DENMARK – Novo Nordisk has inked separate research collaboration agreements with Omega Therapeutics, Inc. (Omega) and Cellarity Inc., a pioneering company developing medicines through an understanding of cell behaviours.
In a press release, Marcus Schindler, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Novo Nordisk, said: “We look forward to advancing the key research programmes with Omega and Cellarity in the coming years.”
He pointed out that both companies offer differentiated and novel approaches, including Omega’s expertise in controlled epigenomic modulation and Cellarity’s deep insights into applying human data and artificial intelligence to the development of new medicines.
Strikingly, the two research programmes become the first to be signed under the framework collaboration between Flagship Pioneering and Novo Nordisk.
It is expected to leverage Flagship’s bioplatform companies to develop novel treatment approaches for cardiometabolic diseases.
The new agreements with Omega and Cellarity are an exciting demonstration of how Flagship Pioneering’s partnership with Novo Nordisk is leveraging the unique bioplatform technologies within the Flagship ecosystem to develop potentially transformational medicines.
Each company, Novo Nordisk and Pioneering Medicines will jointly advance these respective programmes through preclinical development and conduct foundational activities, after which point Novo Nordisk could advance the programmes into clinical studies.
Under the terms of the respective agreements, Novo Nordisk will reimburse research and development (R&D) costs.
Additionally, each agreement may pay up to US$532 million in upfront, development, and commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on annual net sales of a licensed product, to be shared between the respective companies and Flagship’s Pioneering Medicines.
Underlining the significance of these agreements, Marcus Schindler, stated: “Novo Nordisk is committed to advancing new treatment options for people living with cardiometabolic diseases.”
Marcus Schindler disclosed that the company is exploring bold new treatment strategies with the potential to make a significant impact on people living with obesity or MASH, noting that it marks an important moment in the company’s partnership with Flagship Pioneering.
He emphasized that it is essential for Novo Nordisk to complement its internal research with external innovation and work with partners who are bringing forward cutting-edge technology.
The previously announced partnership brings together Novo Nordisk’s Bio Innovation Hub, an R&D unit designed to accelerate the development of therapeutics via co-creative partnerships, and Pioneering Medicines.
In particular, Pioneering Medicines is Flagship’s drug development initiative leveraging Flagship Pioneering’s unique ecosystem of bioplatform capabilities.
Commenting on the landmark deal, Paul Biondi, President of Pioneering Medicines, and Executive Partner at Flagship Pioneering, said: “By bringing these innovative platforms together with Novo Nordisk’s deep expertise in cardiometabolic disease, we have incredible potential to make a bigger leap forward for patients.”
According to the press release published by Novo Nordisk, the Omega collaboration will leverage its proprietary platform technology to develop an epigenomic controller.
Novo Nordisk and Omega will work closely to develop an epigenomic controller designed to enhance metabolic activity as a part of a potential new treatment approach for obesity management.
Therapeutic interventions for weight management
In his address, Mahesh Karande, President and Chief Executive Officer of Omega Therapeutics, said: “Precision epigenomic control is an emerging approach to medicine that allows us to pre-transcriptionally modulate gene expression with an unparalleled level of specificity.”
Notably, Omega has a diverse pipeline of therapeutic candidates derived from its OMEGA platform spanning oncology, regenerative medicine, multigenic diseases including immunology, and select monogenic diseases.
By pre-transcriptionally modulating gene expression, Omega’s approach enables controlled epigenomic modulation of nearly all human genes, including historically undruggable and difficult-to-treat targets, without altering native nucleic acid sequences.
The company has a diverse pipeline of therapeutic candidates derived from its OMEGA platform spanning oncology, regenerative medicine, multigenic diseases including immunology, and select monogenic diseases.
“By leveraging Novo Nordisk’s deep expertise in the space and our OMEGA platform, we have the opportunity to tap into the body’s natural processes that control metabolic activity and potentially develop an alternative, more durable approach to obesity management,” stated Mahesh Karande.
This development comes after Novo Nordisk inked a strategic partnership with Cellarity to identify novel cell behaviours implicated in MASH disease progression.
New therapeutic approaches for MASH
The latest research collaboration expands on this initial work and will further leverage Cellarity’s platform to develop a small molecule therapy.
Importantly, the Cellarity collaboration aims to not only unravel novel biological drivers of MASH but also to leverage Cellarity’s platform to develop a small molecule therapy against this disease.
For his part, Fabrice Chouraqui, Pharm.D., CEO of Cellarity and a CEO-partner at Flagship Pioneering, said: “Cellarity is developing a new paradigm in drug creation by harnessing the power of AI and multiomics data.”
Fabrice Chouraqui outlined that the partnership with Novo Nordisk, the world leader in metabolic disease, creates a unique opportunity for the application of Cellarity’s platform.
He explained that the research collaboration will prove pivotal in identifying novel vantage points into the progression of MASH as well as developing a transformative small molecule therapy against MASH.
Using proprietary AI models, the Cellarity platform provides novel insights into cellular dysfunction and enables the design of drugs previously inaccessible with traditional methods of drug discovery.