- Bristol-Myers Squibb dropped $100 million to gain access to Tokyo-based biopharma Nitto Denko's lead candidate for hepatic illness, the company announced Thursday.
- Per deal terms, Bristol-Myers will gain exclusive worldwide rights to the drug, ND-L02-s0201, as well as other small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules that regulate a protein linked to liver fibrosis. Bristol-Myers will be in charge of producing and marketing the acquired drugs, and is on the hook for milestones to Nitto.
- Fibrosis refers to the scarring of body tissues, which can negatively affect their function. Nitto's lead candidate works to inhibit HSP47, and is being tested in a 5-week, open-label Phase 1b trial as a treatment for liver fibrosis induced by hepatitis C or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Fibrosis is a core therapeutic area for Bristol-Myers, and the company has used M&A in recent years to stay competitive with other heavyweights in the space like Roche and Boehringer Ingelheim.
In August 2015, for example, Bristol-Myers bought novel therapeutics provider Promedior, taking control of its lead product for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and myelofibrosis that the FDA had previously designated for fast track. The company currently has at least six other fibrotic disease drugs in the pipeline.
Nitto's lead candidate has also received fast track designation. The treatment was of particular interest to Bristol-Myers as it complements the company's NASH offerings, according to a November 10 statement.
"Addressing the significant unmet need in fibrotic diseases is a key part of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s strategy to build a sustainable and diversified portfolio of transformational medicines," CEO Francis Cuss said in the statement.
On Nitto's end, the partnership gives its young pharmaceutical business the backing of a biopharma giant that can help it overcome regulatory and manufacturing hurdles faster.
“From now on, Nitto group will support Bristol-Myers Squibb for further development and will continue our efforts to develop other organ fibrosis treatments including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) through our newly established Nitto BioPharma Inc.," Nitto CEO Hideo Takasaki said in the statement.