Nutritionist calculating body mass index of woman for obesity treatment in a clinic room. Current research shows the gut microbiome may also influence risk for obesity.
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Novo Nordisk is acquiring Inversago Pharma for up to $1.075 billion in cash if certain development and commercial milestones are achieved. Inversago is a Montreal-based, developer of CB1 receptor-based therapies for the potential treatment of obesity, diabetes, and complications associated with metabolic disorders.

“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, in a press release.

The acquisition includes Inversago’s lead development candidate INV-202, an oral cannabinoid receptor type-1 (CB1) inverse agonist.

INV-202 preferentially blocks the receptor protein CB1—which plays an important role in metabolism and appetite regulation in peripheral tissues, such as adipose tissues, the gastrointestinal tract, the kidneys, liver, pancreas, muscles, and lungs. CB1 is known to impact the regulation of energy metabolism via central and peripheral mechanisms. For example, mice with adipocyte-specific deletion of the CB1-encoding gene have an overall improved metabolic profile in addition to reduced body weight and total adiposity.

INV-202 demonstrated weight loss potential in a Phase Ib trial and is currently in a Phase II trial for diabetic kidney disease (DKD). Additional pipeline assets are also being developed for metabolic and fibrotic disorders. Novo Nordisk intends to investigate the potential of INV-202 for obesity and obesity-related complications.

“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,” Lange said.

CB1 plays an important role in appetite regulation and other cardiometabolic pathways. The mechanistic and preclinical therapeutic effects of peripheral CB1 receptor blocking, the company says, are well-studied across a range of cardiometabolic and fibrotic diseases, supporting its use as a treatment.

“We are delighted to join forces with a global leader in the obesity and metabolic disorder space,” said François Ravenelle, CEO 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.”

Inversago employs 22 people in Canada, 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. 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.

Founded in 2015, Inversago’s investors include Forbion, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Fonds de solidarité FTQ.

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