Novo Nordisk Partners With Seattle Biopharm to Research, Develop Obesity Therapies

Novo Nordisk_Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images

Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images

Seattle-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Lumen Bioscience is teaming up with Novo Nordisk to explore research and development opportunities within obesity, among other metabolic disorders.

The collaboration will harness Lumen's drug development and manufacturing platform alongside Novo Nordisk's experience in R&D activities within this space. Financial details of the collaboration have not yet been disclosed.

In a statement on the joint venture, Lumen's CEO Brian Finrow said that the collaboration collides the best of two worlds: “Lumen’s expertise in large-scale, affordable manufacturing of orally delivered biologic drugs and Novo Nordisk's expertise in the clinical development and commercialization of treatments for cardiometabolic disease."

According to Lumen, the collaboration builds on previous research supporting the diversity of certain biological aspects found “within the gastrointestinal tract that can potentially be modulated with therapeutic proteins.”

In particular, the company’s spirulina-based drug development environment reportedly allows for the scalable and affordable potential manufacturing of orally delivered biologic drugs typical of smaller-molecule therapies.

Initial stages of the R&D collaboration between Lumen and Novo Nordisk is set to take place over an approximately one-year period. The two companies plan to work together during this time to develop and assess the bioactivity of spirulina-produced and -delivered metabolically relevant molecules within obesity and other metabolic disorders.

Novo Nordisk is on a quest to further drive its success in the weight-management space, building off the high from its recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) win for Wegovy (once-weekly semaglutide 2.4 mg self-injection). This therapy, which was approved last week, represents the first and currently only FDA-approved once-weekly GLP-1 receptor agonist for the purposes of weight management.

“The approval of Wegovy in the U.S. brings great promise to people with obesity,” said Martin Holst Lange, executive vice president of Novo Nordisk’s Development in Denmark. “Despite the best efforts to lose weight, many people with obesity struggle to achieve and maintain weight loss due to physiological responses that favor weight regain. The unprecedented weight loss for an anti-obesity medication marks a new era in the treatment of obesity, and we now look forward to making Wegovy available to people living with obesity in the U.S.”

In the STEP Phase IIIa clinical trial, which supported the approval, patients who received Wegovy lost a mean of 17% to 18% of body weight. On average, this translated to approximately 34 pounds lost during the study. The weight loss was sustained over a 68-week period. Most patients in the late-stage STEP trial lost the weight steadily for up to 16 months but then hit a plateau. The placebo group, in contrast, lost only an average of six pounds during the study.

Novo Nordisk said it expects to launch Wegovy in the U.S. this month. Regulators in the European Union and other countries are currently reviewing the drug for potential approval in these regions.

While the price for the drug has not been made clear, Novo Nordisk previously noted Wegovy will be similarly priced to that of another injectable weight loss drug Saxenda, which has been available for around 11 years. For uninsured patients, Saxenda is more than $1300 per month.

Back to news