Akarna Therapeutics Ltd., a Cambridge, UK- and Encinitas, California-based biopharmaceutical company, closed a $15m Series B financing.
The company intends to use the funds to accelerate the development of its lead FXR agonist drug candidate through human proof-of-concept studies in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a progressive form of fatty-liver disease for which there are no approved therapies.
Led by Dr. Raju Mohan, Chief Executive Officer, Akarna Therapeutics develops novel small molecule therapeutics that target inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. Its lead program is a FXR agonist for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Akarna’s lead candidate is currently in preclinical, IND-enabling toxicology and safety pharmacology studies.
*NASH is a progressive form of fatty-liver disease that has been directly associated with diabetes and obesity. Excessive accumulation of fat in the liver induces chronic inflammation, which causes progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis and eventually end-stage liver disease. The prevalence of NASH is increasing worldwide as diabetes and obesity reach epidemic proportions yet there are currently no approved therapies. It is estimated that as many as 5% of the US population has NASH with about eight million patients worldwide with advanced disease. NASH is projected to become the leading indication for liver transplant by 2020.
*FXR is a nuclear hormone receptor expressed in the liver, intestine, kidney and fat recognized as a clinically validated target for NASH and other liver diseases, such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).