Collaborations, Deals

Novo takes on gut-brain axis discovery with Kallyope, focusing on obesity and diabetes

As the pharma giant pushes to keep its pipeline relevant, Novo Nordisk has inked yet another partnership — this time, with gut-brain axis company Kallyope.

The duo hopes to discover novel peptides in the obesity and diabetes space, giving Novo the option to license exclusive global rights to develop and commercialize up to six products discovered in the collaboration. Financial details weren’t shared, but we hear Kallyope will get an upfront payment, along with license fees, R&D/sales milestones, and royalties down the line.

The collaboration is leveraging Kallyope’s platform to interrogate the gut-brain axis. The company’s tech integrates single-cell sequencing, bioinformatics, functional and anatomical circuit mapping, and organoids. Kallyope says its led to the discovery of new biological mechanisms, including multiple potential secreted products from the gut-brain axis that may play a role in metabolism.

Marcus Schindler

“(Kallyope) has developed a unique and innovative platform and is led by an outstanding leadership team,” said Marcus Schindler, Novo’s SVP of global drug discovery, in a statement.  “In combination with the experience that Novo Nordisk has in the disease biology understanding, peptidomics and peptide production, the projects that we will collaborate on hold potential to make a real difference for people living with diabetes and obesity.”

Under the deal, Kallyope and Novo will collaborate studies to validate a number of product candidates. Following validation and option exercise, Novo takeover for further preclinical and clinical development work, along with manufacturing and commercialization — should it come to that.

Novo has been pumping out bullish news for the past few months, including new collaborations on the stem cell therapy front, a licensing deal in hematology, and encouraging data paving a pivotal path to obesity for its newly approved GLP-1 diabetes drug semaglutide. Of course, there’s also rumors that Novo might be cutting as many as 3,000 jobs as part of a savings plan.


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