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Gilead acquires Phenex liver disease drugs

Published on 07/01/15 at 01:22pm
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Gilead Sciences has acquired Phenex Pharmaceuticals’ development programme for the treatment of serious liver diseases.

The US biopharma firm will now have access to Phenex’s Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) which can be used for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

An upfront sum will be paid followed by additional outgoings of up to $470 million upon the achievement of certain development milestones.

“This agreement represents a significant milestone for our company and for the field of liver disease research,” says Dr Claus Kremoser, chief executive of Phenex.

“After 15 years of research, FXR is now one of the few clinically validated targets for NASH and we are delighted that Gilead will be continuing the research necessary to more fully realise its potential for advanced liver disease.”

NASH is a serious chronic liver disease characterised by inflammation and excessive fat accumulation and can lead to progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis and organ failure. FXR is a nuclear hormone receptor that regulates bile acid, lipid and glucose homeostasis, which can help reduce liver steatosis and inflammation, and may help prevent liver fibrosis.

“The acquisition of Phenex’s FXR programme represents an important opportunity to accelerate Gilead’s efforts to develop new treatment options that address fibrotic liver diseases,” comments Dr Norbert Bischofberger, Gilead’s executive vice president of R&D and chief scientific officer.

“We look forward to working closely with Phenex’s research and development team to advance the FXR program into clinical development as quickly as possible to explore its potential in areas of significant unmet need,” concludes Bischofberger.

NASH along with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – whose prevalence has doubled during the last 20 years – have become the number one causes of liver disease in developed countries.

With no approved therapies to treat NASH the vital organ disease is estimated to affect between 10 to 20% of people in developed countries.

More than 100 million people worldwide are projected to be suffering from NAFLD. Both conditions are key health issues in developing regions.

Tom Robinson

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