April 12, 2019 / 9:01 AM / 9 days ago

Novo Nordisk and Gilead team up to test fatty liver disease treatment

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Novo Nordisk and Gilead Sciences will join forces on a clinical trial combining drugs from the two pharmaceutical firms to treat a progressive fatty liver disease known as NASH.

The clinical trial will be a study combining Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide drug and Gilead’s cilofexor and firsocostat for treatment of patients with Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), Novo Nordisk, best known for its diabetes drugs, said on Friday.

“NASH is a complex disease that often affects people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Currently, patients living with NASH have limited treatment options,” said Gilead’s chief scientific officer John McHutchison in a statement.

In February, Gilead said a late-stage study of the experimental drug selonsertib aimed at treating NASH failed to meet its main goal.

Analysts have projected the market for NASH treatments to reach $20 billion to $35 billion as populations increasingly develop the disease fueled by obesity and diabetes.

Without treatment, sufferers can develop advanced damage, including the scarring known as fibrosis; cirrhosis, which destroys liver function; and even cancer.

Novo is currently testing semaglutide, already approved to treat diabetes, as a once-daily treatment for NASH in phase 2. Gilead’s Cilofexor and firsocostat have not been approved by any regulatory authorities.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Keith Weir

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