Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) - A Review of a Crowded Clinical Landscape, Driven by a Complex Disease

Julia M. Fraile* (Corresponding Author), Soumya Palliyil, Caroline Barelle, Andrew J. Porter, Marina Kovaleva* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), characterized by chronic inflammation and accumulation of fat in liver tissue. Affecting estimated 35 million people globally, NASH is the most common chronic liver condition in Western populations, and with patient numbers growing rapidly, the market for NASH therapy is projected to rise to $27.2 B in 2029. Despite this clinical need and attractive commercial opportunity, there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved therapies specifically for this disease. Many have tried and unfortunately failed to find a drug, or drug combination, capable of unravelling the complexities of this metabolic condition. At the time of writing this review, only Zydus Cadila's new drug application for Saroglitazar had been approved (2020) for NASH therapy in India. However, it is hoped that this dearth of therapy options will improve as several drug candidates progress through late-stage clinical development. Obeticholic acid (Intercept Pharmaceuticals), Cenicriviroc (Allergan), Aramchol (Galmed Pharmaceuticals), Resmetirom (Madrigal Pharmaceuticals), Dapagliflozin and Semaglutide (Novo Nordisk) are in advanced Phase 3 clinical trials, while Belapectin (Galectin Therapeutics), MSDC-0602K (Cirius Therapeutics), Lanifibranor (Inventiva), Efruxifermin (Akero) and Tesamorelin (Theratechnologies) are expected to start Phase 3 trials soon. Here, we have performed an exhaustive review of the current therapeutic landscape for this disease and compared, in some detail, the fortunes of different drug classes (biologics vs small molecules) and target molecules. Given the complex pathophysiology of NASH, the use of drug combination, different mechanisms of actions and the targeting of each stage of the disease will likely be required. Hence, the development of a single therapy for NASH seems challenging and unlikely, despite the plethora of later stage trials due to report. We therefore predict that clinical, patient and company interest in pipeline and next-generation therapies will remain high for some time to come.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3997-4009
Number of pages13
JournalDrug design, development and therapy
Early online date22 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021


  • clinical trial
  • liver fibrosis
  • NASH


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