Illustration of DNA helices undergoing gene or base editing on a blue background
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Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk announced today that it has entered a research and development deal with Life Edit Therapeutics to leverage its next-generation gene editing technologies against a range of therapeutic targets.

Under the collaboration agreement, Life Edit will receive an undisclosed upfront payment with the potential to earn between $250 million and $335 million in milestone payments for each of the seven development programs. In addition, Novo Nordisk will make an equity investment in Life Edit’s parent company ElevateBio as part of their $401 million Series D financing.

“At Novo Nordisk, we are committed to continuously building and leveraging technology platforms that open up new opportunities across our therapeutic areas to deliver potentially curative treatment options to people living with serious chronic diseases,” said Marcus Schindler, PhD, professor, executive vice president, and chief scientific officer of Novo Nordisk. “We are excited about the opportunity to co-create novel treatments for multiple genetic diseases based on Life Edit’s gene editing technologies.”

The collaboration will leverage Life Edit’s base-editing technology, which will allow for the conversion of one nucleotide base into another without cutting both strands of DNA, to develop novel gene therapies. Life Edit’s gene editing platform comprises a large and diverse library of RNA-guided nucleases (RGNs) and base editors, which Life Edit contends is one of the largest collections of such RGNs. The company’s nuclease collection features a range of Protospacer Adjacent Motifs (PAMs), short sequences that determine the DNA segments in the genome to which a nuclease can bind. Life Edit’s PAM collection enables base editing at more sites than any one nuclease could achieve, offering access broad potential to target disease.

The company’s RGN editing systems encompass knock-out and knock-in capabilities, transcriptional regulation, and base editing when coupled with one of its proprietary deaminases and the company has identified several different classes of DNA modifying enzymes that allow it to edit the bases cytidine (C) or adenine (A). According to Life Edit, the RGNs it employs are smaller than CRISPR-Cas gene editing systems, making them well suited to in vivo  delivery.

“The advancements we’ve made to our next-generation gene editing platform and base editing capabilities are opening the next frontier of treating disease through DNA editing,” said Mitchell Finer, PhD, CEO of Life Edit Therapeutics and president, R&D, ElevateBio. “Combining our Life Edit platform and the ability to make any edit anywhere with Novo Nordisk’s deep disease biology and engineering expertise will bring us closer to delivering potentially curative therapies for some of the world’s most challenging genetic diseases.”

Life Edit is pursuing a business strategy that includes both developing an internal therapeutic pipeline of in vivo gene therapies focused on genetic diseases for which there is no current therapy, as well as a partnering strategy to allow other pharma and biotech companies to leverage its RGN base-editing platform.

In addition to the new deal with Novo Nordisk, in February, Life Edit signed a collaboration with Moderna that will combine its RGN platform with Moderna’s mRNA platform to further broaden its drug development capabilities.

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