BMS extends fibrosis research with Calibr collaboration

Bristol-Myers Squibb has unveiled a new research collaboration in the area of anti-fibrotic therapies, an area tipped for huge market growth.

The US pharma company is to work with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr) on developing novel small molecule anti-fibrotic therapies, and has signed an exclusive licence agreement that allows it to develop, manufacture and commercialise Calibr’s preclinical compounds resulting from the collaboration.

The new alliance with Calibr represents a further commitment to the field of fibrosis treatment, a therapy area that has been opened up by two new treatments for the lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), Roche’s Esbriet and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev.

BMS wants to compete in the IPF market and other fibrosis therapy areas, and already has drugs in the pipeline. BMS-986020, a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist is in Phase 2 development for IPF, and a CCR2/5 dual antagonist is in Phase 2 for diabetic kidney disease.

In November, BMS acquired an exclusive option on worldwide rights to Galecto Biotech’s lead asset TD139, a novel inhaled inhibitor of galectin-3 in Phase 1 development for the treatment of IPF and other pulmonary fibrotic conditions.

Another notable companies in the field is Gilead – its candidate simtuzumab is being studied as a combination with FOLFIRI for advanced colorectal cancer, with ruxolitinib for myelofibrosis, as monotherapy for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and for liver fibrosis caused by non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

NASH is a type of ‘fatty liver disease’, the rising incidence of which is closely linked to the global increase in obesity. The disease can progress to cirrhosis in 15-20 per cent of patients, with a high risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.

A number of smaller companies are also involved in developing drugs for NASH – US firms Galectin Therapeutics, Intercept and Raptor, France’s Genfit and Israel’s Galmed, with key data announcements expected throughout 2015.

Analysts say market-leading products for NASH could secure sales well in excess of $1 billion. There is also room for better drugs in IPF, as the two new market entrants can only slow the progress of the disease, not halt or reverse it.


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