Ventus, Novo Nordisk Partner on Anti-inflammatory Medications
Ventus earns $70M, Novo Nordisk wins exclusive development, commercial rights
“This is an important collaboration for Ventus that validates our structural biology capabilities to discover and develop highly differentiated molecules with novel chemical structures,” Marcelo Bigal, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Ventus, said in a press release.
Ventus is developing a number of therapeutic candidates that seek to block the activity of a cellular protein called NLRP3 (NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing protein 3). This protein normally acts as an intracellular sensor, patrolling the inside of cells to detect infectious agents such as viruses.
When the NLRP3 protein detects a threat, it can trigger the formation of an inflammasome, a molecular complex that triggers inflammation, promoting the production of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules such as interleukins.
According to Ventus, activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome has been implicated in the development and progression of a number of systemic autoimmune and fibrotic (scarring) disorders. Activating this inflammatory molecular machinery also is thought to be involved in the progression of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Ventus is currently developing several different NLRP3 inhibitors. Some are peripherally-restrictive, meaning they can’t get into the brain and spinal cord, and are being developed for non-neurological disorders. Others that are brain-penetrant, meaning they can enter the central nervous system, are being explored as potential treatments for neuroinflammatory disorders.
Under the new deal, Novo Nordisk will receive exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Ventus’ lead NLRP3 inhibitor, a peripherally-restrictive medication, for a range of kidney, liver, heart and metabolic conditions.
“We believe Novo Nordisk is the ideal partner to advance our lead NLRP3 program in a broad range of systemic disease areas in which they have deep expertise, such as cardiometabolic diseases,” Bigal said.
Under the deal, Ventus will receive an upfront payment of $70 million in cash, as well as research and development funding. The company is eligible for more than $630 million in additional payments and royalties if certain developmental milestones are met.