Terns Rakes in $87 Million for NASH Pipeline

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Terns Pharmaceuticals announced today that it had concluded an $87 million round of Series C financing. The biopharmaceutical company is focused on developing a line of small-molecule single-agent and combination therapy candidates for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), as well as other chronic liver diseases. The funding round was led by Deerfield Management Company, with participation from investors including OrbiMed Advisors, Lilly Asia Ventures and Vivo Capital.

“We are impressed by the experienced team at Terns and their strategy of improving upon known mechanisms with differentiated molecules that have the potential to be used as foundational treatments in NASH,” said Elise Wang, Partner at Deerfield. “We look forward to Terns continuing its progress towards achieving its upcoming milestones in 2021 and beyond.

Terns intends to utilize the funding to advance clinical trials across its pipeline. It is anticipating reaching clinical milestones in the near future for its three lead NASH programs: TERN-101, TERN-201 and TERN-501.

TERN-101 involves the LIFT study, and top-line data from the ongoing Phase IIa trial is expected in the second half of 2021. TERN-201, which involves a Phase Ib NASH clinical trial, is predicted to yield top-line data in the first half of 2022. Finally, TERN-501 involves the initiation of a Phase I first-in-human clinical trial in the first half of this year. Top-line data from it is expected to come in the second half of 2021.

“The Terns team has extensive experience to advance our NASH pipeline, which is focused on developing differentiated monotherapies and combination therapies with clinically validated mechanisms of action. In 2021, we expect to have three promising clinical-stage therapeutic candidates with meaningful near-term milestones,” said Senthil Sundaram, Chief Executive Officer of Terns. “We’re pleased to have such strong support from our new and existing investors as we continue to work towards our mission of developing new therapies that can have a positive impact on the lives of NASH patients.”

This is not the first round of funding that the company has concluded. Terns notably completed a Series B financing round back in October 2018 with similar intentions at the time. The goal of raising the funding was to advance the company’s pipeline of products to treat NASH, as well as cancer.

“Since we launched the company a short time ago, we have been working diligently to advance our key programs and continue executing on our strategy to bring innovative therapeutics to underserved patients globally, and with this financing we are well positioned to continue to execute on that mission,” said Weidong Zhong, Ph.D., president of Terns, at the time of the announcement. “We are excited about the progress we’ve made on our clinical and preclinical programs. Our lead programs TERN-101 and TERN-201 are on track to enter the clinic in the first half of 2019 and additional NASH programs are advancing rapidly towards preclinical development. The progress so far has put us one step closer to our goal of discovering effective and safe combination therapies for patients with NASH and liver fibrosis. We are grateful for the confidence and enthusiasm coming from our new and existing investors.”

The Series B financing round was led by Vivo Capital and OrbiMed, which were new investors at the time. They were joined by existing investor Lilly Asia Ventures, which provided continuous support.

“Their approach of adopting global or region-specific development strategies for advancing new clinical-stage therapeutics is unique, and Terns has made tremendous progress since they recently launched,” said Carl Gordon, Ph.D., Managing Partner of OrbiMed. “This gives us great confidence in their ability to successfully sustain that forward trajectory.”

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