Novartis lets Boston take on Akero in Nash

Novartis has chosen an odd time to offload an FGF21 stimulator. The Swiss group has licensed LLF580, now named BOS-580, to Boston Pharmaceuticals not long after Akero Therapeutics posted promising results with this mechanism in the liver disorder Nash. Novartis is certainly not getting out of Nash: the company has put its FXR agonist tropifexor (LJN452) at the centre of its strategy in the disease, and hopes eventually to combine the project with various other agents. This approach's first test will come soon: the phase II Flight study of tropifexor monotherapy ended in April, so results must be imminent. In its second-quarter results Novartis also highlighted the Tandem trial, evaluating a tropifexor/cenicriviroc combo, which is set to be completed this year. Perhaps the big pharma, which had been developing LLF580 in obesity, does not see much promise in FGF21 stimulation, or maybe it has already fallen too far behind here, with several assets already in clinical development. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, suggesting that Boston might have bagged a bargain, but now it will need to prove BOS-580’s worth, with clinical trials in Nash set for 2021. Boston previously licensed three anti-infective candidates from Novartis in 2018, so the two companies have history.

FGF21 stimulant pipeline
Project Company Note
Phase II
Efruxifermin (AKR-001) Akero Therapeutics (ex Amgen) Positive phase II data reported in Aug 2020
Pegbelfermin Bristol Myers Squibb/Ambrx Falcon 1 & Falcon 2 trials to complete in 2020
BIO89-000 89bio Phase I/II trial to complete Aug 2020 (NCT04048135)
Phase I
NN9500 Novo Nordisk  
BOS-580 (previously LLF580) Boston Pharmaceuticals (ex Novartis) Previously in phase I in obesity
YH25724* Yuhan/Boehringer Ingelheim  
FGF21 Fusion Protein & FGF21/ GLP1 Dual Fusion Protein* Alteogen  
*Dual FGF21/GLP1 agonist. Source: EvaluatePharma.

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