Through the deal, GENFIT will gain access to VS-01, a liposomal-based drug candidate for the treatment of acute-on-chronic liver failure and urea cycle disorder


Versantis to be acquired by US-based GENFIT. (Credit: Tumisu from Pixabay)

GENFIT, a US-based biopharma company, has agreed to acquire Swiss clinical-stage biotech company Versantis in a deal worth up to CHF105m ($109m).

Versantis is focussed on developing drugs to address the increasing unmet medical needs in liver diseases. Its main asset, VS-01, is a liposomal-based drug candidate for the treatment of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) and urea cycle disorder (UCD).

The Swiss biotech company is planning to begin a phase 2 clinical trial of VS-01 in ACLF.

Versantis also has a pre-clinical oral, small molecule drug candidate, VS-02, which is being developed for the chronic management of hepatic encephalopathy (HE).

Its acquirer, GENFIT is focussed on developing drugs for severe chronic liver diseases that have high unmet medical needs.

GENFIT said that the acquisition of Versantis aligns with its strategic goal to strengthen its position in ACLF.

The deal will allow the US firm to develop TS-01, a point-of-care diagnostic device for the at-home measurement of ammonia in the blood, which is the main cause of HE.

GENFIT CEO Pascal Prigent said: “Versantis has an exciting portfolio that is complementary to GENFIT’s. We are also thrilled to welcome a talented team that has developed a strong scientific expertise in ACLF.

“We believe that significant synergies exist and that this acquisition will accelerate the development of several promising drug candidates in areas of high unmet needs.”

As per the terms of the deal, Versantis will get an initial payment of CHF40m ($41.5m) at the time of closing. This will be followed by a payment of up to CHF65m ($67.4m) which will be contingent on the achievement of clinical and regulatory milestones.

Versantis co-founders Vincent Forster and Meriam Kabbaj said: “We think that GENFIT’s knowledge and experience in the development of programs targeting complex liver diseases will be invaluable to accelerate and maximise the probability of success of our programs. We also are excited by the new opportunities offered by GENFIT’s research capabilities.”

The transaction is anticipated to close during Q4 2022 after completing consultation of the employees representative bodies of GENFIT.