Novo Nordisk, Dicerna in $675-M-Plus Deal for RNAi Therapies

By Emily Forster -

November 21, 2019

Novo Nordisk and Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) therapies, have formed a collaboration to discover and develop therapies for treating liver-related cardio-metabolic diseases, in a deal worth more than $675 million.

Under the agreement, Dicerna will receive an upfront payment of $175 million, as well as a $50-million equity investment in Dicerna. Dicerna will receive $25 million annually during each of the first three years of the collaboration, contingent on Dicerna delivering RNAi molecules for a defined number of targets. The company will receive up to $375.5 million per target in development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments, plus tiered royalties on product sales ranging from the mid-single-digits to mid-teens.

The collaboration plans to explore more than 30 liver-cell targets and may deliver multiple clinical candidates for disorders, including chronic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and rare diseases. Dicerna will conduct and fund discovery and preclinical development to clinical candidate selection for each liver cell target, and Novo Nordisk will be responsible for all further development.

Dicerna’s proprietary RNAi technology platform, GalXC, is used for developing RNAi-based therapies designed to silence disease-driving genes in the liver and other tissues. Liver-targeted GalXC-based compounds enable subcutaneous delivery of RNAi therapies that are designed to bind specifically to receptors on liver cells, thereby leading to internalization and access to the RNAi machinery within the cells, according to information from the companies. The GalXC approach seeks to optimize the activity of the RNAi pathway so that it operates in the most specific and potent fashion. Compounds produced via GalXC are intended to be broadly applicable across multiple therapeutic areas, including both liver and non-liver indications.

Novo Nordisk says the collaboration provides it with the capability to inhibit hepatocyte targets involved in disease regulation and has the potential to generate a number of clinical development candidates.

The agreement enables each company to co-develop and co-commercialize product candidates discovered under the collaboration. Novo Nordisk will lead programs targeting cardio-metabolic disorders and other indications with Dicerna having the option to opt into two programs during clinical development. Dicerna retains rights to initiate two new orphan liver-disease programs for which Novo Nordisk can opt in. For all co-development programs, the companies will share in the profit/loss of net sales of products consistent with each company’s contribution to co-development costs.

The transaction is subject to the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and other customary conditions.

Source: Novo Nordisk