TaiwanJ Pharmaceuticals has signed a US$26 million contract with Newsoara Biopharma to license out its drug candidate JKB-122 for further development in Asia. On March 2nd, 2019, TaiwanJ announced that its JKB-122, an effective phase 2 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug candidate, had been successfully licensed out to Newsoara Biopharma Co. Ltd, a company located in Shanghai. Newsoara Biopharma, known for its capability of drug developments, will be responsible for the clinical development and market commercialization of JKB-122 in Asia, except Taiwan.
According to the agreement, TaiwanJ will receive US$2 million of upfront and up to US$24 million of milestone payments, which will be paid when each milestone in the development and commercialization process is achieved. The two companies are also working together to conduct preclinical research for JKB-122’s second generation compound JKB-133. In addition, TaiwanJ will maintain its right of global clinical development and subsequent worldwide market commercialization.
JKB-122 is a small molecule and a long-acting TLR4 antagonist showing anti-fibrotic, immuno-modulating, and anti-inflammatory effects for the treatments of chronic liver diseases including Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH), and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH).
Meanwhile, global market research firm Research And Markets predicted that the NASH therapeutic market will grow at a CAGR of 58.4% over 2021-2025, estimated from US$1.17 billion (2017) to 21.47 billion (2025). NASH is a serious liver disease affecting up to 10% of the adult population in the United States. This chronic condition is hallmarked by metabolic dysfunction and excessive fat accumulation in the liver, or steatosis, which may promote inflammation and hepatocellular injury, and in turn progress to cirrhosis that ultimately results with liver transplantation as the only viable treatment option.