BioLineRx Ltd has announced that it has signed an exclusive worldwide agreement with Hadasit for the in-licensing of a drug candidate for the treatment of liver fibrosis, and in particular, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This drug candidate, to be called BL-1210, is the first project to be in-licensed under the framework of the Company’s strategic collaboration with Novartis Pharma AG for the screening and development of novel drug candidates.
The newly in-licensed pre-clinical project, developed by Prof. Rifaat Safadi, Head of the Liver Unit, Department of Medicine at Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel, offers a novel mechanism for controlling liver fibrosis through modulation of the immune system. BioLineRx will address the novel drug target that will modulate the immune system to ultimately reduce the liver fibrogenesis and therefore reduce liver scarring. Limiting the fibrosis process this way will potentially control the disease progression.
"After jointly screening and evaluating a wide range of pre-clinical and clinical therapeutic candidates, we are excited with the selection of this potential treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis to be developed as part of our multi-year partnership with Novartis, especially since there are no approved treatments for this prevalent condition,” explained Dr. Kinneret Savitsky, CEO of BioLineRx.
"Under the collaboration, Novartis will provide us with valuable professional advice and consultancy throughout the development process. This project fits our strategic focus on the immunology space, since it works through modulation of the immune system. Upon successful completion of the feasibility stage, we plan to advance the project at full steam. We also expect to bring additional promising projects to the collaboration by the end of the year.”
In December 2014, BioLineRx and Novartis Pharma AG entered into a multi-year strategic collaboration to facilitate development and commercialization of Israeli-sourced drug candidates. Leveraging BioLineRx’s close and long-lasting ties with academic institutions, hospitals and biomedical companies in Israel, as well as its proven project screening process and development expertise, Novartis will evaluate projects identified and presented by BioLineRx for co-development and potential future licensing under the collaboration.
The companies intend to co-develop a number of pre-clinical and early clinical therapeutic projects through clinical proof-of-concept. As part of the agreement, Novartis made an equity investment in BioLineRx of $10 million.