Taking on liver disease

Takeda and HemoShear enter into exclusive drug discovery deal with a particular eye toward NASH

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OSAKA, Japan & CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—While awareness has grown of the increasing threat of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), it remains a liver disease for which there are no FDA-approved therapeutics and is a serious chronic disease estimated to impact more than 16 million people in the United States alone. In an attempt to answer that problem, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and HemoShear Therapeutics LLC, a privately held biotechnology company, in mid-October announced a partnership to discover and develop novel therapeutics for liver diseases, including NASH.
Takeda partnered with HemoShear because of their technology platform, REVEAL-Tx, which will give them the  ability to study pathophysiology in a human-cell systems and, as a spokesperson for HemoShear noted, “HemoShear’s human-first approach.”
As the spokesperson explained, REVEAL-Tx applies principles of physiological blood flow to tissue from patients to recapitulate human disease in the lab with great accuracy, adding: “HemoShear’s human disease models, in combination with its advanced computational biology tools, identify novel treatment approaches and reduce risk of failure by enabling HemoShear’s scientists to deeply interrogate disease pathways, test hypotheses and select meaningful targets in physiologically accurate disease conditions.”
In fact, REVEAL-Tx was recognized recently at the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease annual meeting, where its NASH model received four Presidential Awards based on publications demonstrating the platform’s ability to replicate many clinical observations from clinical-stage drugs.
“The ability to study pathophysiology in a human multi-cell system is crucial for our understanding of disease and how to develop best-in-class therapies,” said Dr. Gareth Hicks, head of the GI Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda, in a news release about the collaboration. “We see the HemoShear platform as an integral component in our overall liver disease strategy that focuses on a ‘human-first’ approach to the identification and validation of novel targets in NASH and other liver diseases.”
For his part, HemoShear CEO Jim Powers noted, “We are excited about our collaboration with Takeda. From the beginning, Takeda has recognized the value and potential of our platform and its ability to identify and validate therapeutic targets in liver diseases. Our ability to replicate NASH and other liver diseases for drug discovery, coupled with Takeda’s expertise in developing and commercializing therapeutics, can yield safer and more effective therapies for NASH and potentially other liver diseases.”
Under the terms of the agreement, HemoShear will receive upfront payments and research and development funding, and Takeda will receive exclusive access to HemoShear’s proprietary disease modeling platform to discover and develop best-in-class therapeutics for specific liver diseases.
Adding in potential milestone payments, HemoShear could come away with $470 million, not to mention a share of royalties on any approved therapeutics.

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