Arrowhead finds its target with Glaxo Nash deal

The RNAi specialist Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals is on a run in fatty liver disease, yesterday striking a $120m up-front licensing deal with Glaxosmithkline for the Nash candidate ARO-HSD. Interest in the molecule, which targets HSD17B13, has been growing since Arrowhead’s presentation at this year’s AASLD meeting, where ARO-HSD showed reductions in several biomarkers for Nash, including HSD17B13, ALT and AST proteins. The deal, however, highlights the wider interest in RNA therapies. Only last week Arrowhead revealed that an October 2018 deal with Johnson & Johnson had yielded JNJ-75220795, an siRNA in a phase 1 Nash study, and earlier this month Novo Nordisk shelled out $3.3bn for Dicerna, to get its hands on the group’s RNAi technology for diseases including Nash. For its money Glaxo will get the exclusive right to develop ARO-HSD globally, except in China. This is Glaxo’s first foray into Nash, marking a high-risk gamble for the company given the numerous failures in this space. And, while ARO-HD might be a relatively low-value investment, with activist investors circling any more failures in Glaxo’s lacklustre pipeline will only increase the pressure on management.

Recent Arrowhead RNA deals
Deal date Product Company Upfront payment ($m) Therapeutic focus Phase
Nov 2021 ARO-HSD Glaxosmithkline 120 RNAi therapy for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis 1/2
Jun 2021 ARO-XDH Horizon Therapeutics 40 RNAi therapy for uncontrolled gout Pre-clinical
Oct 2020 TAK-999 Takeda 300 RNAi therapy to treat alpha-1 antitrypsin-associated liver disease 2
Apr 2018 JNJ-75220795 Johnson & Johnson 175 siRNA therapy for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis 1
Source: company releases, Evaluate Pharma.

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