Boehringer Ingelheim Acquires Enleofen’s Anti-IL-11 Therapeutic Platform for Fibrotic Diseases

Iqra Mumal, MSc avatar

by Iqra Mumal, MSc |

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Boehringer Ingelheim has acquired the worldwide exclusive rights to Enleofen‘s interleukin-11 (IL-11) platform, designed for the treatment of fibrotic diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis.

This newly established partnership brings together Boehringer Ingelheim’s expertise and substantial pipeline in fibrotic diseases, and Enleofen’s knowledge of IL-11 biology. Enleofen also brings its wide range of antibodies targeting this pathway.

IL-11 is a cytokine, a small protein that specific cells of the body produce in order to communicate with other cells. It has been shown to play a key role in pro-fibrotic cell signaling.

“The impressive preclinical studies at Enleofen have revealed the potential of IL-11 blockade to treat a broad range of diseases,” Clive R. Wood, PhD, corporate senior vice president and global head of discovery research at Boehringer Ingelheim, said in a press release.

“We are excited to have these monoclonal antibodies in our pipeline, and have the opportunity to accelerate their path to many patients whose needs are not met by current treatments,” Wood added.

Neutralizing the action of IL-11 can inhibit disease across many organs, including the lung, studies have shown. An IL-11 blockade using antibodies can prevent and reverse inflammation and fibrosis, or scarring, as well as repair organ function, according to preclinical studies.

One study in 2019 found that blocking IL-11 led to a reversal in fibrosis in the lungs of mice with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Enleofen, a spinoff company from the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) at SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), was founded in 2017. At its start, Enleofen obtained exclusive license to a group of patents and a number of antibody products from the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in Singapore.

The company has developed a wide-ranging anti-IL-11 antibody platform. Boehringer Ingelheim will now help further advance this platform, and plans to work in collaboration with scientists from AMC to expand its therapies toward clinical development.

The early focus of this acquisition is the development of new therapies for people with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and interstitial lung disease (ILD); pulmonary fibrosis is a type of ILD. Boehringer plans to later expand the platform into other fibro-inflammatory conditions that have shown a central role for IL-11 in disease development.

“Enleofen is very excited to engage Boehringer Ingelheim, a leader in anti-fibrotic therapy R&D to develop further anti-IL-11 therapies to begin to address the unmet medical needs of patients worldwide,” said Stuart Cook, MD, PhD, director and co-founder of Enleofen. “The preclinical data across a range of conditions are unprecedented and this new approach of targeting IL-11 could be a game changer.”

Using this platform, Boehringer Ingelheim will build on the experience it gained with Ofev (nintedanib) in treating fibrotic lung diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, Boehringer will be responsible for the clinical, regulatory, and commercial development of the anti-IL-11 therapies. In turn, Enleofen may receive payments of more than $1 billion USD per therapy in upfront and success-based milestones.

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