Boehringer Ingelheim has linked with US group Dicerna Pharmaceuticals to develop new RNAi therapeutics for liver diseases.

The research collaboration and license agreement will initially focus on the discovery and development of novel GalXC RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a chronic liver disease for which there is currently no approved treatment option.

NASH is caused by the buildup of fat in the liver, which potentially leads to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, and has an especially high prevalence among obese and diabetic patients.

Dicerna’s GalXC technology platform uses RNAi to inhibit the expression of disease-causing genes by destroying the messenger RNAs of those genes. According to the press release, the approach has the potential to treat diseases by silencing previously inaccessible drug targets.

“We believe that Dicerna’s GalXC technology platform is ideally suited for the development of novel RNAi therapies for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and other chronic liver diseases,” said Douglas M. Fambrough, Dicerna’s president and chief executive.

“With strong capabilities in drug discovery, deep expertise in the cardiometabolic space, and proven commercial experience, Boehringer Ingelheim is a natural partner to speed the development of the first GalXC RNAi program targeting chronic liver disease.”

“This partnership complements our existing research efforts and expertise and offers distinct advantages in developing exciting new therapy options,” added Clive Wood, corporate senior vice president Discovery Research at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Financial terms were not disclosed.