Ionis announces third investigational antisense medicine to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) enters development

CARLSBAD, Calif., Nov. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IONS) announced today that the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has licensed ION455, an investigational antisense medicine being developed as a potential treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). ION455 is the second medicine for the treatment of NASH that Ionis has partnered with AstraZeneca. The companies have also partnered on ION839 (AZD2693), which is designed to inhibit the production of patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3) protein, a major genetic determinant of NASH progression. Separately, Ionis is also developing a wholly owned NASH program. ION224 is designed to reduce the production of DGAT2, or diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2, for treating patients with NASH. ION224 is one of more than 20 medicines in the growing Ionis-owned pipeline that the company is prioritizing and preparing for commercialization.

NASH is the most severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is related to the epidemic of obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes. Unlike liver disease caused by alcohol consumption, NAFLD is the result of an accumulation of fat in the liver, which can lead to inflammation and cirrhosis, an advanced scarring of the liver that prevents the liver from functioning normally. About 20 percent of NASH patients are reported to develop cirrhosis and 30 to 40 percent of patients with NASH cirrhosis experience liver-related death.i Currently, a liver transplant is the only treatment for advanced cirrhosis and liver failure. Because of the high prevalence of NASH, it has recently become the third most common indication for liver transplantation in the U.S.

“Today, there are no FDA-approved medicines to specifically treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. However, due in large part to the progress made by our cardio-metabolic franchise, three Ionis-discovered novel medicines are now in development. These are encouraging advances that we hope will one day bring therapeutic benefit to patients who have limited treatment options,” said Brett P. Monia, Ph.D., Ionis’ chief executive officer. 

ION455 is the fourth medicine to reach development in partnership with AstraZeneca. Ionis earned $30 million from AstraZeneca for licensing ION455 and is eligible to earn up to $300 million in milestone payments plus royalties on net sales. AstraZeneca will have responsibility for further development of ION455, including regulatory filings, and commercialization.

In addition to NASH, Ionis and AstraZeneca are collaborating on potential treatments for kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Ionis’ Forward-looking Statement

This press release includes forward-looking statements regarding Ionis’ business and the therapeutic and commercial potential of ION455, ION839 (AZD2693), ION224 and Ionis’ technologies and products in development. Any statement describing Ionis’ goals, expectations, financial or other projections, intentions or beliefs is a forward-looking statement and should be considered an at-risk statement. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, including those related to the impact COVID-19 could have on our business, and including but not limited to those related to our commercial products and the medicines in our pipeline, and particularly those inherent in the process of discovering, developing and commercializing medicines that are safe and effective for

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Terns Pharmaceuticals to Present Clinical Data on Improved TERN-101 Tablet Formulation at the Paris NASH Digital Experience

Terns Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing best-in-class single-agent and combination therapies to treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other liver diseases, announced today the presentation of new clinical data on an improved tablet formulation of its liver-distributed farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonist TERN-101 at the Paris NASH Digital Experience, taking place virtually October 22-23, 2020. The presentation, entitled “Comparative pharmacokinetics of two oral formulations of nonsteroidal farnesoid X receptor agonist TERN-101 in healthy volunteers,” demonstrated that an amorphous tablet formulation of TERN-101, which is currently being evaluated in the Phase 2a LIFT study in NASH patients, achieved faster absorption and higher plasma levels compared to a previous crystalline capsule formulation of TERN-101. The study results also demonstrate that the new formulation reduces pharmacokinetic variability and that TERN-101 can be administered without regard to food.

“In Terns’ Phase 1 studies, TERN-101 has demonstrated potent FXR activation in the liver and is well tolerated, with no observation of pruritus and no difference from placebo in serum lipid effects. We’ve now developed an improved formulation that optimizes absorption and minimizes PK variability,” said Erin Quirk, M.D., President and Chief Medical Officer of Terns. “This new TERN-101 formulation is now being studied in our 12-week Phase 2a LIFT study in NASH patients, and we look forward to seeing the results in mid-2021.”

Full details from the presentation can be found at www.ternspharma.com/scientific-publications.

About TERN-101 and Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) Agonism

TERN-101 is a potent, non-steroidal FXR agonist, with enhanced liver distribution being developed for the treatment of NASH. FXR is a nuclear receptor that is highly expressed in the liver and small intestine. FXR agonism has demonstrated improvement over placebo in regression of histological liver fibrosis without progression of NASH in a late-stage study, demonstrating the potential for FXR agonists to be a new treatment modality for NASH. TERN-101 has been granted Fast Track Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of NASH.

About NASH

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is caused by the accumulation of excess fat in the liver. NASH is associated with chronic liver inflammation and liver cell injury, and it can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and eventually liver cancer or liver failure. Global rates of NAFLD and NASH are increasing rapidly, in tandem with rising rates of obesity. There is currently no approved medication for the treatment of NASH.

About Terns Pharmaceuticals

Terns Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing best-in-class single-agent and combination therapies to treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other liver diseases. The company’s liver-selective FXR-agonist, TERN-101, is currently conducting a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2a clinical trial designed to evaluate efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetics in 96 presumed NASH patients who receive placebo or TERN-101 at various dose levels for 12 weeks. Terns recently announced positive Phase 1 clinical data for its highly selective SSAO inhibitor, TERN-201, demonstrating potent and sustained target engagement. In addition,

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