Boehringer Inks Potential $2B Deal with Ribo, Targets NASH-MASH with siRNA Therapies

Pictured: Boehringer Ingelheim's office in Califor

Pictured: Boehringer Ingelheim’s office in Califor

Sundry Photography/Getty Images

In a collaboration agreement announced Wednesday, Boehringer Ingelheim will gain access to Ribo’s platform to target hepatocytes with investigational siRNA therapies for nonalcoholic or metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis.

Pictured: Boehringer Ingelheim’s building in California/iStock, Sundry Photography

Boehringer Ingelheim on Wednesday announced a multi-target collaboration agreement with Chinese biotech Suzhou Ribo Life Science and its Swedish unit Ribocure Pharmaceuticals to develop siRNA-based treatments for nonalcoholic or metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis.

The companies did not disclose what targets they would focus on, nor did they provide a specific breakdown of the deal’s financial terms. However, they said the deal could potentially exceed $2 billion in value—including the upfront payment and royalties—as well as clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones.

Søren Tullin, senior vice president and global head of cardiometabolic diseases research at Boehringer Ingelheim, said in a statement that the Ribo partnership is in line with the company’s efforts to “address the interconnected nature” of cardiovascular, renal and metabolic (CRM) diseases.

“Our goal is to develop the next wave of innovative medicines that will lead to a holistic health gain for patients,” Tullin said.

Building toward this goal, Boehringer Ingelheim will now be able to leverage Ribo’s proprietary RIBO-GalSTAR platform, which allows the development and delivery of siRNA therapeutics that can target genes specifically in liver cells.

According to the biotech’s website, RIBO-GalSTAR attaches an N-acetylgalactosamine component to the siRNA treatment, which facilitates the entry of the therapeutic agent into the liver cells and “can result in highly specific and highly durable enrichment of the siRNA in hepatocytes.”

Wednesday’s deal with Ribo comes more than six years after Boehringer Ingelheim signed another RNA interference deal with Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, which also targeted non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In May 2021, Boehringer Ingelheim accepted a candidate under this pact, which meant a single-digit multimillion-dollar preclinical milestone tranche for Dicerna.

Boehringer is also partnered with Massachusetts-based MiNA Therapeutics to develop a small activating RNA therapy for NASH. The companies announced a deal in November 2017.

Beyond NASH, Boehringer Ingelheim’s CRM pipeline is also addressing obesity. In August 2023, the company announced that it was launching three Phase III trials for an investigational glucagon/GLP-1 receptor dual agonist survodutide to assess its weight-loss potential. The late-stage studies follow promising Phase II data showing that survodutide could cut weight by nearly 19% after 46 weeks of treatment.

Survodutide is also being developed for NASH, for which the company is running a Phase II dose-ranging study.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s CRM portfolio is anchored by the type 2 diabetes treatment Jardiance (empagliflozin), which it shares with Eli Lilly. In its 2023 half-year report, the company indicated that the Jardiance family of products brought in more than $3.8 billion in revenue.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.
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