Swiss biotech start-up EraCal Therapeutics has signed a partnership and licence agreement with Novo Nordisk focusing on the development and marketing of an oral, small-molecule programme for obesity treatment.

The programme, discovered using the platform technology of EraCal, claims a new mechanism of action that regulates appetite and body weight.

Novo Nordisk will have sole rights for the development and commercialisation of the programme.

EraCal will receive €235m in upfront, development and commercial milestone payments, apart from royalties on marketed product sales.

The partnership with Novo Nordisk began in January 2022, aiming to identify new drug targets that could regulate food intake and other metabolic phenotypes.

The companies agreed to study new molecules for their potential as anti-obesity pharmacotherapy.

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EraCal Therapeutics CEO Josua Jordi stated: “This is an important agreement for EraCal Therapeutics as it showcases the team’s capabilities to identify new mechanisms of action and to discover and develop small molecules to target these biological pathways.

“We consider Novo Nordisk the ideal partner to bring this programme to patients and are excited to join forces to lead innovation.”

Established in 2018, EraCal has been at the forefront of developing innovative strategies to combat obesity through phenotypic drug discovery technology.

Novo Nordisk CVP and diabetes, obesity and MASH [metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis] therapeutic area head Dr Bei Zhang stated: “EraCal Therapeutics brings a unique drug discovery approach for obesity and other metabolic diseases.

“We look forward to working with the EraCal team to realise the value of their platform and discover innovative medicines for people living with obesity.”

In January 2024, Novo Nordisk entered research collaborations with two US biotech start-ups as it aims to maintain its dominant position in the cardiometabolic disease market.