Elafibranor, Genfit’s lead candidate, will continue its march towards the market with the added boost of massive financial support.

Genfit is a leader in the development of diagnostic tools and therapeutics for metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Its lead candidate, elafibranor, targets Non-Alcoholic Stato-Hepatitis (NASH) – an inflammatory disease of the liver. The company has raised €180M by selling bonds that will be redeemable in 2022 in the form of new or existing shares. Genfit’s market cap stands at €704M and this news will surely do it no harm.

NASH is characterized by fat accumulation in liver cells, inflammation and cell damage. Complications of the condition include cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Global prevalence of NASH is between 3-5%, and this is increasing at an alarming rate in tandem with obesity and diabetes. No treatments are available, making NASH a market worth up to €37B and an attractive target for biotechs around the world.

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The cash injection allows the company to continue developing its diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Genfit’s diagnostic tool detects miRNAs in patient blood and uses an algorithm to score disease progression. This will be combined with elafibranor, an oral drug for NASH currently in Phase III. The substantial backing will also be used investigate elafibranor in children and reinforce its pipeline through in-licensing or combination therapy strategies.

Figure 1. NASH consists in the accumulation of fat, inflammation and degeneration of the liver. It highly increases the risk of cirrhosis and cancer.

A healthy liver in comparison with a NASH liver. Fat accumulation and fibrosis in the liver increase the risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

High demand from investors prompted Genfit to increase the initial offering from €150M to €180MJean-François MouneyGenfit Chairman & CEO, feels that this highlights the belief that investors have in Genfit winning the NASH race: “The great success of this financing demonstrates the confidence that many institutional investors have in the Company’s prospects.”

Its biggest competitor Intercept recently suffered a major setback as 19 patients died while using the company’s NASH candidate, Ocaliva. This led to a 25% drop in the drugmakers stock value, while Genfit saw a 5.2% jump. The companies had been neck and neck in the NASH race, but this will have taken some pressure off of Genfit.

Genfit was already the favorite to make the breakthrough into the NASH market, but this news could serve as confirmation. This will not be enjoyable reading for competitors including Tiziana and Inventiva, which have been developing an anti-NASH antibody and a protein targeting multiple PPARs, respectively.


Check out our interview with Dean Hum, Genfit CSO, to find out more about the race to bring the first NASH drug to the market.


Images – Aksabir, Alila Medical Media/shutterstock.com

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