A new interleukin target for NASH spawns Singaporean biotech steered by well known players
A Singaporean biotech looking to break into the big NASH field has offered a glimpse of the preclinical data that’s stoked its confidence in targeting an oft-overlooked cytokine.
Researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School and National Heart Centre Singapore started with hepatic stellate cells, which “are pivotal in the pathogenesis of NASH and give rise to up to 95%” of disease driving cells known as liver myofibroblasts. Here’s how they summarized the current NASH landscape, from their new paper in Gastroenterology:
A number of factors are implicated in HSC activation and transformation, including the canonical pro-fibrotic factors transforming growth factor-B1 (TGFB1) and platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) and also pro-inflammatory factors such as CCL2, TNFA and CCL5.. Perhaps reflecting this complexity and implicit redundancy, no single upstream initiating factor has been targeted successfully in NASH and there are no approved NASH drugs. Currently, there are a number of drugs in clinical trials for NASH but many of these target metabolism and it is not clear if they will improve liver fibrosis, which predicts clinical outcomes.
To simultaneously get at the fat accumulation, inflammation and scarring present in NASH, they need a better target. And the scientists believe they have found the answer in interleukin 11, or IL11.