Nutritionist calculating body mass index of woman for obesity treatment in a clinic room. Mutations in the TRPC5 gene can cause obesity and postpartum depression.
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Aspect Biosystems and Novo Nordisk A/S this week announced an agreement to develop bioprinted tissue therapeutics designed to replace, repair, or supplement biological functions inside the body for treatment of diabetes and obesity.

The collaboration will leverage Aspect’s proprietary bioprinting technology and Novo Nordisk’s expertise and technology in stem cell differentiation and cell therapy development and manufacturing.

“This partnership leverages Aspect’s full-stack tissue therapeutic platform, talented team and bold vision, and reinforces our strategy to create bioprinted tissue therapeutics through partnerships with global industry leaders while also advancing our internal therapeutic pipeline,” said Tamer Mohamed, chief executive officer, Aspect Biosystems.

Novo Nordisk will receive an exclusive, worldwide license to use Aspect’s bioprinting technology to develop up to four products. Aspect will receive approximately $75 million upfront, research funding, and an investment in the form of a convertible note. Aspect is also eligible to receive up to $650 million in future development, regulatory, commercial and sales milestone payments per product, as well as tiered royalties on future product sales. The total value of the deal could be approximately $2.6B.

This partnership addresses two huge health problems. It’s estimated that  537 million adults (20–79 years) are living with diabetes, that’s one in 10 people. Almost 40% of adults are obese worldwide.

Aspect’s platform technology may allow for development of a novel class of cell-based medicine designed to be biologically functional, encapsulated to be immune-protective, and suitable for surgical implantation.

Novo Nordisk reports it has developed expertise to differentiate stem cells into a wide array of cells that may be used to replace damaged and lost cells which could lead to a specific disease, such as insulin-producing beta cells in type 1 diabetes, as well as manufacturing capabilities to produce the cells at scale.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop implantable bioprinted tissues to replace, repair or supplement biological functions. These tissues will be designed to be allogeneic, meaning the cells used are derived from a single source to increase the viability of future large-scale manufacturing.

“Novo Nordisk has built strong capabilities when it comes to producing functional and highly pure therapeutic replacement cells at the highest quality and at scale,” said Jacob Sten Petersen, corporate vice president and head of Cell Therapy R&D, Novo Nordisk. “Collaborating with Aspect Biosystems adds an important component to our strategy to develop comprehensive cell therapy products. We are excited to co-develop solutions for cell therapy delivery that could lead to life-changing treatments for those living with a serious chronic disease.”

The collaboration will initially focus on developing bioprinted tissue therapeutics designed to maintain normal blood glucose levels without the need for immunosuppression, to address type 1 diabetes.

Aspect Biosystems develops bioprinted tissue therapeutics by applying its full-stack tissue therapeutic platform, which combines the company’s proprietary bioprinting technology, therapeutic cells, biomaterials, and computational design. Aspect’s bioprinted tissue therapeutics are designed to replace, repair, or supplement biological function inside the body with the aim of treating currently incurable diseases such as type 1 diabetes as well as genetic and acquired liver diseases.

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