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Novo Nordisk-Dicerna close liver research deal following antitrust clearance

Novo Nordisk A/S closed a collaboration agreement with Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc. to discover and develop therapies for liver and cardio-metabolic diseases using Dicerna's RNAi technology.

The collaboration — which will explore more than 30 liver cell targets for disorders including chronic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, type 2 diabetes and rare diseases, among other things — closed after receiving antitrust clearance in the U.S.

Denmark-based Novo Nordisk will make a $50 million investment in Lexington, Mass.-based Dicerna by purchasing 2,279,982 shares of the company. Dicerna will also receive an upfront payment of $175 million following the delivery of an initial program to Novo Nordisk, which is expected to take place early in the first quarter.

The Danish drugmaker also agreed to pay a further $25 million a year to Dicerna for the first three years of the collaboration based on the delivery of a number of RNAi targets. Dicerna is also eligible to receive up to $357.5 million per target in development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments, in addition to royalties on sales.

Dicerna said in a Jan. 2 press release that it will carry out and fund the discovery and preclinical development to the drug candidate selection for each liver cell target while Novo Nordisk will be responsible for all further development.

The companies have options to opt in for the development of certain drug programs.