A $200 million-dollar agreement has been made between Boehringer Ingelheim and Dicerna Pharmaceuticals for the collaboration to combat chronic liver diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH) with RNAi treatments.
The deal entails Boehringer paying an upfront fee to Dicerna and then committing to a series of milestones as well as research and development funding. In return, Boehringer acquires Dicerna’s RNAi technology platform adding it to its pipeline of cardiometabolic diseases treatments.
Neither company has fully explained how GalXC’s, the drug, subcutaneous administration of RNAi therapeutics will be applied to the treatment of NASH or any other disease. GalXC works without using formulation components to aid delivery. Once it enters the bloodstream, the drugs molecules travel to the liver and hepatocyte cells and act on their RNAi machinery.
This is not the first RNA-based approach for the treatment of NASH. Other companies such as AstraZeneca and Regulus Therapeutics went into phase 2 with their candidate microRNA AZD4076. The program was cut earlier in this year. Also last year, Bristol-Myers came into the space after landing a deal with Nitto Denko for its phase 1b targeted siRNA lipid nanoparticle ND-L02-s0201 which was created to target heat shock protein 47.
Boehringer’s conclusion for the exploration of RNAi technology to treat NASH resulted from its past agreement with Pharmaxis about two years ago. The agreement included $31 million upfront and up to $222 million in milestones payments which then had given Boehringer the rights to a drug created to block leukocyte adhesion and tissue infiltration during inflammation.
The Dicerna program provides Boehringer a new and possibly more valuable treatment for patients that suffer from NASH and other chronic diseases. If other Boehringer and other Pharma companies such as Genfit, Intercept, and Allergan gain FDA approval an entirely new world of treatment options will become available for NASH patients.