Novo Nordisk Expands Cardio Reach by Buying Heart Drugs Biotech Cardior

Novo Nordisk is adding on to its cardiovascular drug pipeline with the acquisition of Cardior Pharmaceuticals, a genetic medicines developer whose lead program is in mid-stage clinical testing in heart failure. The Danish pharmaceutical giant said Monday that it has committed up to €1.025 billion (about $1.1 billion) to acquire Cardior. Novo Nordisk did not provide a financial breakdown of the deal, other than to say that the sum includes an upfront payment as well as development and commercial milestones that were not specified. Hanover, Germany-based Cardior discovers and develops genetic medicines intended to prevent, repair, and even reverse diseases of the heart. Its drugs are antisense oligonucleotides, a class of medicines that employ small pieces of DNA or RNA to stop production of a disease-causing protein. Cardior’s RNA medicines specifically target non-coding RNA. While this type of RNA does not encode a protein, it does regulate certain cellular processes. Cardio says that by targeting non-coding RNAs, its antisense oligonucleotides can act on several disease pathways, which in turn offers a therapeutic effect in heart diseases. Lead Cardior program CDR132L is designed to block a microRNA molecule called miR-132. This non-coding RNA has been studied for its role in neuronal cells, inflammation, and cancer. Cardior’s focus is on the role that excessive miR-132 activity has on the heart. The drug candidate is designed to selectively block abnormal levels of miR-132, which could in turn halt and partially reverse the effects of heart failure, a condition affecting the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. While current treatment options address heart failure symptoms, Cardior claims its drug address an underlying cause of the disorder. In a 28-patient Phase 1b study, results showed Cardior’s intravenously infused CDR132L was safe and well tolerated. Additionally, results from this placebo-controlled, dose-escalating study showed improvement in cardiac function. The results were published in 2021 in the European Heart Journal. After reporting those data, Cardior went on to raise a €64 million (about $69.3 million) Series B round of financing to continue clinical development of CDR132L, which is currently in Phase 2 testing in heart failure. This drug is also in preclinical development for two additional indications: heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and dilated cardiomyopathy. Two other Cardior programs are in preclinical development for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. While Novo Nordisk’s metabolic disorder drugs continue to drive record sales, the company has said its growth strategy includes expanding into adjacent areas, such as cardiovascular conditions. In 2021, Novo Nordisk paid $100 million up front to acquire global rights to a Prothena drug in development for the cardiomyopathy caused by the rare disease hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis. That antibody drug is currently in Phase 2 testing under Prothena. Last fall, Novo Nordisk paid $60 million up front for three preclinical cardiovascular drugs from Valo Health. The pharma giant characterizes the Cardior acquisition as “an important step forward in Novo Nordisk’s strategy to establish a presence in cardiovascular disease.” “We have been impressed by the scientific work carried out by the Cardior team, especially on CDR132L, which has a distinctive mode of action and potential to become a first-in-class therapy designed to halt or partially reverse the course of disease for people living with heart failure,” Martin Holst Lange, executive vice president for development at Novo Nordisk said in a prepared statement. Image: Magicmine, Getty Images

This content was originally published here.