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Corporate overview

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are well-known targets for small molecule drug discovery. In 2011, eight of the top 20 pharmaceutical products by global sales (according to pharmaceutical revenue figures reported by GlobalData) were small molecule drugs that target GPCRs. Total sales of these eight drugs reached more than US$5 billion. By 2013, however, just two of the top 20 pharmaceutical products were small molecules targeting GPCRs and global sales of these drugs had decreased dramatically. The success rate in clinical trials for new small molecule drugs targeting GPCRs is also diminishing.

At the same time, in the field of biotherapeutics, a new generation of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) is needed for the treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, to complement existing mAbs that target cytokines or their receptors and co-stimulatory molecules.

Targeting GPCRs with functional mAbs is an alternative approach that promises advantages compared with small molecules, including improved drugability, better selectivity for specific receptors and ability to limit systemic exposure. In addition, GPCRs may expand the range of available targets for biologics.

Since 2008, NBHL has focused on establishing a technology platform for the generation of functional mAbs targeting GPCRs to pioneer a new field in GPCR-targeted drug discovery, in collaboration with universities and other partners in Japan. The result is a proprietary technology platform, which is now attracting interest for its potential to be used as a research tool and for the generation of therapeutic antibodies.

NBHL has used the technology platform to discover promising mAbs targeting GPCRs for the treatment of respiratory diseases and chronic inflammation, which are being progressed towards clinical development.

In addition, NBHL has expanded its R&D program to focus on central nervous system (CNS) disorders, in particular insomnia and night wandering associated with Alzheimer’s disease. NBHL has discovered novel compounds for insomnia associated with Alzheimer’s disease and is progressing these towards clinical development. The technology platform for mAbs targeting GPCRs can also help to accelerate internal R&D programs for CNS.

NBHL’s core business model is to provide the pharmaceutical industry with innovative drug candidates, including mAbs targeting GPCRs and small molecules. Through collaborations with pharmaceutical companies, NBHL operates its proprietary technology platform to run drug discovery programs according to specifications provided by its customers.