Novo Nordisk signs $3.3bn deal to acquire Dicerna Pharmaceuticals

Novo Nordisk has signed a deal worth around $3.3 billion to acquire Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biotech company focused on developing ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) therapies.

Based in Lexington, Massachusetts, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals leverages its proprietary GalXC and GalXC-Plus RNAi technologies to develop therapies to preferentially silence genes that either cause or contribute to disease.

The company’s RNAi technology platform is said to facilitate access to intracellular disease targets across hepatic as well as extrahepatic cell and tissue types.

In 2019, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals was tapped by Novo Nordisk to use its GalXC RNAi platform technology as part of a research collaboration for discovering and developing RNAi therapies. The collaboration covered the exploration of over 30 liver cell targets that have the potential to result in various clinical candidates for disorders such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), obesity, type 2 diabetes, and rare diseases.

The first of the targets is expected to enter into clinical development in 2022, said Novo Nordisk.

The Danish pharma company said that the acquisition of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals’ RNAi platform is a strategic addition to the research technology platforms in its portfolio. Apart from that, the acquisition backs its strategy of using a wide range of technology platforms applicable across all its therapeutic focus areas, said Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk acquisition of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals

Novo Nordisk acquisition of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals. Photo courtesy of Novo Nordisk A/S.

Marcus Schindler — Novo Nordisk executive vice president and chief scientific officer, commenting on Novo Nordisk acquisition of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, said: “The acquisition of Dicerna accelerates Novo Nordisk’s research within RNAi and expands the usage of the RNAi technology.

“We build on our successful collaboration and by combining Dicerna’s state-of-the-art RNAi drug engine and intracellular delivery with our deep capabilities in disease biology understanding and tissue targeting through peptides and proteins we have the potential to expand our pipeline and deliver life-changing precision medicines for people living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and NASH as well as rare diseases like endocrine disorders and bleeding disorders.”

As per the terms of the deal, the Danish pharma company is offering to acquire shares of the publicly-listed Dicerna Pharmaceuticals for $38.25 per share in cash.

Commenting on Novo Nordisk acquisition of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Douglas Fambrough — Dicerna Pharmaceuticals founder, president, and CEO said: “Since the start of our collaboration two years ago, the Dicerna and Novo Nordisk teams have established a strong rapport built on a foundation of mutual respect for one another’s capabilities, culture and expertise.

“The combination of Dicerna’s expertise in RNAi and oligonucleotide therapeutics and highly skilled employees with Novo Nordisk’s industry leadership in developing and commercialising medicines to treat serious chronic diseases, has the potential to significantly accelerate and expand our mission to deliver GalXC RNAi therapies for the benefit of patients and all our stakeholders.”

The deal, which is subject to tender of majority shares of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals’ outstanding shares, regulatory approvals, and other customary conditions, is expected to be wrapped up in Q4 2021.

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