Boehringer Ingelheim inks 'Singapore's largest biotech deal,' promising $1B each for a suite of anti-fibrotic IL-11 drugs
The deeper Boehringer Ingelheim looks into Asian biotech, the more gems it seems to find. Having picked up new fibrotic diseases drugs left and right, the German legacy pharma is bagging a slate of experimental therapies hitting an oft-overlooked cytokine in what’s being billed as “Singapore’s largest biotech deal.”
The target of interest here is interleukin-11, or IL-11 — a “very toxic” protein that causes tissue scarring and damage but was previously (incorrectly) thought of as protective and anti-fibrotic, according to Stuart Cook, scientific founder of Enleofen. The biotech is now eligible for $1 billion in milestones for each antibody program to emerge out of its pipeline covering NASH, cardiac fibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and more.
Stuart Cook, Jeffrey Lu and Andrew Khoo (Enleofen)
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“(T)he older literature was unfortunately incorrect but people believed it,” Cook wrote in an email to Endpoints News. “While people were overlooking IL-11, we elucidated its critical role and broadened the research around the mechanism across many diseases to build the broadest IP portfolio and know-how.”
Duke-NUS Medical School, where Cook directs the cardiovascular and metabolic disorder program, has been supporting the work with funding from the National Medical Research Council. But as Enleofen advanced the research and mapped a path toward the clinic, it began looking for resources to back the hefty development programs it envisioned, said director Jeffrey Lu.
Lu — a prominent figure in Singapore’s small but esteeemed biotech circle who also co-founded Engine Biosciences — added that Enleofen is still contemplating its post-IL-11 future. Andrew Khoo, CEO of Tessa Therapeutics, will also play a role in that as the third director alongside Lu and Cook.
Boehringer will now take over all clinical and regulatory development as well as being responsible for any commercialization.
The Enleofen deal follows a global romp for Boehringer that saw it ink a $870 million NASH pact with South Korea’s Yuhan and hand over $50 million for an autotaxin inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics, with a focus on IPF. Along the way it also reserved $160 million for Inflammasome Therapeutics and its long-acting, biodegradable gel formulation targeting the eye.