Novartis expands development programs for NASH through clinical collaboration with Allergan

NovartisNovartis announced today that it has entered into a clinical trial agreement with Allergan plc to conduct a Phase IIb study, involving the combination of a Novartis FXR agonist and Allergan's cenicriviroc (CVC) for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The financial details of this transaction are not disclosed.

NASH is the progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, inflammation and fibrosis (scarring), and can eventually lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. NASH is a major cause of liver disease worldwide and the leading cause of liver transplants for people under 50 in the US[1]. There are currently no approved treatments for NASH.

"Our clinical collaboration with Allergan expands our development programs for NASH, bringing together science and expertise to investigate a potential new combination therapy in an effort to make a positive change for people living with this condition," said Vas Narasimhan, Global Head, Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer, Novartis. "We believe that collaboration is key to developing the best possible treatments that are urgently needed for NASH patients."

CVC is a once-daily, oral, Phase III ready potent immunomodulator that blocks two chemokine receptors, CCR2 and CCR5, which are involved in inflammatory and fibrogenic pathways. In the Phase IIb CENTAUR study, CVC demonstrated a clinically meaningful improvement in fibrosis of at least one stage without worsening of NASH after one year of treatment, which is one of only two approvable Phase III endpoints. With its unique Mechanism of Action (MOA) and its favorable safety profile, CVC represents an ideal candidate to become the backbone of NASH multi-therapy treatment. CVC has been granted Fast Track designation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in patients with NASH and liver fibrosis.

Novartis is developing Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonists for the treatment of chronic liver diseases, including NASH. The most advanced investigational compound is a potent, non-bile acid FXR agonist, which recently received Fast Track designation from the FDA and is in a Phase II clinical trial. As part of this agreement, Novartis and Allergan will conduct a Phase IIb clinical trial to assess the safety, efficacy and tolerability of a combination therapy for NASH.

In December 2016, Novartis announced an exclusive option for a collaboration and license agreement with Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc. to jointly develop emricasan for NASH. Emricasan is an investigational, first-in-class, oral, pan-caspase inhibitor and our agreement with Conatus has the potential to expand treatment options for people in various stages of NASH, including those with the advanced form of the disease, NASH cirrhosis. Both collaborations with Conatus and Allergan continue to support the growing Novartis portfolio to develop new therapies in chronic liver diseases, including NASH.

About Novartis FXR agonists
Novartis scientists began to develop leads for the FXR agonism program in 2007. Through this effort, several non-bile acid FXR agonists have been identified and pre-clinical data demonstrates that these compounds are very selective with differentiated biological profiles. FXR agonists have been shown to address three of the most important aspects of NASH progression by reducing fat, inflammation and fibrosis in the liver. First-in-human studies have continued to support their differentiated profiles and their potential for further development. Two Novartis FXR agonists are now in worldwide clinical studies in NASH patients and both have received Fast Track designation status from the FDA.

About Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
NASH is a chronic, progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is a leading cause of liver disease worldwide and it is estimated to affect 3% to 5% of the US population alone[2]. As fat builds up in the liver, it triggers a vicious cycle of chronic inflammation and liver scarring called fibrosis. Over time, liver inflammation and fibrosis may progress to cirrhosis, which can lead to liver failure and, barring a transplant, death. NASH is expected to be the principal cause of liver transplantation in the US by 2020[3] and is currently the leading cause of liver transplants for people under 50 in the US[1].

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic and biosimilar pharmaceuticals and eye care. Novartis has leading positions globally in each of these areas. In 2016, the Group achieved net sales of USD 48.5 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.0 billion. Novartis Group companies employ approximately 118,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are sold in approximately 155 countries around the world.

1. Banini BA, et al. Abstract #46. Presented at: American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting; Oct. 14-19, 2016; Las Vegas, NV.
2. Vernon G, Baranova A, Younossi ZM. Systematic review: the epidemiology and natural history of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in adults. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011;34(3):274-85.
3. Charlton MR, Burns JM, Pedersen RA, Watt KD, Heimbach JK, Dierkhising RA. Frequency and Outcomes of Liver Transplantation for Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis in the United States. Gastroenterology; 2011:141 (4):e22-e23.

Most Popular Now

Study finds lack of racial diversity in cancer dru…

New research published in JAMA Oncology has found a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials for cancer drugs. The study - conducted by researchers from UBC...

Preventing tumor metastasis

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute, together with colleagues from the pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, have taken an important step towards the dev...

A new drug could revolutionize the treatment of ne…

The international team of scientists from Gero Discovery LLC, the Institute of Biomedical Research of Salamanca, and Nanosyn, Inc. has found a potential drug that may pre...

Interactions discovered in cells insulating nerve …

Schwann cells form a protective sheath around nerve fibres and ensure that nerve impulses are transmitted rapidly. If these cells are missing or damaged, severe neurologi...

Roche's first FDA-approved tumour-agnostic medicin…

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Rozlytrek™ (entrectinib) for the treatment of adults with R...

Anniversary of the pivotal RE-LY® trial marks a de…

Boehringer Ingelheim today announces the ten-year anniversary of the RE-LY® trial publication(1-3) recognising the contribution made in the decade since by patients, heal...

AstraZeneca agrees to buy US FDA Priority Review V…

AstraZeneca announced that it has agreed to buy a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Priority Review Voucher (PRV) for a total cash consideration of $95m from a subsid...

The Pfizer Foundation invests in 20 organizations …

The Pfizer Foundation announced 20 grants* to help non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits and social enterprises address critical health challenges related to...

FDA grants Fast Track designation for Farxiga in c…

AstraZeneca today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation for the development of Farxiga (dapagliflozin) to delay the ...

Pfizer invests half billion dollars to advance sta…

Pfizer announced an additional half billion dollar investment for the construction of its state-of-the-art gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford, North Carolina...

Amgen and Allergan announce positive top-line resu…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Allergan plc. (NYSE:AGN) today announced positive top-line results from a comparative clinical study evaluating the efficacy and safety of ABP 798...

Breast cancer can form 'sleeper cells' after drug …

Breast cancer medicines may force some cancer cells into 'sleeper mode', allowing them to potentially come back to life years after initial treatment. These are the early...