Dicerna Pharmaceuticals (NSDQ:DRNA) announced today that it closed a discovery & development agreement with Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) worth at least $175 million to further development of therapies for treating liver-related cardio-metabolic diseases.
The two companies announced the agreement on Nov. 18, 2019, outlining the plan to discover and develop the therapies using Dicerna’s GalXC RNAi platform technology. The collaboration is slated to explore more than 30 liver cell targets and potentially deliver multiple clinical candidates for disorders such as chronic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and more, according to a news release.
GalXC is a platform designed to enable the subcutaneous delivery of RNAi therapies for binding specifically to receptors on liver cells, leading to internalization and access to RNAi machinery within the cells.
Dicerna is set to conduct and fund the discovery and preclinical development, with Novo Nordisk taking responsibility for the remainder of the development. Lexington, Mass.-based Dicerna also holds the right to opt into two clinical-stage programs derived from the discovery collaboration.
The agreement includes a $175 million upfront payment to Dicerna after delivery of a program start-up package to Novo Nordisk, which is expected in the first quarter of 2020. Dicerna is also slated to receive $25 million annually for each of the first three years, subject to delivery of RNAi molecules for a defined number of targets to Novo Nordisk.
Dicerna could also recieve up to $357.5 million per target in development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments, along with royalties on product sales. Dicerna also issued nearly 2.3 million shares of its common stock to Novo Nordisk after the latter invested $50 million in equity into Dicerna.
Novo Nordisk is slated to lead programs targeting cardio-metabolic disorders and other indications, while Dicerna has the ability to opt into two programs during clinical development. Meanwhile, Dicerna retains rights to initiate two new orphan liver disease programs into which Novo Nordisk may opt.