Genentech buys NASH biotech Jecure

Roche’s Genentech unit has bought California biotech Jecure Therapeutics, which is researching drugs that could be used in inflammatory diseases including the fatty liver disease NASH.

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a disease targeted by several pharma companies, who see it as a source of billions of dollars in revenue.

So far there are no approved treatments for NASH, which is poised to become the leading cause of liver transplants by 2020, as drugs cure more and more patients of hepatitis C.

Now Roche is hoping to get in on the action with the acquisition of San Diego-based Jecure for an undisclosed sum.

Jecure has a preclinical portfolio of NLRP-3 class drugs used to treat inflammatory and autoimmune disorders such as NASH, liver fibrosis, gout, inflammatory bowel disease and cardiovascular diseases.

Jecure began operations in 2015 with a seed financing from founding investor Versant Ventures.

The company raised $20 million in a Series A round from Versant in 2017 to continue to develop and advance its portfolio of NLRP3 inhibitors.

Nucleotide-binding oligomerisation (NOD)-like Receptor Family Pyrin Domain Containing Protein 3 (NLRP3) is an immunomodulatory protein involved in the activation of protein complexes responsible for the activation of cellular inflammatory responses.

Studies have linked cellular stress signals to the activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes in a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

James Sabry, global head of pharma partnering at Roche, said: “We’ve had a long-standing interest in targeting inflammatory pathways that may play a role in a number of serious diseases.

“We’re excited to combine Jecure’s portfolio with our discovery and development capabilities, as well as our expertise in NLRP3 biology, to potentially help people with inflammatory diseases.”

Jeffrey Stafford, president and CEO of Jecure, said: “Genentech has an extensive history of translating pioneering science into transformative medicines.

“The acquisition of Jecure provides a unique opportunity to bring novel NLRP3 inhibitors to patients.”

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