Novo Nordisk has acquired Embark Biotech and its lead asset targeting obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases.

The two companies have also entered a three-year research and development collaboration for discovering and developing new therapeutics for obesity and treatment for its related co-morbidities.

Novo Nordisk gains full rights to the development and commercialisation of the lead programme.

Embark shareholders will receive an upfront cash payment of €15m ($16.3m) with up to €456m ($498m) of potential development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.

Novo Nordisk also has the option to acquire selected assets based on Embark’s discoveries in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Embark Laboratories chief technology officer Zach Gerhart-Hines stated: “There is a clear strategic fit between the novel biology we have discovered and Novo Nordisk’s expertise and focus on developing new drugs in the cardiometabolic space.

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“We are thrilled to pass on the baton for our lead metabolic programme to Novo Nordisk.

“This deal and Embark’s success are direct outcomes of the unique and innovative ecosystem in Denmark that has been cultivated by the BioInnovation Institute and the University of Copenhagen and through initiatives from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Innovation Fund Denmark.”

In August 2023, Novo Nordisk spent $1bn to acquire Inversago. The deal adds a novel mechanism for weight loss, the lead asset INV-202, to its pipeline.

INV-202 is an oral cannabinoid receptor type-1 inverse agonist that blocks the CB1 receptor.