BI buys rights to NASH-targeted tech from Singapore’s Enleofen

Boehringer Ingelheim has bought rights to preclinical technology aimed at fibro-inflammatory diseases including the fatty liver disease known as NASH, a prime target for many pharma companies.

The German pharma aims to develop therapies for several fibrotic diseases, including NASH, also known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and interstitial lung diseases (ILDs).

The deal with Singapore-based Enleofen will see the company receive in excess of $1 billion per product up front and success-based development and marketing milestones.

IL-11 is a cytokine, a communication protein that plays a role in fibro-inflammatory conditions.

Blocking it has been shown to inhibit disease across many organs including the liver, lung, kidney, bowel, heart and skin.

In preclinical studies, antibody-based IL-11 antagonists were able to prevent and reverse inflammation and fibrosis, and restore organ function.

Founded in 2017, Enleofen is a spin-out from the National Heart Centre Singapore at SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School under the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.

Boehringer Ingelheim will now develop the technology further and plans to work jointly with scientists at the AMC to accelerate the platform into clinical development.

The initial focus will be on novel therapies for patients with NASH and ILDs, two of Boehringer Ingelheim’s core disease focus areas, with a potential to expand into further fibro-inflammatory conditions based on IL-11’s central role in disease.

BI showed its determination to tackle NASH as long ago as 2015, when it paid around $600 million for a drug developed by Australia’s Pharmaxis.

PXS4728A is an oral inhibitor of vascular adhesion protein-1 (VAP-1) that blocks infiltration of white blood cells into tissues.

However Boehringer axed development of that drug at the beginning of last month after deciding that there were too many issues with interactions with other medicines.

In the meantime, there are still no approved drugs for NASH, although the FDA’s review of Intercept’s obeticholic acid in NASH continues with a decision due in April.

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