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UK
02 Nov 2018 09:00 CET

Embark and Novo Nordisk enter collaboration to discover novel therapeutics for obesity and metabolic disease

Copenhagen, Denmark, 2 November 2018 ­- Embark Biotech ApS and Novo Nordisk A/S today announced that they have entered into a research collaboration focusing on the discovery of novel treatments for obesity and its associated metabolic pathologies through mechanisms that increase energy expenditure.

The research platform of Embark Biotech, a recent spin-out from Center for Basic Metabolic Research at University of Copenhagen, builds on novel and unique insights into receptors that stimulate energy expenditure without triggering the sympathetic nervous system (the 'fight-or-flight' response). 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. The potential addition of energy expenditure drugs would make a meaningful difference in the treatment of obesity. 
The work behind the research platform and the spin-out of Embark Biotech has been supported by Novo Seeds and the Novo Nordisk Foundation since 2016.

 "The present project builds on the frontline insight into energy expenditure of the group of Zach Gerhart-Hines, who we recruited from the US to Center for Basic Metabolic Research just few years ago. Zach's group has fully exploited the special knowledge we have in cell surface receptor pharmacology to generate several innovative drug discovery projects, and we see the research collaboration with Novo Nordisk, a global leader within obesity care, as the optimal way of developing the technology to ultimately benefit the patients", says Thue W. Schwartz, professor at Center for Basic Metabolic Research and co-founder of Embark.

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 commercialise products discovered in the collaboration.

"We are excited to get started on this project which aims at developing next- generation anti-obesity therapies" says Marcus Schindler, senior vice president of Global Drug Discovery in Novo Nordisk. "There is a huge unmet medical need for treatment of obesity. While more than 650 million people are currently living with obesity[1], it is rarely acknowledged, diagnosed or treated as a serious chronic and complex disease. We believe that Novo Nordisk and Embark together have both the capability and capacity to explore this new mechanism of action."

About Embark

Embark Biotech ApS is a spin-out platform biotech company from University of Copenhagen, dedicated to deciphering the therapeutic potential of energy expenditure. The academic founders include Professor Thue W Schwartz, Associate Professor Zach Gerhart-Hines, Postdoc Jakob Bondo Hansen and CEO, Casper Tind Hansen.

The research platform and spin-out of Embark Biotech has been supported by exploratory pre-seed and pre-seed grants from Novo Seeds administered on behalf of the Novo Nordisk Foundation and by starting grants from the European Research Council (ERC) and the Danish Council for Independent Research, as well as proof-of-concept grants from the European Research Council and the University of Copenhagen Tech Transfer Office.

For more information, see www.embarkbiotech.com or contact Casper Tind Hansen at cth@embarkbiotech.com

Further information

Media:    
Katrine Sperling +45 4442 6718 krsp@novonordisk.com
Ken Inchausti (US) +1 609 240 9429 kiau@novonordisk.com
     
Investors:    
Peter Hugreffe Ankersen +45 3075 9085 phak@novonordisk.com
Anders Mikkelsen +45 3079 4461 armk@novonordisk.com
Valdemar Borum Svarrer +45 3079 0301 jvls@novonordisk.com

Reference

[1] NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC). Lancet 2017:390;2627-42