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Boehringer, Inventiva Partner on Progressive Lung Disease

CT scan of lungs with IPF

High-resolution CT scan of lungs with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF Editor, Wikimedia Commons)

31 May 2016. Drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim and biopharmaceutical company Inventiva are collaborating on discovery of new treatments for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and related diseases causing fibrosis. The deal is expected to bring Inventiva, in Daix, France, as much as €170 million ($US 189 million), plus royalties on sales.

Boehringer Ingelheim and Inventiva will jointly study a new approach based on Inventiva technology to address fibrotic diseases. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the first target of the partnership, is a chronic, progressive lung disease, usually affecting people between the ages of 50 and 70. The disorder results in fibrosis or scar tissue building up in the lungs, limiting the ability of lungs to transfer oxygen to the blood stream. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath and a dry hacking cough, as well as a loss of appetite and weight loss in some cases. The scarring of lung tissue increases over time, often leading to other serious lung conditions, including lung cancer and blood clots in the lungs.

From 13 to 20 per 100,000 people worldwide experience idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Some 100,000 people in the U.S. have the condition, with 30,000 to 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Most patients die within five years following diagnosis. The companies say it is the most common interstitial lung disease encountered worldwide and because of its high mortality rate poses a serious public health threat.

Inventiva discovers treatments for diseases resulting in fibrosis, as well as cancer and rare disorders. Its current anti-fibrosis therapy candidates activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, a type of protein known as nuclear hormone receptors that interact with DNA sequences to turn on and off a set of genes associated with a range of conditions, including inflammation. The company’s lead products, now in clinical trials, are treatments for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, causing fibrosis in the liver, and systemic sclerosis, also known as scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder affecting the skin and other tissues in the body.

Boehringer Ingelheim, in Germany, already offers nintedanib, marketed as Ofev, as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Ofev blocks enzymes that synthesize proteins promoting development of fibrosis in the lungs. Under the agreement, Inventiva and Boehringer Ingelheim will investigate and validate a different approach to address idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other fibrotic disorders based on Inventiva’s technology, resulting in the discovery of new treatments.

While full financial details were not disclosed, Inventiva will receive an initial payment from Boehringer Ingelheim, as well as be eligible for future research and development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of €170 million if all milestones are achieved. Inventiva could also receive royalties on sales of products developed from the partnership.

As reported in Science & Enterprise, Boehringer Ingelheim and Duke Clinical Research Institute established a patient registry for individuals with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis that expects to enroll up to 300 individuals. Participants in the registry agree to allow the progression of their disease be tracked over this period, as well as provide blood samples for testing, including DNA analysis, every six months. First results from the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – PRospective Outcomes registry, reported in October 2015, show most people in the group have limited lung function and experience symptoms for about a year before the disease is diagnosed.

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