Novo Nordisk, Eleven Therapeutics ink nucleic acid medicine partnership

July 17, 2023

Novo Nordisk and UK-based biotech Eleven Therapeutics have entered a research collaboration to identify novel molecules for the delivery of nucleic acid medicine for cardio-metabolic diseases. 

Cardiometabolic diseases — which have been on the rise — claim the lives of roughly 17.8 million people every year, accounting for nearly 32% of all deaths. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will leverage Eleven’s DELiveri platform to develop RNA therapeutics for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The platform utilizes DNA-encoded libraries (DELs) to identify conjugates that deliver therapeutic molecules into specific target cells. 

The collaboration will give Novo Nordisk exclusivity for specific cell types and applications associated with the DELiveri platform in a staged approach. Through the integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence, DELiveri employs hypothesis-free, high-throughput screening of small molecules to generate signals that quantitatively score each molecule's delivery potential. 

While recent headlines have mostly focused on Novo's popular diabetes drug, Ozempic, currently under review by the EMA following two incidents of potential suicide ideation and self-harming risk, the drugmaker invested big into RNA and cardio-metabolic diseases back in 2021 when it snapped up Massachusetts-based Dicerna Pharmaceuticals for $3.3 billion. The deal gave Novo access to Dicerna's proprietary GaIXC RNAi platform with the goal of discovering potential therapies for a range of cardio-metabolic diseases.