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Novel approaches to obesity and metabolic disease
COPENHAGEN, Denmark—Novo Seeds, the early-stage investment arm of Novo Holdings, wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, announced in early November that its incubatee company Embark Biotech ApS has entered into a research collaboration with Novo Nordisk A/S focusing on the discovery of novel treatments for obesity and its associated metabolic pathologies through mechanisms that increase energy expenditure. The aim of the collaboration is to develop novel drug candidates that help people with obesity lose weight by burning off excess energy instead of storing it as fat.
Embark was first incubated by Novo Seeds in 2016 as a spinout from the Center for Basic Metabolic Research at University of Copenhagen, based on a pre-seed grant program from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Co-founder and CEO Casper Tind Hansen, who was instrumental in the creation of the company and its research platform, also serves as an entrepreneur in residence at BiOrigin, a recently established advisory unit for Novo Seeds.
“Our financial engagement in Embark demonstrates how our team can successfully translate strong academic discoveries into innovative start-up companies,” said Emmanuelle Coutanceau, a partner at Novo Seeds. “This collaboration with Novo Nordisk has the potential to develop next-generation anti-obesity therapies that will significantly improve the quality of life for patients.
“In addition to funding, we bring our commercial expertise to provide strategic support to portfolio companies, steering them through the critical start-up phase. As co-founder of Embark, Casper’s experience in establishing and managing early-stage companies has proven to be a valued addition to our advisory unit, as we build our portfolio companies like Embark into successful biotech start-ups.”
Hansen, in turn, added: “Building on our academic founders’ insight and research into energy expenditure, we are thankful for the continued support from Novo Seeds, which has been instrumental in creating the Embark research platform and driving value creation through this collaboration with Novo Nordisk.”
The research platform of Embark builds on novel and unique insights into receptors that stimulate energy expenditure without triggering the sympathetic nervous system (the ‘fight-or-flight’ response). The potential addition of energy expenditure drugs would make a meaningful difference in the treatment of obesity. As part of the collaboration agreement, Embark will receive research support for activities conducted in the collaboration, and Novo Nordisk has an option to license exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize products discovered in the collaboration.