Takeda Pharmaceutical has expanded its exclusive drug discovery partnership with biotechnology firm HemoShear Therapeutics to discover and develop additional new therapies for liver diseases.
The companies originally partnered in 2017. Their collaboration, which leveraged HemoShear’s REVEAL-Tx disease modelling platform, resulted in multiple early drug discovery therapeutic targets.
In the REVEAL-Tx platform, the therapeutic targets led to inhibition of biological processes involved in inflammation and fibrosis that could cause nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and liver cancer.
NASH is one of the leading causes for liver transplantation, and is a serious, chronic liver disease estimated to impact over 16 million people in the US alone. It is characterised by inflammation and excessive fat accumulation in the liver that may progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and eventually liver failure. There is currently no FDA approved therapeutic available for NASH and liver fibrosis patients.
Analysis with the platform also indicated that inhibition of these biological targets resulted in disease responses that were superior to established fibrosis mechanisms being currently targeted by other candidates.
Takeda Pharmaceutical GI Drug Discovery head Gareth Hicks said: “Our partnership with HemoShear has already borne fruit and we are enthusiastic about expanding the relationship.
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“We are planning to advance novel drug targets identified and validated by HemoShear into our discovery pipeline and look forward to bringing new therapies to the clinic.”
As per the original deal, Takeda provided upfront payments and R&D funding to HemoShear, and also gained exclusive access to REVEAL-Tx to discover and develop medications for specific liver diseases.
HemoShear was eligible for potential milestone payments of $470m and royalties.
HemoShear chief executive Jim Powers said: “We are excited that Takeda recognizes our unique ability to identify novel therapeutic approaches for liver fibrosis and NASH.
“We have an incredibly strong and productive relationship with Takeda and are happy to see our science drive their decision to expand our partnership.”