Boehringer Ingelheim is having another crack at using RNA to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Six years after inking deals for a pair of prospects, the German drugmaker has committed more than $2 billion in biobucks to enter into a multi-target pact with a Chinese biotech and its Swedish subsidiary.
The latest deal sees Boehringer team up with Suzhou Ribo Life Science and Ribocure Pharmaceuticals, a pair of affiliated biotechs with expertise in small interfering RNA (siRNA). Boehringer plans to combine that expertise with its own experience of treating cardiovascular, renal and metabolic diseases to create treatments for NASH, also now known as metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis.
Ribo’s work is underpinned by RIBO-GalSTAR. In a statement, Boehrinher said the platform enables the development of RNAi drugs that target disease-causing genes specifically in liver cells by silencing their mRNAs. The approach could unlock previously inaccessible drug targets.
Boehringer is yet to disclose the targets it will work on with Ribo, or share a detailed breakdown of the financial aspects of the deal. The drugmaker is making an upfront payment of undisclosed size and is on the hook for clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, plus tiered royalties, that bring the potential value of the deal up above $2 billion.