Novo Nordisk has entered a research partnership with Flagship Pioneering and Metaphore Biotechnologies to jointly develop up to two next-generation therapeutics for the management of obesity.

The collaboration forms part of a strategic deal between Novo Nordisk and Flagship, focusing on new treatment approaches for cardiometabolic and rare diseases.

Pioneering Medicines, a division of Flagship responsible for drug development and partnerships, will lead the collaboration alongside Novo Nordisk’s Bio Innovation Hub.

The Bio Innovation Hub is a research and development (R&D) unit that expedites therapeutic development through co-creation collaborations.

Metaphore will collaborate with Pioneering Medicines and Novo Nordisk to progress the programmes from foundational activities to preclinical development.

Novo Nordisk will then execute the clinical studies.

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The collaboration will utilise Metaphor’s MIMIC platform to create multitarget therapies that act on the GLP-1 receptor and related biology.

The goal is to develop scalable, long-acting agents that allow infrequent dosing.

Novo Nordisk may make upfront, development and commercial milestone payments of $600m, in addition to tiered royalty payments on annual net product sales.

These payments and royalties will be shared between Pioneering Medicines and Metaphore.

Novo Nordisk will reimburse R&D expenses and contribute to Metaphore’s future financing round.

Metaphore co-founder and CEO and Flagship Pioneering origination partner Lovisa Afzelius stated: “Working with Novo Nordisk is a significant opportunity to apply our MIMIC platform in one of the most exciting areas of drug development and with one of the most experienced drug development teams working in obesity.

“This collaboration could further validate our unique ability to programme function into therapeutic molecules with the MIMIC platform to enhance efficacy, extend durability and optimise manufacturing for a single therapeutic addressing multiple obesity-related targets, including but not limited to the GLP-1 receptor.” 

Earlier this month, Novo Nordisk reported DKr61bn ($8.7bn) in sales from its diabetes and obesity portfolio, accounting for 93.3% of its total sales in Q1 2024.