Strategic collaboration for drug to treat NASH, obesity and diabetes announced

liver disease

A conditional and exclusive license agreement to develop and commercialize a drug to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), obesity and type 2 diabetes has been agreed.

NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals and Dong-A ST Co., announced their strategic collaboration today (September 16) for DA-1241 and DA-1726 which are currently being evaluated for treatment.

DA-1241 is a novel G-Protein-Coupled Receptor 119 (GPR119) agonist, which promotes the release of key gut peptides GLP-1, GIP and PYY. These play an important role in glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism and weight loss.

Anti-NASH effects

It is a synthetic, selective small molecule, suitable for oral administration and has been shown to be well tolerated in phase 1 studies. Further, its multimodal mechanism appears to induce strong anti-NASH effects, supported by potential best-in-class efficacy, as demonstrated in pre-clinical studies.

DA-1726 is a novel oxyntomodulin (OXM) analogue functioning as a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP1R) and glucagon receptor (GCGR) dual agonist. OXM is a naturally-occurring, 37-amino acid peptide hormone that is released from the gut after ingestion of a meal.

Weight loss

This activates both the GLP-1 and glucagon receptors, prompting reduced food intake as well as an increase in energy expenditure, potentially resulting in superior body weight loss compared to selective GLP-1 receptor agonists.

The beneficial effects of this dual mechanism of DA-1726 on weight loss compared to selective GLP-1 activity has been demonstrated in animal models. Additionally, DA-1726 has shown the ability to improve hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis when compared to the GLP-1 agonist, semaglutide in these same models.

Under the license agreement, NeuroBo will be responsible for global development, regulatory and commercial activities other than for certain Asian-Pacific geographies. Dong-A will manufacture clinical supplies and initial commercial supplies of the product at its manufacturing facility in Korea.  

Cardiometabolic assets: a seismic shift for NeuroBo

Gil Price, chief executive officer at NeuroBo, said: “The acquisition of these two cardiometabolic assets marks a seismic shift for NeuroBo, providing us with a highly promising, diversified pipeline with several upcoming value inflection points in the NASH and obesity space – areas with enormous market opportunity.

“Through this agreement, Dong-A, one of our largest shareholders, has reaffirmed its commitment to remain a long-term strategic partner of NeuroBo. Dong-A is dedicated to our success and we are grateful it has also committed to provide continued support to facilitate the clinical development of the licensed assets.

“Once the transaction has closed, which is contingent upon certain closing conditions, we will be uniquely positioned to initiate a phase 2a study of DA-1241 in NASH in the first half of 2023, with data expected in the second half of 2024.

“We also intend to initiate a phase 1a safety study of DA-1726 in the first half of 2023, for which data is expected in the second half of 2023. We are truly excited about the prospects of NeuroBo as we transition to a cardiometabolic company across the large and growing markets of obesity and NASH.”

Milestone payments for Dong-A

Under the terms of the license agreement, Dong-A will receive an upfront payment of $22 million in series A convertible preferred stock, which will automatically convert into common stock upon receipt of requisite stockholder approval. It will be eligible to receive commercial- and regulatory-based milestone payments, dependent upon the achievement of specific regulatory and commercial developments.

Min Young Kim, chief executive officer of Dong-A, said: “We are highly enthusiastic about this opportunity to accelerate development of our novel treatments in partnership with NeuroBo. Dong-A plans to continue to strengthen its R&D capability and to seek additional collaboration opportunities to establish ourselves in the US market.” 

The company will also be entitled to single digit royalties on net sales of the two assets. It has also agreed to commit $15 million toward financing the assets, subject to NeuroBo’s ability to obtain additional financing under the terms of the license agreement.

The license agreement has been approved by the board of directors of NeuroBo. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2022, subject to obtaining third party financing for development of the assets and other customary closing conditions.

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