Gilead Sciences and Phenex Pharmaceuticals announced the signing of a definitive agreement under which Gilead will acquire Phenex’s Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) program comprising small molecule FXR agonists for the treatment of liver diseases including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Under the terms of the agreement, Gilead will pay Phenex an upfront payment plus additional payments based upon the achievement of certain development milestones that may potentially be worth up to $470M.
NASH is a common, yet serious chronic liver disease characterized by inflammation and excessive fat accumulation in the liver and may lead to progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver failure. The disease is estimated to affect 10 to 20% of people in the developed world but there are currently no approved therapies to treat it. Phenex’s program is based on FXR, a nuclear hormone receptor highly expressed in the liver and the intestine, which regulates bile acid, lipid and glucose homeostasis.