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EraCal Therapeutics Ltd. announced January 23rd it has entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Novo Nordisk A/S to develop and commercialize EraCal’s oral, small molecule believed to control appetite.
The asset was discovered with EraCal’s platform technology and is believed to target a novel mechanism of action controlling appetite and body weight to treat obesity. “This is an important agreement for EraCal Therapeutics as it showcases the team’s capabilities to identify new mechanisms of action and to discover and develop small molecules to target these biological pathways,” said Josua Jordi, CEO of EraCal Therapeutics. “We consider Novo Nordisk the ideal partner to bring this program to patients and are excited to join forces to lead innovation.”
Novo Nordisk obtains the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the program under the agreement, while EraCal is eligible to receive upfront, development, and commercial milestones of up to 235 million EURO and further royalties on sales of a marketed product. “EraCal Therapeutics brings a unique drug discovery approach for obesity and other metabolic diseases,” said Dr. Bei Zhang, CVP and therapeutic area head of diabetes, obesity, and MASH at Novo Nordisk. “We look forward to working with the EraCal team to realize the value of their platform and discover innovative medicines for people living with obesity.”
Ann Clare Kessler, chairman of EraCal Therapeutics, said “Novo Nordisk is the perfect partner to assess EraCal’s molecules that we believe have a unique mechanism for body weight control. It is a credit to the EraCal team led by the CEO, Josua Jordi, and COO, Simon Breitler to have Novo Nordisk develop these molecules for metabolic diseases, especially obesity.” About EraCal Therapeutics Ltd. EraCal Therapeutics Ltd. is a Swiss biotech startup developing novel strategies to fight obesity.
The basis forms a phenotypic drug discovery technology originating from the University of Zurich and Harvard University.
EraCal Therapeutics Ltd. was founded in September 2018. In 2023, the company ranked 20 amongst the top 100 most innovative and promising Swiss startups. These are picked by a panel of 100 leading investors and industry experts and are revealed at the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award.
In February 2023, EraCal Therapeutics Ltd announced entering into a research collaboration with Nestlé Health Science, the aim being to identify novel nutraceuticals relevant to control food intake. The joint program combines Nestle’s unique nutraceutical resources with EraCal’s differentiated drug discovery platform.
These synergies were aiming to provide a new paradigm for first-line nutraceuticals for people suffering from metabolic diseases. Traditional reductionist research strategies (cell lines, organoids, etc) cannot capture whole-organism, multifactorial dynamics associated with metabolic diseases. EraCal‘s custom-built platform overcomes these challenges by combining state-of-the-art microscopy, with the power of large-scale phenotypic drug discovery.
The peer-reviewed platform (https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aav1966), demonstrates translational success with diverse pharmaceutical modalities and therefore holds the promise to unlock new biology.
The platform has identified novel mechanisms of action and is therefore a prime choice to discover first-in-class compounds. “Nestlé Health Science knows how to develop nutraceutical compounds as first-line treatment for people in need, thanks to their distinguished commitment to cutting-edge science and clinical validation thereof,” said Josua Jordi, CEO of EraCal. “We are therefore excited to join forces with the world-leading company in the nutritional space and together drive innovation in the metabolic syndrome arena”. “Metabolic health is an area that we are extremely interested in, specifically how innovative nutritional solutions can help improve the health of patients and consumers,” said Hans-Juergen Woerle, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer of Nestlé Health Science. “Partnering with EraCal on their unique platform, we aim to identify new solutions for weight management”, he added.
Known for its efforts and investments to find ways to improve diabetes treatments, Novo Nordisk had to face some problems in their quest to discover the perfect drug for weight loss. Last August, The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was investigating Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and weight-loss treatment Saxenda after Iceland’s health regulator flagged three cases of patients thinking about suicide or self-harm. The same month, Novo Nordisk has agreed to acquire Inversago for up to 1.075 billion US dollars in cash if certain development and commercial milestones are achieved. Inversago Pharma is a private, Montreal-based developer of CB1 receptor-based therapies for the potential treatment of obesity, diabetes and complications associated with metabolic disorders.
Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk’s rivals are not left behind. In July, Eli Lilly agreed to pay as much as $1.9 billion for the biotech Versanis, gaining an antibody under development to treat obesity. In December 2023, Roche agreed to pay $2.7 billion up front for Carmot Therapeutics, which has three drugs in human testing for obesity. Carmot’s clinical pipeline includes subcutaneous and oral incretins with best-in-class potential to treat obesity in patients with and without diabetes. AstraZeneca also entered a licensing deal, worth up to as much as $2 billion, with Chinese company Eccogene to develop and commercialize Eccogene’s small molecule GLP-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) ECC5004 for the potential treatment of obesity, type-2 diabetes and other comorbidities.