protease as well as promising oral bioavailability and blood plasma levels in animal studies. Several compounds are being further optimized for preclinical studies. Details can be found at this link.


The program is being led by Sosei Heptares and progressed in collaboration with multiple companies including Syngene International, Domainex, Fidelta, o2h Discovery, Piramal, WuXi AppTec and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.


Miles Congreve, Chief Scientific Officer of Sosei Heptares, commented: “The response we have had from industry and academia to participate in this COVID-19 program has been exceptional and enabled the rapid progress we are reporting today. It has been a great collaborative effort to identify promising small molecules using our SBDD platform, and to progress them through the design phases so quickly to provide initial evidence of their potential as oral treatments for newly diagnosed COVID-19. The approach we are taking is also highly applicable to the design of potential new treatments for diseases caused by other human coronaviruses that may emerge in the future.  We look forward to continued success in this program and to additional discussions with prospective partners to support the development of these compounds into candidates suitable for clinical trials.”    


Sosei Heptares is looking to establish collaborations with industry partners to support this program and also to contribute its unique expertise to other areas under investigation as part of the global effort by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to find new treatments for COVID-19.


The Company has created a contact address for companies and researchers who would like to discuss possible collaborations.



1. R. Hilgenfeld, Febs J. (2014), 281, 4085-4096

2. T. Pillaiyar, et al, J. Med. Chem. (2016), 59, 6595-6628

3. L. Zhang, et al, Science (2020) DOI: 10.1126/science.abb3405

4. Z. Jin, et al, Nature (2020) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2223-y

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Last Updated: 20-Nov-2020