German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim has collaborated with Suzhou Ribo Life Science and Ribocure Pharmaceuticals to develop novel treatments for liver diseases.

The collaboration aims to develop therapeutics targeting non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (NASH/MASH).

It will combine Ribo’s experience in discovering and developing small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutics with Boehringer’s capabilities in cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic diseases (CRM).

Under the terms of the partnership agreement, Ribo will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments.

The pharmaceutical company will also receive tiered royalties on the sale of products emerging from the multi-target collaboration, bringing the overall deal value to $2bn.

Boehringer Ingelheim senior vice president and cardiometabolic diseases research global head Søren Tullin said: “We look forward to working with the scientists from Ribo to develop breakthrough medicines for patients with NASH.

“This new partnership is part of our commitment to collaborate with peers worldwide to address the interconnected nature of CRM diseases. Our goal is to develop the next wave of innovative medicines that will lead to a holistic health gain for patients.”

Ribo will leverage its advanced RIBO-GalSTAR platform for the development of RNAi therapeutics targeting disease-causing genes in liver cells, by silencing their mRNAs.

The approach is said to treat diseases by addressing previously inaccessible drug targets.

NASH is an inflammatory liver disease that is caused due to the accumulation of fat in the liver.

The disease leads to the formation of scar tissue over time, which in many cases leads to liver cirrhosis and related serious complications, including liver failure or liver cancer.

Currently, NASH has no approved medicines, and there is an urgent need for new treatment options that can prevent disease progression and restore liver function.

Ribo Life Sciences CEO Zicai Liang said: “This collaboration represents a strong endorsement of the many years of investment and scientific discovery built into Ribo’s platform.

“We are very pleased about the opportunity to work with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop new solutions for people living with NASH.”

Ribocure CEO Li-Ming Gan said: “We look forward to working with Boehringer Ingelheim building on their unmatched experience and understanding of CRM conditions to continue their track record of delivery of breakthrough medicines in this space.”

In November last year, Boehringer Ingelheim agreed to use IBM’s foundational model technologies for the identification of antibody candidates for developing effective therapeutics.