TrialSpark acquires immunodermatology portfolio and creates Libertas Bio

November 30, 2022 - 3 minutes
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TrialSpark has announced the formation of Libertas Bio following the acquisition of a majority position in a portfolio of immunodermatology assets from Asana BioSciences. 

The Libertas Bio pipeline now includes global rights to gusacitinib, an oral phase 3-ready dual JAK/SYK inhibitor in development for chronic hand eczema (CHE), and ASN008, a phase 2-ready topical sodium channel blocker in development for pruritus associated with atopic dermatitis. 

Libertas Bio will continue the development of these assets, leveraging TrialSpark’s tech-enabled drug development capabilities to bring the therapies to patients faster and more efficiently. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

First CHE oral therapy

Gusacitinib has the potential to be the first oral therapy approved in the U.S. for the treatment of CHE. In a phase 2b study, Gusacitinib 80mg was shown to have a statistically significant and potentially clinically meaningful improvement across both primary and secondary endpoints and was well tolerated. 

CHE is an underserved condition with high unmet need, impacting up to 10% of adults, with no approved treatments in the U.S. and few available off label options. CHE has a significant negative impact on quality of life, including psychosocial health and workforce productivity, and can lead to a number of comorbidities such as sleep disturbance and depression.

ASN008 has shown promising efficacy data in pruritus (itch) associated with atopic dermatitis, and is a phase 2-ready complementary pipeline program to gusacitinib. Chronic itch is a hallmark of atopic dermatitis, which impacts more than 16.5 million patients in the U.S. 

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ASN008 has the potential to be used in combination with other topical and systemic therapies in atopic dermatitis, as well as a meaningful opportunity to expand into other itch and pain related indications.

Important products for TrialSpark’s portfolio

“We are excited about the opportunity to add these important products to our portfolio of development assets,” said Gavin Corcoran, TrialSpark’s chief medical officer. 

“Both chronic hand eczema and itch are conditions that negatively affect the lives of the patients that have them, as well as their families. An effective treatment has the potential to improve the quality of life for both.”

Beyond gusacitinib and ASN008, the transaction also included a preclinical dual JAK/SYK inhibitor named ASN011. Libertas Bio is open to in-licensing additional complementary products to build a differentiated pipeline focused on immunodermatology treatments.

Prior to the transaction, TrialSpark had in-licensed multiple assets, deploying capital and pursuing the development of drug programs as part of its mission to bring new treatments to patients faster and more efficiently. As part of its business development strategy, TrialSpark uses balance sheet capital to develop, acquire and/or license assets, leveraging its in-house drug development engine to run trials significantly faster and more efficiently than industry standards.

TrialSpark is actively pursuing partnerships with both small biotech and larger pharma companies through flexible and creative collaboration structures, maximizing the potential value of drug candidates for all stakeholders through faster and more efficient clinical development programs. 

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For example, TrialSpark recently partnered with global pharmaceutical company Sanofi to jointly acquire and develop novel therapies. TrialSpark is focused on clinical stage assets in rheumatology, dermatology, CNS, and cardiometabolic diseases, with a focus on chronic diseases that are treated outside of a hospital setting.

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