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Gilead, Yuhan work together to develop liver disease therapies

Gilead Sciences Inc. and Yuhan Corp. agreed to jointly develop novel drug candidates to treat advanced fibrosis due to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a type of liver disease.

Under the licensing and collaboration deal, Gilead will acquire from Yuhan global rights to develop and commercialize novel small molecules against two undisclosed targets worldwide, except South Korea. Yuhan, a South Korean pharmaceutical company based in Seoul, will retain commercialization rights in the country.

Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead will pay Yuhan $15 million up front. Yuhan could also receive up to an additional $770 million upon reaching certain development and commercial milestones, as well as royalties on anticipated net sales.

The agreement furthers the existing commercial partnership to boost the promotion of Gilead's medicines in South Korea, the biopharmaceutical company said.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH — a serious form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease — is a chronic and progressive liver disease characterized by fat accumulation and inflammation in the liver, potentially leading to scarring, or fibrosis, that impairs liver function. Advanced fibrosis due to NASH could result in chronic liver failure, liver cancer and the need for liver transplantation. There are only limited treatment options for NASH.