Gilead has agreed to acquire Nimbus' drug for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or fatty liver disease, for $400 million upfront plus milestone payments that could total another $800 million.
The drug, known as NDI-010976, is an acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) inhibitor in phase 2 development. If left untreated, NASH can lead to liver inflammation and eventually cirrhosis. There is no cure.
The acquisition reinforces Gilead's commitment to its liver disease portfolio.
The market for NASH is anticipated to be worth $30 billion to $40 billion, according to Reuters, and several companies are developing drugs in this space. They include Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Conatus Pharmaceuticals and Gemfit, which is moving its candidate, Elafibranor, into phase 3 later this year in hopes of a 2019 launch.
Nimbus is part of the Cambridge, MA-based Atlas Ventures portfolio of companies. It was set up as an LLC to give it flexibility to sell individual assets off, while keeping other pipeline drugs and developing them internally.
Gilead has the firepower to develop NDI-010976 and move it toward approval. "The acquisition of Nimbus' ACC-inhibitor program represents a timely and important opportunity to accelerate Gilead's ongoing efforts to address unmet needs in NASH," Norbert Bischofberger, Gilead's chief scientific officer, said in a company statement. "These molecules will complement and further strengthen Gilead's pipeline and capabilities to advance a broad clinical program in NASH that includes compounds targeting multiple key pathways involved in the pathogenesis of the disease."
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, 1.2 million people died from cirrhosis in 2013. Liver disease is now the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. and in 2012 there were 6,000 liver transplants. There are 10,000 more people on liver transplant waiting lists. Unfortunately, for many of these diseases, including NASH, there are no cures.