Novo Nordisk and Evotec Partner to Develop Therapies for Chronic Kidney Disease


Germany’s Evotec and Denmark’s Novo Nordisk are partnering to discover and develop new therapies for chronic kidney disease. Together the two companies will scour comprehensive medical and molecular data sets of thousands of chronic kidney disease patients to identify and then develop possible drugs.

“We are proud to collaborate with Novo Nordisk in this field of very high unmet medical need,” said Cord Dohrmann, Evotec’s chief scientific officer. “Based on a better understanding of disease-driving molecular mechanisms we aim to develop disease-modifying therapies, which are urgently needed.”

Under the terms of the deal, the two companies plan to share responsibilities during drug discovery and preclinical development. Novo Nordisk will handle clinical development and commercialization. Novo Nordisk is paying Evotec an undisclosed upfront payment, as well as research funding and potential milestones of more than €150 million per product in addition to tiered royalties on net sales.

This is not the first strategic alliance between the two companies. In August 2018 they teamed up to develop therapies for diabetic kidney disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cardiovascular diseases. Diabetes is Novo Nordisk’s specialty area. Evotec has expertise in drug discovery, particularly in ligand-based design.

Chronic kidney disease refers to the gradual loss of kidney function. Treatment typically focuses on slowing the progress of kidney damage, often by controlling the underlying cause. Chronic kidney disease can lead to end-stage kidney failure, which is fatal without dialysis or a kidney transplant. Diseases that can lead to chronic kidney disease include type 1 or type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, glomerulonephritis, interstitial nephritis, polycystic kidney disease, prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract from an enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers, vesicoureteral reflux, and recurrent kidney infection.

“Building on adjacencies within cardio-renal and metabolism, this collaboration will allow us to strengthen our efforts within kidney disease on the basis of human relevant biology and strong knowhow and capabilities in collaboration with Evotec,” said Karin Conde-Knape, CVP Global Diabetes, Cardio-renal and Translational Research at Novo Nordisk.

Evotec has been busy this month. On August 11, the company announced it had entered a new partnership with Resolute Therapeutics to fight infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. They will develop a broad-spectrum antibiotic with a new mode of action and is being funded by CARB-X with up to $2.91 million for the next two years plus an additional $5.53 million over the following three years if certain milestones are hit. CARB-X (Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) is a global non-profit partnership led by Boston University.

Of this deal, Dohrmann said, “We are delighted to license this highly innovative antibacterial program from Resolute. New antibiotics are urgently needed, particularly those that hold significant promise to overcome antimicrobial resistance. The significant support from CARB-X further validates the approach and we are optimistic to rapidly drive this program to clinical proof of concept and beyond.”

On August 5, Evotec inked a strategic partnership with Secarna Pharmaceuticals for antisense oligonucleotide-based therapies. Secarna combined its proprietary LNAplus technology platform with cutting-edge third generation LNA-chemistry to create molecules with improved potency and a comprehensive safety profile against difficult-to-regulate or undruggable targets. No financial details were disclosed.

And in late July, Evotec’s Seattle-based subsidiary, Just-Evotec Biologics, received a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense for up to $18.2 million to develop and manufacture monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19. The goal is to quickly and efficiently deliver the monoclonal antibodies to the Department of Defense. The DoD’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense is coordinating the effort with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Defense Health Agency.

Under the contract, Just-Evotec Biologics will design a manufacturing process for the manufacturing of clinical supplies of two monoclonal antibodies against SRS-CoV-2 antigens, which will be tested in early-stage clinical trials with the hopes of using them as an intervention or prevention of COVID-19.

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