Novo Nordisk, a global leader in the field of diabetes and obesity, announced today that it has agreed to acquire Inversago Pharma, a Montreal-based biotech company that is developing novel therapies based on blocking the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) in peripheral tissues. The deal is worth up to $1.075 billion in cash, depending on the achievement of certain development and commercial milestones.
Inversago Pharma has a proprietary platform of CB1 inverse agonists, which are designed to selectively inhibit the CB1 receptor in peripheral organs such as the liver, pancreas, adipose tissue, and gastrointestinal tract. The CB1 receptor is involved in regulating appetite, metabolism, and energy balance, and its overactivation has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.
The acquisition includes Inversago’s lead candidate INV-202, an oral CB1 inverse agonist that has shown weight loss potential in a phase 1b trial and is currently in a phase 2 trial for diabetic kidney disease (DKD). Novo Nordisk plans to investigate the potential of INV-202 for obesity and obesity-related complications. In addition, Inversago has several other pipeline assets that are being developed for metabolic and fibrotic diseases.
A promising class of medicine for serious chronic diseases
Novo Nordisk is a pioneer in the development of innovative therapies for diabetes and obesity, such as insulin analogs, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and semaglutide, which is marketed as Ozempic for type 2 diabetes and Wegovy for obesity. The company has also recently launched Rybelsus, the first oral GLP-1 receptor agonist, and is developing tirzepatide, a dual GLP-1 and GIP receptor agonist.
The acquisition of Inversago Pharma will further strengthen Novo Nordisk’s clinical development pipeline in obesity and related disorders. CB1 inverse agonists represent a promising class of medicine that could offer alternative or complementary solutions for people living with obesity and its complications. The mechanistic and preclinical therapeutic effects of peripheral CB1 receptor blocking are well-studied across a range of cardiometabolic and fibrotic diseases, supporting the potential treatment of many people with current unmet needs.
“The acquisition of Inversago Pharma will further strengthen our clinical development pipeline in obesity and related disorders,” said Martin Holst Lange, executive vice president for Development at Novo Nordisk. “This promising class of medicine pioneered by the Inversago team could lead to life-changing new treatment options for those living with a serious chronic disease and, in particular, may offer alternative or complementary solutions for people living with obesity.”
A win-win situation for both companies
Inversago Pharma was founded in 2016 by a team of experienced drug developers and scientists with expertise in CB1 pharmacology. The company has raised over $50 million from leading venture capital firms such as AmorChem II Fund LP, Genesys Capital Partners Inc., Fonds de solidarité FTQ, JDRF T1D Fund LLC, Anges Québec Capital S.E.C., Anges Québec members, Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society (Accel-Rx), BDC Capital Inc., IndusTech Innovation Fund Inc., Aligo Innovation LP II (Aligo), Consortium Québécois sur la Découverte du Médicament (CQDM), Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C., Fonds InnovExport S.E.C.,
The company employs 22 people, who will continue to focus on the successful completion of the ongoing and planned trials, while working closely with Novo Nordisk to drive Inversago’s technology forward in future clinical trials.
“We are delighted to join forces with a global leader in the obesity and metabolic disorder space,” said François Ravenelle, chief executive officer of Inversago Pharma. “We believe this combination will help unlock the full medical potential of our CB1 blockers and may one day expand treatment options for people living with metabolic syndrome, obesity and related complications. Novo Nordisk has world-class research facilities, significant global reach and a rich culture of collaboration seeking to bring our therapeutic treatments to market.”
The closing of the acquisition is subject to receipt of applicable regulatory approvals and other customary conditions and is expected to happen before the end of 2023.