The new research alliance will help advance three programmes over the next three years, of which two programmes will help identify drug targets for clinically important subtypes of type 2 diabetes, and one programme will focus on the genetic roots of cardiac fibrosis


Broad Institute enters new research alliance with Novo Nordisk. (Credit: Broad Institute)

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has entered into a new research collaboration with Novo Nordisk to address unmet clinical needs in diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases.

The Danish pharmaceutical company entered into the collaboration through Novo Nordisk Bio Innovation Hub, its R&D unit focused on cardiometabolic, and rare endocrine disorders.

The new research alliance will focus on advancing three programmes over the next three years.

Among the three programmes, two programmes will help identify drug targets for clinically important subtypes of type 2 diabetes, and one programme will help uncover the genetic roots of cardiac fibrosis.

Broad Institute director Todd Golub said: “Diabetes and cardiac fibrosis are two conditions in dire need of new therapies. These kinds of cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional collaborations that span both academia and industry are key to making the breakthroughs that patients all over the world need.”

Novo Nordisk Bio Innovation Hub in Boston head Uli Stilz said: “The conditions we’re exploring impact millions of people worldwide. Together, we’re able to leverage the full breadth of scientific expertise between our two organisations.

“This collaboration has the potential not only to accelerate our understanding of the diseases but also potentially enable scientific advancements in disease-modifying interventions — a true game changer in addressing cardiometabolic diseases.”

Most of the current diabetes treatments partly target high blood sugar, because fully understanding the disease’s underlying heterogeneity is challenging due to multiple root causes.

The two diabetes programmes emerging from the alliance will help identify therapeutic targets for both non-weight mediated insulin resistance and loss of beta cell function.

The Broad Institute said that the alliance will leverage advanced genetics and genomics technologies to evaluate the subtypes of diabetes.

Also, it will probe the relationships between genes and potential therapeutic pathways using large-scale cell screens, through Broad’s Center for the Development of Therapeutics.

The third programme will leverage genetics, genomics, and machine learning technologies to evaluate the role of cardiac fibrosis in heart disease.

Also, the alliance aims to identify and validate genes that could be used as therapeutic targets to inhibit or potentially reverse fibrosis, said the Broad Institute.

Broad Institute members Jose Florez and Patrick Ellinor will jointly direct the new collaboration.

Florez said “This is potentially transformative. Right now we have nothing that reverses diabetes. Addressing these processes at the root, rather than simply treating the symptoms, would really change how we treat this disease.

“This is a real convergence of vision. Novo Nordisk has decades of experience in drug development, and we at the Broad are leaders in genetics and understand the clinical space.”

Ellinor said: “I think this will be a framework for future investigation into the cardiometabolic space.”