The Danish pharmaceutical firm will benefit from Dicerna’s RNAi platform as a strategic addition to its existing research technology platforms


Dicerna is focused on RNAi technology platform. (Credit: Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay.)

Denmark-based Novo Nordisk has agreed to purchase Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biopharmaceutical firm focused on RNA interference (RNAi) technology, for around $3.3bn.

Under the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk will acquire all outstanding shares of Dicerna, at a price of $38.25 per share, for a total equity value of around $3.3bn in cash.

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to certain customary conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Upon closing, the Danish’s firm acquisition subsidiary will be merged into Dicerna, and any Dicerna shares not tendered will be purchased at the same price per share.

The deal is said to help Novo Nordisk benefit from Dicerna’s RNAi platform as a strategic addition to its existing research technology platforms.

The addition will support its strategy of using a wide range of technology platforms across all its therapeutic focus areas, said the company.

Novo Nordisk executive vice president and chief scientific officer Marcus Schindler said: “The acquisition of Dicerna accelerates Novo Nordisk’s research within RNAi and expands the usage of the RNAi technology.

“We build on our successful collaboration and by combining Dicerna’s state-of-the-art RNAi drug engine and intracellular delivery with our deep capabilities in disease biology understanding and tissue targeting through peptides and proteins.

“We have the potential to expand our pipeline and deliver life-changing precision medicines for people living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and NASH as well as rare diseases like endocrine disorders and bleeding disorders.”

The acquisition builds on Novo Nordisk’s research collaboration with Dicerna initiated in 2019, to discover and develop RNAi therapies using Dicerna’s GalXC RNAi platform.

The collaboration resulted in the exploration of more than 30 targets for disorders including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), type 2 diabetes, obesity and rare diseases.

Novo Nordisk said that the transaction will not impact its previously announced operating profit forecast for 2021 or the ongoing share buyback programme.

It will lead to rise in research and development costs, with an estimated negative impact on operating profit growth in 2022 of around 3% due to higher operating costs.

Dicerna is focused on discovering, developing and commercialising medicines that leverage RNAi technology to selectively target genes associated with diseases.

The company uses its GalXC and GalXC-Plus RNAi technologies to develop RNAi-based therapies for the treatment of both rare as well as more prevalent diseases.

Dicerna’s GalXC platform works by silencing disease-causing genes to address difficult to treat diseases with other modalities like peptides, proteins or monoclonal antibodies.

Dicerna has established partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, including Novo Nordisk, Roche, Eli Lilly and Company, Alexion, Boehringer Ingelheim and Alnylam.

Dicerna founder, president and CEO Douglas Fambrough said: “Since the start of our collaboration two years ago, the Dicerna and Novo Nordisk teams have established a strong rapport built on a foundation of mutual respect for one another’s capabilities, culture and expertise.

“The combination of Dicerna’s expertise in RNAi and oligonucleotide therapeutics and highly skilled employees with Novo Nordisk’s industry leadership in developing and commercialising medicines to treat serious chronic diseases, has the potential to significantly accelerate and expand our mission to deliver GalXC RNAi therapies for the benefit of patients and all our stakeholders.”