Novo Nordisk Doubles Down on Inflammatory Diseases, Quantum Computing

Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk and Massachusetts-based Octagon Therapeutics announced Tuesday they have forged a research collaboration focused on inflammatory diseases.

Novo Nordisk will harness Octagon's functional target discovery approach and novel chemistry strategy and aim those capabilities at disease areas in which it has expertise. Novo is well-known for its work in diabetes and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). 

Uli Stilz, vice president of Novo's Bio Innovation Hub, touted Octagon's platform technology, which he said is able to delve into functional biology in a novel way. Stilz added that the platform can identify new drug targets through clinical samples and primary immune cells. 

"Combined with our disease understanding in the cardiometabolic space and Octagon's approach in targeting specific lymphocyte populations that drive disease progression, it will be exciting to see what therapeutic discoveries the collaboration can lead to," Stilz said in a statement. 

Octagon's lead preclinical program is designed to selectively target a population of pathologically activated B cells that contribute to autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus and vasculitis. The same approach used in these cells can be applied to other disease areas. 

Octagon's pilot project conducted through the Novo Nordisk Co-creation Greenhouse accelerator program demonstrated proof-of-concept in identifying atypical characteristics of other immune cells during disease. This could lead to the discovery of new therapeutic targets. 

Octagon Chief Executive Officer Isaac Stoner said the collaboration would enable it to expand its own technology into new areas. 

$200M Investment in Quantum Computing

Beyond the partnership with Octagon, the Novo Nordisk Foundation invested $200 million into the development of a full-scale quantum computer that will be used to develop new medicines. Additionally, the computer will be able to provide insights into climate change and the green transition.

The foundation aims to "create an international powerhouse in quantum research," a field with tremendous potential," said Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation in a statement. 

The foundation is working in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, which includes a team of quantum computing researchers from across the globe. 

The newly-formed Novo Nordisk Foundation Quantum Computing Program will focus on developing the hardware and materials. The program intends to create a quantum computer capable of solving tasks that are currently out of reach of existing computers. 

The quantum computer will be able to analyze massive genomic data sets and offer new insights into the microbiome. 

In its life sciences applications, the Foundation aims to deliver new insights to address disease indications with unmet needs with new, personalized medications. 

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