Trio of research companies team up to change the game for NASH trials

CROs Alimentiv, AcelaBio and PharmaNest are partnering in an effort to leverage precision medicine and AI-backed digital pathology tools to boost clinical trials for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The triumvirate will focus on helping trial sponsors quantify the histologic effects of compounds in order to better understand underlying mechanisms in NASH-targeted therapies through the use of spatial transcriptomics and AI-powered single-fiber and single-cell digital pathology, the companies said in a joint Nov. 8 press release. Financial details of the collaboration weren’t disclosed.

Alimentiv is a CRO that specializes in gastroenterology. AcelaBio’s CRO work focuses on histopathology and precision medicine, while PharmaNest is a digital pathology and AI group specializing in the development and validation of novel histological standards for the quantification of inflammation and fibrosis.

“Through the integration of our respective technologies and expertise, we aim to empower clinical trial sponsors with the necessary tools to improve the quality of histological endpoints, uncover novel biomarkers, and accelerate drug development timelines by gaining comprehensive insights into the underlying mechanisms of action in MASH targeted therapies,” Wendy Teft, Ph.D., vice president of precision medicine at Alimentiv, said in the release.

Earlier this year, a global group of liver disease organizations voted to change the name of NASH to MASH—which stands for metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis—triggering some controversy that has kept the switch from being universally adopted.

Whether called NASH or MASH, it remains a notoriously tricky indication, as Akero Therapeutics was reminded last month when its candidate flunked a key test to significantly reduce fibrosis in cirrhotic patients.