US-based Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and Novo Nordisk have signed a deal worth up to around $607m to discover and develop drugs for liver-related cardio-metabolic diseases.
In this regard, the companies will make use of GalXC, an RNA interference (RNAi) technology platform developed by Dicerna, for the discovery of new therapies.
The collaboration will look to explore over 30 liver cell targets and is expected to generate multiple clinical candidates for disorders such as chronic liver disease, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), obesity, and rare diseases.
Dicerna will be responsible for the discovery of the RNAi candidates along with their preclinical development to clinical candidate selection for all the liver cell targets, and also the funding. The Denmark-based Novo Nordisk has agreed to undertake further development of the discovered RNA candidates.
For Novo Nordisk, the collaboration gives it access to the GalXC RNAi platform, which is said to complement its existing technology base. The company is also set to gain the capability to inhibit hepatocyte targets that are known to have a role in disease regulation.
Novo Nordisk global drug discovery senior vice president Marcus Schindler said: “Dicerna is the ideal partner to discover and develop molecules for targets that may yield multiple potential treatments across disease areas such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and NASH. We will work closely together to unlock the true potential of treating a range of diseases using RNAi therapies, for the benefit of patients.”
The Danish pharma company will lead programmes targeting cardio-metabolic diseases and other indications, while its US partner will have the option to select two programmes during clinical development. Dicerna will retain rights to launch two new orphan liver disease programmes for which the Danish pharma company can opt in.
As per the terms of the deal, Dicerna will be paid upfront $175m along with $50m equity investment from Novo Nordisk. The US pharma company will also be entitled to $25m payment annually during each of the first three years of the collaboration, which will be subject to generating RNAi molecules for a defined number of targets.
Another contingent payment for Dicerna will be up to $357.5m in the form of development, regulatory and commercialisation milestone payments, and also tiered royalties on sales of the resulting drugs.
Dicerna president and CEO Douglas Fambrough said: “We are excited to collaborate with Novo Nordisk on this broad research and development effort that extends the reach of our GalXC platform to a wide range of liver cell targets and maximises our opportunities in serious liver diseases.
“Our efforts will benefit from Novo Nordisk’s expertise in cardio-metabolic diseases and years of experience developing and commercialising innovative therapies worldwide, which will help us advance novel RNAi treatments for underserved patient populations.”