Flagship Pioneering and Metaphore Biotechnologies collaborate with Novo Nordisk to develop next-generation obesity management therapeutics

Metaphore Biotechnologies, a Flagship-founded biotechnology company designing novel therapeutics by combining machine learning and molecular mimicry, has joined Flagship Pioneering in a research collaboration with Novo Nordisk to develop up to two next-generation therapeutics for obesity management.

The collaboration is signed under the broader strategic partnership between Novo Nordisk and Flagship Pioneering to develop a portfolio of novel treatment approaches for cardiometabolic and rare diseases. Pioneering Medicines, Flagship’s in-house drug development and partnerships unit, is responsible for leading the broader partnership together with Novo Nordisk’s Bio Innovation Hub, an R&D unit designed to accelerate the development of therapeutics via co-creation partnerships.

Metaphore will work jointly with Pioneering Medicines and Novo Nordisk to advance the programs through foundational activities and preclinical development, after which point Novo Nordisk could advance the programs into clinical studies.

“Through our collaboration with Metaphore we will apply a novel machine learning approach to obesity management, an area that continues to need more innovation,” said Uli Stilz, Head of the Novo Nordisk Bio Innovation Hub. “Metaphore’s platform aims to mimic the interactions between molecules with impressive accuracy by capturing their natural dynamics at the point of interface, potentially leading to therapeutics that require infrequent dosing. Our strategic framework with Flagship Pioneering continues to illustrate the value of partnerships in bringing forward disruptive technologies for therapeutic areas with unmet need.”

Obesity presents a serious disease burden, with more than 800 million adults living with obesity globally, and opportunities remain to address the disease with new and potentially highly efficacious and durable medicines.

The MIMIC platform aims to provide a unique therapeutic design solution focused on pharmacophores, the essential set of features where a drug and its target interact. The platform intends to systematically isolate a pharmacophore with single amino acid resolution, design a molecular mimic, and then optimize the molecule with fine-tuned therapeutic properties, including function, specificity, selectivity, and multi-targeting.

The collaboration will leverage Metaphore’s MIMIC platform with the goal to design multitarget therapeutics targeting the GLP-1 receptor and related biology, with the aim to create scalable, long-acting agents that will require infrequent dosing.

“Working with Novo Nordisk is a significant opportunity to apply our MIMIC platform in one of the most exciting areas of drug development and with one of the most experienced drug development teams working in obesity,” said Lovisa Afzelius, Ph.D., MBA, Origination Partner at Flagship Pioneering and Co-Founder and CEO of Metaphore. “This collaboration could further validate our unique ability to program function into therapeutic molecules with the MIMIC platform to enhance efficacy, extend durability, and optimize manufacturing for a single therapeutic addressing multiple obesity-related targets, including but not limited to the GLP-1 receptor.”

Metaphore is the third Flagship-founded company to advance research programs under the strategic partnership between Novo Nordisk and Flagship Pioneering following programs with Omega Therapeutics and Cellarity which were announced earlier this year.

“We are thrilled to be working with Metaphore Biotechnologies in partnership with Novo Nordisk to leverage Metaphore’s pioneering MIMIC platform technology to potentially advance therapeutic options for people living with obesity,” said Paul Biondi, President Pioneering Medicines, and Executive Partner, Flagship Pioneering. “With three research collaborations underway with Novo Nordisk, we are demonstrating why this novel innovation supply chain partnership that draws on the breadth and depth of expertise and experience across Novo Nordisk, Pioneering Medicines, and Flagship’s bioplatform companies represents a bigger leap in how we partner in biopharma.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk may pay up to $600 million in upfront, development, and commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on annual net sales of licensed products, to be shared between Metaphore and Pioneering Medicines. Novo Nordisk will also reimburse R&D costs and participate in a future financing round for Metaphore.

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