Novo Nordisk Acquires Dicerna for $3.3 Billion

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Novo Nordisk’s 3.3 billion acquisition of Dicerna gives them access to their RNAi technology.

Novo Nordisk announced that it would acquire Dicerna, a biopharmaceutical company focusing on ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) technology, for approximately $3.3 billion on Nov. 18, 2021. This blockbuster deal will give Novo Nordisk rights to Dicerna’s GalXC RNAi platform, which is designed to enable access to intracellular disease targets across hepatic and extrahepatic cell and tissue types.

Novo Nordisk and Dicerna entered into a research collaboration in 2019 to develop RNAi therapies via GalXC. The companies explored more than 30 liver cell targets with the potential to deliver clinical candidates for conditions like chronic liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and various rare diseases. Novo Nordisk expects to initiate clinical development of the first investigational RNAi therapeutic born from this collaboration in 2022.

According to a Dicerna press release, RNAi is a disease inhibition technology that works by silencing genes via specific destruction of the messenger RNA (mRNA) made from the gene. Rather than inhibiting the protein, this is intended to prevent its creation. GalXC technology uses a proprietary N-acetyl-D-galactosamine (GalNAc)-mediated structure of double-stranded RNA molecules designed to bind specifically to receptors on liver cells. This is designed to lead to selective hepatocyte internalization and permit access to the RNAi machinery within the cells.

“The acquisition of Dicerna accelerates Novo Nordisk’s research within RNAi and expands the usage of the RNAi technology,” said Marcus Schindler, executive VP and chief scientific officer of Novo Nordisk, in the press release. “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.”


“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,” said Douglas Fambrough, founder, president, and CEO of Dicerna, in the press release. “The combination of Dicerna’s expertise in RNAi and oligonucleotide therapeutics and highly skilled employees with Novo Nordisk’s industry leadership in developing and commercializing 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.”

Source: Dicerna