Novo Nordisk has agreed to acquire Germany-based Cardior Pharmaceuticals for up to €1bn ($1.1bn) to expand its cardiovascular pipeline. The deal is expected to close in Q2 2024.

Cardior’s lead candidate is a Phase II heart failure candidate, CDR132L. The therapy is an antisense oligonucleotide, which selectively blocks abnormal levels of the microRNA molecule, miR-132. miR-132 plays a part in cardiac processes, as it is overexpressed in patients with heart failure.

CDR132L is being evaluated in a placebo-controlled Phase II trial (NCT05350969) in 280 patients with left-sided heart failure following myocardial infarction. The trial is expected to conclude in March 2025, as per ClinicalTrial.Gov. Novo plans to expand CDR132L’s indication and investigate the therapy in a Phase II trial in chronic heart failure patients with cardiac hypertrophy.

Novo has had recent success in cardiovascular indication with its blockbuster weight loss therapy, Wegovy (semaglutide). Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke in obese or overweight adults with cardiovascular disease.

The company has invested in expanding its cardiovascular portfolio through multiple deals in recent months. Last month, Novo signed a $1.46bn deal with US-based biotech Neomorph to discover and develop multiple ‘molecular glue’ protein degraders for cardiometabolic disorders and rare diseases. According to the agreement, Neomorph will be responsible for the discovery and preclinical research while Novo will have exclusive rights to further clinical development and commercialisation.

In July 2023, Novo signed a research partnership with Eleven Therapeutics to identify novel nucleic acid molecules to treat cardiometabolic diseases by leveraging the latter’s DELiveri platform. DELiveri uses DNA-encoded libraries (DELs), along with machine learning and AI technologies to identify conjugates that can transport therapeutic molecules.

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Apart from the investment in diabetes and weight loss, Novo also plans to establish its presence in emerging disease areas, such as metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH) and chronic kidney disease. Last month, the Danish pharmaceutical partnered with Cellarity to discover and develop therapies for MASH.